Vietnam Travel Guide

How To Get Around In Vietnam: Your Ultimate Transportation Guide

Besides Internet access, language barriers, food, and culture, transportation is also something that most tourists want to be well-informed about before traveling somewhere. For tourists who prefer exploring places like a real local, not only do they want to know how to get around in Vietnam, but also how to get around to blend in with the daily lives of the locals. As more and more tourists want to know about the popular means of transportation in Vietnam, where to rent/get, and the related issues (the laws, payment methods, policies, etc.), this article is a comprehensive transportation in Vietnam guide that helps tourists prepare before the Vietnam trip.

Learn ways to get around in Vietnam in this article.

Types Of Transportation In Vietnam

The very first impression that most international tourists have of Vietnam is the number of motorbikes on the streets. This is the most popular vehicle in Vietnam, as the Vietnamese often use it as transportation to go to work, ride their kids to school, pick up their partner for a date, or even take a long ride to their countryside home – which could range up to 150km. Bicycles might be more popular in rural areas. In big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), bikes are not used to commute but as an outdoor exercise or a hobby.

For longer trips or convenience, cars, taxis, and buses are other options for the locals. The local tourists, from small to large groups, prefer taking limousine buses or private cars to travel to the neighboring provinces or remote areas with a distance of over 300km.

A typical sleeper bus in Vietnam.

To travel among the three main regions in Vietnam (the North, the Center, and the South), people often take airplanes. During peak seasons such as June (summer vacation) or January/February (Vietnamese Tet holiday), the airports can be busier than normal with crowds of locals traveling or getting home.

Boats or cruise ships are often seen in famous coastal cities, such as Ha Long Bay. In southern Vietnam, tourists often enjoy a boat tour to explore the natural beauty of the Mekong Delta or the Saigon River around HCMC.

How To Get To Vietnam

Most tourists will reach Vietnam via international airports. There are 11 international airports in Vietnam; however, most tourists might be familiar with the biggest ones, such as Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi capital city, Da Nang International Airport in central Vietnam, Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC, or Phu Quoc International Airport in Phu Quoc island (Kien Giang province). These airports are better known as they receive many international flights. For example, Da Nang International Airport has many direct flights from countries with potential tourists like Korea, Japan, Thailand, Russia, China, etc.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

Transportation in Vietnam Guide: How To Get Around in Vietnam

There are various means of transportation to explore across different cities/provinces in Vietnam. Tourists may need to know about typical transportation and which one can work well for their trip.

By Plane

Tourists often take planes to get into Vietnam, but not many people choose this mode of transportation to travel around. If your travel plan has different stops in different regions of Vietnam that can commute by airplane, for instance, Hanoi and Nha Trang, you can consider buying a ticket in advance. The prices can be much higher, or there will be no seat on your preferred flight if you forget to book early. Traveling by plane seems not to be a cost-effective, or flexible option; therefore, not many tourists choose to plan their trips in Vietnam, visiting across regions in a short amount of time.

Da Nang International Airport.

By Train

While airplanes help you get from A to B in Vietnam in about 1-2 hours, some people choose to take trains to try new experiences as well as enjoy the scenery on the roads through the provinces and cities in Vietnam.

Compared to planes, trains have some advantages that many tourists prefer: cheaper prices, simpler procedures, and tourists can buy tickets anytime without worrying about them being sold out. During the peak season, tourists may need to buy tickets early in advance. However, most of the time, you can buy tickets to any destination you want about 4 hours before the departure time (when buying tickets at the station), or 30 minutes before the departure time (when buying tickets online).

A train going through a narrow alley in the Old Quarter, Hanoi.

The prices may vary depending on the distance, the seats, and the cabins that you choose. For a long trip, such as from Hanoi to HCMC (over 1500km, about 36 hours on train), you can choose the sleeping compartment, or roomette, to have the most comfortable experience. Unlike airplanes, where you may not enjoy the meals they provide, it is highly recommended to bring your favorite snacks and beverages when getting on the train.

