Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Wed March 23 2016

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  • Shannon Wolf | March 23, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Transit in Vietnam: Tips and Advice

    Transit in Vietnam: Tips and Advice

    PHOTO: By far the best way to see Vietnam is by biking with friends you meet along the way! (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    Getting around in Vietnam is simple, easy to follow, and transportation networks here run like a well-oiled machine. The roads are (for the most part) well maintained and the sights will leave you speechless, no matter which mode of transport you choose. There are four major types for travelers to consider:

    Charter Buses

    One-Way Tickets

    The cheapest company I came across in all of Saigon by far was Sinh Tourist. They have clean, comfortable sitting buses for shorter distances, sleeper buses for longer journeys and come with complimentary water, a wet towelette and a blanket.

    For example: Most travel agencies quoted me anywhere between 150k and 300k for a ticket to Mui Ne (4 hours away). Sinh Tourist ticket cost me a whopping 89k, equivalent to $4 US.

    READ MORE: 5 Things To Know About Modern-Day Vietnam

    Open Bus Ticket

    An open bus ticket allows you to have flexible dates to travel and is valid for one month. (However, you need to book at least a day in advance.)

    If you decide to do this option, book your open ticket in either Saigon or Hanoi rather than along the way for the cheapest price.

    What they don’t tell you: If prices go up on tickets, you still have to pay more even though you already purchased your pass. Be forewarned, customer service is also terrible. (Personally, I wouldn’t book an open ticket again.)

    How it works:

    1) Book your departure ticket 1-2 days in advance by calling or heading to a Sinh Tourist office found in each major city.

    2) Go to the counter, pick what time you would like to leave and the attendant will print you a slip.

    3) Walk over to the payment counter, hand them your slip. Pay the fee and they will hand you your ticket. (Double check to verify that your departure date and location are correct.)

    4) On the day of your departure, MAKE SURE to arrive at least 30 minutes early at the same tourist office in which you bought your ticket).

    5) Go to the counter to "check in" and get your boarding pass.

    6) They will hand you a new ticket along with a tag to attach to your bag that goes underneath the bus.

    7) Wait for your bus to arrive or be called and after putting your bag under the bus, head to your assigned seat as seen on your ticket. (Do not change seats.)

    8) Sit back and enjoy the ride — it's going to be a long one.

    PHOTO: A typical night on a 16-hour sleeper bus from Hue to Hanoi.


    If you're on a time constraint or want to shave hours off of your journey; then train travel is for you. Prices are steeper (typically around $5 or so more than buses) but get you to your destination faster.


    Surprisingly, airlines are sometimes on par or cheaper than buses and trains if you book early enough in advance!


    Bike costs range from $180-$300-plus US and in Vietnam, like most things, "you get what you pay for."

    If you buy a beater, expect to make a lot of repairs before and while on the road, which will cost you more than you probably bargained for. Your best bet is to buy something in the $250-$300 range and sell it once you've reached your final destination either in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon).

    READ MORE: Vietnam To Give Yearlong Tourist Visas To All Americans

    If you're worried about being able to get your money back for what you paid, instead of buying a used bike from another backpacker, look for a shop that will guarantee a "buy-back" such as Hanoi Motorcycle (the business my friends used) which means no stress later on, so you can get the most out of your motorcycle trip across Vietnam!

    Hanoi Motorcycle


    Location: Ham Tu Quan (near the port in Hanoi)

    Whatever form of transit you choose take during your time in Vietnam, you won't go wrong! A motorcycle truly is the best choice but if you’re on a time constraint and can only do a train, plane or bus, you'll still enjoy the ride!

    PHOTO: One of the many remarkable landscapes you pass along the way!

More Vietnam


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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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