Traveling around in Vietnam was much easier and more streamlined than I expected it to be. Time tables were (somewhat accurate), tickets were cheap and multiple options were always available. To make your trip as smooth as possible, check out the answers to all of the questions that I had when I arrived.
What’s the best option for traveling between cities in Vietnam?
Depending on where you’re traveling, you can choose between private car, motorbike, buses, trains or planes.
Domestic air travel in Vietnam
Flights between cities in Vietnam can be quite cheap ($100 or less) and will save you a lot of time (sometimes a full day) but you should take into account travel to and from airports, waiting around time, the hassle, etc. For longer trips I’d recommend checking out the sleeping bus and overnight train.
Traveling by Bus in Vietnam
Buses are convenient and extremely cheap in Vietnam. Tickets run about $10 USD or less for a journey between cities. You can also purchase a ticket for the sleeping bus, which has a rather comfortable bed to make longer, overnight trips. These are a bargain. They take you from city center to center (extremely convenient) and it means that you’re saving money by not renting a hotel room for the night.
Traveling by Train in Vietnam
Having taken the overnight train from Hanoi to Hue, I can say that this is a great way to travel. It’s not the cheapest option but for convenience it cannot be beat. For this route, with a ticket price of $60 USD, you get a bed with blanket, clean sheets and a pillow in an air-conditioned 4-person room which has free water and some snacks. You leave Hanoi at 7:45 PM and arrive in the center of Hue at 9:00 AM after a restful night on the train.
Travel by Motorbike in Vietnam
Many tourists rent a motorbike for the day to travel around the city that they’re visiting. In Vietnam you can also travel between cities this way. If you’re confident on the motorbike you can do a self-guided trip or, if you’re more comfortable, you can hire a motorbike that comes with a driver/guide.
I did the self-drive option from Hue to Hoi An and loved it. For $25 I could drop the motorbike at my destination hotel anytime that day. The hotel also forwarded my larger backpack to the hotel in my destination city so that it was there when I arrived, without having to lug it around on the motorbike all day. This option gives you the most flexibility. It’s also really fun!
Traveling by private car in Vietnam
You can hire a private car with a driver to get between cities in Vietnam. This is the most expensive option and you may be required to pay for the driver’s food and accommodation if it is a long trip. This does give you a lot of flexibility and comfort so if you’ve got the cash you may want to consider it.