Vietnam - Transportation
Vietnam International airports at Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang.
Non-stop Direct flights are accessible from Australia, Cambodia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Brunei, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, Macau, Qatar, Turkey and the U.S. However, flag carrier Vietnam Airlines supply most direct flights while many of other long-distance flights are accessible with transits via Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taipei.
There are straight international train services from Nanning and Beijing in China to Hanoi. Most have need a change of trains at the border at Pingxiang/Dong Dang, but the Chinese-carry on daily Nanning express (T871/MR2) runs throughout, even though it still takes about four hours at the border for immigration.
The Kunming-Hanoi line was shut down by landslides in 2002 and, as of 2011, remains closed. There are no train links to Cambodia.
Three border crossings between China and Vietnam that can be use:
A. Dongxing – Mong Cai (by road; onward travel Mong Cai to Ha Long by sea or by road)
B. Hekou – Lao Cai (by road and or rail, but no international passenger train services)
C. Youyi Guan – Huu Nghi Quan (Friendship Pass – by road and/or rail)
Six border crossings between Laos and Vietnam that can be use.
Be cautious of getting local buses from Laos to Vietnam. Not only are they often overflowing with cargo (coal and live chickens, often underfoot) but many buses operates in the middle of the night, stopping for hours in order to wait for the border to open at 7AM. Long waiting, you will be getting off the bus (for several hours) where you will be approached by locals giving assistance in getting a Laos exit stamp in return for money (usually US$5+). If you negotiate hard, you can get the amount down to about US$2. The men will get your passports, which can be much confusing, but will absolutely provide the service they promise. It is not clear whether you can just wait for the border officials to do this. There is also a VIP bus from Savannakhet.
Donsavanh – Lao Bao
Kaew Neua – Cau Treo (Keo Nua Pass)
Nam Can (Vietnam) to Xieng Khuang (Laos)
Tay Trang (Vietnam) to Phong Sa Ly (Laos)
Long-distance bus operations connect most cities in Vietnam. Most leave early in the morning to get behind traffic and late afternoon rains, or run overnight. It is important to note that average road speeds are ordinarily quite slow, even when travelling between cities. For example a 276 km (172 mi) journey from the Mekong Delta to Ho Chi Minh City by bus will likely take about 8 hours.
Be extra careful of your belongings on the overnight bus, people (including bus employees) have been known to look inside passengers bag’s and take expensive items such as iPods and phones and sell them on for profit. If you are travelling with an iPod DO NOT FALL ASLEEP WITH IT IN YOUR EAR, as the high risk that it will be nowhere to be found in the morning. Simply get a padlock for your hand luggage and lock everything up in there before you go to sleep.
International driving licenses are not recognizing in Vietnam. The concept of renting a car to drive you is almost non-existent, and when Vietnamese speak of renting a car, they always mean hiring a car with a driver. Since few Vietnamese own cars, they have common occasion to hire vehicles for family outings, special occasions, etc., and a progressing industry exists to serve that need.
Daring visitors may wish to see Vietnam by bicycle. Several adventure travel tours provide package tours with supplies. Almost of the population gets around on two wheels, so it is an exciting way to get closer to the people, as well as off the beaten path.
While slowly being replaced by motorbikes, cyclo pedicabs still wandering the streets of Vietnam’s cities and towns. They are particularly common in scenic smaller, less busy cities like Hue, where it is good to cruise slowly along taking in the sights. However, the ride will be slow, hot and every now and then dangerous, you will in most cases need to pay more than for a motorbike for the comparable distance. On the plus side, some drivers (particularly in the South) are very friendly and happy to give you running notes on the sights.