Plan a Trip to Vietnam with Our Expert Guide

Transportation in Vietnam

Here is a bit of explanation to what are the pros and cons of each of these transportation methods in vietnam.

To book a train or bus, the local website is but maybe there are problems with the card. An alternative for foreigners is

There is also the option to book on the same train or bus station.

  1. Trains:

    • Pro: Suitable for longer distances, offering scenic views during the journey.
    • Con: Limited flexibility in schedules, and varying comfort levels may affect sleep quality.
  2. Taxis:

    • Pro: Convenient for local travel within cities, providing quick and door-to-door service.
    • Con: May encounter traffic congestion, and costs can add up for longer journeys.
  3. Motorbikes:

    • Pro: Provides a unique and immersive experience with the flexibility to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations.
    • Con: Not suitable for those uncomfortable with motorbike riding, and safety concerns exist, especially in busy traffic.
  4. Grab (app similar to uber):

    • Pro: Convenient within urban areas, offering fixed pricing and cashless transactions for transparency and ease.
    • Con: Availability may vary in remote areas, and reliance on internet connectivity is necessary.
  5. Buses:

    • Pro: Economical for inter-city travel, with an extensive network connecting various destinations.
    • Con: Travel time may be longer compared to other modes, and comfort levels may vary.

Rice fields in Vietnam

What is the best place to exchange money in Vietnam


Gold shops may offer a better exchange

Gold shops frequently offer superior value. In contrast, banks typically provide less advantageous rates.

  1. Gold shop or local exchange shop
    • Hanoi: Explore Hang Bac street in Hoan Kiem district for favorable rates at gold shops.
    • Saigon: Visit Ha Tam near Ben Thanh market, renowned for its services, including the reverse VND to USD and dealing with various currencies. (Saigon’s Gem: Ha Tam Gold Shop)
  2. ATM
    • If your American bank, like Charles Schwab, imposes no ATM fees, withdraw cash from the numerous ATMs scattered conveniently across the country.
  3. Bank (last resort)

Getting a SIM Target in Vietnam

For affordability, skip buying a SIM at the airport in places like Vietnam. Opt for a Viettel shop in town, specifying your data needs clearly. During my two-month stay last year, I got unlimited nationwide data for 30 days at 200k VND each time. Local calls are less useful since everyone in SEA uses WhatsApp.

For convenience and transparency, consider services like Airalo or Nomad. They offer eSIMs with clear data allowances, allowing setup before landing. The downside is they’re relatively pricier, though not excessively so.

Airport to Hotel in Vietnam

You can buy Vietnam Airport bus tickets directly on the bus, but they only accept cash. If you need Vietnamese Dongs, you can withdraw from the airport’s ATMs or exchange your foreign currency.

However, keep in mind that currency exchange rates at Vietnam Airport are not very competitive. For better value, consider exchanging large amounts in the city. It’s recommended to get some local cash for the beginning of your trip and exchange the rest in the city center.

  • Hanoi: The Bus 86 from the airport to the city center exists, and it’s remarkably fast and budget-friendly. More info

  • Ho chi min: Taxi or Grab, be careful with the taxis on the outside of the airport, they tend to have inflated prices. For taxi companies Vinasun or Mai Linh.

Basic Phrases in Vietnamese

More detailed in these other guide basic vietnamese

  • Xin chào (sin chow) – Hello
  • Cám ơn (kam’ on) – Thank you
  • Xin lỗi (sin loi) – Excuse me/I’m sorry
  • Tôi không hiểu (toy kong hew) – I don’t understand
  • Bao nhiêu tiền? (bah-oh nyew tee-un) – How much does it cost?
  • Tôi muốn (toy mwuhn) – I want
  • Có phòng trống không? (koh fohng trawng kohng) – Do you have any available rooms?
  • Cho tôi một bản đồ (cho toy mot ban do) – Please give me a map
  • Tôi cần một tài xế (toy kahn mot tai say) – I need a driver

Travel tips in Vietnam

  • Rainy Preparations:

    • Pack a heavy-duty poncho or rain clothes for sudden and intense rainstorms.
    • Be prepared for heavy rain, and local ponchos are more effective than waterproof jackets. Accept that your gear might get wet, and use a poncho like the locals.
  • Motorcycle Safety:

    • Exercise extreme caution when riding a motorcycle in both city and rural areas due to potholes and obstacles.
    • Avoid sharp turns on wet roads to prevent slipping and crashing.
    • When stopping for fuel or lunch, leave your gear strapped on the bike. Use a scruffy bag for the bike and a separate small waterproof backpack for valuables.
  • Security Measures:

    • Use a secure money belt to keep your passport and cash safe, especially in areas prone to bag snatching.
  • Travel Recommendations:

    • Consider taking a “luxury sleeper bus” from Hanoi to Sapa to explore this hidden gem.
    • Don’t miss the chance to visit Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island, as they are must-see destinations in Vietnam.
    • Motorbikes can travel on trains; you can either ride with them or send them unaccompanied as baggage with an address label.
  • Insurance and Planning:

    • If embarking on a motorcycle road trip, consider getting traveler’s insurance for peace of mind.
    • Avoid booking hotels too far in advance and instead plan your route loosely.
  • Flight Recommendations:

    • If possible, fly into Hanoi first for a more relaxed ending to your trip, starting in the chaotic city and gradually moving south.
  • Choosing the Right Bike:

    • When renting, expect a small bike, likely a 150cc. Even if you’re used to larger bikes, a bigger one is unnecessary, and scooters are better in town, while bikes are superior on dirt roads.
  • Road Conditions and Planning:

    • Many roads are dirt, affecting travel distance. Plan daily stops around 100km apart, considering the challenging conditions.
  • Weather Considerations:

    • Vietnam can be hot and humid, so plan your riding gear accordingly. An open-faced helmet with a full clear visor is recommended for riding in the rain.
By Ananya Devi | Published on November 01, 2024