There are many types of transportations in Ho Chi Minh City that you can choose from to get around the city. With over 100 routes, the public bus is one of the cheapest type of transportations to explore the city on a budget. Check out our guide below to know how to catch the bus and some popular routes to famous attractions Ho Chi Minh City.
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When waiting at the bus stops, you have to watch for your incoming bus number and wave to signal the bus driver that you would like to get on it. As the streets in Ho Chi Minh City are quite narrow with many vehicles, the bus may pass any bus stop if you don’t give a signal wave from afar. You should get on the bus from the front door; some older buses may have broken doors, so you can get on from the back instead.
Buy the ticket from the bus assistant or the driver if there is no assistant on board. You can give the money directly to them or put in in a box next to the driver, and receive a ticket from them or the machine. The bus fare usually varies from VND 6,000 to VND 40,000 depending on the types of bus and distance needed to travel. Note that they only accept Vietnamese Dong.
When the bus is closing to the next arrival station, the bus assistant may or may not announce what the next stop is. If you are not sure, you can tell the bus assistant or driver in advance where you want to be dropped off. When the bus is about 20 meters from your stop, press the red button on top of the door or at a seat near you, or tell directly to the driver and assistant because they may drive on without stopping.
Ham Nghi Bus Stop
You can recognize the bus stop in Ho Chi Minh City when you see a painted zigzag yellow line on the road next to the pavement. There are some bus stops with steel benches and cover overhangs, but there are also some without them with steel posts with information about the bus routes, similar to a street sign.
The yellow line and a bus stop with an overhanging cover
A bus stop with a signpost
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Now, some of the bus stops have electronic bus information boards which you can use to look for details like routes and map.
You will notice that there are three coded colors for the public bus transportations in Ho Chi Minh City: yellow, green, and blue.
The yellow is for buses transport back and forth from the Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN). They are more modernized with a capacity of 70 passengers in total (sitting and standing).
Airport bus 109 fare: VND 20,000
Airport bus 119 fare: VND 12,000 (under 5km/route) and VND 20,000 (over 5km/route)
Shuttle bus 49 fare: VND 40,000 (29 passengers in total)
The yellow bus
There is not much different in the price between the green and the blue bus, from VND 5,000 to VND 10,000, depending on the routes. They are painted with different colors because of the fuel they use. The green is for buses run on Diesel, while the blue is for ones run on CNG, an environment-friendly gas fuel. The blue buses also tend to be bigger as they can carry more capacity. However, you will see more green buses running on the streets in Ho Chi Minh City.
The green bus and the blue bus
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23/9 Park (near the backpackers' district) and Ben Thanh Station are the largest bus stations in the city's center. Ben Thanh Station, which used to be at the opposite of the Ben Thanh Market, has now moved to Ham Nghi Street, which is also near the Ben Thanh Market, because of the ongoing underground metro project. There are four rows of big modern bus stops along the sides of the street. From here, you can catch buses connecting to many places in the city, such as Chinatown (Route 1), Tan Son Nhat Airport (Route 109, 152), and Dam Sen Park (Route 11). Check the bus routes below.
Cho Lon Station is located at the center of Chinatown, you can use the buses to get to Dam Sen Park (Route 144), around the Chinatown, and to districts to the west of Ho Chi Minh City.
You can not only go to places in Ho Chi Minh City like Ben Thanh Market, Chinatown, and Dam Sen Park with the public bus but also find buses go to other provinces on the Southeast coast of Vietnam, Northern, and Central Vietnam. At this station, they also offer domestic parcel service with which you can send packages to other provinces.
Like Mien Dong Station, at Mien Tay Station, you can find public buses go around the city and buses go to other provinces in the Mekong Delta. They also have packages mailing services to these provinces as well.
From the Tan Son Nhat Station, you can find many buses go to hotels and attractions connecting to Ho Chi Minh City’s center. However, their bus fares are more expensive than others.
Route 109 will take you to attractions like the Independence Palace, Ben Thanh Market, and 23/9 Park.
Route 49 will take you to hotels in District 1, Saigon Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the backpackers' area at Pham Ngu Lao Street.
Route 119 will take you to the West Station, going through some food streets in District 10 like Thanh Thai and Nguyen Tri Phuong.
You may find that catching a bus in Vietnam a quite different experience from other countries. You have to hail the oncoming bus in advance and be conscious of the motorbike madness, and it might not be the most convenient form of transportation yet. However, as the Vietnamese government is putting more investment solving traffic issues in major cities, you may find traveling by public buses more convenient in the near future and an interesting way to see places like a local.
© Written by Linh Nguyen and Ngan Mai for itourvn.com
I have been using the public bus system in HCMC for the last 3 years. I have no complaints. To me it is a great way to explore this massive city. it is noticeable how helpful people are the elderly getting on & off the bus. Young people give up their seats to the elderly without being told. The system runs as efficiently as any system I have used in the UK. You just need to get used to the incessant use of the horn by the bus drivers.
If you travel around the city center, choose the blue bus if possible. Much less crowded and it is air-conditioned. I use the bus 31 to travel from D1 to D7 for work. Pretty convenient
I use the bus to go to my office in district 1 every day. I feel like getting through the busy streets on your own is too stressful
Tried to tell people about the number 3 bus .Ha Ba truong. Xmas eve7.00pm My wife is blind the bus did not stop properly for her to get on and so the female ticket seller slapped her face for taking to long. Bad image and getting worse
Avoid getting on the bus during rush hours do, it's literally packed with so many people, and the traffic jams also. But like for travel to the suburban areas, it is nicer to sit in the air-conditioned buses