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How to travel in Vietnam

Air:
Vietnam Airlines, you can book at www.VietnamAirlines.Travel operates daily flights between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Da Nang and Nha Trang. Regular services are also offered by Vietnam Airlines from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Buon Ma Thuot and Da Lat, Phu Quoc Pleiku and Qui Nhon.


Road situations have improved significantly in Vietnam, so the flights are mainly for longer journeys. However, it's still easier to fly to places like Dien Bien Phu. The special flights around the busy New Year holiday period in January/February are very popular, and it's essential to book.


Departure tax:
Included in the ticket price.


Road
The road network throughout Vietnam is reasonable, but the standard of roads varies considerably from well maintained modern highways, to dirt tracks. Road conditions often deteriorate in the rainy season.


There is an extensive road network throughout Vietnam, connected to the main north-south route: Highway 1, which connects Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City.


Important Roads:
Highway 1 goes to the length of the country south of Hanoi through Da Nang and Hue, and road from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cambodian border is Highway 22.


Cars:
You can hire a car with a driver from tour and rental companies. Self drive car rental is not available.


Taxis:
Taxis are plentiful and cheap. They can be flagged down on the street or arranged through the hotel or restaurant where you are eating. Always make sure the driver has set the clock before starting the journey.


Bicycles:
Bicycles can be rented for a day or so from rental shops in the towns and cities. Many in Vietnam still use bicycles as their main mode of transportation, but now there are more motorcycles, cars and trucks. Special care must be taken when cycling in towns and on main roads are outside towns, as motorists do not always comply with rules of the road and are not aware of cyclists.


Coaches:
Long-distance coaches operate in the country, between Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh. Tickets must be purchased in person at the bus stop.


Regulations:
Safety belts are not required in Vietnam.
Helmets are compulsory for all motorcyclists.
Cars drive on the right.


Documents:
An international driving license is needed to drive in Vietnam, and a test (taken in Vietnam) is required for long-term residents.
Getting around in towns or cities:


There are local bus services in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. It is also possible to travel by motorcycle, taxi or cycle (bicycle rickshaws; motorized versions also exist). Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped, but it is welcomed. Jumping on the back of a "moto" is the cheapest way to travel, if you have the stomach for their 'unique' driving style. Agree the price first and make sure they have a good helmet.


Railways:
Guests can use the rail transport system independently or as part of a rail tour. Express rail services are faster than local services. They are also more reliable and comfortable. Although some cars have air conditioning, facilities are generally considered lower than international standards. The main railway line links Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, and the journey can take from 30 to 40 hours. There are also services from Hanoi to Haiphong, Dong Dang and Lao Cai. Contact Vietnam Railways (tel: (04) 3942 3949; www.vr.com.vn) for more information. Tickets are purchased at the railway station.
There is private carriage travel on the long distance train on the Hanoi to Da Nang (telephone: (04) 3942 9919; www.livitrans.com) and Hanoi to Sapa routes (tel: (20) 387 1522; www.victoriahotels com-Asia, also serves the Livitrans) - these services are of higher standards and have food carriages.


By water:
Cat Ba Island, in the north, is a popular tourist destination and can be reached by the hydrofoil from Hai Phong. Hydrofoils also serve the beach resort of Vung Tau, with a daily service from Ho Chi Minh. The tropical getaway in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc can be reached by hydrofoil from Rach Gia in the Mekong Delta.

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