Here are useful tips about transportation that you must know in order to have a smooth and wonderful trip in Vietnam. This is updated price from my trip in June 2014.
TRANSPORTATION TO VIETNAM
Normally, people choose to access Vietnam by airline. The only provider for non-stop flight from the UK to Vietnam is Vietnam Airlines (vietnamairlines.com). Their price of a return ticket for economy class is about £680, depending on each season. There are many other indirect flights with 2 – 7 hours transit in a third country, such as France (airfrance.co.uk), Hong Kong (cathaypacific.com), Singapore (singaporeair.co.uk), Thailand (thaiairways.co.uk) – just to name a few.
As a communist country, Vietnam still remains heavy a bureaucracy system and exist a fair amount of red tape, notably for travelers is their visa process. With British passport-holders, you can either organize your visa in advance at the Embassy of Vietnam in London or apply visa online via a trusted visa website in Vietnam such as www.getvisavietnam.com, myvisavietnam.com, vietnamvisa.org.vn, etc, to get visa approval letter, print it out and get your passport stamped when arriving their international airport.
TRANSPORTATION WITHIN VIETNAM
Vietnam is shaped like an elongated S with a long coastline along the east of the country. Therefore, get around the country by internal flights is a convenient and time-saving option. Along with national airline (Vietnam Airlines), other main domestic airlines are Vietjet (vietjetair.com.vn/) and Jetstar (jetstar.com/vn/en/home) which are low-cost airlines like Ryanair or Easy Jet. A one-way flight ticket from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City will cost about £45.
Travel by train is slow but cheap. It is good for travelling shorter distance. The website gahanoi.com.vn/ or vetau.com.vn provides necessary information about train in Hanoi and Saigon respectively. Timetables for national network are available on vr.com.vn.
To travel between the provinces in Vietnam, open tour bus network is available for backpackers. The network fixes some stops in center of provinces/cities and run on a hop-on hop-off basis. Sinh Tourist (thesinhtourist.vn) is a recommended company.
In cities, metered taxis are convenience and typically cost around 12.000VND (£0.40) per km. Some reliable taxi companies include nationwide Mai Linh cabs; CP, Hanoi Group in Hanoi and Vinasun in Ho Chi Minh City). Although unlikely, scams may happen and your best protection is asking the local people about the approximately price of the distance you need to go and bringing a local map or mobile phone with navigating support to have knowledge of where you are going and points along the way.
Vietnam is well known as a remarkably safe destination with no riot, terrorist or civil war. Although serious problems on security and crimes against tourists rarely happens, there still are things like pick – pocketing or overcharging foreigners and the traffic is frenzied. Always keep an eye on your luggage and walk slowly when crossing the roads and everything will be fine.
Have a great time in Vietnam J