Vietnam Travel – General
Travel in Vietnam is easier than it used to be. Means of transportation
are usually very comfortable. Routine travel in Vietnam between major
cities and tour destinations is generally comfortable also. Independent
travelers will sometimes be required local knowledge for a decent level of
You can get almost anywhere while visiting Vietnam, but scheduled flights
to some Vietnam travel destinations are few and late changes in aircraft
type can impact travel plans.
Rail is still slow and adventurous. The rail network is limited. Lines run
between Hanoi-Saigon, Hanoi-Laocai-Hekou (China)-Kunming (China),
Hanoi-Langson-Beijing (China). Train to China depart from Hanoi train
station. You can join the train to Kunming at Laocai station, but you can
only join the train to Beijing from Hanoi. The train stations for some
Vietnam travel destinations can be literally in the middle of nowhere. The
rolling-stock is generally serviceable, but old and spartan by western
Vietnam travel on Road
Road travel conditions are highly localized. In general, road travel by
car between popular Vietnam tour destinations is adequate since most are
on or near National Highway 1. Secondary highways are a mixed bag: some
good, some okay, some atrocious! Rural roads are generally poor and
Without superhighway or autobahn-type expressways, road travel in Vietnam
is slower than you might expect. On rural roads in the Mekong Delta for
example, coping with single vehicle roads and bridges, giving way to
ducks, dogs, buffaloes, cows and kids means you may only cover 30-40km in
Road travel in Vietnam can also be a frightening experience. On major
highways, excessive speed, passing on either side (sometimes 2 abreast)
and reliance on other traffic to give way to you, causes thousands of road
traffic accidents and deaths every month!
Bus travel used to be available only packed sardine-style into hot and
stuffy, smoke belching reject Russian 40-seaters with bicycles, motorbikes
and maybe the odd pig strapped to the roof. For the true adventurer only!
These buses are still around and popular with the locals (tickets are dirt
cheap). However, there is now a system of privately owned minivans
(usually 12, 15 or 16-seaters) connecting most sizeable population centers
with neighboring towns and cities. Ask at your hotel in Vietnam how to get
to your next travel destination by minivan.
Vietnam travel by Foot
You may need to learn how to cross city streets, especially in Saigon.
City traffic in Vietnam is like "water on wheels", it is constantly moving
on, flowing around everything in its path. The daytime traffic never
stops. People are always on the move.