Traveling within Vietnam
Getting around by Air: Vietnam Airlines operates daily flights between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Da Nang and Nha Trang. Regular services are also provided between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Buon Ma Thuot, Dalat, Na San, Phu Quoc, Pleiku, Qui Nhon and Vinh. Do reconfirm any flight, as this is not a superfluous precaution in Vietnam. Don’t arrive at airport just in time for a domestic flight: your seat may well have been resold to someone else by then.
Getting around by train: Visitors may use the rail transport system independently or as part of a rail tour. Long-distance trains are more expensive but are faster, more reliable and more comfortable. Although a few carriages now have air conditioning, most facilities are still short of international standards. This is not the case for the newly opened five star Express Train from Saigon to Nha Trang and the Victoria Wagons from Hanoi to Sapa that are exclusively reserved for Victoria Hotels & Resorts clients. The main rail route connects Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and the journey can take between 30 and 40 hours.
Getting around by Road: Most traffic drives on the right side of the road but you may often encounter surprises. Roads, especially in the north, are often in a bad state. Driving can be a hair-raising experience as the normal rules are rarely followed by the majority of drivers. There is a highway from Hanoi to Saigon. Bus services are often poor and overcrowded, although long-distance buses tend to be more modern and air-conditioned. It is possible to hire chauffeur-driven cars. Self-drive car hire is non-existent.
Getting around in the City: You can try using local bus services in Saigon and in Hanoi but remember that it is often a quite complicated matter for most foreigners. When traveling by taxi, it is advisable to note down the driver’s registration number, displayed on rear side of taxi for security reasons. Furthermore, do check that the driver starts the meter, unless you agree to a price before you move off and then stick to it. If you use taxis or motorbikes, it’s best to always make sure you have some small notes on you. Motorbikes are a very popular and practical way of getting around. You’ll find them on every street corner in the country or else they’ll find you. It is the fastest way to get around in the cities, but do fix a price before you hop on. Normally, for travel in the city, the maximum price is VND20,000
Getting around on Foot: Nobody walks anywhere in Vietnam if they do not have to. Don’t expect to be able to walk down street pavements in most towns and cities; these are generally employed for parking cars, motorbikes and bicycles.
Tips for surviving the traffic: Don’t spend hours waiting to cross the streets on foot; the constant tide of traffic won’t stop until late at night. So do as the Vietnamese do, take the plunge and inch slowly across. Don’t make any sudden or unpredictable movements: freeze if you have to, but never lunge.
Travel to and from Vietnam
Vietnamese visas are now valid for all international border crossings by air at Noi Bai (Hanoi), Danang & Tan Son Nhat airport (HCM).
Visas are valid for all international border crossings by land:
• In the north at Huu Nghi border in Lang Son province and at Lao Cai border in Lao Cai province
• In the Center at Cau Treo border in Nghe An province, Lao Bao border in Quang Tri province and at Bo Y border in Kon Tum province
• In the South at Moc Bai border in Tay Ninh province and in Vinh Xuong border in An Giang province
Getting There by Air: The national airline is Vietnam Airlines (VN). The most common routes to Vietnam are from Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Paris, Singapore and Taipei. Most Asian carriers have flights to Vietnam, as do Air France, Qantas, Lufthansa and Aeroflot. Charters are now opening new routes to Vietnam, please check with you operator or travel agencies for further information.
Main Airports: Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) at Noi Bai is 45km (28 miles) north of Hanoi. Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) is 7km (4.5 miles) from Ho Chi Minh City. Danang International Airport (DAD) is located 2km (1.3 miles) from the city center.
Departure tax: Departure tax is included in your plane ticket cost.