Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a bustling city of nearly 10 million people in the tropical South of Vietnam. It consists of 24 districts, with districts 1 to 5 being the areas with the most attractions, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and shopping venues in the city.
The metropolis is more spread out than some Vietnamese cities like Hanoi, and at first glance the sea of motorbikes running through the streets, and honking buses can make it seem more daunting for a first-timer. Don’t worry; there are many bus lines and safe and easy transportation options to make your way around in Ho Chi Minh City. We’ve mapped it out for you in this guide!
Table of Contents
1. How to get to Saigon
Vietnam has a good network of domestic flights, with several carriers providing regular and frequent services between other cities and provinces and Tan Son Nhat airport.The best booking sites for planes to get around Ho Chi Minh City are:
- Vietnam Airlines – As the only Government-owned airline, Vietnam Airlines flights are likely to be the most reliable. International and domestic tickets are available to arrive at Ho Chi Minh City.
- Vietjet Air: Vietjet is Vietnam’s first low-cost airline and offers some of the cheapest flights.
- Jetstar Pacific – Jetstar is a subsidiary of Qantas, one of Australia’s largest airlines, and operates within Vietnam too.
- Bamboo Airlines: A private airline that offers budget flights domestically and from abroad to Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City is the Southernmost stop on Vietnam’s North-South Reunification Railroad. Perfect for long distance overnight trips, it’s part of the experience! This huge line connects nearly every major or semi-major city between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Book tickets through a travel agency or the official Vietnam Railways ticket portal.
Several long-distance coaches provide a comfortable and affordable way to travel between Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam’s other bucket list destinations. Good long-distance companies with routes to and from Saigon include Futa, Hoang Long, Mai Linh Express, Vexere, and The Sinh Tourist. Long-distance buses in Vietnam are usually clean and comfortable, with air conditioning, reclining seats, and plenty of leg room.
2. How to get around Ho Chi Minh City?
Taxi Drivers & Ride Sharing Apps
- Grab/Gojek/Be: Getting a ride with ridesharing apps Grab, Gojek, or Be is the best and most convenient way to travel around Ho Chi Minh City. Simply download them and relish in the joys of modern technology, google maps and google translate! Ride-sharing apps offer quick, convenient, and cost-effective transportation options in Ho Chi Minh City. You can choose from motorcycles, taxis, or cars, with 4-seater and 7-seater options available. The only downside is that drivers may call to confirm your location and may not speak English, so it’s best to have a trustworthy local confirm your pickup location or say “OK, OK” if you’re sure you’re at the right spot.
- PROTIP: Be is a reputable company and the easiest app to get rides from the airport into Saigon. When arriving at the airport (from local flights), walk across the street as you exit the airport, and walk into the underground parking area to the correct “lane” you selected in the app, then send them a message with the “column number” your standing next to.
- Taxis & Taxi Drivers: Hailing a taxi the old-fashioned way will sometimes be a bit more expensive for longer trips than using ride-hailing apps above, but it’s sometimes quicker. Metered taxis like Vina Sun are great for short distances. Avoid Taxi Scams by only using Mai Linh or Vinasun taxis, as they are honest drivers and reputable companies. On foot, you might be solicited by some motorcycle taxis, locally known as ‘Xe Om Drivers’ offering to drive you to your destination. Some independent motorcycle taxis could scam you, so it is best to only use them if you booked it with a ride-hailing app. Alternatively, check the price on grab first, to make sure your Xe Om adventure is cost-effective!
Public buses and metro system in Saigon is extremely reliable and spans the whole of Saigon (District 1), both the city center and the areas that aren’t traveled to as often. Public transport and busses are inexpensive, safe, and air conditioned, servicing mostly students and businesspeople.
Bus fares are usually only 6,000 or 7,000 VND. Pay the cash amount into the plastic box next to the driver as you get on. It’s fine to pay with a 10,000 or a 20,000; the driver will give you a change. You don’t need to let the driver know where you’re going if you already know where to get off — the ticket price for riding the entire way is the same as riding only a stop or two.
