When planning our trip to Vietnam we discovered that it is always helpful to find information on how to get from A to B in the country you are planning to travel in. No matter if you want to plan a roundtrip or if you just want to travel spontaneously, you’ll always need transportation and here’s how to get around in Vietnam:
Traveling by plane:
Vietnam has a lot of airports all over the country. The largest are in Ho Chi Minh City (SGN), Hanoi (HAN) and Da Nang (DAD). Between all three of them there flights on high frequency by the three local carriers Vietnam Airlines (www.vietnamairlines.com), Vietjet Air (www.vietjetair.com) and Jetstar Pacific Airlines (http://www.jetstar.com/vn/en/home). Soon Air Asia Vietnam will be the fourth carrier in the country.
Da Nang (DAD) is the perfect destination airport if you want to discover Hoi An, Hue, My Son, Ba Na Mountains, the marble mountains in the surrounding and the nearby Hai Van Pass. The area also is good for a stay at the beach, there are many beach resorts nearby. From the airport you can either take a bus or taxi to those locations. You can find information on bus schedules on www.danangairport.vn. If you want to go to Hoi An, you can also book a transfer with Barri Ann Travel, a local travel agency, we have also booked a transfer there and had no problems. The homepage is http://www.barrianntravel.com.
If you want to go to Halong Bay by plane, there are two options. One is to fly to Cat Bi Airport (HPH), which is located in Hai Phong, where the ferry to Cat Ba Island goes and from where a taxi ride takes about 1.5 – 2 hours to Halong City from where most Halong Bay cruises are leaving. Due to the proximity, there are no flights to Cat Bi Airport from Hanoi, but it is well connected to Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang (by Vietjet Air, Vietnam Airlines and Vietnam Airlines), to Nha Trang (by Vietjet Air and Vietnam Airlines) and other domestic airports. Another way is to come in by seaplane from Hanoi. The seaplanes are arriving in Halong City and are operated by Hai Au Aviation (https://www.seaplanes.vn/en/), a roundtrip from and back to Hanoi starts at 7,875,000 VND per passenger.
There are also several smaller airports in Vietnam near bigger cities. Nah Trang (CXR) on the southeastern coast (connected to many domestic and nearby international airports, mainly by Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, Jetstar Pacific and Sichuan Airlines) and the airport of Phu Quoc Island (PQC), an interesting island in the south west of Vietnam (connected to Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Hai Phong and Siem Reap by Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air and Jetstar Pacific) are some examples for it.
You can find a full list of airports in Vietnam and airlines flying from there on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airports_in_Vietnam
Prices for domestic flights normally range between 700,000 and 1,500,000 VND one way including luggage. If you are travelling with hand luggage only, the fares can be even lower. If you wish to book flights it is best to book them from home before traveling, as the airlines frequently offer sales and promos for long-dated bookings.
Traveling by bus:
Traveling by bus is quite easy. Beside a lot of public overland bus services between almost all bigger cities (you can only book them at the ticket offices in Vietnam). Between the main tourist sites like Hanoi and Sapa or Hanoi and Halong Bay.
Tourist busses can partly be pre-booked online but in many cases it is cheaper to book them in travel agencies in Vietnam after your arrival there. We have made really good experiences with booking transfer busses and tours in different local travel agencies, everything we booked was on time, reliable and safe and all staff and drivers were friendly and helpful. Sometimes tourist busses and tours happen to stop at stores, restaurants or handicraft workshops as they get commission if you buy something there but we didn’t see anybody being pushed to buy something, if you don’t want you can just use the break to stretch your legs or walk around a little. Nonetheless tourist busses are mostly faster than public busses as they don’t have many stops on the road.
Prices for tourist bus trips are low, they usually start at 100,000 VND for shorter 500,000 VND per person for longer trips. More luxury or private bus transfers can be more expensive.
Information on busses from Hanoi to Sapa can be found here: https://www.hanoisapatrain.com/sapa-bus.html
Busses from Hanoi to Halong Bay can be booked through many travel agencies in Hanoi and should not exceed 250,000 VND per person. You are usually going on the same bus as the tourists taking a day trip to Halong bay than.
In Da Nang and Hoi An area we made good experiences with Barri Ann Travel (http://www.barrianntravel.com), they offer scheduled and cheap airport transfers and busses, tours and booking of bus rides in the region.
You can find examples of other bus services under following links:
Traveling by train:
Vietnam Railways is the national railway company of Vietnam and offers train travels mostly along the eastern coast. The longest link is between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, it stops at many bigger cities along the tracks such as Vinh, Dong Hoi, Hue, Da Nang, Dieu Tri and Nha Trang.
As the tracks are partly going directly through city centers and up through the mountains, a train ride can take really long on longer routes. It might sometimes be faster to take a bus, but traveling by train has its own attraction and is more comfortable due to the stressful traffic and the conditions of overland roads in Vietnam.
You can book tickets at the ticket offices in each station, or you can book them through a travel agency. A travel agency might be a little more helpful as not everybody speaks English at the train stations and travel agents are familiar with the process of buying the ticket for you. This service might cost a little extra but it’s worth it. Tickets range between 150,000 VND in standard class to more than 2,500,000 VND in Business Class on longer routes.
You can find a little more information on routes and prices here:
Tickets can be reserved online in advance on this site, you can also find schedules here:
There are also a few tourist trains by private companies, most of them running between Hanoi and Sapa, they are more expensive but more comfortable, information, schedules and prices on those can be found here for example:
Traveling by Taxi
Within cities and on routes which are not frequently served by busses or trains, a taxi is the best choice to get to your destination. In bigger cities there are taxis driving all around the city and you can hire them at the street, if you are in a smaller city, you might need to ask somebody to call you a taxi. Official taxis are always using the meter so you are not paying more than anybody else. Metered fares are different from city to city and company to company, small cars are usually cheaper than vans. The fare starts between 8,000 and 10,000 VND including the first 300-800 meters, from then on you pay 9,000 to 16,000 VND per kilometer.
We used taxis within cities and never paid more than 100,000 VND to get from point to point. Our transfer from Halong City to Haiphong Cat Bi Airport was a little less than 1,000,000 VND and a transfer from Da Nang to Hoi An is about 450,000 VND, a little more or less, depending on the location of your hotel.
If you are taking the taxi for longer distances, the fare per kilometer usually reduced itself from a certain distance (20-30 km). Some taxi companies are also offering driver services so you can rent a taxi including driver for the whole day. Prices for that are different with every company.
Thank you for reading, we hope we were able to give you some useful information.
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