Getting Around

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By plane

The fastest way to travel the distance of Vietnam country is by plane. There are many flights connecting the two largest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city and to major cities such as Da Nang, Hai Phong, Can Tho, Hue, Nha Trang, Da Lat, and Phu Quoc. A passport is always required to make a booking on all domestic flights which include Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific and Air Mekong. Budget airlines often sell cheap fares but very often these flights get delayed. Consider this factor when you have a connecting flight or your tour schedule is fixed at the destination port.

 

By train

Many solo travelers, adventurous groups prefer discovering Vietnam by train. And that can be a rewarding way. A litte bit more expensive than buses, but trains are the most comfortable way to travel overland in Vietnam. It's a good way to see the countryside, its coastal communities from North to South or vice verse.

The 2600km Vietnamese railway system is a monopoly of Vietnam Railways. The route runs along the coast between the South (Ho Chi Minh Station) and North (Hanoi). Along the way, it links with local stations at key cities including Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hue and Vinh. There is also a route to Sapa and a route to Hai Phong. There is no route to the Mekong delta due to the flat muddy soil plus a dense network of canals and rivers. 

Vietnam’s railway authority has been rapidly upgrading trains and facilities – with air-con sleeping berths and dining cars available now on express. On the Sapa route, you will be surprised to have a luxury compartment on the luxurly trains only serving tourists. Most of tourist trains meet high standards.

Don’t try local trains and slow trains, as you will face with noises, discomfort and many more. Petty crimes are a problem on these trains too. Thieves have become proficient at grabbing packs through the windows as trains pull out of stations. Thus, always keep your bag nearby and lock or tie it to something, especially at night.

Remember that always try to buy your tickets at least 3 days in advance to avoid disappointment, especially during holiday seasons. Tourists should try to book at least a week in advance.

 

By bus

The bus systems in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have improved considerably in the past few years. Good quality buses can provide sleepers overnight to main cities, including Sapa, Hue, Danang, Saigon, Nha Trang. Get your hands on a bus map and you can discover the suburbs with cheap and efficient costs. Some of the most popular sites in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are available by public transport, making for a cheap visit.

 

By car

Travelling by car gives you maximum flexibility to visit remote regions and stop when and where you like. Note that international driving licenses are not accepted in Vietnam. Even if it is, you should never drive yourself to remote areas, as you will get lost in the road systems. If you want to hire a car, you have to get a driver,

 

By bicycle

For day trips, biking is an excellent way to get closer to the local people and sightseeing. Hotels and some travel agencies rent bicycles for about US$1 to US$5 per day and it is an interesting way to discover some of the smaller cities such as Dalat, Hoi An, Hue and Ninh Binh. Moreover, there are innumerable bicycle-repair stands along the side of the roads in every city and town in Vietnam. Groups of foreign cyclists touring Vietnam are a common sight these days, and there are several tour companies that specialize in bicycling trips.

 

By motorcycle taxi

The xe om (zay-ohm) is a motorbike that carries one passenger, like a two-wheeled taxi. “Xe” means motorbike, and “om” means hug or hold. Getting around by xe om is easy if you don’t have a lot of luggage. Fares are comparable with those for a cyclo, but negotiate the price beforehand. There are plenty of xe om drivers hanging around street corners, markets, bus stations and hotels. They will find you before you find them. Note that some drivers are reckless ones, and you will have to think twice.

 

By motorcycle

Tourists can rent a motorcycle from cafés, hotels, motorbike shops and travel agencies. If you don’t fancy self-drive, there are plenty of local drivers willing to act as a chauffeur and guide for around US$6 to US$10 per day usually with unlimited mileage. In most places, they will ask to keep your passport until you return the motorbike. For excursions and day trips to the neighborhood areas of Hanoi, Saigon, Hue, etc renting a motorbike is great for freedom and self exploration.

 

By cyclo

This type of transport is unique in Vietnam and you will find this service in key tourist cities. The cyclo (xich-lo), from the French cyclo-pousse, offers cheap and environmentally friendly transportation around Vietnam’s sprawling cities.

Groups of cyclo drivers always hang out near major hotels and markets, and many of them speak a little English. Therefore, to make sure the driver understands where you want to go, it’s useful to bring a city map. Bargaining is imperative.

 

By boat

Scenic day trips by boat are available on rivers in Hoi An, Hué, Tam Coc and even Ho Chi Minh city, but only in the Mekong Delta are boats used as a practical means of transport.

Boat trips are also possible on the sea. Cruising to the islands of Halong Bay is a must for all travelers to northern Vietnam. In the centre, a trip to the islands off the coast of Hoi An or Nha Trang is popular.

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