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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Vietnam | Business Class to Dalat

Backpacking and Business Class Travel don't really seem to be complementary of each other. However, we made it happen in Vietnam.....with a few questionable glances and comments along the way.

Arriving Back Into Hanoi on Night Train

Since our night train left around 7:30 p.m. the previous night in Lao Cai we had an early morning arrival back in Hanoi. Most of the time the trains seem to run a little late, but this one arrived right on time at 4:30 a.m. However, it was the one time that we wouldn't have minded it being a little late. Amazingly at 4:45 a.m. on a Sunday morning there were already many people awake and starting their days. We shared a bowl of noodle soup and then headed to the Long Bien bus station to get the #17 Bus to the Airport.

The trip to the airport was a little shorter, as there was less traffic and not as many people getting on and off the bus. We arrived to the airport around 7:00 a.m. and cleaned up as much as we could in the bathrooms.

How we ended up with a Business Class Ticket

We normally would have tried to book a cheaper train, bus or plane ticket, but we are nearing the end of our trip and are a little tighter with time than we were at the beginning, so our decisions are now based more on convenience. We wanted to be able to spend a couple of days in Dalat, in the Highlands of Vietnam, before heading back to Ho Chi Minh. But the only plane ticket available for Sunday was the Vietnam Airlines Business Class ticket for $115 per person as all economy tickets are sold-out. We figured we just go ahead and get it because it would be easier and faster than flying somewhere else and taking a bus. Amazingly though, the difference between the economy seat ticket and the business class ticket was only $30 per ticket; however, the service we received made us feel like we had paid more than that!

Business Class Ticket on Vietnam Airlines

Contrary to most North American airlines, Asian business class tickets give you all the benefits; including access to the airline lounge with free unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and foods including entire rice and noodle dishes for lunch. The lounge even had some computers available for us to use while we waited. Then when we got outside to board the plane, they brought over a special bus to transport us to the airplane - completely separate from the economy passengers. When we arrived in Dalat, there was also a special bus waiting for us there to deliver us to the arrivals lounge -- even though the door was literally about 120 feet from our exit from the plane. We felt pretty 'pimp.'

Lots of Questions for Backpackers Flying Business Class

However, several times throughout our experience we had to assure people that we were legitimately flying business class. When we checked-in our bags there was a separate area for business class check-in and as we approached the counter and told him we were going to Dalat, he asked, "In Business Class?" I guess we just didn't quite pull-off the business class look with our backpacks on our back, hiking type clothing and looking like we had just gotten off a sleeper train with little sleep the night before. Later when we were in the business lounge, one of the attendants came over and asked me where I was going and we had to show her our tickets. Then as we approached the area where the economy class passengers were going on one bus and the business class on another, the assistant called us back to check our tickets as we approached the business class bus. We just laughed and tried to soak it up because we probably won't be traveling in business class for such an economical price in the future. ;-)

Christmas in March?

When we arrived at the Dalat Airport there were still Christmas decorations up -- It's mid-March! However, in Southeast Asia Christmas decorations seem to be associated with Chinese New Year (or Tet in Vietnam) since Christmas is not a major holiday here. So since Tet just finished at the end of Feb. maybe that's why the decorations are still up????

Getting Acquainted with Dalat

We arrived in Dalat and spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the central city area. Dalat is located in the highlands so the weather is a lot cooler and less humid than most of the coastline and southern parts of Vietnam. It’s also a popular vacation spot for local Vietnamese. We also learned Dalat was spared during the Vietnam War because the North Vietnamese agreed to not bomb it, so in return their northern Vietnam tourist spots would be spared as well. The area is also rich in coffee production and the prices for coffee are super cheap. In North Vietnam some of the coffees with milk cost around 15,000 VD per cup, but for an afternoon pick-me-up we got a cup for only 5,000 VD. It's nice to be back where things are cheap and reasonable! We're excited to explore more of the area tomorrow on a motorbike...and drink more coffee!


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