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Home Travel Guide Vietnam Travel Guide Vietnam Transportation: Best Ways to Get around Vietnam

Vietnam Transportation: Best Ways to Get around Vietnam

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Vietnam is a long and narrow country that showcases its diversity of landscapes from north to south. Vietnam also offers a wide variety of transportation options for you to travel and visit, which includes everything from planes, trains, buses, motorcycles, and bicycles.

Transportation between Cities

For traveling between major cities in Vietnam, airplanes, trains, and buses are the three most common ways to travel.

1. By Airplane

Vietnam provides first-class domestic flights that allow tourists to travel across the country easily, quickly, and comfortably. Almost anywhere in Vietnam, there are multiple daily flights to all popular domestic destinations such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, Da Nang, and other cities.

Many visitors fly from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City or vice versa. Traveling by land between these two cities is quite time-consuming. Usually, it takes about 30+ hours to travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City by train, while it only takes about 2 hours by plane.

Vietnam is served by three major international airports – Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) in Hanoi, Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang International Airport (DAD) in Da Nang.

cai rang floarting market

Travel Times of Some Major Routes

(1) Hanoi Airport

1 hour 10 minutes to Hue, 1 hour 20 minutes to Da Nang, 2 hours to Ho Chi Minh City, 1 hour 50 minutes to Nha Trang, 2 hours 10 minutes to Can Tho, 2 hours to Phu Quoc Island

(2) Da Nang Airport

1 hour 15 minutes to Ho Chi Minh City, 1 hour 15 minutes to Nha Trang, 1 hour to Dalat

(3) Ho Chi Minh City Airport

1 hour to Phu Quoc Island, 1 hour 10 minutes to Nha Trang, 2 hours to Hai Phong

Main Airlines in Vietnam

(a) Vietnam Airlines

Vietnam’s only state-owned airline connects most domestic cities and also offers a choice of international flights between Vietnam and Laos, Cambodia, Hong Kong, mainland China, Korea, Japan, Russia, and more.

(b) VietJet Air

Vietnam’s first low-cost airline operates budget flights between cities in the country, as well as between Hanoi – Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City – Bangkok, and Ho Chi Minh City – Singapore, among others.

(c) Pacific Airlines

A low-cost airline rebranded Jetstar Pacific Airlines to Pacific Airlines in 2020, providing regular domestic and international services and charter flights available.

(d) Bamboo Airways

A private leisure airline serves a lot of international cities such as Sydney, Taiwan, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, London, and Los Angeles and domestic destinations including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Can Tho, Phu Quoc.

2. By Train

Due to the topography, Vietnam has only one major railroad route (Reunification Express) from south to north, starting and ending in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, which takes about 30 to 41 hours depending on the speed, covering 36 large cities and small towns along the way, such as Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, and other cities. This 2,600 km long rail network takes tourists to different places with cheap travel costs.

Although not too fast (about 40 km/h on average), trains in Vietnam are comfortable (except for hard seats), most of which are air-conditioned and tourists have the opportunity to admire magnificent scenery as the trains may cross a variety of terrains such as forests, rice fields, and valleys.

cai rang floarting market

How to Buy Train Tickets in Vietnam?

If you are traveling by train in Vietnam, you can buy your ticket both at counters in Vietnam’s train stations and online through many travel agencies and the official Vietnam train ticketing website https://vr.com.vn/en. There are four types of trains to choose from – hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper, and soft sleeper. Sleeper cabins with 4 or 6 double-deck beds are quite recommended

Travel Times & Fares between Major Cities

(1) Hanoi Train Station

15.5 hours to Da Nang (USD 43 for Soft Seat/USD 66 for Soft Berth), 33 hours to Ho Chi Minh City (USD 65 for Soft Seat/USD 92 for Soft Berth), 26 hours to Nha Trang (USD 56 for Soft Seat/USD 80 for Soft Berth), 14 hours to Hue (USD 41 for Soft Seat/USD 59 for Soft Berth)

(2) Hue Train Station

3 hours to Da Nang (USD 15 for Soft Seat), 13 hours to Nha Trang (USD 36 for Soft Seat/USD 48 for Soft Berth), 20 hours to Ho Chi Minh City (USD 42 for Soft Seat/USD 64 for Soft Berth)

(3) Nha Trang Train Station

8 hours to Ho Chi Minh City (USD 33 for Soft Seat/USD 49 for Soft Berth)

3. By Bus

Buses are a fairly common means of transportation in Vietnam. They can take you almost anywhere in the country, including Open-tour Buses, Intercity Buses, and Minivans.

