One of the best features of Vietnam is the massive option of transportation, whatever you choose, it won’t cost you a fortune. Either you are travelling domestically or outside of the country, there is always an option.
From buses, planes, trains, boats, and even motorbikes, these modes of transportation are available all year round that both locals and foreigners use daily. The funny thing about transportation when you are living and travelling in Vietnam is it comes in forms that you never expect.
I remember sending a postcard to my friends in Denmark, I told them that I’ve experienced riding a bus, motorbike, boats, bowl boats (the ones you get to try in Hoi An, and many more unusual forms of transportation. I personally find riding a motorbike in Vietnam fun definitely faster especially in congested big cities, I think we can all agree with that.
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BUSES IN VIETNAM
The buses can be too slow when using around the city, but travelling around the country, this is the most efficient and cheapest way.
The inter-city buses are very cheap although expect to leave a few minutes if not hours earlier before you can reach your destination. If you don’t speak the local language, it can also be tricky. You can use this app on your phone to track the time schedule and the fare prices.
Overnight buses are reasonably priced, often they are also timely reliable. These buses also have reclined seats which makes them more comfortable especially for a long journey. These reclined seats can be a little too narrow or short for some Europeans and Westerns. These overnight buses can both be used for travels within the country and to the neighbouring countries as well.
For overnight buses, during the peak season, make sure to book your seat in advance to avoid any hassle. They can be booked online here.
DRIVING A MOTORBIKE IN VIETNAM
I might sound overreacting if I say you definitely should give driving a motorbike in Vietnam a try, but in all seriousness, this is something you won’t want to miss. Either you are a traveller just passing by or an expat who are looking or already living here, you know that motorbike driving in Vietnam is crazy.
Motorbike is the main transportation here, although the government doesn’t want it to be as it’s dangerous and add so much air pollution. At the same time, with the lackness of efficient public transportation in the country, the national government can’t do anything about this.
Even though the main roads are congested with the number of motorbikes in Vietnam, and even though you already know how to drive your own, the traffic rules here can definitely blow your mind. Check out this video to have more idea of what I’m talking about.
Vietnamese, expats, and travellers both rely on motorbikes to get around. You will notice people carrying unbelievable things on their motorbikes. Locals also carry up to four people, although this is definitely illegal.
How To Convert Your Driver’s License in Vietnam
To legally drive a motorbike in Vietnam, a foreigner must convert their driving license regardless if it’s an international license already. This actually doesn’t take that long and it’s not expensive either. You can also obtain a license that will let you drive a car.
Without this, you are driving illegally which can bring you trouble. One if the obvious, if the police catch you, you will have to pay the fine and they can take your vehicle from you. Another is, if you get into an accident while driving, your travel insurance might not cover any of the expenses since you are illegally driving in Vietnam.
Here’s a guide on how to convert a driving license in Vietnam.
BICYCLE IN VIETNAM
If you will be living in the outskirt of the city, smaller towns, and provinces, hopping on your bicycle can be very efficient than driving a motorbike or taking the bus. It’s also a lot cheaper, better for the environment, and healthier.
However, there are no bike lanes in Vietnam, personally, I’ve used a bicycle around Hanoi. Although it was fun, it was also very dangerous because I drive in the same lanes where big buses, cars, and fast motorbikes are driving.
PHONE APPS FOR TRANSPORTATION IN VIETNAM
Starting the second week of April 2018, the UBER app is no longer operating in Vietnam. A Singaporean based same functioning app is now overtaking Southeast Asia, the app is called Grab.
Grab lets you book a car through your phone, they also let you do carpool, request a bigger car, even booking a motorbike taxi (motorbike taxi is not available in all Southeast Asian countries). You can pay with your card or cash. Using the app, you can add your pick up and drop off, you can also track the driver’s current location or your own whilst you are a passenger.
The price is reasonable but not the cheapest, however, it is very convenient and timely reliable.
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TRAINS IN VIETNAM
I’ve used the train in Vietnam only a few times, the only thing I can comment on the experience was that it’s worth it. If you are travelling and doesn’t have much time, it is a great way to see the beauty of Vietnam.
Taking the train is not the cheapest option neither the fastest although it’s the most comfortable. There are sleeper trains in Vietnam that lets you have a better sleep at night and a chance to walk around.
FLYING IN/AROUND VIETNAM
Flying in and out of Vietnam is easy peasy. There are cheap flights both domestic and international. The top destinations for domestic flights are Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Nha Trang. Whilst the most frequent destinations internationally are Bangkok, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and the Philippines.
If you are travelling in Vietnam, it is worth it to check the flight prices instead of taking the bus or train. Affordable flights are common, flying is always more convenient than the other options, although taking the bus or train is also an experience that must be tried.
Local airlines are VietJet and Vietnam Airlines. International airlines that operated in Vietnam are AirAsia, JetStar, Cebu Pacific, Scoot, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, China Southern, Korean Air, American Airlines, Japan Airlines, Eva Air to name a few.
BOAT IN VIETNAM
It’s not everywhere in Vietnam that you can use a boat to get from point A to point B. In a few places like Ha Long Bay, Phu Quoc, and other small islands, boats are must use to get to your destination. The prices can vary depending on your destination, in Ha Long Bay they mostly like cruises whilst in Phu Quoc they simply are transportation.