Survival Kit – How to Get Around in Vietnam P.1
Looking at a picture of the streets in Vietnam and you will be puzzled by how dense the motorbike traffic here is. But you are not really a motorbike person? Don’t worry, there are plenty of other transportation readily available in the country, especially in most major cities and tourist areas. Whatever style of an explorer you are, on taxis, overnight trains and buses or the back of a local’s motorbikes, there is a pretty high chance that you will leave Vietnam with plenty of stories to tell.
A busy street filled with motorbikes in Vietnam. Photo:
Knowing that is might be diffcult for foreigners to navigate around Vietnam’s busy streets and various transportation options, not to mentions fear of potential scam threats. We’ve collected a few tips to make your journey as smooth as possible whichever way you choose to travel.
Vietnam is the land with millions of motorbike, almost every person in its major cities own one among various kinds, however, finding a travelling option that doesn’t include barely clinging onto the driver while sitting on the back of a motorbike taxi is really not that difficult. In fact, there are many ways you can get around major cities in Vietnam without using a motorbike which include using taxis, buses, the train and most recently, ride-hailing apps like Uber or Grab.
Below, we are providing you with some basic tips or dos and don’ts when using each of these transportation during your trip in Vietnam, these are all based on our own knowledge we collected during travelling and we hope you too, can let us know other tips you have according to your own experience in the comment section below the article. Now, let’s get started.
Vinasun taxis can be recognized by their signature white and dark blue colors. Photo: petrotimes.vn
The rule of thumb when using taxis in Vietnam is always to choose cars from the two biggest taxi companies in Vietnam namely Vinasun and Mailinh, the former is a very popular taxi brand in Ho Chi Minh City however, it is usually not available in smaller towns and especially in the North of Vietnam. The reason why you don’t want to get a taxi from other smaller brands is because of the inconsistency of their quality; they either will not have a meter or will try to charge tourists excessively.
Now you know the brand names of the taxis, how do you make sure, in thousands of those taxis running on the street every day, to get in one legitimate taxi and not a fake one that disguise themselves in cover that look like the big names? We have the answer for you.
First of all, if you are staying at a place where the staffs can make a taxi call for you (hotels, restaurants, spas…) do ask them to, if you have a local SIM Card, you can simply install a Vinasun or Mailinh app on your phone or you can make a call to these numbers: Vinasun: 028 38 272727 Mailinh: 028 3838 3838. In cases where you don’t have a phone or someone to call a taxi for you, try memorizing the phone number of the companies and compare with the phone number written on the taxi, that is one of the more effective ways of dealing with taxi companies that try to copy the appearance of the signature Vinasun or Mailinh.
A taxi from Mailinh. Photo: Vforum.vn
If you want to be extra cautious, you can always take a picture of the plate number, the driver’s name and their number will be displayed on a small board right next to the meter. This way, if the driver does ask you to pay more than what is on the meter or other bad things; you can make complaints to the customer service about the incident.
One important thing you want to remember is that even though the incidents above with taxis do happen in Vietnam, they are very rare cases and when they do happen, the big companies are usually very upfront and efficient in solving complaints about their drivers.
2. The train
If you are planning to travel further and through Vietnam, then the train is a more comfortable and safe option to choose. Make sure you are getting your tickets inside the train station or on the state train’s official website here. If you are not familiar with the routes and train station, you can also look to book train tickets with a trusted tour agency found on Tripadvisor. Never buy tickets from vendors in front of train stations or people offering you ‘great’ train ticket prices. They are often dealers who sell tickets for prices way over than they are worth.
Recently, Vietnam’s authority is trying to attract people to travel by train by upgrading the Railway system including train stations and quality of the carts. In addition, there are many promotions created to boost the use of rain among locals and tourists like this 50 cents train tickets promotion or their most recent holiday tickets promotion here! Check them out.
The train is safe, comfortable and affordable, and you can enjoy the view. Photo: vietnamrailways.net
When you book a train ticket in Vietnam, there is a variety of options to choose from, you can choose to sit on a hard or soft chair, or lounge in your own bed (wooden mattress or foam mattress). More modern trains even offer private cabins you can spend with your family or friends. What we are fairly sure about is the money spent on upgrading your seat/bed depending your preference is money well-spent, especially when you are going on a long trip.
The options of non-motorbike and motorbike travelling around Vietnam is plenty and of course we will continue in our next post on this topic. Tune in to see the rest of our Vietnam Survival Kit- How to Get Around in Vietnam and see which one fits you the best!
Continue with Part 2 HERE
If you want to know more about what is happening in Vietnam, follow us for quick updates about Vietnam news and survival tips in Vietnam!
Or learn about our most recent study tour programs and internship in Vietnam here
And visit our Reviews page for more sharing from our alumni about their internship in Vietnam!