Vietnam Transportation Guide – All You Need to Know

You might hear about the chaotic traffic in Vietnam and feel a little bit unconfident when it comes to getting around the country. Worry no more, even with chaotic traffic in Hanoi and Saigon, most of the visitors have to admit that they rarely witness an accident on the street. Let’s pack up your curious and adventurous spirit and fly to Vietnam. Here is all the information you need to know about Vietnam transportation guide to discover the hidden beauty of this magnificent land!

By motorcycle

If someone ever talked to you about Vietnam as the country of motorcycle, then they are right. Estimated, every day, there are 8768 new motorcycles are being purchased in Vietnam. With a population of more than 95 million people, Vietnam has in total nearly 45 million motorcycles.

The convenience is the main reason why motorcycle is so popular in Vietnam.  You can discover all the off-the-beaten-paths that buses and trains will never reach. For many foreigners, driving on a motorcycle is a totally fresh but unforgettable experience.

Hope on a motorcycle and let your mood takes you to anywhere you want. There will be no one tell you when to go, where to go and how to go.

vietnam transportation guide motorcycle
Feel the freedom on your motorcycle – Credit: Jordan Opel

How much it costs: 100.000 – 150.000 VND (~ 5-6 USD/ 4-5 EUR) per day for renting (try your shot with negotiation the price)

Where to get it: In major cities: Hanoi, Saigon, Danang,… you can easily find a place that offers motorcycles for rent.

Tips when travelling by motorcycle:

  • Be confident on the street and stay awake
  • Always be expecting motorbikes coming from every direction
  • Look around before turning
  • Keep your distance with other vehicles
  • The more luggage you carry, the worse handling you get

By bus

No wonder that travelling by bus is the cheapest and safest way of transportation in Vietnam. You can either take buses to move inside the big cities or travel from one city to another. Many travellers in Vietnam would love to take the cheap night buses, not only because it is an authentic experience but also to save money on accommodation. You will arrive in the morning, with full power and time to discover the destinations.

vietnam transportation guide bus
The city buses in Hanoi can take you to anywhere you want

How much it is (with examples):

  • City buses: around 7.000 VND (~ 0,3 USD/ 0,26 EUR)
  • Hanoi to Sapa: 250.000 – 400.000 VND (~ 10 – 17 USD/ 9 – 15 EUR)
  • Hanoi to Danang: 300.o00 – 400.000 VND (~ 12 – 17 USD/ 11 – 15 EUR)

Where to get the ticket: You can either go to the bus stations to directly purchase the ticket or easily go to several online ticket platforms.

Tips when travelling by bus:

  • Carefully check the validation of your ticket, time, date and route of your trip
  • Learning some Vietnamese words might be helpful when most of the bus operators cannot speak proper English
  • Keep your ticket with you even when finishing boarding checking. There is probably changing buses or routes so people in charge will ask to re-check your tickets
  • Keep it quite on bus   
  • Most of Vietnamese drivers would like to put on karaoke songs on the bus

By train

No need to talk about the safety of travelling by train but let’s talk about the unique experience you can get on the train in Vietnam. It is not the modern 300km/hour train but the vintage model you might know from the middle of the XX century. But do not get it wrong! It might be old but comes with very comfortable commodities and equipment. Enjoy your little comfortable “hotel” room on the train that goes across the country, following the seashore from the North to the South.

Even if you are not a fan of the train, we still recommend you to take a short ride of the train from Hue to Danang. Imagine looking outside of your cabin on the sunrise with breath-taking scenery of mountain cliff and seashore over Haivan Pass. Pick up your camera and keep for yourself one of the best scene in your life.

vietnam transportation guide train
The train going through the Haivan Pass

How much it is:

  • Hanoi to Saigon: ~ 1.300.000 VND ( ~ 55 USD/ 49 EUR) for the bed-cabin
  • Hue to Danang: ~ 100.000 VND ( ~ 5 USD/ 4 EUR) for soft-seat cabin

Where to get the ticket: Purchase your ticket on the friendly official website of Vietnam Railways (with English available).

Tips when travelling by train:

  • Book your ticket in advance
  • Avoid carrying big-size luggage
  • It is available for instant noodles and beverage on the train but ideally, you could bring your own food
  • Do not forget to bring your entertainment stuff: books, laptop, headset,… to completely enjoy your ride

By plane

The plane is the fastest way to travel around Vietnam. You can easily get to most of the touristic cities, save your time and stamina to discover the city. If you are familiar with all the cheap airlines like easyJet, Norwegian (in Europe) and JetBlue Airways, Virgin America,.. (in North America). Then get yourself familiar with several cheap airlines in Vietnam: Jetstar, Vietjet Air, Bamboo Airlines, Air Asia,… Do not get yourself socked when sometimes you can get the tickets to travel around Vietnam with a price of  0 VND!

