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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Vietnam > Ho Chi Minh City

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Travel to Ho Chi Minh City

Flying to Ho Chi Minh City

There are no direct flights to Ho Chi Minh City from the UK, but you can fly to Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines and take a connecting flight from there or change at other cities in the region, such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Frankfurt or Hong Kong. Travellers flying from the USA also need to change planes at least once. The best time to travel is during the dry season between December and March, though you may find cheaper deals at other times of year.

Flight times

From London - 14 hours 35 minutes (including stopover); New York - 20 hours (including stopover); Los Angeles - 19 hours (including stopover); Toronto - 21 hours (including stopover); Sydney - 9 hours.

Travel by road

The road network throughout Vietnam is reasonable but the standard of the roads varies dramatically from good to appalling. In theory, traffic drives on the right but in practice drivers take the most direct path to avoid obstacles and oncoming vehicles. As car hire is non-existent, visitors to the country tend to go for the easiest option of hiring a car with a driver.

Emergency breakdown services

None.

Routes

Highway 1 travels the length of the country from the very south to Hanoi. Major towns in the south of Vietnam on Highway 1 are My Tho, Can Tho, Phan Thiet and Nha Trang. Dalat is reached by Highway 20, Vung Tau by Highway 51 and the Cambodian border (Moc Bai) by Highway 22.

Coaches

Buses throughout Vietnam range from fairly good to ramshackle. Some express services to Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and Hanoi are offered in relatively modern air-conditioned buses. It is not possible to book tickets over the telephone; you should go to the relevant bus station the day before to check the schedule and buy your ticket.

Buses to Dalat, Buon Ma Thuot, Nha Trang, Danang, Hue and Hanoi depart from Mien Dong Bus Station, on Xo Viet Nghe Tinh in Binh Tan District. Call 1080 for English-speaking operators who can provide information on coach timetables.

Regular buses to Cambodia, operated by Saigon Passenger Transport Company (tel: +84 28 3854 6110; www.saigonbus.com.vn), depart from 309 Pham Ngu Lao Street for the seven-hour journey to Phnom Penh.

Time to city

From My Tho - 1 hour 30 minutes; Vung Tau - 2 hours 10 minutes; Cambodian border - 2 hours 30 minutes; Phan Thiet - 4 hours 20 minutes; Can Tho - 3 hours 20 minutes; Dalat - 6 hours 30; Nha Trang - 8 hours.

Travel by Rail

Services

Travelling by train on the route north from Ho Chi Minh City is picturesque, but trains are the slowest form of transport, with express services not living up to their name. As yet there are no rail passes available and it is advisable to book tickets as far in advance as possible. Soft class has seats with padding and four-berth cabins with thin mattresses, as opposed to hard class, which has wooden slatted seats and six-berth wooden berths.

Operators

The Vietnamese railway company is Duong Sat Vietnam (tel: +84 024 3942 5972; www.vr.com.vn). It is better to go to the station however, at 1 Nguyen Thong, District 3, to buy rail tickets. There is one major route in Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh City, via Nha Trang, Danang and Hue, to Hanoi.

Journey times

From Hanoi - between 32 and 36 hours; Hue - between 18 and 21 hours.

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Featured Hotels

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Caravelle Hotel

The Caravelle Hotel is located in the heart of the commercial and entertainment area and offers 335 large and stylish rooms. It is one of the most famous addresses in Ho Chi Minh City as it was one of the gathering places for war correspondents during the Vietnam War and the rooftop Saigon Saigon Bar is still popular for its bird's eye views of the city.

Grand Hotel

Hulking ex-Yugoslav monolith with a cavernous interior, stay at Pristina's famous Grand Hotel for a retro trip down Eastern Bloc's memory lane. Blessed with the most central location in Pristina on Nënë Tereza.

Windsor Plaza Hotel

A perfect place for those who want the comfort of a luxury hotel without the pain of paying for it. Located in Cholon, this 25-floor hotel has stunning views across the city and the rooms are large and smart with excellent facilities. The bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown surround the hotel and the hotel itself has its own shopping plaza and nightclub. On request services include airport transfers, 24-hour in-room dining, a 24-hour business centre and a 24-hour multilingual concierge.

Intercontinental Asiana Saigon

This hotel in Ho Chi Minh City is a new gleaming landmark with stunning views across the city and ideally placed close to the colonial Notre Dame Cathedral and the old Post Office. Its smart 305 rooms form part of the Kumho Asiana Plaza where guests can browse in the luxury retail outlets. The hotel features a refreshing outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour gym and a business centre.

Park Hyatt Saigon

The hotel is centrally located at Lam Son Square, near the elegant opera house in downtown Ho Chi Minh City and within walking distance of shopping, entertainment and main tourist attractions. One of the smartest hotels in Ho Chi Minh City, this relatively new property is stylish, reflecting the French colonial era, and has ultra-modern facilities throughout, space for major special events and high levels of service.

Hotel Majestic

Boasting an enviable location overlooking the fine historic monuments of the Zócalo, the 85-room Hotel Majestic has five large suites. A mirrored lobby is adorned with fountains and Mexican tiles. Choose a room overlooking the square for bird's eye views of the daily ceremonial raising of the flag at 0600. Simple décor centres on comfort with a TV, mini-bar, coffee-making facilities and rustic wood furniture. Popular terrace restaurant Terraza overlooks the Zócalo and serves basic Mexican and international food at reasonable prices.