You can buy tickets via the official website of Vietnam Railways at: 

By Bus/Limousine

As some tourists may want to know how to get around in Vietnam like the locals, taking sleeper buses or limousine buses is the answer for long-distance trips to other cities/provinces. Especially when you want to travel to remote areas, this is the most popular option for you to approach those places.

This is an affordable option that many local tourists prefer. With many buses departing every day, there’s no worry that you cannot have a seat to have a weekend getaway to the mountainous area of Vietnam after experiencing the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

Inside a high quality sleeper bus/limousine bus.

There are some top “nha xe” – companies that manage and coordinate the routes of the sleeper buses or limousine buses – that you may want to know. They are such reputable brands that the locals often take the buses by booking from them. As the locals often book the seats through social media, friends’ contacts, or other traditional means, some tourists may find it difficult to book. However, with the growth of the Internet and online services, tourists can book seats via the website or mobile app of popular bus companies.

Some recommendations include: 

  • Vexere: This website/app has an English version. Tourists can search for the route, the prices, and the available buses based on the filtered results.
  • Mailinh Express: Mai Linh is a popular brand for taxis and buses in Vietnam. Tourists can search for available routes on specific dates with public prices. However, this app does not support the English language.
  • Futa Bus Lines: This website/app are managed by Phuong Trang Corporation – a leading bus company in Vietnam

Travel in Cities/Provinces In Vietnam: How to Get Around In Vietnam Like A Local

Besides motorcycles, there are many types of vehicles that tourists can choose to use to move around in Vietnam during their trips. Based on the needs and budget, some options might be much more suitable than renting a motorbike.


Motorcycles are a convenient vehicle that helps tourists not only blend into the streets like true locals but also visit more places with ease. Especially during peak hours in big cities like 7-8 AM or after 5 PM, you might get stuck on a car or bus while you can move easily when riding a motorcycle.

There are many places that offer motorcycle rental services for tourists that you can search for on the Internet or in social media groups like Facebook. The prices can range from 70-150.000 VND/day, not including the fuel cost. If you’re renting a motorcycle for wandering around the city or province, the costs that you need to pay for gas may be very cheap, which can be less than 30,000 VND/day. For longer trips to the suburbs or mountainous areas, the rental fees might be higher if you choose motorcycles with large displacements.

Many solo travelers choose to rent motorcycles during their trips in Vietnam.


If you’re traveling with your family or a group of friends, renting a private car is the ideal choice to visit places together. Renting a car helps you become flexible in your trip, as you don’t have to wait for a taxi and always get ready to move anytime you want. Also, driving a car yourself will help you visit the neighboring cities/provinces easily and quickly. The disadvantage of renting private cars is that the price might be a bit high; the price starts at 700.000VND/day (not including fuel costs). Tourists may not get used to the roads in Vietnam, as they might take more time to reach the places they want and waste more money on fuel.

Car renting is a good option for group of tourists.

Taxis And Taxi Apps (Grab, Be, Xanh SM, etc.)

Taxis are a convenient option that most tourists prefer to use to visit places around the city. In some rural areas or small towns in Vietnam, it might be a bit harder to get a taxi or a car from taxi apps, as the locals may use another app to get a taxi, or there is a local taxi company that you may need to get the hotline to call.

This might be the most expensive option to get around in Vietnam. However, you can save your budget by avoiding taking taxis during peak hours or in bad weather and adding special promotions. You may want to find the hotline of the traditional taxi companies, as their prices can be stable compared to taxi apps. Some popular taxi companies may include Taxi Mailinh, Vinasun Taxi, Taxi G7, etc. It is important to note that some taxi companies may work in a specific city/provinces.

Xanh SM offers rides using electric cars/motorbikes.

