- Vietnam ranks second about the number of motorbikes. There are more than 40 million of motorbikes on the roads in Vietnam.
- Public transportation system in urban area has not been developed.
- Railways in Vietnam has not been developed much since French colonial time.
- Speed of transportation in Vietnam is slow
- Do not expect bikes in big city of Vietnam
- The road conditions are being improved but need more effort to have a good transportation system.
- Crossing the street in Vietnam is not easy
- Until 2015, there is not subway in all cities of Vietnam
Tourist transportation in Vietnam
- Motorbikes, travel on two wheel
Motorbikes is the most popular mean of transportation in Vietnam, in all cities and rural area in Vietnam. Vietnamese people use motorbikes to go to work, travel in short driving distance, good delivery… In a country of small and undeveloped transportation system, motorbikes is the easiest way to use in transportation, easy to use, not expensive and very flexible. XE OM is the local words of motortaxi in Vietnam.
For tourists, the motorbikes tours are popular in big city, for a half day discovery of city in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. This tour provides you a nice and somehow adventurous experience of traffic in Vietnam, there will be a private tour guide to ride you see some tourist attraction in city, you are on the motorbike to see the real life and try some street food as well.
For backpackers, you are absolutely fine to rent or buy a motorbike from one destination to travel through the country then sell it to get money back and save more for travelling in Vietnam. But, you should test your motorbike driving skills and get familiar with transportation in Vietnam in advance. A group of travelers drive together is the best choice when you can help each other’s on the road, especially in the less travelled road.
In Hanoi, you can rent or buy a motorbikes at Ngo Huyen street, Ta Hien street and Luong Ngoc Quyen street of Hanoi Old Quarter… In Ho Chi Minh city, the renting motorbike is ease to fine at Pham Ngu Lao street.
- Local bus
Local bus is the popular of transportation for longer distance between different provinces in Vietnam, less than 500km. In general, local bus is not up to standards for international travelers, there is not English speaking staffs so it is not easy to communicate. However, many backpackers in Vietnam choose to use local bus between different regions because it is cheap and flexible, you can divide the whole trip into different sections and use sleeping bus to discover.
With most of famous tourist attraction, the tour package will include transfer and even pick up and drop off at your places. For some other province, which is not accessible by airplanes for railway, local bus is the only choice. The quality of local bus in Vietnam has been improved these days and hope tourists can be easy to use that in recent time. Some sleeping bus company for using is: Hung Thanh, Camel, Open tour bus, Phuong Trang bus…
If you have a higher budget, you should use airlines for faster moving within Vietnam, or you can consider to use railway instead. Sure, local bus is still a good choice in budget option.
Railways in Vietnam should have been improved and using more for tourism purpose. Railway in Vietnam has been developed by French people but has not had a significant development since that time. The most important railway is the Reunification Express, runs between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
In Vietnam, tourists can use railways to travel in some destination: Hanoi – Sapa, Hanoi – Da Nang, Da Nang – Saigon, Nha Trang – Saigon… Even the quality of railway transportation in Vietnam is really good compared to international standard but it is still considered as a safe mean of transfer in Vietnam. In addition, the railway covers the whole country from North to South, especially in central coastline so travelling by rails can give you opportunity to admire the beauty of Vietnam on the sides.
You should book railway tickets in advance to avoid fully booking or ticket scams, you can ask for help from travel agents, hotels… there will be 5% charge for this service. For a cost effective method, ticket can be purchased directly at train station.
Vietnam has three main airlines company: Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific and Vietjet Air. Among them, Vietjet Air and Jetstar Pacific are the low cost airline providers. Most of main tourist destinations in Vietnam can be reached by air from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, Phu Quoc island, Can Tho, Hai Phong… and some other domestic routes. Cost of travelling by air in Vietnam has been improved so tourists can use flight at reasonable price with advance booking and cheap ticket. Airline ticket can be booked online in advance or via travel agents.
Taxi is popular and not expensive in Vietnam, you can find taxi service in all city of Vietnam, some reputable taxi company you can choose is Hanoi Tourist, Mai Linh Taxi in Hanoi, Vinasun, Mai Linh in Saigon. Like other country, taxi scam is visible in the city, as a tourist you should ask for help and check price before you go.
All in all, if you are a young travel addicted or backpacker, you are free to choose motorbike to discover Vietnam in every corner and different regions. To travel from different region, railways and sleeping bus are the choice at reasonable price. Of course, airline is the faster option and most convenient at a higher budget.
Cycling is not the main transportation mean in Vietnam now as most locals use motorcycles. However, cycling in rural area or some small town as Hoi An, Da Lat, some city along the coastline is a nice experience … but it is not recommended in center of big city like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city.
- Motorcycles taxi
The most popular transportation mean in Vietnam because it is cheap and flexible, it should be easy for locals but not very popular for tourists. You can consider to use taxi instead of this motorcycles taxi.
Most of the package tour in Vietnam will include all basic transfer for you but if you do not mind, you can choose a railway route to see the beautiful coastline in the central Vietnam and use airline to discover other part of this country.