Streets in Vietnam can be rather scary for those used to walking in European cities. The public transport system is not exactly developed either but you can always choose the motorbike taxis to get around.
Arriving and Departing
There are three international airports in Vietnam, serving different parts of the country. The busiest and most used is Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) in Saigon.
From airport to the city
The best option to get from the airport to the city is by using the hotel cars, if available. Make sure to ask about the service when you book your room. The hotel cars cost between US$10 and US$25 and the journey to the hotel takes between 10 and 30 minutes.
Another option is to take the public transport. If you arrive in Saigon, take the air-conditioned airport bus, service number 152, which passes by most hotels. If you arrive in Hanoi, take Hanoi city buses number 07 and 17 for about US$0.03.
Be careful if you want to grab a taxi. In Hanoi there are certified taxis which are safe and have fixed airfares (US$10)
From one city to another
The safest and fastest way to travel between cities is by plane. There are airports in all the major towns and the airfare is cheap.
The roads network can be very dangerous due to inappropriate design and traffic mix. That’s true especially when talking about the new express highways.
The railways are rather limited, although you can generally travel by train to the border cities.
Walking or cycling in the cities
Renting bicycles is the best alternative to public transport and/or taxis. For about US$1.50 a day you can ride a rather wobbly bicycle in town. But look at it this way: you are staying active and explore the sites cheaply.
Walking can be pretty tricky especially when you need to cross the road. If the traffic seems to scary for you, Saigon “Tourist Security” officers will help you cross the street is you ask them.
A future metro system is being planned in Saigon. The first line should be completed by 2014. The only public transport available in Saigon is the bus.
Motorbike taxis are the most popular, cheap and available almost everywhere you look in Saigon and Hanoi. Make sure to decide on the price before starting the journey. Most drivers speak in English so it’s quite easy to communicate.
Cyclos are starting to disappear. They are a cheap way to make a short trip but they are really slow. So choose them only if you fancy some sightseeing at snail pace.