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Only one company ‘Vietnam Airlines’ serves the domestic flights. We took 3 flights with them and had no problems at all with delays or cancellations (although especially the trip from Saigon to Hanoi is said to be prone to cancellations if the flight is not full). Service was always correct. You can change the time of your ticket for free, cancellation costs 10 US$. For some trips it's best to book a few days in advance (f.i. Saigon - Nha Trang can be fully booked)  

Tickets can be booked at their office. You can also book at the local travel agencies but this has some small disadvantages 
- they charge a handling fee of about 20.000 VND
- If you pay with credit card, they'll add 3% commission (unlike Vietnam airlines) 
- If you want a refund of you ticket, you'll loose not only 10 US$ cancellation fee, but also the 5% commission of the travel agent.  

Vietnam Airlines (central booking office)  
- 1 Quang Trung, Hanoi 
- tel. 825 0888, fax. 824 8989  
- website : Vietnam Airlines (timetables) 

prices (10/2000) 

From Hanoi: to Danang & Hue 1.000.000 VND, Saigon 1.900.000 

From Saigon: to Hue & Danang 1.000.000 VND, to Nha Trang 650.000 VND, to Dalat  450.000 VND, to Hanoi 1.900.000 

From Danang: to Nha Trang 550.000, to Dalat 850.000 VND 

PS: prices for Vietnamese are about 50% of the above stated prices. 

International flights from Saigon: to Pnom Penh 70 $, to Singapore 242 $ with Vietnam Airlines and 287 $ with Singapore Airlines, to Kuala Lumpur 160 $, to Bangkok 170 $    


Local trains 
The local trains are slow (around 20 km/h) and stop at every station along the way. Since they don't have priority on the track they also spend a lot of time waiting for the express trains to come through.   

Seat options are hard, half, and soft seat. 

Express trains 
The Express train is ‘faster’ (50 km/h) and covers the railway from the north (Hanoi) to the south (HCMC).  

There are different classes of ticket you can buy:  
- Hard-seat or soft-seat.   
- Hard sleeper berth (each cabin has 6 beds) or soft sleeper berth (each cabin has 4 beds), both with or without AC.  

Booking in advance is preferable. 

We didn't take the soft sleeper from Hue to Hanoi, but comments we heard were universally positive. The trip is comfortable and costs about 55 $ (don't book through your hotel, they sometimes ask steep commissions). Important note however: only book the fast express train! Someone else we met booked the slow sleeper from Hue to Hanoi (15 hours for 30 $), and they had an awful night in a dirty compartment).  

Also the night trip from Nha Trang to Danang is an excellent alternative to the horrible bus ride. From Danang railway station, it's a 1 hour trip to Hoi An by taxi.  

We took the hard sleeper from Hanoi to Lao Cai (no soft sleepers available), and this was reasonable. We were with 6 in our compartment and slept reasonably well. Some points to remember however: 
- Go for the lower berths: they are cooler then the top berths, and the luggage can be stored underneath the bed, so stealing is impossible.  
- The train from Lao Cai to Hanoi arrives in Hanoi before 5 am, which is unreasonably early.  
- Some travelcafés (like Kim) provide small mattresses which make the trip a little bit more comfortable (15 $ deposit is asked for). 

Prices (info as provided by Buffalo Tours 9/99) 
- Hanoi- Lao Cai: 16 to 18 US$ (hard sleeper)  
- Hanoi-Hai Phong: 5 US$ (hard seat)  
- Hanoi-Vinh: 28 US$ (soft sleeper) 
- Hanoi – Hue : 58 USD per person (soft sleeper)   
- Hanoi-Nha Trang: 120 US$ (soft sleeper)  
- Hanoi- HCMC: 130 US$ (soft sleeper)  
- Hue-Nha Trang: 63 US$ (soft sleeper)  
- Hue-Nha Trang: 63 US$ (soft sleeper) 
- Hue-HCMC: 70 US$ (soft sleeper)  
- Nha Trang-HCMC: 23 US$ (soft sleeper) 

Victoria trains 
If you want to travel in style (and are prepared to pay for it), Vic
toria hotels offer luxury trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai (connecting with minibus to Sapa) en vv. Check their website for schedules because it goes only 3 times a week, and it's not always a sleeping train. Price 1 way is 35 US$.  

They're also working on a      


Public bus 

There is an extensive network. But….. they are slow, stowed with people and luggage, so not comfortable at all. In fact, the government discourages travellers taking the public buses, that's why they themselves (through Sinh Café have put up the "Open Tour" bus trip. 

"Open tour" 
Most low budget tourists prefer the so-called "open tourist" busticket to travel through the country. The prices of these tickets are extremely low and even seem to get lower every year.  Here is an example of the Sinh Café open tour bus with prices and schedules, but there's also a Kim café bus which offers similar prices and schedules.  

However, it is good to remember that this ticket has advantages as well as disadvantages: 

- It's convenient as these buses follow the usual tourist trail: Saigon-Dalat-Nha Trang-Hoi An-Hue-Hanoi  
- During the trip, they also stop at the usual tourist spots  
- It's extremely cheap  
- Nightbuses save time and money on accommodation  

- This buses tend to be uncomfortable. Sinh Café does have new Daewoo buses with AC, but believe me leg room is not made for my 186 cm (although my girlfriend had no problems with her 165 cm).
- Seats are not reclining  
- These buses stop at restaurants for lunch, but these restaurants can be very bad and dirty (though this is not always the case). Sinh Café claims that there are no better restaurants in the area, but travellers contradict this.  
- Some roads in Vietnam are awful, so on some trips it is simply impossible to sleep. The trip from Hanoi to Hue is notorious for this, but also Dalat-Nha Trang and Nha Trang-Hoi An. Saigon-Nha Trang on the contrary is quite good.  

- If you care for your comfort and are prepared to spend a bit more, it's best to avoid some trips, especially the Hue-Hanoi trip, and probably also Nha Trang-Hoi An (take a plane or night train from Nha Trang to Danang instead.  
- Sinh cafe has a good website with info, schedules and prices of the Open tour ticket.  


Official taxis have a counter inside.   

Price is indicated in VND (not US$ !!!).   Before departure, check if the counter is set to nil.  

However, scams with taxis are being reported. Sometimes the meter is being fixed, or else the driver takes a road which is too long, or often they say they don't have change so have small notes at hand.  In HCMC "Vinataxi" is recommended. Price in Saigon is 12.000 VND for the first 2 km, then 1200 VND every 200 m 

Hanoi is more expensive with 14.000 VND for the first 2 km, then 1400 per 200 m (10/2000).  

Renting a car / bike / motorbike

 Due to the chaotic traffic (no traffic rules and (motor)bikes everywhere) it’s not advisable to drive a car yourself.  

You are better off with a car and driver. 

Motorbike or bike 
A lot more flexible and it is the common Vietnamese transportation. Prices are usually 5 US$ for a day on a motorbike, 1 US$ for a bike. Check quality before you depart.  

The following two websites give you more information on how to get around by motorbike.  
The Minsk motorbikeclub in Hanoi www.minskclubvietnam.com 

Addresses in Hanoi 

See chapter travel agencies.  

They all rent cars  

Go to info on Hanoi 

For questions on N-Vietnam  send an e-mail to Steven Buvens or myself, but please read the site first!

Article Comments:
kira (2)
it wasnt very helpful
tom parr (1)
Good info but dates 9/99 so is there an updated list of times and cost please?

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