The Hanoi Railway Company is offering 8,000 super-cheap tickets to various destinations including the popular tourist cities of Hue and Da Nang in central Vietnam, but getting your hands on them is simply a matter of luck.
People who arrived early at the company's office on Wednesday morning were disappointed to find that the cheap tickets were not being allocated on a first come-first serve basis, instead they just had to hope that the stars were shining on them.
“You have to be lucky to win a ticket,” a customer was told.
A representative from the railway company said the special tickets are being issued randomly and customers will only find out if they've struck it lucky when they've received their boarding passes. This will entitle them to a refund from the cost of a standard ticket.
The source said several lucky tickets were sold on Wednesday.
The VND10,000 tickets (less than half a dollar) will be on sale until this Sunday for trips between June 19 and August 30 to Hue, Da Nang, Dong Hoi and Vinh in central Vietnam, and Hai Phong, Hai Duong, Lao Cai and Lang Son in the north.
They are also available online between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., but several customers said the system was overloaded and they were unable to process payments.
Railways account for less than 2 percent of passenger transport in Vietnam and are losing out to rising air travel.
The tickets are part of the efforts being made to restore romance in train travel following the launch of luxury trains this year for popular trips such as Hanoi to Sa Pa and Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang.
Major stations across Vietnam also started offering free wi-fi last month.