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 Ho Chi Minh City and its pros and cons.
A Brief Look at Ho Chi Minh City Streets
There are many vehicles running on Ho Chi Minh City streets every day, of which 7.6 million are motorbikes (2017). Motorbikes are also the most used by the locals because it is 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 mostly find there are no clear lanes for vehicles, especially because people frequently move to different lanes to turn left or right, or to avoid pedestrians and objects.
In Vietnam, the red light means stop, the yellow means the vehicles should be 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 the streets in Ho Chi Minh City could be both challenging and exciting for many people.
For your safety, do consider getting your travel insurance in Vietnam
Means of Transportation in Ho Chi Minh City
When traveling around Ho Chi Minh City, you should consider the travel distance, your destination, and your time allowance to choose the best transportation.
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
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 our i Tour Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Motorbike Tour and rest assured with our professional local guides.
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, it is best to rent one with a driver and a local guide.
If you want to explore the streets yourself, you can check out our guide on driving in Vietnam.
Unlike 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. In Ho Chi Minh City, there are three kinds of public buses, including common, airport, and shuttle buses. You will often see them in three colors: green, blue, and yellow. The green and blue are common buses, while the yellow is for the airport and shuttle buses.
Pros: suitable for sightseeing the view of the whole city
Cons: not suitable for tight itineraries
Find your bus ticket to Ho Chi Minh City online:
There are two kinds of taxis in Ho Chi Minh City. The 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. Check out our tips to avoid taxi scams in Ho Chi Minh City.
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 will easily get stuck in traffic
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 go to him and ask 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 not familiar with Ho Chi Minh City streets. In a recent update on crimes, the city has reported seeing snatch thieves disguised as Grab or other on-demand drivers, so you will always need to be on alert.
Pros: sightseeing, short distance to a certain 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
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.
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. But 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 also suitable for many purposes. Remember to only book this kind of adventurous tour 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.
Looking for a fun Ho Chi Minh City Motorbike Tour? Check out our featured tours to discover the city with professional local guides.