Transportation while in Vietnam

Planes, trains and automobiles…what’s the best way to get around?


Taxis with meters, found in most major cities, are very cheap by international standards and a safe way to travel around at night. Average tariffs are about 10,000d to 15,000d per kilometer. However, dodgy taxis with go-fast meters do roam the streets of Hanoi and HCMC, they often hang around bus terminals and train stations. Only travel with reputable or recommended companies.

Two nationwide companies with excellent reputations are Mai Linh and Vinasun.


The cyclo is a bicycle rickshaw. This cheap, environmentally friendly mode of transport is steadily dying out, but is still found in Vietnam’s main cities.

Groups of cyclo drivers always hang out near major hotels and markets, and many speak at least broken English. To make sure the driver understands where you want to go, it’s useful to bring a city map. Bargaining is imperative. Settle on a fare before going anywhere or you’re likely to get stiffed.

Approximate fares are between 10,000d and 15,0000d for a short ride, between 20,000d and 35,000d for a longer or night ride, or around 40,000d per hour.


Most travellers use buses to get around Vietnam but never actually see a bus station. This is because the lion’s share of tourist journeys are made on privately operated services, usually referred to as “open-tour” buses, which usually operate not from stations but the offices of the companies in question. The term comes from the fact that such companies typically sell through-tickets between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, with customers free to stop off for as long as they like at the main points en route – Da Lat, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Da Nang, Hué and Ninh Binh.

Ticket prices vary widely depending upon which company you choose, and (if you’re booking a through-ticket) how many stops you’d like to make en route; sample prices are $35 and up from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, $25 from Ho Chi Minh City to Hué, and $5 from Hué to Hoi An. You can either make firm bookings at the outset or opt for an open-dated ticket for greater flexibility, in which case you may need to book your onward travel one or two days in advance to be sure of a seat. Alternatively, you can buy separate tickets as you go along, which is recommended. Each main town on the itinerary has an agent (one for each operator) where you can buy tickets and make onward reservations.

**Pick-pockets: While traveling in Vietnam is a breeze, it is always important to be aware of your surroundings. Pick-pocketing is a major occurrence, especially in larger cities. Make sure that your bag is zipped up and carried in front of you and that your wallet is tucked away safely. It is also a good idea to keep copies of your passport and essential documents in your dorm or hotel room, just in case. Keep an eye out for yourself and your friends on crowded metro trains and don’t be afraid to make a lot of noise if you see something out of place. Pick-pockets scare easily!

Other Resources:

Getting Around Vietnam