Getting Around, Ho Chi Minh City Travel, Transport and Car Rental
(Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon, Vietnam)
Ho Chi Minh City is a major hub of travel in South-East Asia, and so it is easy to get here by plane, bus or train transport.
Most of the regional airlines have daily flights into the city, and if you are already in Vietnam
, consider taking the train down the coast. The public transport system in Ho Chi Minh City is a bit chaotic and it is therefore sensible to give yourself plenty of time if you intend to travel around via taxi or bus. Tourists may also like to consider hiring a bicycle, or taking a tour on a three-wheeler cyclo rickshaw.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) / Arriving by Air
Address: 49 Truong Son, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, VN
Tel: +84 08 8844 8358
Vietnam's largest international airport is located just 6 km / 4 miles from the city centre. Tan Son Nhat International Airport
is well serviced by regional airlines and most carriers from across the globe. Around 40 different airlines currently operate here, with Vietnam Airlines being the largest and connecting popular domestic destinations such as Can Tho
, Da Nang
, Hai Phong
, while international flights travel to and from Bangkok
, Hong Kong
, Kuala Lumpur
, amongst other prominent worldwide cities.
All of the expected facilities are located in the terminal, but there are no car hire companies on site. Taxis from the airport to the city centre take about 30 minutes on a good day, or alternatively you can travel onboard the air-conditioned bus 152, which will take you to the Ben Tranh Market.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) Guide
Vietnam does not allow foreigners to rent cars for self driving, but you can easily hire a car with your very own English-speaking driver through any travel company. You really won't need to hire a car for the day if you are staying in the city, as taxis are more than up to the task. Check with Saigontourist, Exotissimo or Vidotour to arrange for a car and driver. In general, the rental agencies based around the Pham Ngu Lao area are the cheapest.
Buses and Coaches
All long-distance coaches arrive at one of four main bus terminals in the city, including the Ben Tranh Market. Most of the private tour bus firms drop their passengers off on Pham Ngu Lao near De Tham, which is right next to the budget accommodation neighbourhood. Bus transport heading northwards departs from the Mien Dong station, while further buses travel to Cu Chi and Tay Ninh (to the north-west) from the more modern An Suong bus station. Located on the westerly outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, the Mien Tay station serves the southerly suburbs and towns within the Mekong Delta area.
Worth noting, taxi drivers descend on you the moment you get off the bus. Local city buses are cheap, but rather confusing and slow, so tourists often use taxis to move around the city. If you would like to pick up a diagram of the 130+ bus routes, then pay a visit to the Ben Thanh bus station and collect your free copy of the Ho Chi Minh Bus Route Diagram / Map. For longer distances, international bus transport is available, travelling as far as Phnom Penh in Cambodia.
Ho Chi Minh City lies at the southern end of the country's main north to south rail line. Vietnam's trains are very comfortable and provide and a great way to travel into Saigon if you are already in the country. The city's train station, Ga Saigon, is sited in District 3 on Nguyen Thong Street. Air-conditioned sleeping berths and hard seat cars are available.
Several taxi companies operate around the city and all should be using a meter. Vina Taxi, Mai Linh Taxi and Vinasun are the main operators and more reliable than the little independent guys. You can easily find taxis waiting in front of a hotel or restaurant, and the fares are quite cheap - just be sure that the meter gets turned on when you set off.
Boats and Ferries
It is possible to get to Ho Chi Minh City by boat, from the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh or from Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta. Keep in mind these are very limited operations and mostly for tourists. Boat travel is not a standard form of transportation in the city, but these private boat operators provide a unique and fun way to travel here. It is also possible to hire your own boat to explore the Saigon River at your leisure. If you wish to cross the river by boat, ferries depart from the Bach Dang jetty off the D Ham Nghi.