Transport in Vietnam

To take on Vietnam as a family you need to be adventurous, patient and most of all flexible in attitude!

Within the big cities your patience may be tested when bartering with, well, just about everyone! With a choice of moped, cyclos, buses and taxis to get around.As you venture outside of the cities you will appreciate that not all roads are well developed and can make even travelling short distances can take some time. The trains are also more basic when compared to other networks in Asia. There are also domestic and international airports for those wanting to keep the adventure more simple.


In Vietnam there are two types of taxi 'official' and 'unofficial'. Stick to the official ones if you can, as they often work out cheaper, have a better reputation and are generally safer. A simple guide to official taxis are:


Mai Linh Taxi, which is white and green in colour and are available throughout all the cities in Vietnam.


Vinasun Taxi, white is white with red and green stripes and are available in Ho Chi Minh City.


Hanoi Taxi, which is white and are available in... ( you guessed it!) Hanoi.

Tiny Tip:To avoid getting into an unofficial taxi, look closely to see if the company name is spelt correctly or has a letter missing.Is the car a new model, official taxis do not tend to be an older model of car and is generally free from dents and rust. Before you get in look into the car and see if there is a new meter, the drivers ID is visible and a fare card is also visible.

Moped and Motorcycle

 You will easily deduce from the sea of two wheeled vehicles that this is certainly the most popular form of transport in Vietnam. With hair raising traffic this is probably best left to the locals!


This is a little cart with a driver peddling the bike from behind. This looks like a chilled out way to see the sights and has a certain romantic quality about it. Be warned though that they drive a hard bargain, and have been known to agree a price at the beginning of the journey only to change their mind when you get to your destination. So if you fancy a barter make sure you both fully understand the rate; is it per half hour, per attraction or for the whole journey, and end the tour in a very public place if you can


You With train lines running North to South and stopping at the main destinations along the route. Overnight trains are available but be aware that the facilities can be basic! Vietnam's air-conditioned trains are comfortable & inexpensive, a good way for family travellers to get around. Air-conditioned trains with sleepers and on-board catering link Hanoi, Hué, Danang, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh City. Hoi An has no station, but it's just a short hop, skip and a jump (30km)by bus or taxi from Danang. There are also trains from Hanoi to Haiphong (for Halong Bay) and Hanoi to Lao Cai (for Sapa).


Odd numbered trains travel South and even numbered trains travel North. The Reunification Express (express Trains)Trains between Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh are sometimes referred to as the Reunification Express by guide books and tourist agencies, although there are now several trains on this route and no single train officially carries this name, but they are the express train that only make a few short stops en route. These trains are also air conditioned.


There are four main classes of train travel in Vietnam: hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper and soft sleeper. Pretty self explanatory, the hard seats are generally very busy and pretty uncomfortable. With children you would probably want to go with the softer seat class! Also with the sleeping cabins the hard sleeper has three tiers and no door on the cabin whereas the soft sleeper has two tiers ( four beds in each compartment) and has a door from compartment to corridor. As with any travel always keep an eye on your belongings! BookingTrains are often very busy so try and book a day ahead and, if using the sleeper train, a few days ahead. You’ll need to bring your passport when buying train tickets.Many travel agencies, hotels and cafés sell train tickets for a small charge, and this can save you a lot of time and effort !


ThisInternal flights are a great time saver ( and stress saver!) when travelling with children.


There are three International Airports:


Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.


Noi bai Airport in Hanoi


Danang Airport


Public buses ,although cheaper, have a bad safety record. Due to bad roads, driving style and overcrowding. Always do your research before setting out on a bus journey. Private buses tend to have a better safety record, although they may take a bit longer and they cost a bit more it could be well worth the extra. The bus network is being constantly updated with more modern buses being added to the fleets, to make it more comfortable and safer.

SE Asia Office


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Digital Illustrations: Jane Waterman



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