Transportation and road in Vietnam

Transportation and road in Vietnam

The road in Vietnam... the only place where I never felt safe...
Vietnameses are working to improve the quality of the roads but at this moment some of them are still very bad.

Furthermore, some buses don't respect the safety standards and some drivers are really crazy.
The aim of this article is to share with you my transportation's experience, which transport I took to travel from the south up to the north Vietnam, the companies I recommend and the companies you should not book with, and which means of transport to choose for which journey.

Travelling by bus in Vietnam

The cheapest transport in Vietnam. If like me you travel on budget, the bus will be your main means of transport.
The bus company I recommend : definitely TheSinhTourist.
TheSinhTourist has their own buses. They are not more expensive than the others and you can find an office in every cities.
Numbered seat, no overbooking, check in before departure, safety driver and buses on time.
I booked with TheSinhTourist for the following routes : 
- Ho Chi Minh to Mui Né
- Mui Né to Da Lat
- Da Lat to Nha Trang
- Nha Trang to Hoi An
- Hué to Hanoi

The Phuong Trang bus company (also named Futa) can be an alternativ to TheSinhTourist but the bus stops a lot of time on the way in some restaurants which belong to the company. So, the journey takes more time than expected.

Transportation and road in Vietnam   Transportation and road in Vietnam

Transportation and road in Vietnam

Particular case : bus in the north Vietnam

TheSinhTourist buses don't run in the north Vietnam! You'll find a TheSinhTourist office in Hanoi but you need to know that to go to Sapa or Ha Long Bay they don't have their own buses. They are just an intermediary who will sell you a ticket in a bus which belongs to another company. So no guarantee about security, over booking risk and driver.
Furthermore, TheSinhTourist has been copied by heaps agencies in Hanoi. Be careful, the real TheSingTourist office is located 52 Luong Ngoc Quyen.

Do not book a journey with Thien Ha Travel company, just run away!

I wanted to save time and took a bus to go directly from Sa Pa to Halong Bay without stopover in Hanoi. Thien Ha was the only company which proposed this journey.
Honnestly, this journey was a nightmare, the worth journey ever.

First of all, this company sells more tickets than spare seats; about 14 people didn't have sleeping seats (it's a lot). So they sat and slept on the floor. When the bus stops, it's difficult to go out cause you have to stride over people who are sleeping on the floor.

Transportation and road in Vietnam

Secondly, the driver stopped just once for toilet break (cause no toilet inside) and he stopped in the middle of nowhere. No toilet, so you have to pee with everyone, boys and girl, at the roadside.

Finally, the driver was crazy and drove very very fast. We had an accident and he didn't even stop to check the damages. After this, the windscreen was cracked, the wiper out of order and it was raining cats and dogs. The driver kept driving very fast on a dirt road.
We arrived to the destination 2 hours and half earlier than expected.

Transportation and road in Vietnam   Transportation and road in Vietnam

Finally I arrived safe and sound but what the hell! 
If you see this bus company, just run away.

Travelling by train in Vietnam

Trains are more expensive than buses but also more comfortable and more safe.
The cheapest way (but not the easier one) to buy your train ticket is to go directly to the train station. Severals classes, seating or sleeping, soft or hard seat, slow or fast train.... 
Furthermore, sometimes you have to book ahead with staff at the train station who don't always speak english. Some train stations are quite far from the city and you have to take a cab to get there.... 
A real challenge! 
The easier way is to book with your hotel (of course they'll charged you with a commission but you'll definitely save time).
All the information you need to know about train ticket in Vietnam on this website:

Transportation and road in Vietnam

Obviously I tried the train when I was in Vietnam, to go from Hoi An (Danang) to Hué.
No train station in Hoi An so you have to book a taxi or shuttle bus first to go from Hoi An to Danang (around 45 min to 1 hour).
This journey is apparently most beautiful by train cause the train runs along the coast and offers you a specatcular scenic view (beaches, rice terrace, mountains).
Tips : don't choose the bed on the top (no space at all).

Transportation and road in Vietnam   Transportation and road in Vietnam

Tips : if you book a sleeping train (which runs during daytime as well) and if you can choose your place, try to avoid the bed on top! There are not many space, you can even not just sit on your bed.
I didn't have choice on my side, all the others bed were already booked.

See by yourself :

Sleeping bed in the train, Vietnam   Sleeping bed in the train, Vietnam

I hope this post could have helped you about the different transportation in Vietnam.

All the posts about Vietnam : it is here 

Ha Long Bay is a popular travel place that you can't miss in Vietnam. 
It's very spectacular provided that the sky is clear.
On your way you'll be impressed by thousands of limestone
and go through fishing villages, isles and caves.

The things you'll see depends on which tour you book. For this place it's difficult for me to recommend a company cause there are heaps of agencies and different tours (depends on your budget).
Il you travel on budget you'll probably book a package (around 60 or 70 US dollars for 2 days 1 night). For this price, don't expect to get exactly what you paid for, route and activities are open to change. But the most interesting is the view and navigate through the limestones.




