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How to Get Around in Vietnam

How to Get Around in Vietnam Photo

Photo by eyesoftheworld

Posted on September 7, 2011 in Travel Tips

Observing (and photographing!) the transportation of people and goods is one of my favorite travel activities, one that I was able to indulge during a holiday in Southern and Central Vietnam. The travel- and transportation-related photos included below are a bit random, so I'll let you in on some actual tips, too.

Within towns and cities, buses are cheap and paying for them, at least, is easy. You get on and get seated, and a fare collector comes around to make change and give you a ticket. Getting on in the first place can be the challenging part; buses usually need to be hailed (wave your hand around a bit) and they don't so much stop as slow down just enough for people to get on and off (so be prepared to hop on and stabilize yourself quickly). I only used them with directions from locals, so am not sure how easy the routes and schedules are to figure out on your own. I do know they stop running pretty early (about 6:30 pm), which brings me to the alternative, taxis. Vietnam's cabs are expensive compared to some other Asian countries' but wonderfully affordable by my New York City standards. Walking is another option if you've got the time--which you should if you're on holiday!--and is a great way to see things you wouldn't when speeding along in a cab. Saigon, especially, is very walkable; getting between District 1, the main tourist area, and Pham Ngu Lao, the backpacking area, takes about 20 minutes.

For travel between cities, flying is pretty great. I flew Vietnam Airlines domestically three times while I was there, and each flight went smoothly and was mostly on time. I met an Australian couple who were having an excellent time getting around with open café bus tickets, which I will consider on my next trip!

Cyclos are a fun way to get around and see sights, but they are markedly more expensive than taxis and motorbikes over the same distance. And sometimes you have do a little work yourself.

This bridge was built by the American Army. The boat sports eyes to keep away river monsters.

Biking used to be the most popular mode of transportation in Vietnam. While less ubiquitous now, you still see plenty of folks out there under their own power.

Cable cars are not a popular form of transportation in Vietnam, but this one will get you to the Vin Pearl theme park near Nha Trang. The ride over the water only is almost worth the price of entrance.

These colorful boats in Hoi An will take you anywhere a tourist would want to go.

A view of some towns outside Da Nang from a Vietnam Airlines flight. Props planes don't seem to travel at as a high altitude as jets, so this ride provided tons of great aerial views.

Fruit has to travel, too, and in Saigon it rode around on motorbikes and in these little carts.

A peaceful motorbike parked in the compound of a Hoi An temple.

View from a motorbike at a red light. In some places, cars and motorbikes have separate lanes.

All the motorbikes and taxis in Saigon have to run on something, so gas stations are usually pretty packed.

Traditional round fishing boats on the beach in Nha Trang.

A more modern boat for snorkeling tours in the tropical waters around Nha Trang.

Flying into Cam Ranh International Airport, which serves Nha Trang.

One last sunrise from the plane in Saigon, headed to Hong Kong and then NYC.

And many more Vietnam photos! I didn't get a chance to visit anywhere up north, not even Ha Noi, so if anyone has experience getting around there, let us know in the comments.

More IgoUgo Members' Vietnam Experiences
Visiting Vietnam by catsholiday
Vietnam by koshkha
All of Essexgirl09's Vietnam journals
Planning Vietnam by SeenThat

By Anna Welch

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