Open-tour buses are the most popular among budget travelers and operate regularly between major tourist cities such as Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Mui Ne, and Ho Chi Minh City. Most long-distance tour buses are sleeper buses or equipped with recliners.

Visitors can hop on and off at various cities along the way, with no restrictions on departure times, but need to confirm seats with the local office at least 1 day before departure. You can book through travel agents almost everywhere, or online three days in advance.

cai rang floarting market

Travel Times & Fares between Major Cities

Open-tour bus tickets are quite affordable, compared to traveling in Vietnam by plane or train.

(1) Hanoi Bus Station

4.5 hours to Sapa (USD 15), 12 hours to Hue (USD 20)

(2) Hue Bus Station

2.5 hours to Da Nang (USD 3.5), 5 hours to Hoi An (USD 10)

(3) Hoi An Bus Station

8 hours to Nha Trang (USD 15)

(4) Nha Trang Bus Station

4 hours to Da Lat (USD 11), 5 hours to Mui Ne (USD 10), 6 hours to Ho Chi Minh City (USD 12)

(5) Ho Chi Minh City Bus Station

5 hours to Mui Ne (USD 11), 7 hours to Da Lat (USD 12), 9 hours to Nha Trang (USD 12)

Transportation in Cities

There are various ways to travel around the cities in Vietnam, among which motorcycles and taxis are the most used by tourists.

1. Motorcycle

The motorcycle is the most typical and convenient transportation for short trips in Vietnam. It can take you to discover every hidden & narrow street. Tourists can find motorcycle rental stores in almost every city in Vietnam.

Rental rates vary depending on the size of the motorcycle (such as scooters), from $7 to $15 per day. The price would be lower if you rent for more than a week, but you may be asked to put up your passport as collateral.

* Notes on Motorcycle Riding
  1. You need to have an international driver’s license.
  2. If you do not have a license or do not want to drivea motorcycle, you can pay extra to hire a local motorcyclist.
  3. Check your motorcycle carefully for proper operation before riding.
  4. It is best to rent a larger motorcycle for riding on rugged mountain roads.
  5. You’re highly recommended to wear a helmet.

2. Taxi

Very common in big cities, taxis are convenient, fast, comfortable, and safe, making them the first choice for tourists traveling within the city. The cost of a taxi ride is usually based on the distance traveled. Taxi fares are about USD3.5 for the first 3 kilometers and USD1 for each additional kilometer. Typically, an hour’s taxi waiting for a taxi costs $2.

Remember to always ask the driver to turn on the taxi meter when entering a taxi. In some smaller towns and mountainous areas, it can be difficult to find a taxi.

3. Bus

In Vietnam, bus fares vary according to the city or route, and are usually about USD 0.2. However, due to the language problem, it is difficult for foreign tourists to get off at the right stop, so few tourists will choose the bus to travel.

The bus in Vietnam adopts a flat fare system. The fare varies depending on the city or route, and the fare is usually about USD 0.2. However, due to the language barrier, it is difficult for foreign tourists to get off the bus at the right stop, so few of them choose to travel inside the city by bus.

4. Car Rental

Private chauffeur-driven cars are available for rent in most major cities in Vietnam, which means you can completely decide where to go and when to leave, quite friendly for families or a group of friends. You will feel absolute freedom when traveling in Vietnam with a rental car.

Compared to most forms of transportation in Vietnam, renting a car is expensive, ranging from $25- $100, depending on the type and the luxury of the car. The rental fee is usually paid in cash, and sometimes you may be required to pay a small deposit. The cost of fuel is usually covered by the person who rents the car. You can choose different models, the most common being 4-seater and 7-seater cars.

* Tips for Driving in Vietnam
  1. You must have an international driver’s license or a local Vietnamese driver’s license (valid) with local insurance.
  2. You can theoretically drive in Vietnam if you are 18 years old, but car rental agencies may require a minimum age of at least 21.

5. Bicycle

Cycling in Vietnam’s countryside & seaside is often an attractive option to enjoy pastoral or seaside scenery at a leisurely pace. It is a fairly economical way, allowing tourists to explore various scenic spots without constraints, and experience the strong local customs in depth.

You can find them in the Mekong Delta and central Vietnam, in small towns like Hoi An and Hue. Tourists can reach almost anywhere they want to go by bike. Bicycle rental is about VND20,000 to VND30,000 (about US$1) per day.

6. Boat / Ferry / Cruise

Traveling by boat is a unique and interesting way of sightseeing in Vietnam. People usually approach the islands by boat – a canoe ride on the Mekong River, a cruise in Halong Bay, and a ferry ride to Phu Quoc Island. Of course, you can also rent boats from tour operators or coastal locals for private sea fishing or excursions.

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