You can use Google Maps to plot the best city bus routes and route between your location and destination. Surprisingly, the bus route information for Ho Chi Minh City is very accurate on the app.
Ben Thanh Bus Station, just down the street from Ben Thanh Market district, is one of the largest hubs for bus routes in Ho Chi Minh City.
Popular Bus Routes in Saigon from District 1
- Bus 1: Ben Thanh Market to Binh Tay Market. Fare: VND 5,000.
- Bus 152: Ben Thanh Market to Tan Son Nhat Airport. Operates 6 am to 6 pm, Fare: VND 6,000.
- Bus 11: Ben Thanh Market to Dam Sen Water Park. (For stops, use Busmap app).
Vingroup’s VinBus is an eco-friendly electric bus service in Ho Chi Minh City that runs from 5:00 am to 9:15 pm daily. It covers key areas and attractions with fares ranging from VND 3,000 to 7,000. The service aims to reduce city pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, making it a green alternative for both locals and visitors.
Hiring/ Renting Cars & Bikes
- Hiring a Car/Motorbike: Your hotel or any travel agency you pass on the street will be able to help you hire a vehicle with a driver to take you around Ho Chi Minh City and wait for you while you visit the destinations you want to check out. This is the most expensive option, although it’s not nearly as expensive as you’d think — usually around $70/day for a 4-seater car and $45/day for a motorbike. The driver can also help you navigate by leading you to popular tourist attractions.
- Renting a Car/Motorbike: This option is only for expert drivers, and expats living in the city, as Saigon’s traffic is pretty tough to navigate unless you’re used to it. Please note that you’ll need to get a local driving license before renting a motorbike or a car in Vietnam. However, rental companies do not demand to see proof when you use their services. Visit the Department of Transport to get a driving license if you want one.
Best Saigon motorbike rental companies:
- RentABike is a family-run business specializing in long-term rentals for Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City expats.
- They provide a variety of automatic and semi-automatic Yamaha and Honda scooters in the 100cc-135cc range, with the most affordable costing $7 per day for driving around town.
- The average price of a long-term rental in Saigon is between $40 and $85 per month if you intend on staying in and around the the city centre (they also have branches in Da Nang and Hanoi).
Address: 86B Trần Phú, Phường 4, Quận 5, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
- With HCM, Danang, Hanoi, and Dalat offices, Tigit offers simple pick-up motorcycle taxi and drop-off bike rental services between cities.
- It’s expected to be between $5 and $7 daily and leave a deposit and/or your passport.
- For expats looking to rent a motorbike/scooter monthly for living and working in Vietnam. You can check the following monthly rental page; the price should be from $50 to $100 monthly.
The Hop On Hop Off Bus
The reputable Hop On Hop Off Bus company provides an ideal solution for tourists wondering how to get around Saigon, offering ease of access with strategically located bus stops at major tourist attractions. The best part is, the service offers flexible schedules to accommodate both leisurely walking explorations and efficient journey planning. With informative commentary about the city’s landmarks and history, it enhances the sightseeing experience. Economically priced, it allows travelers to maximize their sightseeing potential efficiently, visiting multiple attractions without the hassle of navigating on foot or using multiple stations. The upper deck of the buses presents panoramic views of the city, while maintaining high standards of safety and comfort. Jump off at the tourist attraction of your choice and simply explore! Additionally, it serves as a social hub for tourists to connect, making the Hop On Hop Off Bus a perfect blend of convenience, education, and enjoyment for both first-time visitors and seasoned travelers embarking on their Saigon journey.
Getting around Ho Chi Minh City can be challenging for newcomers, so we’ve provided information on how to get around town using public transportation, transport and ridesharing services like Grab or Gojek.
Whether you want to explore Vietnam by motorbike, taxi, public busses, or book a private car service, we hope these options will help make your trip more enjoyable and less stressful.
Visit our Ho Chi Minh City page for a complete guide on the best places to eat, sleep, and explore in Ho Chi Minh City here.