frequently asked questions
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Can Tho airport is 12 km away from the town, and it may cost anywhere from VND 120,000 ($6) to VND 150,000 ($7.5) to travel to town, depending on where you go.
It is suggested that you travel with a reputable taxi companies such as Mai Linh taxi to avoid taxi scams when you first arrive. A list of reputable taxis companies in Vietnam can be found here: Taxis in Vietnam.
Taking place every Sunday’s morning, Bac Ha is the local market where ethnic communities living in Lao Cai Province gather to exchange and trade goods. Bac Ha Market attracts tourists from all over Vietnam as well as foreigners for the original and diverse features of culture. People can visit Bac Ha Market by catching buses from Lao Cai Terminal or Sapa Terminal, as it is located 70km far from Lao Cai City and 80km from Sapa Town.
Every day, there are three buses departing from Lao Cai Terminal at 6 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m., with the fare around VND 70,000. In addition, passengers who travel by train can get off at Pho Lu station, which is only 50km far from the market; and then use local buses or motorbike service.
From Sapa, tourists have several alternatives to go to Bac Ha Market: buses or motorbike. There are direct buses from Sapa Terminal with the ticket price of VND 80,000; and it will take up to three hours to reach Bac Ha Market.
Tourists can also hire motorbike (Minsk is the most popular) for VND 100,000/day and enjoy the wildly picturesque sceneries on the way to Bac Ha. The route passes through Ban Phiet; then following Highway 70 for about 40-50km, turning left at the three-way crossroad leading to Bac Ha.
As Hoi An is about 40km from Da Nang, it’s relatively fast and easy to travel between these two places.
1. By taxi: it would be best to negotiate the fare before going, which ranges from VND 300,000 to VND 400,000 ($15-20)
2. By bus: Many hotels in Hoi An provides bus transfer from Da Nang International Airport to Hoi An, for about $2-3/each. These minivans are often comfortable enough and carry 6-10 people. Another choice is taking the Sinh Café, the popular bus pass service which makes a stop in Hoi An.
The cheapest bus, though, is the city bus which can be found at 33 Dien Bien Phu, Thanh Khe District, Danang. This bus runs every hour and costs about $1 for one-way ticket. With that low price, you have to accept the fact that the buses are quite old and don’t run fast.
3. By motorbike taxi: Also known as xe-om, this is the most common method to get around in Vietnam. A trip from Da Nang to Hoi An by motorbike usually costs VND 150,000 to VND 250,000/each, depending on your negotiation. Or if you wish to travel to Hoi An within a day, you can rent a motorbike and ride it yourself.
There are a number of airlines operating flights from Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City daily. Whichever air carriers you choose, you will land at the international terminal of Ho Chi Minh City Airport - the official name of which is Tan Son Nhat Airport. As of January 2012, this is the only airport that receives domestic and international passengers from Vietnam and all over the world. Below are some information and tips you might be interested in:
Airport departure tax for domestic flight is $2 and for international departure tax is $14. The taxes are included in the air tickets, even low cost carriers like Air Asia often include the airport tax so you do not have to worry about paying extra.
Vietnam Airlines has several offices in North America, including San Francisco. The address for Vietnam Airlines San Francisco office is:
Address: 88 Kearny St # 1400 San Francisco, CA 94108
Telephone: (415) 677-0888
Toll free: 1-866-677-8909
Fax: (415) 677-9788
You can also contact the office by emailing: email@example.com
The opening hours of San Francisco office is Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM. Note that the office is closed on Saturday and Sunday and major holidays.
Other useful information about Vietnam Airlines:
There are a number of ways to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc island, but the most popular way is to take a flight. Currently, Air Mekong and Vietnam Airlines operate flights daily departing for the island.
› Air Mekong flights:
* Air ticket starts at $50 one way. One way flight takes 50 minutes.
* Schedules: Air Mekong departs Ho Chi Minh City at 12:00PM and departs from Phu Quoc at 7:45 AM, 1:15 PM; 4:05 PM
› Vietnam Airlines flights:
* Air ticket starts at $50 and there are 8 flights back and forth between the two cities daily. One way flight takes $50.
