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Vietnam forum

Saigon / HCMC to Hoi An - Fly or Train?

Posted by GattinaRosa on 15/11/2014 at 00:22

Hi all,

After a little bit of advice - I've had a quick search but can't see anything that directly addresses my question. I would appreciate some personal advice / experience from others that have done this route.

Tomorrow, my husband and I arrive in Saigon / HCMC. We plan on staying here for a couple of days before travelling up to Hoi An (via Da Nang).

We have heard lot about how cheap travel in Vietnam is. So we were quite surprised to find the train was $74 dollars each. This was via VietnamImpressive.

We've looked into flying and flying with Jetstar is £19 ($30) - so considerably cheaper than the train.

So, my questions are:

1) Am I correct with the train price? I heard that prices did increase in 2014 but $74 each still seems rather expensive (even the hard sleeper is $70). I am aware that we will save a nights accommodation, but considering our accommodation budget is around $15 per night, it will still cost about $140 on top of that!

2) Is flying worth it ? The flight time is 1 hr 10 mins, compared to 17 hours on the train! But when taking into account things like transfers from the airports and luggage allowance, would we actually save much money?

3) Does anyone have experience with Jetstar? Would it be better to pay slightly more to fly with VietnamAirlines?

We actually prefer train travel, and thoroughly enjoyed our overnight train from Surat Thani to Bangkok! But it is the cost that is holding us back on this one.

Any advice regarding this would be really appreciated.

#1 GattinaRosa has been a member since 28/7/2014. Posts: 18


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Posted by daawgon on 15/11/2014 at 13:12

Yes, those prices are correct (and ridiculous!) That trip by rail takes forever and a day - you'd be bored stiff, I kid you not!

By all means fly, but not on Jetstar (Vietnam's worst airline). You pay last-minute prices by not pre-booking.

#2 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 1,159
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Posted by antoniamitchell on 15/11/2014 at 16:41

Hi GattinaRosa,

Even adding in the cost of taxis to and from the airports, flying will still probably save you money over the train. And Vietnam Airlines is a perfectly decent service (I've never personally flown Jetstar, but I'll take Daawgon's word for it). I've never taken the train from HCMC to Danang, either, but I did take the train from Danang to Hue a few years ago. The carriage was grubby and half the seats were broken, and I was in first class (or whatever the top class of carriage was called). I shudder to think what third must have been like.

Does anyone else have a more positive experience to share?

(And have a wonderful trip, whatever you decide)

#3 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 559
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Posted by roam on 15/11/2014 at 19:34

"We have heard lot about how cheap travel in Vietnam is." - Probably they're referring to bus travel? Five years ago, I bought an open bus ticket for about 20 USD in dongs for the hop-on hop-off bus from Saigon/HCMC to Hanoi (or vice versa). These buses went to major turistic cities. With a single ticket a traveler could hop on/off in Saigon, Da Lat, Nha Trang, Hoi-An, Da Nang, Hue, Hanoi, etc. It took me 2+ weeks to complete the route.

#4 roam has been a member since 6/11/2014. Posts: 11
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Posted by MotHaiBa on 16/11/2014 at 07:57

Booking on line with VietnamImpressive will be expensive - you can save on the third party fare by securing a ticket at the station - Ga Saigon - or at the ticket office they have in Pham Ngu Lao. Even so it will be more expensive than a cheap flight. We enjoyed the experience of going on the train overnight in soft sleeper, and flying the return leg. If you are not totally convinced but still want to do some travel by train, perhaps consider the short hop from Danang to Hue over Hai Van pass. The chap who runs "the man in seat 61" website has plenty of info on either option.
Good luck with it.

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Posted by lotushoianhotel on 16/11/2014 at 19:30

Viet jet is cheap but it usually delay. I think 30$ for person is cheap. You should fly and book transfer at Hoi An hotel about 17$ for 4 seat & 25$ for 16 seat

#6 lotushoianhotel has been a member since 31/10/2014. Posts: 15


Posted by GattinaRosa on 16/11/2014 at 21:11

Hi all,

Thanks so much for your replies.

We booked a flight for tomorrow with Vietnam Airlines. As advised by MotHaiBa, we will probably take the train between DaNang and Hue as we have heard that it is a very beautiful route!

Now to go explore HCMC!

Thanks everyone!

#7 GattinaRosa has been a member since 28/7/2014. Posts: 18

Posted by roteirod on 6/12/2014 at 14:16

As for the airport transfer. It can really be very affordable, if you choose an appropriate taxi service. I'd recommend you kiwitaxi.com taxi for your purpose. I used it when I travelled in Austria, but it provides taxis all over the world. It is very reliable and affordable one really. I always used it and very pleased with the service. Hope it helps ;)

#8 roteirod has been a member since 6/12/2014. Posts: 6

Posted by LanternSky on 16/1/2015 at 03:50

As I know there are only flights from Saigon to Danang, then you can take taxi or hire a motorbike to Hoi An. I like riding motorbike, it would be a good experience.

#9 LanternSky has been a member since 26/12/2014. Posts: 29

Posted by Tazzfalcon on 17/1/2015 at 23:58

We literally just arrived in Hoi An from Mui Ne on an Open bus with The Sinh Tourist co. - recommended in Rough Guide. $27pp HCM>Mui Ne>Hoi An>Hue. Buses are really not that bad here and the Sinh Tourist has nice little features like checking you in, giving you luggage tags, free water and blankets.

#10 Tazzfalcon has been a member since 20/12/2008. Posts: 18

Posted by ComradeRedStar on 5/2/2015 at 22:33

For me, there is no "contest":

Let the TRAIN take the STRAIN!!!

I have been able to travel by long-distance (overnight) train in the PRC, Vietnam, Malaysia & Thailand. I have also flown domestically in VN, and internationally between many SE Asian countries as well as overland by bus between VN, Cambodia & Thailand.

On-board a Vietnam Railways train, you will enjoy not just the views, but also being able to meet people from both VN & the world, see how most Vietnamese still travel between HCMC- Hanoi and actually take some wonderful video/photos of the trip. The fares are cheap, the train stations are located right in the heart of each city, and you can sleep overnight on the train as well, which saves you hotel/hostel cost if you're on a tighter budget. Flying is both sterile & boring, nothing about it is uniquely Vietnamese.

On-board meal service is just $35,000 VND with meals delivered to your seat or bunk (if you choose hard or soft sleeper). The meals are typical VNese fare with rice, choice of a meat (Pork, chicken or fish), veggies, and a hot cup of soup. Also, if you have more luggage (over 20 kilos) or want to take a motorbike, that can be done as well. Nobody ever checks your baggage weight, just don't bring too much stuff!

BIG SALE!!!!!!!!!

VIETNAM RAILWAYS currently has COACH HARD-SEAT TICKETS for only $222,000 VND Hanoi to HCMC

Soft-Sleeper Lower Bunk Beds: $500,000

Upper-Bunks: $400,000

ALL OF THE TICKETS are on-board TN class trains and these are SPECIAL FARES for a limited time (maybe ten days)!

DO NOT CONTACT ANY TRAVEL AGENT FOR THESE FARES,

GO TO THE LOCAL VIETNAM RAILWAYS STATION AND PAY THE TICKET AGENT DIRECTLY!!!

All Aboard !!!

#11 ComradeRedStar has been a member since 5/2/2015. Posts: 2

Posted by LanternSky on 6/2/2015 at 21:36

Jetstar usually delay the flight, I have used it and for 6 hours delay. Vietnam Airlines is more expensive but it is on time.

#12 LanternSky has been a member since 26/12/2014. Posts: 29


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