TRANSPORT - Leaving & Arriving Saigon

Also see Around Saigon.


Tan San Nhat Airport, 4 miles northwest of the center, is undergoing a major renovation.

There’s an ATM outside customs, as well as plenty of taxi stands – go for one with a meter. If you’d prefer not to worry, there’s a dependable Sasco taxi stand by the luggage carousels in the airport; Sasco charges US$5 for a ride into the center. Budgeteers can catch bus #152 (on Truong Son St outside), which runs between the airport and the stand opposite the Ben Thanh Market, passing De Tham St (in the Pham Ngu Lao area) on the way. A ticket is 2000D (US$0.15).


Destination/Price for One-Way Ticket/Frequency
Ca Mau/US$33/M, T, F, Sun
Da Nang/US$52/4-5 daily
Ha Noi/US$97/Many
Hue/US$52/4-5 daily
Nha Trang/US$37/3 daily
Phu Quoc/US$32/4 or 5 daily

Rach Gia/US$33/4 daily

At research time, Vietnam Airlines flights to Phu Quoc left at 5.55am, 6.40am, 10.15am and 12.50pm daily, plus 6.30am (Tue, Thu & Sun); flights to Rach Gia left at 6.30am and 6.40am (Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat) or twice at 6.30am (Tue, Thu & Sun).

One-way tickets to Bangkok bought in Saigon run about US$170, to Singapore US$100, to Kuala Lumpur US$200. You can also get flights to Hong Kong.

For domestic and some international schedules check the websites of Vietnam Airlines and Pacific Airlines; if you want to book domestic flights beforehand, supposedly Pacific will accept reservations by email — [email protected] — but require you to pay 10% before arriving to Vietnam.


There’s no regular boat service to the Mekong Delta from Saigon. Also the canal running on the south side of Districts One (center) is closed, making way for a tunnel to go under the Saigon River.


There are two ways to bus out of Saigon – private buses (best for the Mekong) and the generally more convenient ‘open buses’ (best for anything north or Phnom Penh) via traveler-cafés like SINH CAFÉ (see Travel Agencies) or the slightly cheaper AN PHU TRAVEL (tel 08-912-0287;; 203 Pham Ngu Lao St).

Open buses allow hop on/off service from Saigon to Hanoi, stopping in popular places along the way. Generally the outfit that runs it will drop you off at their guesthouses – so some call ‘open buses’ something of a ‘package tour,’ with travelers going in herds to the same places up the country; but there’s nothing to keep you from staying where you want.

Normal prices and duration for open-bus journeys out of Saigon follow. All leave about 7.30am daily.

Can Tho (US$7, 4hr)
Chau Doc (US$12, 6hr)
Da Lat (US$5, 6hr, leaves at 6am)
Hanoi (US$19, 32hr)
Hoi An (US$11, 18hr)
Hue (US$13, 23hr)
Nha Trang (US$7, 8hr)
Mui Ne (US$5, 4-1/2hr)
Phnom Penh (US$5, 7hr)

So-called private buses are often air-conditioned vans that can be tighter on personal and luggage space. The best company is taxi company MAI LINH (tel 08-929-2929; 211 Pham Ngu Lao St), which runs this central office, but sends buses to the Mekong Delta from Cho Lon – the office can arrange a ride. Buses hourly to most destinations from 6am to 10pm. Destinations and durations include Ca Mau (US$7, eight hours), Can Tho (US$3.75, 4hr), Chau Doc (US$5.30, 7hr), Rach Gia (US$.5.30, 7hr) and Tra Vinh (US$4.25, 4hr). The office supposedly can make seat reservations.

Another option to consider — and a new one; it just started in July 2007 — is the TRA LAN VIEN sleeper bus (tel 08-920-5672; [email protected]; 221 Pham Ngu Lao St), which sends a ‘double decker’ bed bus to Nha Trang at 8.30am and 8.30pm daily (US$8 one way). Don’t get too excited; it’s not like a London bus, but if you’re overnighting you stand to sleep more on this bus than on an ‘open bus.’

Some Pham Ngu Lao travel agents can also provide bus transport to the Mekong Delta, leaving at 7.30am daily.


The train follows Hwy One north to Hanoi, and the Chinese border near Lang Son. You can buy tickets at the TRAIN STATION (tel 08-843-6528; Nguyen Thong St), two miles northwest of the center, or from the more convenient SAIGON RAILWAYS TOURIST SERVICES (tel 836-7640, 275C Pham Ngu Lao Q1, open 7.30am to 8pm Mon-Sat, 8am to 4pm Sun). They have print-outs with full schedules and break-down of prices.

The quickest trains up are the SE2, SE4 and SE6 (all air-conditioned), which run about six to 10 hours quicker to Hanoi and cost only a US$1 or so more than the TN2, TN4, TN8, D2 or SN2.

The following train details refer to SE trains, with prices for soft seat/hard sleeper/soft sleeper (low seats for the latter two). A ’soft sleeper’ isn’t that soft, but has only four bunks per compartment as opposed to six.

Destination - Price; Duration
Danang US$22/33.6034/90; 15 to 17-1/2 hr
Hanoi US$38.45/56.90/60.60; 29-1/2 to 34-1/2 hr
Hue US$24.50/38.10/40.60; 17-1/2 to 20-1/2 hr
Muong Man
(Phan Thiet) US$4.15/6.20/6.60; 3-1/4 hr
Nha Trang* US$9.80/14.45/15.40; 7-8 hr

The most popular train route is to Nha Trang. The quickest SE4 leaves at 11pm and arrives in Nha Trang at 5.33am, the SE6 leaves at 1.05pm and reaches Nha Trang at 8.05pm. Only the SE6 stops at Muong Man, arriving at 4.22pm. The SE2 leaves Saigon at 7pm, getting into Nha Trang at 2.52am, Danang at 12.35pm and Hue at 3.46pm.

*Also, the new (as of Dec, 16, 2006) 5 STAR EXPRESS (tel 920-6868,, 297 Pham Ngu Lao, 3rd fl) sends a daily train at 6.20am to Nha Trang, arriving in seven hours; the return leg leaves Nha Trang at 2.45pm. Tickets are 220,000D (US$13.85), 330,000D (US$20.75) and 450,000D (US$29.25); it’s 100,000D (US$6.30) more during Christmas and New Year’s.