If you’re traveling to Vietnam for the first time, you may have some questions about transportation in the country. Our aim is to briefly explain the most common modes of transport from two wheels to two wings.
Assuming you’re entering Vietnam by plane (though it’s not the only way to enter!), there are a number of noteworthy airports around the country that can easily connect you to new destinations. While Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat and Hanoi’s Noi Bai are the most famous international airports, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Can Tho, Da Lat and a number of other destinations have their own international airports as well. In addition to the various domestic airports scattered around the country, touring Vietnam by plane is certainly the fastest way of exploration (though not always the cheapest).
Riding the Rails
If you’re looking to get a bit more scenic with your transport, there are railways that connect the entire country from Lao Cai in the north (connecting to Sapa) to Ho Chi Minh City in the south. Train travel in Vietnam is generally mid-range pricing with scenic views throughout the journey. For those who are concerned with time during their trips, however, train travel is not always the most efficient.
The Country on Four Wheels
“Open Tour” buses, hired vans, local buses and taxi fleets are the most popular means of auto travel when moving domestically within the country. While tickets are often cheap for open tour buses, the ride is never guaranteed to be the safest. When it comes to long distances, taxis generally don’t go too far… unless you’re willing to pay the never-ending meter. Local buses and hired vans are a cheap way to move around the country, however tourists are often surprised to be squeezed into a 16-seat van with sometimes 12 extra people. The most efficient, cost-effective and timely way to explore the country is by private hired car. In northern Vietnam, Hanoi Airport Taxi offers a wide range of set prices for set itineraries that will be impossible to beat from local operators (with the same safety and standards). If you’re looking to take your vacation into your own hands, private transport is your best option!
For the adventurous type, visitors can rent motorbikes for relatively cheap rates to explore the closer regions. Foreigners must be careful as to obey the somewhat strange Vietnamese traffic laws however… and take note that motor accidents are a very common occurrence. Other modes of local transport range from bicycles and “xe om” drivers- hired motorbike drivers- to the iconic three-wheeled “cyclo”- Vietnam’s version of the “rickshaw.”
Another excellent way to see the country (where available) is by the waterways. Whether boating locally through the Delta, sailing the majestic seas of Halong Bay in a traditional junk or riding the Mekong River internationally from Cambodia- boat travel ranges from basic to total luxury. The mode of transportation you choose is entirely dependent on how you want to see the country. Time, money and comfort are three major concerns when deciding how to go, but no matter what sort of experience you want to have, Vietnam has a place for it!