Sapa, minorités ethniques et rizières au Vietnam

A highlight moment in Vietnam!
Sapa is a very beautiful place, quiet and cool, away from the blaring of hooters of Hanoi. 
Here you can meet ethnic minorities like Black Hmong, Red Dao, Zay, Tay...
and do some nice hiking across rice paddies and corn field. Definitely a good spot on condition that you choose the right tour guide (see below).
The main things to see in Hué are the Citadel, the Perfume river and the tombs.

How to get there?
Normaly I used to take the bus to travel in Vietman. But I met some people who told me that the landscapes between Nha Trang and Hué are very beautiful and the only way to admire it was by train. So, for the first time since I'm in Vietnam, I tried the train.

The Citadel
Hué Citadel in Vietnam   Hué Citadel in Vietnam 

Hué Citadel in Vietnam   Hué Citadel in Vietnam 

Bike ride along the Perfume River
Hué perfume river in Vietnam   Hué perfume river in Vietnam 

Hué perfume river in Vietnam    

Hué perfume river in Vietnam

Vietnam, Hué, Thien Mu Pagoda 

Hoi An - bike ride in countryside and MySon

Hoi An is a very nice city, very easy to visit by bike: explore the countryside, visit the market, go to the beaches... by yourself, just you and your bike.

MySon is a little bit further, so you'll need to take a bus or book a tour.

Workers in salt field - Nha Trang, Vietnam

Nha Trang is a very touristic place with heaps of resorts, hotel, hudge buildings.... If you're looking for beaches and party, this place is for you. If not, don't stay there.
You can also book a boat trip day to visit 4 islands (Mun Island, Môt Island, Tranh and Mieu) and do some snorkelling. It's nice but not amazing....
Fairy stream in Mui Ne in Vietnam

Things to do in Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne is a small seaside resort, still quite preserved from mass tourism (at least in 2014) compare to Nha Trang and often known for her famous sand dunes.
It is here, in Mui Ne, I choose to have a 3-day break in my long trip through Vietnam (1 month). I selected this place because it was quiet, with a big and beautiful beach, a wide range of hotels but also some things to do and visit nearby: from the dairy stream to the white and red sand dunes, but also a small fishing village...
Nevertheless, I think Mui Ne is more a place for "farniente" rather than the discovery of the country and his culture.
Also a place that kite surfer lovers will like cause suitable for this activity. But because one man's meat is another man's poison, this strong wind is not that suitable for people who just want to chill out on the beach an tan (be ready to eat some sand).

The city in itself is not incredible, it is just a big road with a series of hotels, restaurants / pubs and shops. 
Russian tourism is increasing (restaurant's menus and sometimes even the name of the shops are written in russian). 

How to get there

From Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City), it is quite simple.
Buses from "The Sinh Tourist Company" (which is my favorite buses company in Vietnam) leave from the city center (De Tham road).
Then, it takes around 5 hours drive.
Do not hesitate to tell the driver the name of your hotel, he will drop you off near of it (all the hotels are located on the same big street).

Where to stay 

At this time I was in a "farniente" mind for 3 days so I had to find the appropriate hotel :) I choose the Mui Ne Hills. Very nice, quiet, with a pool and the beach nearby, and all this for a moderate price.
But there are heaps of hotels here, directly with a view on the beach or further, more quiet, for everyone choice.

Pool at Mui Ne Hills Hotel in Vietnam
3-day break in Mui Ne to chill out!

Things to do in Mui Ne

The farniente in a seaside resort it is good, but what are the things to do in Mui Ne or around?
Here you can find a non-exhaustive list with the main activities / trips, all all them are feasible in one day (for the most hurried).

1. The Fairy Stream

A very nice walk in the shallow river, surrounded by the sand dunes and a small waterfall at the end.
It takes around 1 to 1 hour 30.
The scenery is unexpected and stunning.
From all the things to do in Mui Ne, the fairy stream is my favorite so far.

Fairy stream in Mui Ne in Vietnam

Fairy stream in Mui Ne in Vietnam

Fairy stream in Mui Ne in Vietnam

Fairy stream in Mui Ne in Vietnam

2. The small fishing village

The main activity of the village is the harbor and the manufacturing of sauce fish.
A lot of people recommend to get there very early in the morning to attend the return of the fisherman. Unfortunately I was there at the end of the morning so even if that place is pleasant and beautiful it was quiet and I think I missed the most attractive moment of the day.

Fishing village in Mui Ne in Vietnam

Fishing village in Mui Ne in Vietnam

Scooter on the beach in a fishing village in Mui Ne in Vietnam

3. The white sand dunes

A very impressive place but overcrowded to me.
If you rent a quad and try to avoid the tourist groups over there, you should be able to feel you like in the Sahara desert. 

The white sand dunes in Mui Ne in Vietnam

4. The red sand dunes

I was there by the end of the day, for the sunset. Beautiful!
Again, a lot of tourists... Nevertheless, if you walk over the first hill it should be more quiet and you will appreciate the landscape.
You will see a lot a children having fun there and slide down the hill with a plastic board (you can rent one if you want).

The red sand dunes in Mui Ne in Vietnam   The red sand dunes in Mui Ne in Vietnam

The red sand dunes in Mui Ne in Vietnam

5. And like everywhere in Vietnam, the road is an attraction itself!

Animals cattle on the road in Mui Ne in Vietnam

After theses few days rest, it is time to hit the road again.
Now, let's go to Dalat, few hours drive from here.