vietnam transportation guide plane
Over look the landscape of Vietnam from plane

How much it is:

  • Hanoi to Saigon: ~ 900.000 VND (~ 39 USD/ 34 EUR)
  • Hanoi to Danang: ~ 500.00 VND (~ 21 USD/ 18 EUR)

Where to get the ticket: Go directly to the airlines’ websites

Tips when travelling by plane:

  • Book your ticket in advance
  • Look for promotions on the airlines’ websites for the tickets of 0 VND
  • Be awarded of extra charges
  • Being prepared for delays

By boat

You might experience sitting on a board on Venice or Paris, London but the same type of in Vietnam will bring you a totally different feeling. From Ninh Binh to Halong Bay, Hoian, Mekong delta river,… you can sit on a traditional small wooden boat.

You might feel a little scare at the beginning. But don’t let that feeling takes you away from one of the best experience in Vietnam. Sit tie, put on the life-jacket and let the “caption” who sit at the end of the boat use their “human machine” take you through the magnificent scenery of rivers everywhere in Vietnam.

If you want to be a vice-captain, take an oar and start to push your boat ahead. Do not worry, you will learn to control your wooden boat really quick and might do not want to leave your boat at the end.

vietnam transportation guide boat
Getting around Hoian on a local wooden boat

How much is it:

  • Trang An (Ninh Binh): 200.000 VND (~ 9 USD/ 7 EUR) included a ticket to enter Trang An Complex
  • Halong Bay: 150.000 – 350.000 VND (~ 7-14 USD/ 5-12 EUR)
  • Hoian: 100.000 VND (~ 4 USD/ 3 EUR)
  • Mekong Delta river: ~ 300.000 VND ( ~ 12 USD/9 EUR)

Where to get the ticket: You can either buy the ticket at the dock of the attractions or buy the ticket online.

Tips when travelling by boat:

  • Although accident by boat in Vietnam is extremely rare, still you have to put on the life-jacket
  • Only buy the ticket from authorized ticket boots. Not paying money for a random person at the location who try to sell a cheaper ticket.

By bicycle

When it comes to getting around the city and protect the local environment, then definitely a bicycle is a great option. Good news for all the environment fighters, you can rent a bicycle in all the touristic destinations in Vietnam.

Especially, when in Hoi an, try their free sharing bicycle and leisurely enjoy your ride through the most unique ancient city in central Vietnam.

vietnam transportation guide bicycle
Riding around Hoian is a popular option for tourist

How much it is:

  • 100.000 VND (~ 4USD/ 3 EUR) per day
  • In Hoian, free for first 30 minutes, 20.000 VND/hour after (0,9 USD/0,7EUR)

Where to rent a bicycle: Ask the receptionist at your hotel or look around the street, you can easily find a place for your bicycle renting.

Tips when travelling by bicycle:

  • It is not mandatory to wear a helmet on a bicycle in Vietnam
  • Always drive on the far right of the road. Look up for bicycle path if available
  • Do not leave your bike on the street unlocked.

By Grab

You might wonder what is Grab. The answer is simple: it is similar to Uber. Actually, in 2018, Grab bought back Uber in the Southeast Asia market, including Vietnam, became a monopoly in local.

There are reasons for their position now. A lot, a lot of promotions and super quick response to your request. When looking up for a Grab-bike or Grab-car, it will take you a few seconds to pick for you a driver. They even guarantee to pay 10.000 VND for every 5 minutes that the driver picking you up late.

You can use the service of Grab in major cities of Vietnam and never worry about the scam you can get when picking up a random moto-taxi on the street.

Besides getting the Grab application, you can try all the free useful apps when travelling in Vietnam.

vietnam transportation guide grab

How much is it:

  • Grab-bike: 12.000 VND (~0,5 USD/0,4 EUR) for the first 2km

3.400 VND (0,14 USD/0,12 EUR) for next km

  • Grab-car: 20.000 VND (~ 0,9 USD/o,7 EUR) for the first 2km

9.000 VND (~0,4 USD/0,3 EUR) for next km

Where to get it: Download the application on your phone

Tips when travelling by Grab:

  • Paying your rides by credit card will get you more discounts/promotions

By cyclo

To keep on with the Vietnam transportation guide, we could not forget the authentic local transportation: cyclo. You can see it as a three-weels bicyclo with the driver in the back will ride you on a comfortable seat – that could even fit for two people.

Hope on a cyclo around the Old Quater in Hanoi and freely taking pictures around and worry-free about the busy traffic around you.

vietnam transportation guide cyclo
Cyclo is a traditional symbol of Hanoi

How much it is: 100.000 VND (~ 4 USD/ 3 EUR) per person/hour

How to get it: You can find a cyclo almost every corner of the Old Quater in Hanoi

Tips when travelling by cyclo:

  • Negotiate the price with the driver to get the better price.

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