Coming from India, we were shocked to see how "expensive" (relatively) trains in Vietnam were. Nevertheless, we had to get from Hanoi to Hue somehow, and after looking at our budget, we decided to go with the soft-seater class for $25.
Our train took about 12 hours, departing from Hanoi at 10:30pm and arriving in Hue the next morning at 10am.
For those unfamiliar with Vietnam's soft-seater class, it is your typical sitting-class train set-up (essentially just like a bus). Unfortunately for us, we did not have the greatest experience getting from Hanoi to Hue.
Firstly, it should be known most tourists opt with the soft-sleeper or hard-sleeper train class. In our car of around 100 people, we were the only two tourists. This is okay with us as it was a definitely more authentic experience, but it surely was a great place to sleep!
The "soft" seats were extremely hard - making it almost impossible to doze off comfortably. We saw many locals choosing to sleep on the floor in front of their seats rather than the seats themselves.
Further, we thought the roaches on India's train were bad - we were wrong! We could count about 20 small to mid sized cockroaches roaming around the windows and floors near us. Not a huge problem, but it's never fun waking up to one of these little guys crawling on your face.
Lastly, for most of the night, the lights were left on and the TV played Vietnamese soap dramas on repeat.
One positive thing I can say is there was plenty of leg room!
So all in all, we didn't have the best experience on the overnight train soft-seating class. Despite this, the cost difference between a sleeper class and the soft-seating class was too vast, so we probably would opt for the cheapest ticket next time as well.