Transportation

If you are planning to travel to Vietnam, then knowing about transportation in Vietnam is a necessary thing to consider. Vietnam actually has a variety of transportation methods which are rather hassle-free. Whether you arrive in Vietnam by air, rail, or sea, you can reach downtown in no time. Vietnam’s modern and efficient public transportation system is able to bring you to nearly every corner within the territory, from skyscrapers in central business districts to gathering points of natural hiking trails!

There are many ways to get around Vietnam, which depends on your preference and budget. You can use train, bus/van, plane, ferry, private vehicle/car or motorbike. In many cases, you will use a combination of the above means of transportation.

Local Transport

Cyclo

The cyclo is a bicycle rickshaw. This cheap mode of transport is steadily dying out, but is still found in some Vietnamese cities. Groups of cyclo drivers always hang out near major hotels and markets. Bargaining is imperative; settle on a fare before going anywhere. Approximate fares are between US$0.52 and US$1.08 for a short ride, between US$1.08 and US$1.72 for a longer or night ride.

However, do consider that there are some dodgy cyclo operators out there (HCMC has several) who target tourists by outrageously overcharging and there have been reports of threats of violence.

Cyclo tours organised by tour operators and some hotels are sanitised rides around cities.

Xe Om

The xe om (zay-ohm) is a motorbike taxi. Xe means motorbike, om means hug (or hold), so you get the picture. Getting around by xe om is easy, as long as you don’t have a lot of luggage.Fares are around US$0.64 for a short hop, or from US$0.86 in HCMC or Hanoi. Negotiate the price beforehand. There are plenty of xe om drivers hanging around street corners, hotels and bus stations. They will find you before you find them…

Taxi

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 US$0.52 to US$0.64 per kilometre. However, dodgy taxis with go-fast meters do roam the streets of Hanoi and HCMC; they often hang around bus terminals. Only travel with reputable or recommended companies.

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

App-based taxis (both car and motorbike) including Uber and Grab are available in several Vietnamese cities including HCMC, Hanoi and Danang.

Bus

Few travellers deal with city buses due to communication issues and the cheapness of taxis, cyclos and xe om. That said, the bus systems in Hanoi and HCMC are not impossible to negotiate – get your hands on a bus map.

Online Planning

The website www.baolau.vn has a very useful, and generally accurate, Plan Your Trip function that allows you to compare train, plane and bus travel (including costs and schedules) between cities in Vietnam.

Transport Fares

For most visitors, one of the most interesting aspects of travelling in Vietnam is the ease of going around in Vietnam. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate through Vietnam.

  • Airfares Fares are dependent on when you book and what dates you want to travel. There is no price difference between Vietnamese and foreigners.
  • Boat fares Ferries and hydrofoils have fixed prices, but expect to pay more for the privilege of being a foreigner on smaller local boats around the Mekong Delta and to places like the Cham Islands.
  • Bus fares More complicated. If you buy a ticket from the point of departure (ie the bus station), then the price is fixed and very reasonable. However, should you board a bus along the way, there’s a good chance the driver or conductor will overcharge. In remote areas drivers may ask for four, or even 10, times what the locals pay. Local bus prices should be fixed and displayed by the door, but foreigners are sometimes overcharged on routes such as Danang–Hoi An.
  • Rail fares Fixed, although naturally there are different prices for different classes.
  • Taxis Mostly metered and very cheap, but very occasionally some taxis have dodgy meters that run fast.
  • Xe Oms & Cyclos Fares are definitely not fixed and you need to bargain. Hard.

If you face any transportation problem during your study, contact the international office or student affairs office of your institution for assistance.