Vietnam offers a variety of transportation options and getting from one place to another is quite straightforward. Within the past years, transportation has become easily accessible to locals and tourists alike. Gone are the days of haggling for the fee as most of the buses and trains have set prices and you can easily book your tickets online.
To help you decide the best transportation for your trip, here is an overview of your options on how to get around Vietnam.
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Booking a flight is the best option for faster movements, especially if you have fixed plans or if you have limited time. Flying between cities in Vietnam is the easiest way to see as many highlights as possible. It can be affordable if you book ahead and if you’re traveling between bigger cities where flights are more frequent, such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Da Nang. For example, a ticket from Hanoi to Da Nang costs as little as 20 USD on a regular day. However, one downside of booking flights ahead of time is that you might not get enough flexibility with your plans.
Common airlines in Vietnam include Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet, and Bamboo airlines. Vietjet is your standard budget airline where you pay for your checked bags and are only allowed 7 kg of hand luggage. If you fly with Bamboo or Vietnam airlines, bags are usually included for free.
Trains travel all across Vietnam. It is a popular transportation option for budget travelers as it is comfortable and the prices are reasonable. Taking the train is best for staying away from traffic and getting to see far more of the countryside. This is also a great way to cover long distances in the country while getting a good night’s sleep and saving on night’s accommodation.
There are several types of train classes and durations so make sure to inquire when purchasing a ticket. If you’re visiting during the peak season or holidays, make sure to book in advance. For the most updated schedule and ticket prices, visit the Vietnam Railways website.
Traveling by bus is the cheapest way to cover long distances in the country, which is great for budget travelers. It is also very convenient with many services running every day in between cities and smaller towns. Our top tip is to check the cost of the bus compared to flying and decide how much your time is worth. Sometimes, you can find deals on flights which costs 5 USD more than a bus ticket.
Traveling at night is very popular among tourists in Vietnam. Also, the country is famous for its sleeper buses, which can be great to take at night so you can save on accommodation and avoid traffic. However, they are not the most comfortable because the beds are cramped on some of the older buses.
A great tip for tall travelers or to anyone who wants to have more space is to splurge a little bit for a VIP cabin bus. These buses have bigger beds and are usually newer compared to the regular sleeper bus. However, you'll find that some of shorter routes don’t have these buses. Instead, reserve a lower bunk so you can stretch your legs in the aisle. Some of the main bus companies include Thanh Buoi, Futa Bus, and The Sinh Tourist. You can easily book your ticket on the bus companies’ website or at your accommodation and prices start from 140,000 VND (6 USD).
There are many metered taxis available in bigger cities and they can be affordable depending on the traffic and the distance you’re traveling in between. The traffic in major cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi can be quite brutal and traveling by car is more comfortable, especially during midday. Make sure to agree on either a set price or to run the meter.
On shorter distances, you can book a car with a driver to take you from one city to another. This can be costly at times but is popular among families and great for groups traveling together. Not only is it comfortable but also very convenient if you want to reach a place fast. The prices for day cars are normally set and you can book them at your accommodation.
By Grab or Gojek
Grab and Gojek is the equivalent of UBER. It is one of the easiest ways to get around the main cities in Vietnam. By using one of these ride-sharing platforms, you avoid all the haggling and paying way too much for your trips. You can also add your credit card or pay in cash. Grab and Gojek have the option of booking a car or a motorbike. Due to the heavy traffic in bigger cities, it’s more convenient to book a bike and it’s also cheaper. For example, a 5 km ride will cost you around 20,000 VND (0.90 USD).
Renting a motorbike is the best way to travel and see the country. Driving on your own gives you the flexibility to stop anywhere and anytime you want. It is great for discovering more of the countryside but it is not advisable for covering longer distances especially if you have limited time. Other than that, traffic can be a pain in bigger cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi.
The good thing is, there’s no shortage of motorbikes for rent in Vietnam. Depending on the type of motorbike, you can expect the rental price to be around 140,000 VND (6.15 USD) per day. Just make sure you carry an international driver's license to avoid trouble. Vietnam has heightened its traffic police within recent years and you may pay high fines if you get caught. On top of that, your insurance will also NOT cover your hospital expenses in case of an emergency.
Bicycle is best for cruising short distances and it’s a great option for getting around locally in the city or town where you are staying. You will find many accommodations offering cheap rentals or have bicycles that are free for guests to use. Bikes can also be a fun way to explore smaller towns such as Hoi An and Mui Ne.
The bottom line is that Vietnam is a huge country. There are many ways to get from point A to B. But if you are short of time, we recommend to cover longer distances by plane. You can take buses anywhere within the country and just rent a motorbike to explore the area you are staying in.
We hope that this quick guide has helped you have an overview of your options on how to get around Vietnam.
We wish you the best in your travels and enjoy Vietnam!
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.