Getting around Vietnam
Vietnam Airlines (VN) (www.vietnamairlines.com) operates
daily flights between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hué, Danang and Nha Trang.
Jetstar Pacific (www.jetstar.com) or Vietjetair (Vietjetair.com) also operate
flights on these routes. Regular services are also provided by Vietnam Airlines
between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Buon Ma Thuot, Dalat, Phu Quoc, Pleiku
and Qui Nhon.
The road situation has improved dramatically so flights are
used for long distances and to save time. It is still easier to fly to places
like Dien Bien Phu. Flights are particularly busy around the Tet holiday in
January/February and it is essential to book ahead.
Included in the price of the ticket
Side of road: N/A
The road network throughout Vietnam is reasonable but the
standard of the roads varies dramatically from good to appalling. Road
conditions can deteriorate during the rainy season.
Roads throughout Vietnam are designated by numbers and the
main north to south route is Highway 1 connecting Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City.
Highway 1 travels the length of the country from the very
south to Hanoi via Danang and Hue. The road from Ho Chi Minh City to the
Cambodian border is Highway 22.
It is possible to hire chauffeur-driven cars from travel
companies. Self-drive car hire is non-existent.
Taxis are plentiful and cheap. They can be flagged down on
the street or arranged through your hotel or the restaurant where you are
eating. Always make sure the driver has set the meter before starting the
Bicycles can be hired for a day or longer from shops in the
main towns and cities. Many Vietnamese people still have a bicycle as their
main form of transport but now there are many more motorbikes as well as cars
and lorries. Particular care must be taken when cycling in towns and on main
roads outside the towns as drivers do not always observe road rules and are not
Long-distance coaches operate throughout the country,
between Hanoi, Hué, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City. Tickets must be bought in
person at the bus station.
Seat belts are not compulsory in Vietnam. Helmets are
compulsory for motorbike riders. Cars drive on the right.
An International Driving Permit and a test (taken in
Vietnam) are required for long-term residents.
Getting around towns
There are local bus services in Ho Chi Minh City and in
Hanoi. It is also possible to travel by taxi, motorbike or cyclo (cycle
rickshaw; motorised version also exists). Most foreigners forego the bus,
preferring to use these. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped, but it is
welcomed. Hopping on the back of a 'moto' is the cheapest way to travel, if you
have the stomach for the crazy driving. Agree the price first and make sure
they have a good helmet.
Visitors may use the rail transport system independently or
as part of a rail tour. Express long-distance trains are faster than local
services, more reliable and more comfortable. Although a few carriages now have
air conditioning, facilities are still short of international standards. The
main rail route connects Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and the journey can take
between 30 and 40 hours. There are also services from Hanoi to Haiphong, Dong Dang
and Lao Cai.
Cat Ba Island, in the north, is a popular place for visitors and can be reached by hydrofoil from Haiphong. A hydrofoil also serves the beach resort, Vung Tau, with a daily service from Ho Chi Minh City. The tropical getaway island of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Thailand can be reached by hydrofoil from Rach Gia in the Mekong Delta.