* You can also travel on a high speed ferry from Rach Gia (Kien Giang) to Phu Quoc - which takes 3 hour and costs about $12. There are multiple ferries departing daily to Phu Quoc and back but it may take you a long time to travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Rach Gia.
From Noi Bai airport to Hanoi Old Quarter, there are taxis that run at fixed rates waiting outside of the arrival hall. It costs between 315,000 - 345,000 VND depending on the type of taxi you get (or $16-18). Three official taxi brands for airport routes are: Noi Bai Taxi, Viet Thanh Taxi and Dai Nam Taxi, you can also take a look at our Guide to taking taxi at Noi Bai airport here.
In any case, do not go by the meter because the rate will be much higher than the fixed rate. You also need not pay any toll fees. Tips are not required though if the driver is really nice you can also give tips.
As you do not mention clearly about your travel time as well as your budget condition, so we can only give some general advices.
To travel to Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon, you need to have enough money for these main spendings: transportation, food, accommodation and entrance tickets to tourism destinations, not to mention your spending on shopping and other unexpected fees.
Saigon is such a big city that in order to visit all of the most well-known tourism destinations, you need at least two or three days.
Normally, the minimum budget spent for accommodation will range from VND 150,000 to VND 300,000/day, depending on the quality of the hotel and its location. Public transportation is quite cheap, which will cost you about VND 50,000 to VND 70,000/day if you move around inside the city. However, if you choose taxi as a means of transportation, the fare will be about VND 11,000/ km so each journey will cost you VND 50,000 on average.
As every other city and province in Vietnam, Saigon is a heaven of street food. If you do not mind eating like the locals at street vendors, you will only need to spend about VND 100,000 each day to have very good meals. The ticket for museums will take you about VND 10,000- VND 30,000; while most of other tourism destinations like Notre-Dame Church or Central Post Office have free entrance.
In sum, if you want to travel on a shoe string, you can do so with only VND 1.5 million (or $75) for 3 days in Saigon. $120 will probably give you mid-range hotel and more flexibility with travelling. For top hotels and sit-down restaurants, expect your budget to start from $500 for 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City. You can also refer to our guide to cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City for further information.
We hope this helps!
I am planning to visit Vietnam in the next days. I know several parts are still flooded, my questions is in how far this affects tourists? Is it safe to come? Are busses still running?
Thanks for your email and your interest in visiting Vietnam in the next few days. You are right, there are several parts still flooded in Vietnam (information as of October 26th, 2011). At this time every year, the Mekong Delta area often gets flooded because it is rainy season in the South of Vietnam. However, if you travel around Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, it’s not a big deal at all. You can find more information about weather in Ho Chi Minh City here.
There are foreigners visiting Vietnam and being on the Mekong Delta Tour, though. For safety reasons, booking a tour at a travel agency is recommended. Floating market is a piece of Mekong Delta culture you should experience.
Besides, there are usually some upcoming storms in the Centre of Vietnam at this time of the year which makes the weather cooler than usual and more appealing to foreigners. If you are planning to stay in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi only, weather would be calm and will not to ruin your vacation.
Hope you find it helpful.
The best way for the tourists to get from Hanoi to Nha Trang is traveling by train or plane because of safety and comforts. For tourists who can afford the time and would like to enjoy beautiful scenes along the way, train is the best choice. The most prominent scene is Hai Van pass, the famous beauty spot between Hue and Da Nang. Traveling by train is the best way for tourists to appreciate the marvelous beauty of this pass, especially in the dawn or sunset. It takes you about 27 hours from Hanoi – Nha Trang by train.
For those who want to save time, they can take a flight from Hanoi to Nha Trang. It only takes about 1.5 hour, and Vietnam Airlines maintain frequent daily routes between these two cities. One way ticket is about $90 and Nha Trang Airport is about 40 minutes from downtown area.
Besides, tourists can travel by open tour bus offered by plenty of travel agencies in Hanoi Old Quarter.
Motor rental service is available in Hanoi and you can easily find the shops which offer this service on main streets like Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tran Hung Dao, and especially small streets in Hanoi Old Quarter like Hang Be, Ta Hien, Luong Ngoc Quyen, Dinh Liet.
There are many kinds of motorbikes from the most popular ones in Vietnam like Wave, Dream, Viva… to favorite transportation means of backpackers like Simson, Minsk. The cost ranges from $6 to $50 per day depending on motor type.
