The Transport in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

See this interactive Map, with all the places mentioned on
this page :

How to go from Saigon airport (Tan Son Nhat) to the City Center ?

The airport is located 7 Km from the town center. See it on the Map :

By Bus

There is an Airport Bus for the city center, the line 109. The frequency is every 30 minutes. The price is 20,000 Dong. The trip takes about half hour to the city center (when the traffic is normal). It has several stops along the way and the 2 final ones are the 2 central bus stations in town : one beside the market Ben Tanh and the other beside the backpacker’s area “Pham Ngu Lao”. See on the map the location of the central bus stations . You can see the exact trajectory of the line on the official site (look for line 109).
The airport bus runs from 5:30 in the morning till 1:30 am (can be changed, so check it).

By Taxi

A metered taxi from the airport is around 160,000 Dong to Saigon
center. Read more about the Taxis in Saigon.

With Uber or Grab

It exists in Saigon, see later on the page.

How to move inside Saigon Center ? – The Transport

1. Walking

If you choose to live in central Saigon (see the page: where to stay, with maps),
then you can simply walk to most tourist attractions.
Walking in Saigon is interesting but not necessarily relaxing because
of the heavy traffic and the difficulty to cross streets (read about it).

2. Taxi

The service is good and cheap. A typical ride in town could cost 40,000 Dong. It could be for example, from Notre-Dame Cathedral to the backpacker’s area Pham Ngu Lao, a 2 Km drive. To China town (from Pham Ngu Lao), 60,000 Dong.
Taxi drivers in South East Asia have sometimes little scams (read what I wrote about the scams of Taxi in Bangkok), so you as tourist, should try to use one the known companies like VinasunTaxi (they are also the most common in town, a big company). When everything is fine, a Taxi-meter should be started at the beginning of the course, so make sure it does.
One of the taxi scams, is companies that have a very similar name, for example Vinasum instead of Vinasun. You see, it’s not boring in Vietnam.

3. Motorbike -Taxi

Option 1 :The freelancers
It is private ride (1 person) but instead of a car you ride on the back of a motorbike. This is convenient because you arrive to your destination fast, it is great to bypass traffic jams. It is sometimes difficult to recognize the drivers because they don’t wear any special jacket (like they do in Bangkok), but some of them will address you when you walk in the streets (especially in the backpacker’s area Pham Ngu Lao). The price for a typical ride in town is 30000 Dong or 40000 Dong in the evening (like a regular Taxi, more or less) but there is not a Taxi-meter, you have to negotiate with the driver on the price. Put an helmet and check your change. Also, bring with you small money because sometimes the driver pretends he doesn’t have any change (or he really doesn’t have) and then you find yourself, at the end of the ride, looking for a grocery store (with the driver) and buying candies in order to get small notes.
One way to recognize these moto-taxis is that the driver and the motorbike are in a bad shape. Some of the drivers are also drinking alcohol in their pauses, especially in the evening. Till now I didn’t have any accident with them. Strangely, I never witnessed any sort of accident in Saigon.
Option 2 :The companies Uber and Grab
There is now the same service with Uber and Grab. It is much more ordered, of course.

4. Bus

  1. You can see all the bus lines on the official site
  2. You can use the (free) application for smartphone : Moovit. The application knows the bus stops and the bus itineraries in Saigon and it knows where you are on the map. You need an Internet connection, of course.
    Note : Usually, if you use this excellent application in other parts of the world, it will also tell you which bus is about to arrive to the bus stop, but for that, there has to be a GPS component inside the buses and it still doesn’t exist in Saigon.

The buses are usually painted green and white, they are small and old but usually not crowded (all the vietnamese have a motorbike, they don’t need buses).
The information on the bus stops (the maps) is not great, so if you stay in Saigon for just a few days it may be better to use taxis and moto-taxis, they don’t cost much.
You can see the the two Central stations (for in city travel) on the following Map, click to enlarge :
In the following photo, the central station at Pham Ngu Lao:

5. Rent a Motorbike

I wouldn’t do it in a big city like Saigon, with it’s special traffic (apparently, within the chaos, there are some unofficial driving rules, that you as a tourist may need time to get used to). It is possible to rent a scooter for about 120,000 Dong per day, especially in the backpacker’s area Pham Ngu Lao. Do it if you are seeking adventures.
If you rent a moto, remember that you will need to park it in Saigon :
And also to fill gasoline :

6. Rickshaw

It exists, especially for lazy tourists.

7. With Uber or Grab

Uber exists in Saigon, you need to download the application to your smartphone. There is also a similar company called Grab. It functions with cars and motorbikes.
You need to have a smartphone and a phone number in order to register (they will send you an SMS with a code ).

8. Use the Metro (the underground, the tube).

If this thing existed in Saigon, do you think I would put it last in the list ? But, a suburban train is being built, right now.

How to travel outside Saigon by Train or Bus :

Look at the following map. Click to enlarge :
You can see on the map, the train station and the 2 Bus National Central Stations.
Bus Terminal Mien Dong is the main one, it is mainly for North National destinations.
Bus Terminal Mien Tay is more for South National destinations (the delta).
How to arrive there from Central Saigon ?
By bus : use the site (or smartphone application).
See also where are located the Bus Terminals for inside Saigon travel.
Note : There are also private bus companies for national destinations operating from Pham Ngu Lao, the backpacker’s area. You can buy Bus tickets in the many travel agencies in town and especially in Pham Ngu Lao area.
For long distances, it is common to take a night bus.
They have beds inside  (but I prefer to take a train) :

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