The network consists of 7 lines with a total length of 2,632 km, dominated by the 1,726 kilometers single track North-South Railway running between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The overall condition of railway infrastructure in Vietnam varies from poor to fair; most of the network remains in need of rehabilitation and upgrading, having received only temporary repair from damages suffered during decades of war. A joint Japanese-Vietnamese evaluation team found that the poor state of railway infrastructure was the fundamental cause for most railway accidents, of which the most common types are train crashes against vehicles and persons, especially at illegal level crossings; derailments caused by failure to decrease speed was also noted as a common cause of accidents.
Vietnam operates 24 civil airports, including three international gateways: Noi Bai serving Hanoi, Danang serving Danang City, and Tan Son Nhat serving Ho Chi Minh City. Tan Son Nhat is the largest, handling 75 percent of international passenger traffic. Vietnam Airlines, the national airline, has a fleet of 30 aircraft that link Vietnam with cities worldwide.
Since road travel is still the most popular means of transportation in Vietnam, the highway system plays a crucial role. It is estimated that the Vietnamese highway system contains more than 90 roads with the approximate length of more than 15.000 km connecting the North and South.
When driving on a highway, a good and careful seems not to be enough. It is necessary to keep an eye on the road constantly, especially at intersections where motorbikes are crossing!
In Ho Chi Minh City there is a public bus service for people both local and foreigners. Theses buses departures from major terminals before heading to the streets. The busses can be recognized by its white cover and light green stripe. The busses tend to be very crowded without air condition, and the conductor does usually not speak English. However, the local bus is an interesting way to get around the city and to meet and make friends with the local people. – When on the bus, always keep a strict eye on your belongs such as luggage and wallet!
Motorcycles are presently the primary mode of transport in the major Vietnamese cities. In both Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City, motorcycles account for 60 – 65 percent of vehicular trips, with bicycles accounting for another 25 percent.
– Please note that in order to drive both a motor bike and car in Vietnam, it is necessary to obtain a Vietnamese drivers license!
On any street corner in Vietnam, it is possible to find men with motorcycles willing to carry you anywhere. This mode of transport it known as xe om (motor bike taxi). It is usually cheap and reliable although the fare should be negotiated before commencing the journey. The biggest problem is explaining the destination to the driver because pronunciation is everything in Vietnamese. Carry a pen and paper or a map.
In the major cities the easiest and most convenient method of transport are taxis. Most are relatively new models of car and are air-conditioned, and prices are very cheap. There are both “official” and unofficial” taxies, and in Ho Chi Minh City the companies VinaSun and Mai Lihn are both recommendable officials taxi companies. Contrast this with the price of a cyclo trip (about the same), and except for the novelty of the transport, taxis provide a better service. Tourism authorities advise tourists not to take cyclos at night.
One of the dangers that visitors may face is related to the road traffic that is quite chaotic. The most common victims of traffic accidents are motorbike riders and pedestrians. Such accidents are the leading cause of death, severe injury, and emergency evacuation of foreigners in Vietnam. Local drivers do not follow basic traffic principles, vehicles do not yield right of way, not respecting traffic lights is quite common and there is little adherence to traffic laws or enforcement by traffic police.
Road conditions are also very poor, with few road signs and poor lighting during night. For unmotorized travelers the most dangerous is crossing a busy street in big city.