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An Easy Guide to Getting Around Ho Chi Minh City

Here’s a comprehensive guide to your public transportation options in Ho Chi Minh City. Check out the maps, compare routes and prices, helpful apps, and get insider tips for sightseeing!

Traveling from the Tan Son Nhat Airport

An Easy Guide to Getting Around Ho Chi Minh City
Tan Son Nhat Airport to Ho Chi Minh City Center

Getting from the airport to downtown Ho Chi Minh City will be your first commuting challenge. You’ll almost certainly be recognized as a tourist, so you should be extra cautious of getting scammed.

Before leaving the airport, make sure you have cash in the Vietnamese Dong (VND). Tripadvisor recommends having at least VND 300,000 (or around US$ 14.00) to get to your destination.

Taking a taxi is the easiest way to get to the city or your hotel. It’s also the safest, if you’re arriving late at night. You’ll find the taxis on the left part of the terminal. The most reliable taxi companies are Mai Linh (white and green), and Vinasun (white). As you exit, the driver will pay the toll fee. He’ll add this to your metered fare when you get off.

  • Schedule: 24/7
  • Route: Wherever your destination in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Average Cost: VND 150,000 to 170,000 to District 1, with additional VND 10,000 for the airport exit toll fee.

Taking the Public Bus 152 is the cheapest way, but it may not be the most convenient. It runs from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, and will take you to downtown Ho Chi Minh. You’ll see the bus stop by the right of the international airport towards De Than Street.

  • Schedule: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, leaves every 20 minutes
  • Route: Runs through the City Center, with the final stop at San bay Tan Son Nhat
  • Average Cost: VND 5,000 per person and one  large-sized piece of luggage

Taking the Yellow Bus 109 is a newer, more modern city bus that is more expensive than Public Bus 152, but still cheaper than taking a metered taxi.

  • Schedule: 5:30 am to 1:30 am, leaves every 20 minutes
  • Route: Runs through the City Center, with the final stop at Pham Ngu Lao street
  • Average Cost: VND 20,000 per person.

Taking the Shuttle Bus 49 is similar to Yellow Bus 109, except that it has drop-off points at both the city center and major hotels in the city.

  • Schedule: 5:30 am to 1:30 am, leaves every 40 minutes
  • Route: Runs through the City Center, with stops at major hotels.
  • Average Cost: VND 40,000 per person.

Getting Around by Bus

An Easy Guide to Getting Around Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City Transportation: Bus (Wikimedia Commons/Ilya Plekhanov used under CC 3.0)

There are over 100 different bus routes throughout Ho Chi Minh City, and most are fitted with comfortable seats and air-conditioning. They are the safest and cheapest way to get around the city, and stop at the major tourist sights.

However, traveling by bus isn’t always the most efficient option. Because of the city’s heavy traffic, locals tend to use other means when traveling shorter distances. If you’re traveling longer distances, or headed outside of the city center, the bus is your best option.

Average Fare and Price:

  • Single Ride Fare: VND 3,000 to 10,000, depending on the distance. Passengers pay in cash directly to the conductor, just as they enter the bus.

Schedule:

Sightseeing Tips:

These buses stop by major Ho Chi Minh tourist attractions:

    • Bus 11 (Ben Thanh – Dam Sen Park):
    • Bus 30 (Tan Huong Market – Suoi Tien Resort): This route runs along the scenic Tan Binh county and crosses the city center. It makes stops at the Suio Tein Resorts, Hung Temple, and downtown Vo Thi Sau.
  • Bus 19 (Saigong – Trung Linh – National University): This route starts at the Ben Thanh Market and stops at the Saigon Opera House (try and catch a show if you can!) and the National University.

Getting Around by Taxi

An Easy Guide to Getting Around Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City Transportation: Taxi

Traveling by taxi is probably the easiest way to get around Ho Chi Minh City, especially if you’re a tourist. It’s easy enough to hail one from the streets, and the taxi drivers will almost definitely know how to get you to the major tourist spots.

We mentioned earlier to be wary of scammers. Taxi experiences can be wildly different, and it’s not uncommon for taxi drivers in Ho Chi Minh to overcharge tourists, and even unsuspecting locals. With that in mind, be sure to hail from the major taxi companies such as Vina, Mai Linh Taxi, and Vinnasun.

Average Price and Fare:

  • Flag down rate: VND 10,000 to VND 15,000
  • Fare per kilometer: VND 6,000

Schedule:

  • Ho Chi Minh’s taxis run 24/7.

Getting Around by Grab Taxi

Grab is the Southeast Asian counterpart of Uber, and essentially functions the same way. You can download the app here for more details.

Getting Around by Xe Om (Motorcycle Taxi)

An Easy Guide to Getting Around Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City Transportation: Xe Om

For a very local commuting experience, try traveling by Xe Om, or the motorcycle taxi. Climb onto the motorcycle (you’ll be provided with a helmet) with an experienced driver, and get an interesting view of the city as you weave in and out of the traffic jams. Most Xe Om drivers are polite, and willing to take you wherever you want to go.

The Xe Om is a great way to travel short distances (usually just within the district) and is fairly inexpensive. But unless you’re used to riding a motorcycle, you might find the experience too extreme. Another drawback is that most Xe Om drivers can only speak Vietnamese, and may not understand you.

Average Fare and Price: 

  • By distance: VND 10,000 to 15,000 depending on your destination
  • By hourly booking: VND 25,000

Schedule:

  • You can find Xe Oms almost anywhere, during the day.

Sightseeing Tips:

  • Best taken within the central districts (Districts 1 to 5, and 7). Anything further out can be dangerous, because you’ll be heading into the highways.

Getting Around by Cyclos

An Easy Guide to Getting Around Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City Transportation: Cyclo

For a truly touristy experience, take the Vietnamese cyclo (similar to the rickshaw). This three-wheeled cycle is a dying mode of transportation in Ho Chi Minh, and is mostly taken by tourists for the novelty of the experience. Still, it’s an interesting way to get around the city and definitely makes for great photo opportunities.

Average Fare and Price

  • Average hourly rental: VND 50,000 to 70,000
  • Negotiate the rate! Because it’s mostly tourists that opt to take the cyclo, you may be given an outrageous price.

Sightseeing Tips:

  • You’ll find these cycles by major city sights, particularly in the Dong Khoi district.
  • You can also opt for this half-day cycle tour, which will take you around the famous Ben Thanh Market and Ho Thi Ky Flower Market.

Tourist Tips for Getting Around

  • Always have cash on hand. Most of these transportation options only accept cash, and only in the Vietnamese dong. Avoid losing money or getting overcharged by having change.
  • Have GPS ready on your phone. It’s always a good idea to be able to see where you are, and where you’re going. You can use either a local SIM card or have a pocket WiFi device on hand.
  • Negotiate the rate. It’s common to get overcharged in Ho Chi Minh, so be aware of the regular rate for your mode of transportation. If your driver is insistent about an outrageous fee, look for a different one.
  • Take note of language barriers. For the smaller, more local modes of transportation, your driver may not speak English.
  • Be nice and polite! Most of the drivers are friendly and accommodating, and will even share tips and stories about the city.   
 
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