Foreign tourists just has to leave one hard copy of his/her passport and one kind of identity papers like driving license or passport in the shop, then take the motor and begin a joyful trip. These rented motor taxi is usually empty of gas so you will need to find a gas station to fill it up (see How much fuel costs in Vietnam).
Monthly motorcycle rent is also available with Rentabike (www.rentabikehanoi.com/) starting from $50 a month. If you plan to stay long term in Hanoi, you may purchase a used motorbike from a fellow expat - such as visiting New Hanoian classifieds section.
You can fly with pets inside Vietnam with Vietnam Airlines, all you need is 24-36 hour notice in advance. You cannot, however, bring your pet on the train, as far as I am concerned.
I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have other questions!
From Singapore to Hanoi, there are several options for you:
Vietnam Airlines: The national flag carrier, operates two daily flights back and forth between Singapore (SIN) and Hanoi (HAN). Flights depart from Hanoi at 10:30 and 14:00; return from Singapore at 15:50 and 19:20. The cheapest option (Saver rate) is $300 return tickets, taxes and fees included.
Singapore Airlines: The national airlines of Singapore or Singapore Airlines is among the most quality airlines in the world. There are daily flights between Singapore and Hanoi, leaving Hanoi at 9:50 and departing Singapore at 13:15. Return ticket costs between $320 (Sweet Deals) and $400 (Flexi), taxes and fees included.
Tiger Airways: Tiger Airways have mixed schedule of flights between Hanoi and Singapore and have different departing time everyday. In specific, it departs at 19:50 (Monday and Wednesday); 12:40 (Tuesday and Thursday); 21:15 (Friday); 13:00 (Saturday) and 10:50 (Sunday). Return ticket costs $200 on average and Tiger Airways offers the lowest cost for flight ticket on this route. Note that there is no meal offered on this flight.
There are several out-standing names with which you can such as DHL, GNN or EMS to fulfill your demand. In Hanoi, you can easily assess their services when walking around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. You can also find some trustworthy domestic deliverers such as Hanoi Post office or Viettel Express with reasonable fees. In Ho Chi Minh City, you can drop into the post nearby Ben Thanh market to send out your package abroad or some representatives of these above international express posts along Dong Khoi Street. Thanh Tin Express in Hue and Babylon Express in Da Nang are also among the most popular suppliers of delivering services across Viet Nam.
For those with a tight budget, the ideal season to fly to Vietnam should be March and April, or September and October. That is to say, the beginning and the end of tourism reason offer you the best deals. In these months, the flight fare could decrease by 5-10%, or even a drop of 30% compared to the price in the tourism season.
In other months, you could grasp reasonable ticket fares for the flights to Vietnam, but the price in the summer or on Tet Holiday is significantly more expensive.
Summer in Vietnam lasts from late May to late August, with various tourism activities in many places and attracts a considerable number of travellers . Tourists are certain to face more challenges to reserve and purchase desired flights ticket while the ticket fare, in general, is considerably higher than the normal season.
The same situation occurs during Christmas and Tet Holiday, but to more extreme degree because not only the tourists use airplane to travel, but also the overseas Vietnamese who come back to Vietnam to have get-togethers with their family, leading to over-booking on most international flights to Vietnam.
Conversely, travelling in between September - November, February - April is advantageous thanks to the seasonal deals and discounts from the airlines to encourage people to travel.
Sapa is a popular destination in the Northwest territory of Vietnam, with beautiful scenery, fresh air and wild green hills. There are plenty of methods to go to Sapa and vice versa: by train, by car, by motorbike and by bus.
Train is the most popular way but the drawback is the long time and many people might not be into the idea of taking a night train. With car and motorbike, go with the highly experienced drivers since the road to Sapa is quite a challenge. If you are keen on taking the bus, here is some essential information.
From Hanoi: You can get on a Hanoi - Lao Cai Bus, and after that take a minu bus to Sapa from Lao Cai. There are also 2 bus companies running direct route to Sapa with a quick stop-over in Lao Cai: Vietbus (284 Giai Phong Street) and Hung Thanh (575 Nguyen Trai Street). Their offers are quite fair with a big bus (35 seats) with beds, TV, air conditioner and a free water bottle. These buses both depart from My Dinh bus station.
