Getting to Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon is the major transportation hub of Southern Vietnam, making it easy to get to from elsewhere in the country. From other major cities in Vietnam, you can get to Saigon by train or airplane. The train is slow and leisurely, but it is the safest way to travel in Vietnam and it is rather comfortable. The trains are generally old, but an upgrade is in progress to make the facilities more appealing to international tourists.

The domestic carrier Vietnam Airlines flies to all major cities. The new domestic airline in town is Pacific Airlines, which flies to most big cities.

Getting to Ho Chi Minh by Air

Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat international airport (code: SGN) is the main gateway for flights arriving from other countries. Most major international airlines fly to the city. Alternatively, visitors coming from Europe may fly into Bangkok and then on to Ho Chi Minh City via Thai or Vietnam Airlines.

Malaysia Air System
The Malaysian national carrier flies internationally between Kuala Lumpur and major cities around the world.
Singapore Airlines
The Singaporean national airline flies daily between Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City.
Thai Airways
The Thai national carrier flies daily to Ho Chi Minh City from Bangkok.
Vietnam Airlines
The Viet national carrier flies to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) from major cities around the world.
Pacific Airlines
The only other domestic airline in Vietnam. It is a little cheaper than Vietnam Airlines, but isn't really a budget carrier. Also serves Taiwan.

Airport Transfers

If you want to save yourself some hassles, you can book your airport transfers in advance through Viator. The following services are available:

Ho Chi Minh City Arrivals

International arrivals involves quite a few steps, but is relatively straight-forward. Passengers on international flights should be given a multi-part customs form to fill out before arrival. On entering the terminal, follow the signs to immigration. You'll need your passport with the visa along with the customs form for immigration. After passing through immigration, you can collect your bags. Once you retrieve your bags, you must stop at the customs counter and submit your passport and customs form there. They will keep the top portion and return your passport along with the bottom portion to you. Be sure to keep the immigration card with your passport. You will need to submit it on your departure.

Taxis into the city can be booked at a counter in baggage claim for domestic arrivals, and just outside customs for international arrivals. The fare to most city center hotels is US$ 5. The travel time is usually just 15 minutes or so.

Ho Chi Minh City Departures

Getting to the airport by taxi costs around 65,000 Dong (-65,000.00 USD). A shuttle service was scheduled to start in July 2006, but I saw no sign of it in September 2007.

After checking in for your flight, you can then pass through customs, where your carry-on bag will be scanned. You will also need to present your passport to the customs officer. You then proceed to immigration, where you need to submit your passport, customs form and boarding pass. Once your passport is stamped, you're done!

Departure Lounge & Duty Free

The departure area features only a few shops. The duty free shopping is rather basic, although there is a good selection of handicrafts and other local products at good prices. The cafe has internet terminals available at a cost of US$ 1 for 15 minutes. There's also a foot massage spa, costing $12 to $25 per session.

Duty Free Benchmark Prices

Marlboro Cigarettes (Carton of 100) US$ 14.00
Chivas Regal (1 liter) US$ 27.00
Chanel No. 5 (50 ml) US$ 57.00

See our duty free guide for full price comparisons.

The shared business lounge is comfortable, if rather basic. There is a very "do it yourself" buffet, smoking room and wireless internet access. There are also three computers for internet access as well.