From wild rides on motorbikes to being pedaled along in a cyclo, the transportation options in Vietnam are anything but boring. If you’re planning on traveling cross country, it’s important to know your options and get some tips on how to get around the country in the smoothest way. It depends a lot on your budget, time, flexibility and even sense of adventure. So let’s take a look at some of the best transportation options in Vietnam.
Flying to and around Vietnam
Vietnam is home to more than 20 airports, but the most international flights arrive in either Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Flying is by far the fastest option, but it’s probably also the most expensive. But if you’re lucky, there are times when you can find some great deals. Flying will save you a bunch of time that you can spend on doing something fun instead so make sure you always check if there are any good deals. It’s definitely more comfortable than going on 20 hour bus rides.
Vietnam by bus
This is the most preferred options amongst tourists because it’s really easy, there’s buses operating day and night and it’s cheap. However, the buses can be unreliable at times, they can break down, the traffic can be slow and there’s all kinds of things that can happen while you’re on the road. But still, it’s a very good option and you might even find new friends onboard the buses. The buses are usually air conditioned, some buses even have WiFi and if you’re going on a longer journey, it’s usually sleeper buses. They’re not very comfortable for people who are a bit taller, but if you’re quite short, you can count on being able to stretch and sleep comfortably. Before you book your ticket with any private bus companies, do some research before and see what reviews they’ve gotten. Sometimes it’s worth paying a bit extra to get a more comfortable ride.
Vietnam by train
Train is probably the least popular option just because the train can sometimes be slower than the buses and the trains aren’t running to as many cities as the buses do either. But still, the train can be a fantastic option because it’s usually the cheapest option and traveling slower allows you to see more of the country. The Reunification Express, running from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, is the main line in Vietnam. The trains stops in popular spots such as Hue, Danang and Nha Trang. Do remember that the train rides are slow so if you don’t have a lot of time to spare, this option might not be the best for you.
Traveling by boat
If you’re thinking of visiting some of the islands in Vietnam, such as Phu Quoc, there are daily ferries that goes there. The boats are safe and it usually just takes a few hours to get to your destination. However, if you easily get sick, make sure to bring some pills with you. The waves can be a bit rough.
Vietnam by motorcycle or scooter
Are you feeling adventurous? Well, why not hop on a motorcycle or scooter and make your way cross country! This is one of the most popular transportation options amongst travelers just because it enables you so much more freedom. It’s not very difficult or expensive either to rent or buy a motorcycle/scooter, so plenty of people do this. With this means of transportation, you can stop wherever you want to and whenever. You can go to places that can’t be reached by bus, stop in small villages and cruise around from beach to beach. It’s the ultimate way to travel around Vietnam and it’s a helluva fun! Just beware of the traffic though which gets especially hectic in the big cities, know your surroundings and always wear a helmet.
Vietnam with local transportation
Xe om, or motorbike taxis, are available in almost every city you go to. But you need to haggle hard if you want a fair price. If you’re not keen on haggling, download the apps Uber or Grab. It will automatically calculate the price that you need to pay to get from point A to B without having to haggle.
Cyclo, or bicycle rickshaws, are another fun way to get around the city or towns. They’ve been banned in some cities, but you can still find a few people who are trying to keep their business running. Just make sure to negotiate fiercely before entering the rickshaw, otherwise they might ask you for outrageous sums when the ride is over.
Before you travel to Vietnam, make sure that you have a valid Vietnam visa so you can enter the country. There are three visa options: Visa on Arrival, E-Visa and going to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate. The two first options are online visas and you can apply for those wherever you are in the world. They’re easy to apply to and you’ll get the visa within a few days to your email. If you’re planning on arriving to Vietnam by land, such as crossing the border from Cambodia to Vietnam for example with bus, you must go to the Vietnamese Embassy to get a visa. The online visas are not valid if you arrive to Vietnam by land.