To ensure that you can always get a taxi in most urban areas of Vietnam, it is recommended to download these apps on your phone:

  • Xanh SM: The taxi app that offers rides using electric cars and motorbikes
  • Grab: is the most popular taxi app in Vietnam, and you can always see motorbikers wearing uniforms on the streets
  • Be: Another popular option that often brings cheaper deals than Grab


The bus is an affordable option for all tourists. However, the experience might not always be comfortable when this is also the means of transportation for the locals in their daily lives. Crowds, the lack of private space, and the risks of pickpocketing are the main reasons why not many tourists prefer this option. However, it is a good chance for you to feel the “craziness” of the streets in Vietnam when getting on a bus for once.

Tourists often look for the hop-on hop-off bus tour – a chance to go sightseeing around the city in Hanoi or HCMC. This bus has various stops right at the famous attractions in the city, which helps tourists optimize their travel time while enjoying the scene and the atmosphere when wandering around on the bus. Some bus tours provide audio guides that support multiple languages for international tourists.

The prices for the bus tour might be a bit high for some people, ranging from 200-500,000 VND, depending on the brand, the duration, and the added services. Tourists may want to save the schedule and the stops of the bus to plan ahead and buy the tickets online for cheaper prices.

Hop-on hop-off buses allow tourists visit a lot of attractions in a day.


In Hanoi and HCMC, there are public bicycle rental services in over 50 spots around each city. You can download the mobile app TNGO to find a nearby spot and rent a bike. The rental fee is very affordable, at 10,000 VND/hour (less than $0.5​​).

However, as it is a public gear rental, you may not always find a suitable bike for your size, making the experience uncomfortable. You can consider renting bikes from other places, which can be found on the Internet or in social media groups. Some gear rentals might have more experience working with international tourists, so they can support you well in English. The prices can be higher than for public rental services, but you can get the right bike for your needs.

A corner in the pavement having public bikes.

Other Ways To Get Around In Vietnam

Xich Lo / Cyclos

Cyclos (xich lo) is a signature vehicle that most tourists choose to take around the central when visiting Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, and other tourist spots. In the past, xich lo used to be a typical vehicle for locals to commute, but now xich lo is mainly used as a part of tourist activities. You can pay for a xich lo tour per route or tour. To avoid being ripped off by scammers, you can ask for the prices first and only get into the xich lo when you accept the deal. Most drivers can speak basic English, and some of them can be a tour guide for you.


Families having xich lo tours around the central Hanoi.

Boats / Paddle / Ferry

Many places in Vietnam offer boat/paddle tours, especially in southern Vietnam. When you’re visiting the Mekong Delta, you don’t want to miss the chance to explore the harmonious life between nature and the daily lives of the locals here by taking a boat tour and joining the floating market (cho noi) once.

A boat tour in Mekong Delta.

Vietnamese Taxi Rules, Etiquette & Tips

In Vietnam, you don’t have to tip the driver. If you are served well, you can tip him or her a small amount of money that you want; however, you don’t have to feel obliged to do it.

The locals often give the driver or the server the charge when they pay in cash, often when the charge is not much (less than 10,000 VND). It is up to you to tip the driver or server for the charge or keep it.

Where To Rent Vehicles In Vietnam? And How Much?

Besides getting to know how to get around in Vietnam, tourists often want to know where to rent vehicles like bikes, motorcycles, or cars in Vietnam. It depends on the place you’re visiting. For example, if you’re landing in Hanoi, HCMC, or other tourist spots like Hoi An, Da Nang, Nha Trang, or Phu Quoc, it is much easier to find the rentals via a travel website, Google Maps, and other results from the Internet or social media. It is recommended to do research before traveling to Vietnam to get the best deals and services. With the average prices we provide above for each type of vehicle, we hope you can get a suitable deal on a budget.

It’s not difficult to rent vehicles in big cities of Vietnam.


This article is a detailed transportation in Vietnam guide for all tourists who are looking for how to get around in​​ Vietnam easily and on a budget. While airplanes may not be the ideal means of transportation across regions in Vietnam, tourists can take sleeper buses or private cars to travel between cities/provinces. When moving around the city/province, besides taxis, tourists can try renting motorbikes for flexible schedules. Moreover, you should plan ahead to try the special vehicle in the places you visit, such as a xich lo tour or a boat tour.

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