There are many types of transportation in Ho Chi Minh City that you can choose from to get around the city. With over 100 routes, the public bus is one of the cheapest types of transportation to explore the city on a budget. Check out our guide below to learn how to catch the bus and some popular routes to the famous attractions of Ho Chi Minh City.
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How to Catch a Bus in Ho Chi Minh City
Bus stops in Ho Chi Minh City
When waiting at the bus stops, you have to watch for your incoming bus number and wave to signal the bus driver that you would like to get on it. As the streets in Ho Chi Minh City are quite narrow with many vehicles, the bus may pass any bus stop if you don’t give a signal wave from afar. You should get on the bus from the front door; some older buses may have broken doors, so you can get on from the back instead.
Paying for the bus fare
Buy the ticket from the bus assistant or the driver if there is no assistant on board. You can give the money directly to them or put it in a box next to the driver, and receive a ticket from them or the machine. The bus fare usually varies from VND 6,000 to VND 40,000 depending on the type of bus and distance needed to travel. Note that they only accept Vietnamese Dong.
Getting off the bus
When the bus is closing to the next arrival station, the bus assistant may or may not announce what the next stop is. If you are not sure, you can tell the bus assistant or driver in advance where you want to be dropped off. When the bus is about 20 meters from your stop, press the red button on top of the door or at a seat near you, or tell directly to the driver and assistant because they may drive on without stopping.
Some tips for the passengers
- Catch the right bus (check the bus number and the direction the bus is heading – towards the last stop or back to the first stop, as each bus can go two ways and the stops for the two directions are located on the opposite of one another)
- You should get on and get off quickly as some of the bus drivers will not wait for you
- Watch for motorbikes driving near the bus door when stepping on and off the bus
- Beware of pickpockets and scams lurking around at bus stops, stations, and on the bus
- Pay for the bus fare in the exact amount with small changes (VND 1,000, VND 2,000, and VND 5,000) to save time
- Take notes of the location of the safety hammer to break the windows, and priority seats for children, pregnant women, and the elderly in case of emergencies
Bus Stops, Bus Parking Lots, and Bus Stations in Ho Chi Minh City
How to Recognize a Bus Stop in Ho Chi Minh City
Ham Nghi Bus Stop
You can recognize the bus stop in Ho Chi Minh City when you see a painted zigzag yellow line on the road next to the pavement. There are some bus stops with steel benches and cover overhangs, but there are also some without them with steel posts with information about the bus routes, similar to a street sign.
The yellow line and a bus stop with an overhanging cover
A bus stop with a signpost
Now, some of the bus stops have electronic bus information boards that you can use to look for details like routes and maps.
Different Types of Buses in Ho Chi Minh City
You will notice that there are three coded colors for public bus transportation in Ho Chi Minh City: yellow, green, and blue.
The yellow is for bus transport back and forth from the Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN). They are more modernized with a capacity of 70 passengers in total (sitting and standing).
Airport bus 109 fare: VND 20,000
Airport bus 119 fare: VND 12,000 (under 5km/route) and VND 20,000 (over 5km/route)
Shuttle bus 49 fare: VND 40,000 (29 passengers in total)
The yellow bus
There is not much difference in the price between the green and the blue bus, from VND 5,000 to VND 10,000, depending on the routes. They are painted with different colors because of the fuel they use. The green is for buses run on Diesel, while the blue is for ones run on CNG, an environment-friendly gas fuel. The blue buses also tend to be bigger as they can carry more capacity. However, you will see more green buses running on the streets in Ho Chi Minh City.
The green bus and the blue bus
Some Popular Bus Stations and Routes in Ho Chi Minh City
Ben Thanh and 23/9 Park Station
23/9 Park (near the backpackers’ district) and Ben Thanh Station are the largest bus stations in the city’s center. Ben Thanh Station, which used to be the opposite of the Ben Thanh Market, has now moved to Ham Nghi Street, which is also near the Ben Thanh Market, because of the ongoing underground metro project. There are four rows of big modern bus stops along the sides of the street. From here, you can catch buses connecting to many places in the city, such as Chinatown (Route 1), Tan Son Nhat Airport (Route 109, 152), and Dam Sen Park (Route 11). Check the bus routes below.
Cho Lon Station
Cho Lon Station is located at the center of Chinatown, you can use the buses to get to Dam Sen Park (Route 144), around Chinatown, and to districts to the west of Ho Chi Minh City.
Mien Dong (East) Station
You can not only go to places in Ho Chi Minh City like Ben Thanh Market, Chinatown, and Dam Sen Park with the public bus but also find buses that go to other provinces on the Southeast coast of Vietnam, Northern, and Central Vietnam. At this station, they also offer domestic parcel service with which you can send packages to other provinces.
Mien Tay (West) Station
Like Mien Dong Station, at Mien Tay Station, you can find public buses going around the city and buses go to other provinces in the Mekong Delta. They also have packages mailing services to these provinces as well.
Tan Son Nhat Station
From the Tan Son Nhat Station, you can find many buses going to hotels and attractions connecting to Ho Chi Minh City’s center. However, their bus fares are more expensive than others.
Route 109 will take you to attractions like the Independence Palace, Ben Thanh Market, and 23/9 Park.
Route 49 will take you to hotels in District 1, Saigon Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the backpackers’ area at Pham Ngu Lao Street.
Route 119 will take you to the West Station, going through some food streets in District 10 like Thanh Thai and Nguyen Tri Phuong.
Summary of Public Bus Transportation in Ho Chi Minh City
You may find that catching a bus in Vietnam is a quite different experience from other countries. You have to hail the oncoming bus in advance and be conscious of the motorbike madness, and it might not be the most convenient form of transportation yet. However, as the Vietnamese government is putting more investment in solving traffic issues in major cities, you may find traveling by public buses more convenient in the near future and an interesting way to see places like a local.