Top tips for getting around Vietnam’s countryside and cities, from north to south.
There are many methods of transport you can choose from to journey around Vietnam. The train is the most comfortable, flying is the fastest and buses are the cheapest.
Car and motorbike taxis offer an easy way to travel around major cities. As visitors find taxis cheap, they tend to choose these over public transport. Car rental is uncommon, though it is common for tourists to hire a car and driver. Many travellers also buy and sell or rent motorbikes to travel through the country. However, traffic in the cities is very chaotic, so it’s probably a good idea to stick to taxis or private car hire for city sightseeing.
Travelling between cities
Sleeper and overnight trains: Experiencing trains in Vietnam is considered a must, and they stop at all major tourist spots between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They’re more expensive than buses but much more comfortable as sleeper cabins are available. You should book trains in advance, especially during peak season.
Internal flights: If you have limited time, flying is your best option. Budget airlines such as Jetstar Asia and Air Asia offer affordable flights to all the major cities.
Bus: Travelling by bus is the cheapest option. They run daily from all major tourist spots, and you can book one at the last minute. Many are overnight sleeper buses, which have seats that can be fully reclined.
Public transport within major cities
Types of transport: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are both serviced by buses. In Hanoi public buses can be recognised by their red, white and yellow colour. In Ho Chi Minh City they are white and green.
Paying for transport: Bus fares must be paid for in cash. In Hanoi a single ticket costs VND5,000–10,000 depending on how far you are traveling. In Ho Chi Minh City it costs VND3,000–10,000.
Getting to and from the airport: From Hanoi International Airport (Noi Bai) catch the number 7 bus to Kim Ma station, or the number 17 bus to Long Bien station. Tickets cost VND5,000 and it takes an hour to get into the city centre. Mini buses are available and cost VND32,000–64,000 to take you to the city centre or directly to your accommodation. They depart once they are full.
From Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat International Airport take the 152 bus if you are arriving between 6am and 6pm. The stop is located directly outside the international terminal. The more luxurious 109 bus is also available and departs from Column 15 at the international terminal, and Column 18 at the domestic terminal.
Taxis and Uber
Taxi: Car and motorbike taxis can be hailed from the side of the road. Both hire cars and taxis can be booked in advance.
Uber: Uber is available in Hanoi and costs VND25,000–375,000 from Noi Bai International Airport to the city centre. From Ho Chi Minh City International Airport to the city centre it costs VND86,000–180,000.
Forget the hassle of dealing with taxis in a new country and book an airport transfer to your accommodation.
Private airport arrival transfer in Ho Chi Minh
Airport to hotel private transfer in Ho Chi Minh
Private airport transfer to Hanoi City
Airport to hotel transfer in Hanoi
Vietnam car hire rental companies
Hiring a car to drive around Vietnam is not common for tourists and is illegal without a Vietnamese driver’s licence. A popular alternative is to hire a car and driver, which is negotiable and affordable and can be hired per day. Having a driver also means you get a guide to show you around the city, and their English is usually good.
If you are intending to hire a car to drive yourself, Avis is one company that provides a meet-and-greet service at both Hanoi International Airport and Ho Chi Minh City International Airport. You can search for local car rental companies and pre-book your rental from the airport websites. Alternatively, you can book direct with Avis.