The national airline is Vietnam Airlines (www.vietnamairlines.com), which runs direct flights from London to Hanoi. Vietnam is also served by many airlines via nearby hubs, including Cathay Pacific (www.cathaypacific.com) and Thai (www.thaiairways.com). Flights to Vietnam are at their most expensive around Christmas, New Year and Tet (January/February).
- Air notes: Long Thanh International Airport, a new airport 40km (25 miles) south of Ho Chi Minh City, is expected to be open by 2020.
- Flight times: From London – 11 hours; New York – 19 hours (including stopover).
- Departure tax: Included in the price of the ticket.
Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport
Vietnam’s largest airport, Tân Sơn Nhất serves Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, in the south of the country. Our Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport guide provides airport contact details as well as information regarding terminal facilities, public transportation options and nearby hotels.
The airport is due to be replaced as the country’s main international gateway by 2020 when a new airport, Long Thành, is scheduled to open. However, Tân Sơn Nhất is likely to remain operational, serving mainly domestic flights.
Travel by rail
It is possible to cross into Vietnam from China by rail from Beijing-Dong Dang-Hanoi and back. Contact Vietnam Railways (tel: +84 4 3942 5972; www.vr.com.vn) for details. A useful number in Vietnam is 1080, where English-speaking operators can give information on timetables.
Driving to Vietnam
There are routes to China through Lang Son, Mong Cai and Lao Cai, to Cambodia through Moc Bai and Xaxia and also to Laos through Lao Bao, Nam Can, Na Meo, Tay Trang and Cau Trieu. There is a regular bus service from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, operated by the Saigon Passenger Transport Company (tel: +84 8 3854 6110; www.saigonbus.com.vn).
There are bus services from Vientiane, Laos to Hanoi and Savannakhet, Laos to Hue; you need to buy tickets for these in person from the bus station and neither journey is the most comfortable of rides. There are no buses travelling from China that cross into Vietnam. Passengers have to change buses at the border.
Getting to Vietnam by boat
The only international arrival point into Vietnam with a regular ferry service is Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta. There are daily speedboat ferries from Phnom Penh along the Mekong River taking 4.5 to 5 hours. Cruise ships call at Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Danang and Haiphong.
Blue Cruiser (tel: +84 8 3926 0253; www.bluecruiser.com) operates a daily speedboat service between Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta and Phnom Penh.
Travelling along the mighty Mekong River from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc is a very special way to arrive.