It can be daunting planning a trip to an entirely new place – one of the things I personally struggle with is working out how to actually get from place to place.
Vietnam is definitely well equipped for the thousands of backpackers that flood through customs every year, and all public transport routes are well-connected, have a regular service and are extremely reliable.
We used a mix of methods to travel around Vietnam on our 2 week itinerary, and all have their pros and cons. Stay with me and I’ll go into a little more detail, but first make sure you have the top 8 things in Vietnam covered…
So what are the various ways of travelling around Vietnam?
Bicycles are a great way to explore a city – they are cheap to rent and using them gives you way more flexibility whilst also saving on taxi fares. Also…it’s fun!
TRAVEL AROUND VIETNAM ON MOPEDS
If you are a keen biker then it could be an idea to rent a moped and bike the whole of Vietnam. I say keen biker as you need guts to bike through the big cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. Even Hoi An is treacherous! Mopeds can be rented in any of the major cities and can also be bought at a low price, ready for you to sell on at the end.
TRAVEL BY BOAT
We actually found ourselves on a lot of boats, (Mekong Delta, Floating Markets, Halong Bay, boat trips in Hoi An and on a boat to get to one of the homestays). Travelling around by boat gives you a new perspective of your surroundings, not forgetting you get to meet some of the local people making their livings as snack vendors.
USE THE BUS
For the shorter routes, bus is definitely the most popular choice for travellers. The links are great and they are actually very reliable. Choose the right companies and you will have spacious seats, free water and wifi. Rather than paying bus by bus you can also buy an open bus ticket – these aren’t too expensive and it means you can hop on and off the buses at any time. By the time you have travelled the length of Vietnam and taken a few night buses too you will make your money back quite quickly.
HOW ABOUT A SLEEPER BUS?
If you are keen to save on accommodation costs and stay on the move at the same time, sleeper buses are a really great option. They are not the most luxurious though so if you live a life of luxury then they are probably not the one.
The sleeper bus leaves at around 9pm ish at night, and arrives at around 5am the next morning (obviously depending on the route) so it is often a good idea to make sure your hostel/hotel has 24 hour check in so you have somewhere to chill if your room isn’t ready. Although other options, in my opinion this is definitely the best way to get to Sapa…
TAKE THE TRAIN
There are multiple rail routes across Vietnam – all are safe, comfortable and don’t cost the world (AND they have air con!). The train journeys are an experience in themselves and don’t forget you get to see all the Vietnamese countryside that you wouldn’t see on a bus. There are both day trains, and sleeper trains linking between the major cities (Hanoi, Nha Trang , Hué, Danang and Saigon). There are also trains from Hanoi to Haiphong (for Halong Bay) and Hanoi to Lao Cai (for Sapa).
WHY NOT FLY?
People often discount internal flights straight away as it is assumed they are expensive, but there are a number of airlines that operate cheap domestic flights in Vietnam, and flying can be a real time saver. Check Air Asia, Jetstar and VietJet Air for the cheapest fares. We did this on our trip, and instead of getting the sleeper bus from Ho Chi Minh to Hoi An which would have taken a good 19 hours, we booked a late night internal flight which took an hour and cost £27. This saved us a load of time! 🙂
Other posts you may enjoy if you’re planning a trip to Vietnam: