Moving about in or between Vietnamese cities is often a choice between being stuck in traffic in a cab or increasing your chances of being run over by a motorcycle. If you apply some logic though, things should be much easier.

Between cities

What a view!
Along a mountain road just outside Nha Trang

Vietnam is a stunningly beautiful country and some of the views along the road can blow your mind away. If your aim is to hop from one city to the next, by all means do so, and do so during the day. Take a train, rent a motorcycle or get a cab, and keep your eyes open. There are bus services between the larger cities (for example, from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang), and although you have all the luxuries you need, you’ll also lose a couple of hours on the road. If you’re worried about that, just book a flight.

In cities

If you know where you’re going, and it’s within walking distance, then do just that: walk. Pavements can occasionally be obstructed and crossing the streets can seem daunting, especially in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, but it will be faster than taking a cab. As far as getting to the other side of the road is concerned, find a small gap, start walking and look both ahead of you and into the approaching traffic. You’ll find that no one crashes into you, and that motorcycles will slow down or swerve around you. Before you know it, you’ll be on the other side, and happy as a clam! You’ll even be posting your achievement on Facebook.

If where you’re going is too far (or if it’s just too hot to walk), then flag down a cab. You’ll never have to wait very long, they’re dead cheap and generally speaking in good nick.

I do remember one time though, late at night in Ho Chi Minh City, being in a taxi of which the driver seemingly learned to drive that very morning, but I guess that’s part of the fun.

You might find it a little harder to explain to your driver where you want to go, unless you get someone from the hotel or restaurant to do that, or if you’ve got a Vietnamese speaking friend. Taxi drivers are very easy-going and nice people, but this could be one of those times when the language barrier comes to haunt you. As an alternative to that, there are ride-hailing services like Uber — you’ll have to wait a little longer for your car to arrive, but you can pinpoint exactly where you want to be dropped off. They’re just as cheap, but you might need a local SIM card, unless you don’t care about roaming charges.

Or you could get a motorcycle. 😉

3 replies on “Vietnam: Getting Around

  1. Taxis always seem to be the one major language barrier problem. We get by pretty “okay” all other times, but in a taxi explaining where you’re trying to go is one of the harder parts of traveling! The ability to rent scooters of motorcycles though is one of our favorite parts of Southeast Asia. We’re planning a moto trip around Vietnam for next year.


    1. True. Unless it’s a huge landmark, it can be challenging. That’s why I like Uber in Asia. I’ve done some scooter travel in and around Nha Trang, and the landscape is absolutely stunning. Definitely a must do (and I mean anywhere in Vietnam). Enjoy!!


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