With millions of passengers passing through its terminals each year, the international airport of Ho Chi Minh, also known as the Tan Son Nhat International Airport, is definitely one of Vietnam’s busiest airports. Located four miles away from the city center, the Tan Son Nhat International Airport is the gateway to the country’s southern region. If you’re heading to the Mekong Delta, Da Lat, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Mui Ne, and several other cities in the south of the country, then this is where you should be flying in. If you’re visiting the country soon and you’re flying to Ho Chi Minh’s International Airport, then here’s a complete guide to help you plan your trip.
Upon arriving, follow the other passengers as you make your way towards immigration. There also signs written in the English language, which is easy for you to read. If you require a visa to enter the country, it is best to apply for your visa in advance at www.vietnamvisa.cheap.
Applying for your visa in advance will save you from the hassle of having to line up to apply for a visa on arrival. The lines can be really long especially if you are traveling during the peak season. Also, you need to fill out some forms that can make the process even longer. It’s also important to remember that the rules and requirements for a Vietnam visa could change from time to time so it is best to apply for your visa ahead of your trip.
After passing through the immigration, you can proceed to the baggage counter to collect your luggage and follow the exit sign to go out of the airport.
Money Exchange and ATM Withdrawal
Before heading to the city center, you might need to exchange your money to the local currency to pay for your fare. It’s easy to find a foreign exchange center at the arrival lounge of the Ho Chi Minh airport. However, the rate is pretty bad compared to the exchange rates in the city center. It might be a good idea to withdraw from the ATM instead.
You’ll find a Citibank ATM just right across the doorway of the arrival lounge. It is best to withdraw money from here because Citibank is an International bank and it accepts Visa, MasterCard, and other International cards.
Getting a Local Sim Card
It is best to get a local sim card upon arriving in Vietnam especially if you’re staying in the country longer. That way, you’d be able to use the mobile Internet anywhere in the country. You’ll find some kiosks selling SIM cards at the arrival area. A month’s worth of 3G Internet should cost around 250,000 VND or less than $15, depending on the data package you have chosen. You can choose either Mobiphone or Viettel. Simply present your passport and phone at the kiosk and the attendant will insert the sim card for you. They will also activate the card so you can immediately use your mobile Internet.
Getting to the City Center
To reach the city center, you can take the taxi, book Grab, or ride the public bus. Taking the taxi is more convenient and this should not cost a lot because the city center is too far. You’ll find plenty of taxi drivers calling for passengers upon exiting. Be very careful with this because taxis in Vietnam are known to rip off unsuspecting foreign tourists.
Some of the most reliable taxi companies in Ho Chi Minh are Vinasun and Mai Linh. But when you get into the taxi, make sure to check if the meter is turned on. Otherwise, you’ll be charged with a fixed rate upon arriving at your destination, which is usually higher than what you’re supposed to pay. Generally, the cost of taking a taxi to the city center coming from the airport is around 150,000 VND to 200,000 VND. That’s around $6 – $10. Never pay more than that.
Like most of the major cities in Southeast Asia, the popular ride-sharing app Grab is now available in Ho Chi Minh. This is another convenient way to get into the city center. So after your local sim card has been activated, use that to book Grab going to your hotel or other areas in the city. That should cost around 100,000 to 150,000 VND, although the price could go up during peak times or past midnight. You can pay with cash or the credit card you have linked in your app.
For a cheaper way to get into the city center, you can take the bus or the airport shuttle. There are two routes that you can take, Route 109 and Shuttle Bus 49. These buses operate as early as 5 AM and run until 2 AM. The cost is only 23,000 VND or around $1.