Despite its notorious traffic, getting around in Ho Chi Minh City is a fairly easy task once you’ve done a bit of research before making your way to this lively city. Ho Chi Minh City is made up of 24 districts, with District 1 to 5 hosting the highest number of attractions, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and shopping venues in the city. Travelling via the iconic (and diminishing) cyclo is a tourists’ favourite way of getting around, but there’s also an efficient network of motorcycle taxis, public buses, and private taxis connects you to the city centre and beyond. Travellers can also rent a bicycle or motorbike, though navigating through the city’s busy (and dangerous) traffic might be quite the challenge for the inexperienced. For a hassle-free way of navigating through the city, check out our guide to Saigon public transportation.
1. Taxi: Travelling by taxi is one of the easiest ways to get around Ho Chi Minh City as you can find several vehicles parked outside renowned hotels, landmarks, bars, and restaurants. The standard taxi fare is between VND 10,000 and VND 15,000, with every kilometre priced at VND 6,000. In District 1, you should be able to get to most places for less than VND 80,000. Do note that taxi scams are quite common in Saigon, so stick with legitimate taxi companies such as Mai Linh Taxi (+84 283 925 0250), or Vinasun (+84 283 272-727).
2. Xe Om (Motorcycle Taxi): A common yet interesting mode of transportation in Vietnam is xe om or motorcycle taxis, where you will be weaving through the bustling traffic with an experienced driver. It’s also fairly inexpensive as it’s priced between VND 10,000 and VND 15,000 depending on your destination (and haggling skills). You can also opt for an hourly booking fare of VND 25,000, which is quite the steal since you’re able explore an entire district within a short amount of time. You’re also provided with a helmet for safety; just make sure to keep your knees in and most drivers appreciate you looking out for traffic and hand-signalling a turn. The only downside to xe om is the language barrier, as most locals can’t converse in English.
3. Cyclo: The three-wheeled cyclo is a diminishing transportation in Saigon, mostly found nearby popular landmarks, temples, restaurants, and bars. With an hourly rental of VND 20,000, most travellers opt for cyclo to travel between the city sights or short trips within the Dong Khoi district. Due to the rather bustling traffic in Ho Chi Minh City, we suggest against all-day cyclo tours. However, travelling via cyclo can be quite the memorable experience for thrill-seeking travellers.
4. Bus: Serving more than 100 routes around Ho Chi Minh City, buses are great for exploring the city on a tight budget. Easily distinguished by its white and green exterior, all buses are fitted with comfortable seats and air-conditioning, with tickets priced as low as VND300. Major bus terminals within the city include Ben Thanh Station (where you can get a free map of the Ho Chi Minh Bus Route), Cholon Station, and Mien Dong Station. If you’re looking to take the bus from the airport to the city centre or vice versa, look out for the #147 (Cho Lon Bus Station – Tan Son Nhat) and #152 (Trung Son Resident – Tan Son Nhat) buses. Bus#147 takes you to Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown area while bus #152 will go to the Ben Thanh Market, which is less than five minutes away from the backpacker district of Pham Ngu Lao.
5. Bicycle & Motorcycle Rentals: Bicycle and motorcycle rentals are available all over Vietnam, though most travellers decide against renting one in Saigon due to the city's chaotic traffic. Most hotels can help arrange for bicycle and motorcycle rentals, but these come with very inflated prices, so your best bet is heading to the Pham Ngu Lao disrict, where a full-day bicycle with helmet costs from VND 20,000 while motorcycles are about VND 120,000.
6. Train: Operated by national carrier, Vietnam Railways, the Vietnamese railway system is an ageing but pretty dependable service, and offers a relaxing way to get around the nation. Travelling in an air-conditoned sleeping berth sure beats a hairy overnight bus journey along Hwy 1. And, of course, there’s some spectacular scenery to lap up, too. You can can buy tickets in advance from the Vietnam Railways bookings site (http://dsvn.vn); however, at the time of writing only Vietnamese credit cards were accepted
7. Water bus: This new service will allow passengers to travel from Bach Dang wharf in District 1 to Linh Dong Ward in Thu Duc District on a10.8 km-long and 30-min and journey on the Saigon River and Thanh Da canal.
There will be 9 river stations in D1, D2, Binh Thanh to Thu Duc District in the north of the city.