Although Vietnam‘s two major cities are at opposite ends of the country, traveling between them is quite easy! Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi lies in the north while Ho Chi Minh City is in the south – and the two cities have a completely different vibe! Hanoi offers easy access to beautiful mountain villages and lush landscapes – ideal for nature lovers, while the multicultural metropolis Ho Chi Minh City lies just 70 miles from the Mekong Delta, with its ancient pagodas and floating markets. When in Vietnam, you’ll want to experience the best of both worlds – here are the best ways to so in order to maximize your time in each destination.
Take a Train
If you prefer to take your time touring Vietnam, there is no better way to travel than by train. The 1,700-kilometre ride takes around 32 hours, but with air conditioning, a choice of reclining seats and soft or hard beds, clean bathroom facilities, and a sociable dining area, it’s a great way to see the scenic countryside and get to know like-minded adventurers. Train fares in Vietnam are reasonably priced starting from around $45 USD per person for a single journey. As most trains travel overnight, you’ll save on hotel costs for an evening! If you plan to stop off at Da Nang, Ninh Binh, or Nha Trang en-route, you can purchase a ticket to that destination from Hanoi, then book an onward journey to Ho Chi Minh City a few days later to give you ample time to explore.
The quickest way to make the journey is via airplane. There are three carriers offering daily flights – Jetstar, Vietnam Airlines, and VietJet. The flight time is around 2 hours 15 minutes non-stop and the journey offers a unique opportunity to view verdant patchwork terrain and coastline from above. Flights cost between $17 and $55 USD per person one-way economy, depending on your date of travel. If you wish to upgrade, check more luggage, and access the VIP lounge, Vietjet Air offers a Skyboss fare for around $130 USD. If you know the date you wish to travel in advance, it’s worth checking for airline promotions a few weeks prior to travel.
Hop on a Bus
Buses are a cheaper, albeit less comfortable, way to travel throughout Vietnam. Long haul overnight buses with reclining beds can transport you from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City if you prefer a budget option. It takes the same amount of time as a train journey (around 35 hours), however, the facilities are very limited. There are several resting stops along the way and you can hop-on and hop-off the buses with an ‘open ticket’ – it’s a great way to get to know other travelers and gain insider knowledge. Bus tickets cost between $25 and $45 USD – you can book online prior to your journey and receive an e-ticket to your smartphone.
Renting a vehicle is a superb way to explore any country and this is certainly true of Vietnam. Although the distances between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are vast (approximately 1700 kilometres) there are wonderful places to discover along the way. Just 100 kilometres south of Hanoi, Ninh Binh offers a glimpse into the natural wonderland of Vietnam. The region is sprinkled with towering limestone cliffs, rice fields and rivers, with abundant wildlife and birdlife wherever you turn. For those with interest in military history, Vinh Moc boasts a network of labyrinth tunnels where citizens would hide and shelter during the Vietnam war. Alternatively, you could spend time in Da Nang with centuries-old pagodas, pristine beaches and incredible sunsets. Whatever you decide to do, hiring a car in Hanoi and driving to Ho Chi Minh City is a convenient option for those who wish to explore all that this magical country has to offer.