Main Transportation in Vietnam: Ways to Get Around

05 Jan, 2024 | A-> Z Guide

Learn in-depth about your options for transportation in Vietnam, comparing the pros and cons for trains, planes, boats and more.

Vietnam consists of 128,066 square miles of beautiful mountains, forests, coastlines, cities and towns. While that offers you plenty of picturesque landscapes to explore, you do need to figure out how you will get around the country while you are planning your trip.
 
To make it easier for you, we are introducing you to the most popular Vietnam transportation options in this guide. You will be able to choose the best way to get around Vietnam for your individual needs once you are familiar with the different options.

1. Airplane

One of the fastest ways to get to and from Vietnam as well as from place to place within the country is by air. At the time of this writing, there are more than 20 airports in Vietnam, allowing you to fly to and from locations such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Ha Long and others. With multiple airlines to choose from, you can easily find routes, dates and times that fit with your travel needs.


Pros:

  • Rapidly get to your destination so you can spend more time enjoying the attractions upon your arrival.
  • Cut back on travel fatigue by spending less time in transit.
  • Choose a ticket class that suits your budget and comfort requirements.

Cons:

  • Air travel in Vietnam is more expensive than some other means of getting around.
  • Some airlines in Vietnam are notorious for delays and cancellations, which can occasionally throw a wrench into your travel plans.

2. Train

Whether you have a short or long distance to cross, train travel in Vietnam can be a deeply rewarding experience. You will be able to relax and enjoy the scenery, even seeing areas that you would not be able to in an automobile.
 
There are multiple railways in Vietnam, but the main one spans 20 stations between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, offering spectacular views of the coast. If you want to go the entire route, expect to spend 32 hours on the train. Note that if you do not speak Vietnamese, purchasing tickets online is easier than doing it at the stations.
 
Be aware that seats can be hard or soft, and the carriages may be air-conditioned or not. When you buy your tickets, you can decide which you want. Definitely go for air conditioning and soft seats for a longer ride. It will still not cost you too much.

Pros:

  • Taking a train in Vietnam is inexpensive compared to what it would cost you in other parts of Asia or in Europe or North America.
  • A train ride in Vietnam can be very comfortable, even if you will be onboard overnight.

Cons:

  • Train is a slower way to get around than some other Vietnam transport options on this list.
  • Each carriage has a single toilet.

3. Cruise/Boat

The coastline of Vietnam spans an impressive 3,260 kilometers. That means that taking a boat is another viable option for getting around the country. Additionally, you can use a ferry to reach islands such as Con Dao and Phu Quoc, or you can take a cruise to experience Ha Long Bay or other scenic areas of Vietnam’s coast.
 
When you book a ferry in Vietnam, it will either be a catamaran or a speedboat. There are a few different ferry operators in Vietnam, but all of them offer comfortable trips with air conditioning. As with the train, the easiest way to make your booking for a ferry trip is online.


Pros:

  • Traveling by boat in Vietnam helps you reach locations that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to access (like islands).
  • When you are out on the water, you get to enjoy the scenery on a relaxing trip in a way that is different from what you would experience on land.

Cons:

  • Speedboats can be pretty loud.

4. Car/Taxi

Another option for making your way around Vietnam is to travel by automobile. You can either call for a taxi, or you can rent a car yourself.
 
Taxi services are a suitable option if you are trying to get around an urban area. As an alternative, you can also try hailing a ride using an app like Grab.
 
For longer drives, or if you want to always have a vehicle at the ready at all times, renting a car may make more sense.

Pros:

  • Taxis, rideshare services, and rented automobiles are all quick and convenient options for getting to and from any destination.
  • When you rent a car yourself, you have unrivaled freedom.

Cons:

  • While taxis in Vietnam are usually safe, there are scams out there.

5. Motorbike 

Another fast and flexible way to travel in Vietnam is on a motorbike. If you are on a short trip, you can rent a motorbike. But if you are going to be in Vietnam for a longer period, you also have the option of buying one, and then selling it before you leave (this is easier than it may sound, and may sometimes save you money). Motorbikes available to rent include models that are manual, semi-automatic, and full automatic. If you’re not confident with 'organized chaos' traffic of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city, Grab and other ride-hailing services also offer motorbike rides. 

Pros:

  • It is cheap to rent a motorbike. You can get away with just $5 USD per day. For superior service and support, consider a more “premium” rental for around $10 USD per day.
  • Motorbike rentals offer fantastic flexibility. There are even services that have depots in multiple locations, giving you the option of driving the motorbike one way and then dropping it off at your destination.

Cons:

  • A motorcycle license and International Drivers Permit (IDP) are required if the motorbike you wish to drive is more than 50cc.

6. Bicycle

Those who enjoy getting some exercise and fresh air while on the move may get into cycling Vietnam. A bicycle can work well for exploring urban and rural areas alike.
 
The ideal time to cycle in Vietnam depends on where you are located. For example, August through May is best for northern Vietnam. But October through May is more suitable for Ha Long Bay. In central Vietnam, you will have the best cycling experience between January and September. Southern Vietnam is cycling-friendly year-round.

Pros:

  • It is easy to find a bicycle to rent, especially in cities. You can get one to use for as little as $1. And if you are staying at a resort, they may offer bicycle rentals for free.
  • Cycling gives you the opportunity to see the gorgeous scenery of Vietnam with nothing between you and the marvelous environments you are exploring.
  • Get some exercise while you are cycling (a great way to work off some extra calories if you are eating a lot on vacation).

Cons:

  • Although cycling is a fun workout, it may also get fatiguing across long distances.
  • The amount of supplies you can carry on a bicycle while remaining comfortable can be limited.

7. Cyclo

One of the most distinctive and memorable options for Vietnam transportation is a three-wheeled bicycle known as a “cyclo.” These vehicles have been around since French colonial times, and operate as taxis. You sit in front, and the driver sits in the rear.
 
As with many other Vietnam transport methods, there is an expectation that you will bargain on the pricing. So, if you do not like the original price you are quoted, offer a lower price, and meet somewhere in the middle.

Pros:

  • As a cyclo is an open-air vehicle, you can stay cool and get a fantastic view of everything around you.
  • You can ride on a cyclo for the equivalent of a few dollars.
  • Most of the transportation methods we talked about in this post are available in other countries. But cyclos are not everywhere. This is your chance for a unique experience of Vietnamese culture.

Cons:

  • There are some scams out there to watch out for.
  • Getting stuck in traffic and breathing in exhaust fumes is no fun in a cyclo, so mind where and when you travel in one.

Explore Vietnam’s Cities and Landscapes Your Way

One of the many delights of travel is that the way you choose to get around can be just as much a part of the excitement as the destinations you reach. No matter where your itinerary takes you, every moment will be a thrill when you explore Vietnam by train, boat, bicycle, or any other transportation methods in this list. For help figuring out the best way to travel for you, design your trip with Exotic Voyages. 

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