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Getting Around Ho Chi Minh City

get-around-ho-chi-minh

There are many means of transportation in Ho Chi Minh City, so what would be the most convenient way to get around Ho Chi Minh City? Here is our list of ways to travel around Ho Chi Minh City and its pros and cons.

A Brief Look at Ho Chi Minh City Streets

There are many vehicles running on Ho Chi Minh City streets every day, of which 7.6 million are motorbikes (2017). Motorbikes are also the most used by the locals because it is suitable for small and narrow streets in the city.

The roads usually have one to three lanes on one side, and the same for the opposite direction. In Vietnam, people drive on the right-hand side of the road. The furthest on the right is for small vehicles such as bicycles and motorbikes; pedestrians walk in the same direction on the right pavements, and the furthest left lane is for bigger vehicles like trucks, buses, and cars. Buses can move into the right lanes to pick up and drop off guests. However, you would mostly find there are no clear lanes for the vehicles, especially because people frequently move to different lanes to turn left or right, or to avoid pedestrians and objects.

get around ho chi minh street

In Vietnam, the red light means stop, the yellow means the vehicles should be slow down and stop before the red light, the green means it is okay to go. You must notice, however, that motorbike drivers usually turn right and, at some three-way intersections, the motorbikes are allowed to go straight, even when there is a red light.

Famous for its complexity, exploring the streets in Ho Chi Minh City could be both challenging and exciting for many people.

For your safety, do consider getting your travel insurance in Vietnam

Means of Transportation in Ho Chi Minh City

When traveling around Ho Chi Minh City, you should consider the travel distance, your destination, and your time allowance to choose the best transportation.

Walking

get around ho chi minh walking

Pros: economical and great for a short-distance trip
Cons: could be challenging if you don’t know how to cross the street in Ho Chi Minh City and tackle the traffic

Motorbike

get around ho chi minh motorbike

Pros: most common transportation, easy to find, and suitable for many kinds of trips (short or long distance)
Cons: might be a scary experience for first-time passengers, but here's our tip on Motorbike Riding Tips for First-time Passengers

We suggest you have a local guide driving and you sit on the back of the bike for your safety and that you can enjoy the view.

Check out our i Tour Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Motorbike Tour and rest assured with our professional local guides.

Car

 get around ho chi minh car

Pros: comfortable and safe for day trips from Ho Chi Minh City
Cons: not suitable for multiple stops and short distance tour in the city, because they often get stuck in traffic jams, and it is not easy to find a parking lot for cars in the city

We also suggest you not drive your own vehicles if you are not used to driving in Vietnam. If you wish to sightsee in the car, it is best to rent one with a driver and a local guide.

If you want to explore the streets yourself, you can check out our guide on driving in Vietnam.

Bus

get around ho chi minh bus 1 get around ho chi minh bus 3

Unlike developed countries, public transportation in Ho Chi Minh City can be confusing and it is not a city where you can easily navigate as most places don't have signs in English. In Ho Chi Minh City, there are three kinds of public buses, including common, airport and shuttle buses. You will often see them in three colors: green, blue, and yellow. The green and blue are common buses, while the yellow is for airport and shuttle bus.

Pros: suitable for sightseeing the view of the whole city
Cons: not suitable for tight itineraries

Find your bus ticket to Ho Chi Minh City online:

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Taxi

get around ho chi minh taxi

There are two kinds of taxis in Ho Chi Minh City. The traditional taxis and on-demand ride services like Grab. The traditional taxis also have apps for smartphones and hotlines, but you can also wave them down on the streets. On-demand rides are growing in popularity because of their competitive fare, especially not during rush hours. Some dishonest taxis drivers may also cheat on you for some money. Check out our tips to avoid taxis scams in Ho Chi Minh City.

Pros: comfortable and save you the trouble of finding the places on the map, and the inconvenient of getting lost if you don't have a working data plan on your phone
Cons: expensive if you make many stops and like cars, you will easily get stuck in traffic

Motorbike taxi

get around ho chi minh motorbike taxi

There are two kinds of motorbike taxis in Ho Chi Minh City. The traditional motorbike taxis, or "xe om", are not run by any transportation company but individuals; you will often see men dressed in the blue shirt sitting on their motorbikes at the corner of a street by an electric post or a tree. You can go to him and ask for a ride, but remember to tell your place, ask for the price and bargain. A distance of about 3 km should be VND 30,000.

The second kind of motorbike taxis is on-demand rides. Their service charges are also shown in their apps before you book, so it would be a safer choice if you are not familiar with Ho Chi Minh City streets. In a recent update on crimes, the city has reported seeing snatch thieves disguised as Grab or other on-demand drivers, so you will always need to be on alert.

Pros: sightseeing, short distance to a certain location
Cons: not economical for many stops, could be dangerous because the drivers may not drive or know the road well, and don't have much liability for your safety

Rickshaw

get around ho chi minh rickshaw

Pros: fun and leisure experience, see the view in the open air, suitable for short-distance trips
Cons: not suitable for long-distance trips and tight itineraries

We don't recommend you accepting rickshaw rides on the streets. Read more on Common Scams in Vietnam.

Bicycle

get around ho chi minh bicycle

Pros: fun, good exercise, great for short distance
Cons: could be dangerous because Ho Chi Minh City streets are not bicycle-friendly

Read more on Transportation in Vietnam

 

Our Thoughts on Getting Around Ho Chi Minh City

What would be the most convenient way to get around Ho Chi Minh City? The answer is that it depends on how much time you have on the schedule, what kind of experience you want to get, and most importantly the travel distance. But getting around Ho Chi Minh City on a motorbike has been among the top choices for a new, exciting and fulfilling experience because it is part of the local experience and also suitable for many purposes. Remember to only book this kind of adventurous tour from reputable tour companies.

Your first time in Ho Chi Minh City? See our guide to what you should know before traveling to the city.

Looking for a fun Ho Chi Minh City Motorbike Tour? Check out our featured tours to discover the city with professional local guides.

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Comments

Guest - Julie on Saturday, 26 October 2019 13:29

Don't drive motorbikes in the big cities, but if you must, rent one in the small cities instead...less traffic. If big cities, take taxis or sign up for motorbike tours

Don't drive motorbikes in the big cities, but if you must, rent one in the small cities instead...less traffic. If big cities, take taxis or sign up for motorbike tours
Guest - John Carty on Friday, 11 October 2019 22:43

Exploring the city on a motorbike was an interesting experience

Exploring the city on a motorbike was an interesting experience
Guest - Maria Paulo on Saturday, 23 December 2017 13:20

Clear and useful information

Clear and useful information
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Monday, 18 October 2021

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