Last updated on June 10, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Vietnam

Getting around Vietnam and how to enter the country

Let me tell you straight away that you will be surprised at how easy is to get around Vietnam.

You can simply opt for the quick bus network or the awesome trains with unique coastline views.

You can also hire a vehicle or taxi, use motorbikes, or hop onto a ferry to reach the pristine islands.

Some travellers prefer to use charter planes to experience the breathtaking views from above, besides being quick in a few cases.

In this guide, you will find all you need to get to Vietnam and how you can travel around the country.

Panorama on the Ha Giang province
Panorama on the Ha Giang province

Getting to Vietnam

Surely you are already aware you need a Passport. Just be sure that it is valid for six months beyond your planned stay, besides having at least one blank visa page.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that you need a travel visa as well as a credit card to settle the visa fee.

You also need to indicate how long you intend to stay, the name of the city you’re staying in, and the address of the hotel you’re staying in.

For the visa, you must apply for it seven days prior to your arrival.

For instance, UK applicants must meet all the Vietnam visa for British eligibility requirements.

From here, the application takes a couple of minutes to finish.

The Japanese Bridge, or Cau Chua Pagoda at night – Hoi An

Getting around Vietnam

So what happens once you get to Vietnam?

Well, Vietnam is one of the easiest countries to plan an itinerary for.

Most travellers enter Vietnam through the City of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. They then visit either south or north.

In Vietnam, buses are the primary mode of transport for locals.

However, foreign travellers tend to prefer chartered boats, planes, and trains.

The primary concern for most visitors is that they will get duped. So, here are some pointers to help you get by.

The train with the spectacular view, from Da Nang to Hue
The train with a spectacular view, from Da Nang to Hue

Getting Around Vietnam by Train

The Benefits of Getting Around Vietnam by Train Include:

  • Trains are reasonably priced.
  • The train seats are comfy, and the carriages are air-conditioned.
  • You have an option of standard carriages or sleepers.
  • Train prices are fixed (it doesn’t matter if you’re a foreigner; you pay the same as locals).

The Drawbacks of Getting Around Vietnam by Train Include:

  • There are no express trains in Vietnam, so you’ll have to use connecting rides. My suggestion here is to take the trip as an adventure and now a way to move from A to B. It may be not as quick as you are used to but it does work well.

Which Companies Provide Train Rides Around Vietnam?

  • Firms offering train rides in Vietnam include DSVN (Duong Sat Viet Nam) and Hanoi Metro when you are in the capital.

Getting Around Vietnam by Bus

The Benefits of Getting Around Vietnam by Bus Include:

  • Open-tour buses are cheap.
  • Prices are fixed in bus stations.

The Drawbacks of Getting Around Vietnam by Bus Include:

  • Buses in Vietnam are not a remarkably relaxed mode of travelling.
  • If you board a bus along the way, you will be overcharged. In remote places, drivers will demand up to 10 times what locals pay.

Which Companies Provide Bus Rides Around Vietnam?

  • There is a multitude of bus providers to choose from. My suggestion here is to check with the local agencies once you are there.
Any corner in the north of the Vietnam is an incredible opportunity for travel photography
Any corner in the north of Vietnam is an incredible opportunity for travel photography

Getting Around Vietnam by Flight

The Benefits of Getting Around Vietnam by Flight Include:

  • Flight fares are relatively cheap if you book ahead. It can actually be cheaper than buses or trains if you buy your ticket 6 or more months ahead.
  • The network of towns covered by flights is quite extensive.
  • There is no actual price difference between foreigners and locals.

The Drawbacks of Getting Around Vietnam by Flight Include:

  • The flight fees depend on when you book and the dates of travel. The Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tết), usually in February,  is the most expensive time to fly and generally visit Vietnam
  • You won’t have the opportunity to see more of the remote areas if you travel by air. Flights are only between major cities

Which Companies Provide flights Around Vietnam?

  • Bamboo Airways, started only in 2019 and covering not only Vietnam but also other countries in Asia
  • Pacific Airlines, formerly Jetstar and rebranded in 2020, low cost
  • VietJet Air, another good low-cost, probably the most famous low-cost airline in Vietnam
  • Vietnam Airlines, the flag carrier of Vietnam

Getting Around Vietnam by Boat

Vietnam has many navigable rivers, but perhaps the most important river is the Mekong.

Scenic day trips are possible in rivers in HCMC (Ho Chi Minh City), Hoi an, Hue, etc.

Sea trips are also another option.

For instance, you can visit the unique islands of Halong Bay in northern Vietnam.

In central Vietnam, you can access the lovely Cham Islands from Hoi An and Da Nang, and in the south, you can visit Phu Quoc or the islands off Nha Trang.

Final Thought

To sum it all up, getting to and around Vietnam is pretty straightforward, but first, you need to sort out all the documentation of which visa is the most important one.

Afterwards, you can traverse the country through various means of transport, as illustrated above.

Hoi An, the city of lanterns
Hoi An, the city of lanterns
Great start of the day in a fishing village in Vietnam
Great start of the day in a fishing village in Vietnam
Cam An beach, off Hoi An and close to Da Nang
Cam An Beach, off Hoi An and close to Da Nang
Sorting the delivered fish
Sorting the delivered fish
The train truck between the apartment blocks of Hanoi
The train truck between the apartment blocks of Hanoi
Opera House on an early Sunday
Opera House on an early Sunday – Hanoi
Another beautiful restaurant and cafe of Hanoi Old District
Another beautiful restaurant and cafe in Hanoi Old District
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

Leave a Comment