Ho Chi Minh City (formally known as Saigon) is, I dare say, one of the most unique cities in the world. With its exclusive features come from all things you might stumble upon in your journey discovering the city has attracted a great deal of tourists every year. One of the most-asked questions before travelling to Ho Chi Minh is about the transportation. Which is the most economical way to travel around the city, especially from Tan Son Nhat airport to the city center and vice versa? This article is here to help you out!
Buses are considered to be the cheapest means of transport. At Tan Son Nhat airport, you can take a bus at the column no. 12 opposite international terminal, and at the column no.18 opposite domestic terminal. Buses that travel from the airport to the city (vice versa) are no. 152, and no. 109. Please take a note that those buses only stop at their stations, so you need to check out their routes first to make sure you can reach to the right place as you wish.
BUSES NO.152: TAN SON NHAT AIRPORT- TRUNG SON RESIDENTIAL AREA
Although the tickets for those buses are the cheapest, they may not be convenient for travelers with much luggage due to the lack of space. You would have to bear an extra ticket in the event that you carry much luggage and it occupies lots of space.
· Operating hours: from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
· Departs every 12-17 minutes
· The entire journey: about 50 minutes
· Fare: 5.000 VND ($0.21)
Bus 152 route:
- To the airport: Bus station at the end of the street 10- Trung Son residential area- Street 9A- Nguyen Van Linh- Street 9A- Duong Ba Trac- Nguyen Van Cu- Tran Hung Dao- Ben Thanh bus station- Ben Thanh market- Le Lai- Pham Hong Thai- Cach mang thang Tam- Nguyen Thi Minh Khai- Pasteur- Vo Thi Sau- Nam Ky Khoi Nghia- Nguyen Van Troi- Phan Dinh Giot- Truong Son- Tan Son Nhat airport- International terminal.
- To Truong Son residential area: International terminal- Truong Son- Tran Quoc Hoan- Hoang Van Thu- Nguyen Van Troi- Nam Ky Khoi Nghia- Nguyen Dinh Chieu- Cach Mang Thang Tam- Pham Hong Thai- Le Lai- Ben Thanh bus station- Tran Hung Dao- Nguyen Van Cu- Duong Ba Trac- Street 9A- Bus station at the end of the street 10- Trung Son residential area.
BUSES NO.109: TAN SON NHAT AIRPORT- 23/9 PARK
Those big yellow buses have some prominent useful features compared to other buses operating in HCM city such as adequate space, wide doors which are advantageous to passengers with much luggage, bus stop announcement in both English and Vietnamese. There would be no extra charges for luggage on this bus.
· Operating hours: from 5:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
· Departs every 15 – 20 minutes
· The entire journey: about 45 minutes
· Fare: route under 5km: 12.000VND ($0.54) – route over 5km: 20.000VND ($0.9)
Airport bus 109 route:
- To City Center: International Terminal – Domestic Terminal (Tan Son Nhat International Airport) – Truong Son – Tran Quoc Hoan – Hoang Van Thu – Nguyen Van Troi – Nam Ky Khoi Nghia – Ham Nghi – Le Lai – Ben Thanh Bus Station – Pham Ngu Lao – 23/9 Park.
- To Airport: 23/9 Park – Le Lai – Quach Thi Trang Roundabout – Pham Ngu Lao – Yersin – Tran Hung Dao – Ben Thanh Bus Station – Le Loi – Pasteur – Vo Thi Sau – Nam Ky Khoi Nghia – Nguyen Van Troi – Phan Dinh Giot – Truong Son – International Terminal
When it comes to transportation, you can’t help but to mention taxi due to its flexibility and convenience. Unlike buses, taxis provide you relaxing, comfortable trips to your place directly without any stop to pick up other passengers. You don’t need to worry about where to get off also.
At Tan Son Nhat airport, upon your exit from the international terminal, go to your left and you’ll see designated signs showing you where the taxi stand is. Remember to hop on Mai Linh taxis, or Vinasun taxis (two most reputable taxi branches in Saigon) and ignore the invitations from unknown branch taxi drivers to minimize the chance of being scammed. In this case, there would be an airport surcharge around 10 000 VND when the taxis goes out of the airport and you may be asked to pay for this besides the taxi fees. The fee for a taxi from the airport to the city center is around VND 150 000.
Despite the convenience, sometimes it would be a bit harder for you to catch a cab if you arrive at the airport at night, particularly after 10 p.m. since fewer taxi drivers work after that time regardless the high demand. After a long flight, no one wants to wait approximately 20 minutes for a taxi at night!
One of the great things about Tan Son Nhat airport is that it provides FREE Wi-Fi for everyone. In case you don’t have a Grab app on your phone, you can download and install it right on spot at the airport. However, I still highly recommend that you have the app available on your phone first as the airport signal can be slow and unstable sometimes due to the large number of people using it. It would take quite time to install the app.
Why do I suggest you have this app in your phone? Grab has become popular here in Ho Chi Minh city and it offers a wide range of means of transportations from motorcycles to cars, or even taxis. All you need to do is put in your destination, and choose the type of vehicle you want, you can see the price for your journey. If the price works for you, just a click to book and your driver will come to pick you up in minutes. After your booking has been accepted, the driver’s information as well as the general description of the car will be shown to you.
One of the features of the app that I find very helpful is that you can pay online using your Visa/Master card. Since the Vietnamese currency is known to create lots of confusion for foreigners, it is a great way for tourists who are not familiar with the country’s currency, especially for people travel to the city for the first time to pay. Nevertheless, you should bring some cash with you in the event that your card is not available in our country.
There are a few thing you should keep in mind when choosing to use Grab:
- If you arrive at the International terminal, motorcycles option is not available
- It’s usually crowded outside the building, and Grab drivers are Vietnamese; so it can have some difficulties for the driver to pick you up as they don’t know where you’re standing and they are not allowed to park the car for long to find you. In this case, use the message function in the app to text the driver: ‘Cot so ____’, which means Column number ___. This would help the driver to know where to pick you up.
- Please check the car’s plate number to see if it matches the information on your phone to make sure you get on the right car, not wrong ones owned by anonymous drivers at the airport.
- You will also incur the airport surcharge of around 10 000 VND when the car goes out of the airport.
- Like taxi, it’s unlikely for your request to proceed immediately due to the lack of Grab cars at night or during rush hours.
- The price for a taxi is around VND 100 000. (it may be higher due to high demand)
4. Pick-up service car
If you’re on a better budget, and you want to begin your journey in Saigon with a great start, then pick-up service car is a perfect choice for you. No need to worry about anything but enjoying your trip when delivered to your destination. All you need to do is provide your name, and the flight’s information. A person from the service company will wait for you at the arrival gate holding a board with your name on it, you just need to look for him/ her. You do not need to pay for anything as it’s all included in the package. If you are interested in this, please contact us for more information!
Kieu Xuan- Lose The Tie Tour Team