By Air to/from Vietnam
Vietnam Airlines operates international flights to/from the following destinations: Amsterdam, Bangkok, Berlin, Dubai, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kaohsiung, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Moscow, Osaka, Paris, Phnom Penh, Seoul, Siep Riem (Angkor Wat), Singapore, Sydney, Taipei and Vientiane.
TIP: Fares are significantly lower for those flying to Ho Chi Minh City. Although flights are available from the capitals of most Southeast Asian countries as well as from Sydney and Melbourne. The best place is from Bangkok as visas are easiest to obtain there.
Airport Tax International airport tax is US$14. The airport tax for domestic flights is VND 30'000 (in some cases VND 15'000). Remember to leave enough money for the International Departure Tax if you're flying out of Vietnam. They prefer dollars to Dong at Saigon airport - the exchange rate is extortionate if you're paying in Dong!
It is much easier and safer to travel between cities by plane and buy your tickets in Vietnam as they are cheaper. Most routes have a daily flight and are easily available and booking isn’t necessary.
Northern Airport Flight Service has helicopter flights to Ha Long Bay. There are 2 flights per week at 8:00 and 15:30 on Saturday, departing from Gia Lam Airport in Hanoi (not the international airport). You can get the tickets at the Metropolitan Hotel or www.viethoteltravel.com , Vietnam travel agency
Nha Trang has daily flights to/from Ho Chi Minh City.
National Airport Code City
BMV Ban Me Thuot
DIN Dien Bien Phu
HPH Hai Phong
NHA Nha Trang
PQC Phu Quoc
SGN Ho Chi Minh City
SQH Na San
VIH Qui Nhon
VKG Rach Gia
Vietnam Airlines (International) 116-118 Nguyen Hue Blvd., Ho Chi Minh City. Tel (08) 292118
Vietnam Airlines (Domestic) 27b Nguyen Dinh Chieu St. Ho Chi Minh City. Tel (08) 299980
Air France Dong Khoi and Le Loi St. (Caravelle Hotel), Ho Chi Minh City . Tel (08) 241278
Aeroflot 4H Le Loi St. Ho Chi Minh City. Tel (08) 93489
Thai 116 Nguyen Hue Blvd., Ho Chi Minh City Tel (08) 292118
Philippine Airlines Ho Chi Minh City Tel (08) 292200
MAS116 Nguyen Hue Blvd., Ho Chi Minh City Tel (08) 30695
It is fun to rent a bicycle and to ride around. Rates are around US$ 2 for a day. It is also possible to buy bicycles and even mountain bikes, but beware of the quality. Maintenance is widely available, but original spare parts are rare. Instead, any spare part that "fits" will be used.
There are some boats between the mainland of Vietnam and the islands. Rach Gia to/from Phu Quoc takes 6 to 10 hours and costs around VND 90000. Officially, it should leave every day at 8 am in Rach Gia and at 10 am in An Thui. In reality it waits until there are enough passengers. This can mean day...so be prepared. Ha Tien to/from Phu Quoc This is officially not allowed, since the boat crosses Cambodian waters so if you catch one of these the risk is your own as to whether you get put behind bars for your efforts or not. Vung Tao to/from Con Dao There is a boat between Vung Tao and the island Con Dao. One way takes about 13 hours.
Traveling by road from Cambodia is a slow and expensive alternative to flying. The bus system runs almost everywhere within the country, with stations built around the country dividing the territory into regions. For longer trips buses tend to be slow and unreliable it is therefore generally advised that travelers fly in instead. Nha Trang/Ho Chi Minh City Express and regular buses link Nha Trang with Ho Chi Minh City; express buses take about 12 hours.
It is possible to rent a minibus if you so desire and if there are a few of you, it possibly works out to be a cheaper way of getting around the country, though risky, due to the high number of accidents in Vietnam.
An excellent way to tour any city in Vietnam is to rent a cyclo. Rates start from around VND 15000 to VND 30000 for a ride of up to 10 minutes in Saigon. Locals pay half that price. You can also get a tour of one hour for US$1. In Hanoi prices are more related to the distance and are a bit more expensive. Each town seems to have it’s own price structure, so ask around to get some idea at the time.
TIP: Make sure that you hold onto any belongings when traveling in a cyclo as passing motorists and the like have been known to grab these as they pass.
The routes a cyclo may use is being limited by the government because they cause traffic congestion, so what seems to be a short trip could in fact become quite a long one because of having to take an indirect route, especially in Ho Chin Minh City.
Car rentals are currently not in existence. Cabs, which are unmarked cars without meters, can typically be rented for the day. The rates are about US$40 to US$150 (depending on the car, the place you rent it from, the region and your bargaining skills). As with any form of transport in Vietnam, driving is a risk you take due to the high accident rate in the country.
It's easy to rent a motorcycle to get around. Usual rates are US$4 to US$7 for a day for a 50 cc to 100 cc Honda or Yamaha. If you rent a motorbike, make sure that you don't leave your passport with them and that in the contract they don't overcharge. Buy a big lock and chain as the motorbike theft rate is VERY high.
If you are in a hurry, you can try to flag down a motorcycle for a ride on the back (most drivers are not adverse to making a bit of extra money) or ask a local to find a Honda ong (motorbike taxi) for you. The biggest problem is explaining the destination to the driver because pronunciation is everything in Vietnamese. Carry a pen and paper or a map.
TIP: As in many Asian countries the standard of driving, to say the least, is atrocious and at times it will seem as if every vehicle on the road is going in the opposite direction to you. It is therefore generally advised that unless you are both a very experienced driver with a good medical insurance or a risk-taker, it’s NOT ADVISABLE to rent a motorbike at all.
Ships and Ferries
There are no official passenger services. Travelers may be able to ride on a cargo ship to Ho Chi Minh City, Danang or Haiphong from Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore or France. Check with the local shipping and travel agencies for rates and availability.
A ferry service runs from Cambodia to Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta.
There are currently no train lines running between Vietnam and its neighbouring countries. The Vietnamese railway system runs from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi along the coast and links with Haiphong and the regions further north. Odd-numbered trains travel south and even-numbered trains travel north.
The fastest trains take at least 28 hours from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. Reservations should be made a day or more in advance. The major setback to the railways is that tourists are charged many times more than Vietnamese people in the form of an outrageously high surcharge. For long distance traveling, it is best to fly.
Nha Trang Express trains run to/from both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
Please note that the above time schedules and prices are subject to change and are therefore intended only as a guide.