Ho Chi Minh City
need to know guide

Saigon - getting there and away

22 Feb 2017

Inforrmation for travellers about getting to and from Saigon.


Most travellers will either commence or conclude their Vietnam travels in the country's biggest city and southern hub, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Here we outline some hints for getting to and from Ho Chi Minh City.


Visas


Vietnam's visa situation is changing quickly. Check with your local Vietnamese Embassy for the latest details - and assume you need a visa - though an increasing number of countries enjoy a visa on arrival.

 

Airport buses and taxis - Ho Chi Minh City

As of 2016, Saigon has a cheap, good quality airport bus service from both international and domestic terminals. The cost is 20,000VND (less than 1USD) to the city. There are counters at airport terminals. The route is numbered 109 and is operated by a distinctive yellow bus. It drops off and picks up at selected spots around the city. You may still need a taxi for the last leg to your hotel - even so, you'll be well ahead!

If you're taking a taxi, best to go with Vinasun, Mai Linh or Vina Taxi. Avoid dodgy guys hanging around outside the terminal. A taxi to the centre will cost around 160,00VND (early 2017). For slightly more you can remove the risk of being ripped-off and organise a private vehicle in the terminal.



International Flights


Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat airport is the country’s busiest, serving direct flights from most major Asian cities as well as long haul points in Europe and Australia. United Airlines operates services from the US via Hong Kong. North American travellers can also use services via South East and North Asian hubs such a Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Vietnam's national carrier Vietnam Airlines naturally offers the most services. Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Thai Airways also offer multiple flights each day from their hubs in South East Asia.

Jetstar, Air Asia and Tiger Airways offer low-cost flights into Ho Chi Minh City from various South East Asian points.

There are frequent daily flights from Saigon to neighbouring Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

In a decade or so, Ho Chi Minh City’s airport arrival process has gone from being one of the worst to one of the best. The exception is if you’ve pre-arranged a visa to be issued on arrival (these MUST be pre-arranged). This process is still a debacle. Otherwise, you’re a good chance to be through immigration and customs and on your way in less than 45 minutes.

It’s when you get outside the terminal that things get complicated. For more information on getting into the city, see our “getting around” Ho Chi Minh City page.


Domestic flights

Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar Pacific operate multiple daily flights from Ho Chi Minh City to major points like Hanoi, Hue, Danang, Nha Trang, Dalat as well as Con Dao and Phu Quoc Islands. Daily flights operate to most other population centres in the country as well. Vietjet is Vietnam's newest domestic carrier and it's expanding rapidly. It offers a good quality low-cost product to major centres in Vietnam and an expanding international network as well.


Rail

Saigon's railway station is around four kilometres from the city centre and is served by taxis. Insist on a metered fare which should cost less than VND80,000 to or from the downtown area. 

Vietnam's north-south rail network terminates in Saigon.

Rail services operate to and from all major points along Vietnam's coastline. Train travel is especially popular to the beach town of Mui Ne (4 hours approx.) and Nha Trang (8 hours approx). Some travellers choose to take the Reunification Express all the way to Hanoi stopping along the way at points like Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, Danang and Hue.


Road

Saigon is a convenient point of arrival and departure by road to and from Dalat (approx 7 hrs), Phan Thiet (approx 4 hrs), Mui Ne (approx. 4 hours) and Nha Trang (approx. 8 hours) to the north and the popular Mekong Delta towns of Mytho (1.5 hrs), Cantho (approx. 3 hrs), Chau Doc (approx. 5 hrs) as well as road travel to Cambodia (Phnom Penh approx. 5 hrs).

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.

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