Schedule: Depart Hanoi at 7:30 P.M, arrive in Sapa at 5:30 A.M.
From Sapa: Vietbus and Hung Thanh also operate buses from Sapa to Hanoi daily. The buses depart from the Sapa Bus Station, just 1km Southeast of the main square, near the central lake.
Schedule: Depart Sapa at 7:30 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. daily, arrive in Hanoi at 5:30 P.M. and 4:00 A.M. respectively
How to get your Bus ticket:
Contact the Bus Company to reserve your ticket:
Address: 284 Giai Phong Street, Hanoi
Address: 57 Xuan Vien, Sapa
From China to Hanoi, you have some routes. Each of them has their own advantages:
1. Kunming - Hekou - Lao Cai - Hanoi:
Chinese side has no train in this route. From Kunming to Hekou border gate, if you travel by bus, it will take almost 10 hours, including lunch time. From Hekou to Lao Cai town, it lasts 10 minutes by motorbike/taxi. The next step is to go to Lao Cai railway station and find a train ticket to Hanoi (overnight train). So, it is about 790 km (490km by bus and 300km by train) from Kunming to Hanoi.
2. Nanning - PingXiang - Lang Son - Hanoi:
By bus: Huu Nghi Quan (Friendship Pass) is about 17km from Lang Son town. It is wise to arrive at Friendship Pass (customs and immigration) before 4:30 PM, because they do not stamp foreign passports after that time. After that you can take a minibus tour to Hanoi. It costs VND 60,000 ($3) for this trip and it takes 3,5-4 hours.
By train: Beijing - Nanning – Hanoi trip takes you about 40 hours. You will need to change the train at Dong Dang border town, since the rail width in China is 1,4m, while in Vietnam it is only 1m.
3. Nanning - DongXing - MongCai - Ha Long - Hanoi:
There are direct buses from Nanning to Halong Bay, which start 8:00 am in the morning, from River South Bus Centre (Jiang Nan Ke Yun Zhong Xing). The bus passes the border at DongXing border town instead of Gate of Friendship. Total bus travel time from Nanning to Halong bay is 9 hours and it costs VND 3,000,000 ($150). You can also go by express boat from MongCai to Halong Bay then by bus to Hanoi, but it takes longer.
The long plan trip across the ocean can be a nightmare for many travellers, including those experienced ones. A plane trip to Vietnam, unless departing from Hong Kong or Southeast Asia, will be a great pain for some. For example, from Toronto or New York to Hanoi, it takes 17 hours onboard, excluding the transiting time. Here is what you can do to alleviate the long trip pain:
1. Read your travel guide book: Sections in the Lonely Planet such as History and Geography are often scantily skimmed when you arrive. The time on the plane, however, can be an ideal period to know more about Vietnam. Imagine when you talk to the locals, you can be proud to think of yourself as "just-not-another-tourist".
2. Start your travel dairy: the boring landscape inside an airplane, with neither internet nor your favourite baseball match, can be an ideal environment for reflection. Think about where you are now, what you have prepared for the trip and what you are expecting. You will have fun revisiting these pages upon returning to your home country.
3. Make your to-do list: what food do you want to try, where do you want to visit, what do you want to learn, whom will you be telling your story along the way. Making to-do list can be a great way to make yourself satisfied after the trip to Vietnam.
4. Talk to your seat-mate: you never know whom you are sitting next to, until you TRY. Break the ice and make a new friend. Why not? You are going to Vietnam, a most-likely-totally-foreign place anyway.
5. Sleep: Sleeping is the best way to kill time and to help you avoid jetlag later when you land. Avoid caffeinated drinks whenever possible.
The most convenient way you can get from Hoi An to Hue is to by an open tour bus ticket in the ancient town. The trip lasts about 3 hours and you can request for a drop-off at your reserved hotel. Note that the route from Hoi An to Hue is one of the most mind-boggling one in Vietnam.
After passing through Da Nang, you will arrive at Hai Van pass. A new tunnel has been built to reduce traffic accidents and travel time and it is the longest tunnel in Southeast Asia.
Before and after the tunnel, you will be blown away by the breathtaking natural landscape of mountains and oceans, sky and trees so get your camera ready!