VietnamHo Chi MinhGetting around Ho Chi Minh City

Getting around Ho Chi Minh City

There are many means of transportation in Ho Chi Minh City, so what would be the most convenient way to get around Ho Chi Minh City? Here is our list of ways to travel around this bustling city and their pros and cons.

A Brief Look at Ho Chi Minh City Streets

Countless vehicles are running on Ho Chi Minh City streets at all times, 7.6 million of which are motorbikes (2017). Motorbikes are also the most used by the locals because they are suitable for small and narrow streets in the city.

The roads usually have one to three lanes on one side and the same for the opposite direction. In Vietnam, people drive on the right-hand side of the road. The furthest on the right is for small vehicles such as bicycles and motorbikes; pedestrians walk in the same direction on the right pavement, and the furthest left lane is for bigger vehicles like trucks, buses, and cars. Buses can move into the right lanes to pick up and drop off guests. However, you would find no clear vehicle lanes, mainly because people frequently move to different lanes to turn left or right or to avoid pedestrians and objects.

get around ho chi minh street

In Vietnam, the red light means stop, the yellow means the vehicles should slow down and stop before the red light, and the green means it is okay to go. You must notice, however, that motorbike drivers usually turn right and, at some three-way intersections, the motorbikes are allowed to go straight, even when there is a red light.

Famous for its complexity, exploring Ho Chi Minh City’s streets could be challenging and exciting for many people.

Means of Transportation in Ho Chi Minh City

You should consider the travel distance, destination, and time allowance to choose the best transportation.


get around ho chi minh walking

Pros: economical and great for a short-distance trip
Cons: could be challenging if you don’t know how to cross the street in Ho Chi Minh City and tackle the traffic.


get around ho chi minh motorbike

Pros: most common transportation, easy to find, and suitable for many kinds of trips (short or long distance)
Cons: might be a scary experience for first-time passengers, but here’s our tip on Motorbike Riding Tips for First-time Passengers

We suggest you have a local guide driving and you sit on the back of the bike for your safety so that you can enjoy the view.

Check out these travelers’ recommended helmets


get around ho chi minh car

Pros: comfortable and safe for day trips from Ho Chi Minh City
Cons: not suitable for multiple stops and short-distance tours in the city because they often get stuck in traffic jams, and it is not easy to find a parking lot for cars in the city

We also suggest you not drive your own vehicles if you are not used to driving in Vietnam. If you wish to sightsee in a car, renting one with a driver and a local guide is best.

If you want to explore the streets, you can check out our guide on driving in Vietnam.


get around ho chi minh bus 1

Unlike in developed countries, public transportation in Ho Chi Minh City can be confusing, and it is not a city where you can easily navigate as most places don’t have signs in English. Ho Chi Minh City has three kinds of public buses: common, airport, and shuttle buses. You will often see them in three colors: green, blue, and yellow. The green and blue are standard buses, while the yellow is for the airport and shuttle buses.

Pros: suitable for sightseeing the view of the whole city
Cons: not ideal for tight itineraries


get around ho chi minh taxi

There are two kinds of taxis in Ho Chi Minh City—traditional taxis and on-demand ride services like Grab. The traditional taxis also have apps for smartphones and hotlines, but you can also wave them down on the streets. On-demand rides are growing in popularity because of their competitive fare, especially not during rush hours. Some dishonest taxi drivers may also cheat on you for some money.

Pros: comfortable and save you the trouble of finding the places on the map, and the inconvenient of getting lost if you don’t have a working data plan on your phone
Cons: expensive if you make many stops, and like cars, you might get stuck in traffic

Motorbike taxi

get around ho chi minh motorbike taxi

There are two kinds of motorbike taxis in Ho Chi Minh City. The traditional motorbike taxis, or “xe om”, are not run by any transportation company but by individuals; you will often see men dressed in green, yellow, or red shirts sitting on their motorbikes at the corner of a street by an electric post or a tree. You can ask him for a ride, but remember to tell him your place, ask for the price, and bargain. A distance of about 3 km should be VND 30,000.

The second kind of motorbike taxi is on-demand rides. Their service charges are also shown in their apps before you book, so it would be a safer choice if you are unfamiliar with the streets. In a recent update on crimes, the city reported seeing snatch thieves disguised as Grab or other on-demand drivers, so you will always need to be alert.

Pros: sightseeing, short distance to a particular location
Cons: not economical for many stops, could be dangerous because the drivers may not drive or know the road well, and don’t have much liability for your safety


get around ho chi minh rickshaw

Pros: fun and leisure experience, see the view in the open air, suitable for short-distance trips
Cons: not suitable for long-distance trips and tight itineraries

We don’t recommend you accept rickshaw rides on the streets. Read more on Common Scams in Vietnam.


get around ho chi minh bicycle

Pros: fun, good exercise, great for short distances
Cons: could be dangerous because Ho Chi Minh City streets are not bicycle-friendly

Read more on Transportation in Vietnam

Our Thoughts on Getting around Ho Chi Minh City

What would be the most convenient way to get around Ho Chi Minh City? The answer is that it depends on how much time you have on the schedule, what kind of experience you want to get, and most importantly, the travel distance. However, getting around Ho Chi Minh City on a motorbike has been among the top choices for a new, exciting, and fulfilling experience because it is part of the local experience and is suitable for many purposes. Remember to book this kind of adventurous tour only from reputable tour companies.

Your first time in Ho Chi Minh City? See our guide to what you should know before traveling to the city.

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