HCMC is legendary for its chaotic and frenetic traffic.
At first glance, the sheer numbers and chaos on the roads can be intimidating. Observing the street from one of the many high rise buildings in the city, it appears as an army of ants scurrying around without any rhythm or valuable reason to do so.
However, once you enter the biomass and spend some time learning the traffic’s rhythm, getting around town isn’t as difficult as it initially seems. The principal means of transportation include walking, motorbikes, buses, cars, taxis, xe ôm, and bicycles.
However, mass transit takes a back seat to personal transport. HCMC has some of the highest personal transportation market shares outside of North America and it is estimated that personal vehicle travel is 92%, leaving just 8% for mass transit. Motorbikes remain the most popular mode of transportation but cars are becoming more popular among the population.
Car ownership is rising 20% annually, which is more than twice the growth rate for motorbike ownership. If this trend continues, the city’s infamous traffic jams will be even more congested.
EVA Air was established in 1989 and is a Star Alliance member. This Taiwan based airline was in fact the first to be privately owned in the country and is known for offering high standards of service and safety. Flying more than 60 International locations, its fleet of 70 aircraft offers passengers an inexpensive option for International flights. International connections ...
This is a repair shop that also offers customised paint services for bikes. It is not the cleanest place in the world and you will need a translator, but it does the job and at a very reasonable price (~VND1.4-2 million to paint a Honda Dream).
Price: Helmets range from VND350,000- VND10M (most of the items are between VND400,000 and VND1.65M). Brands: Andes, Indix, Avex, HJC and more. Not only do they sell helmets but other gear and equipment for travelling as well. See their website (in Vietnamese only) for specific prices.
This shop is dominated by drying pieces of metal and the sound of compressed air. The owner speaks English and is always on hand to ask questions. Also, for about VND100,000, they can coat your smart phone with a nanocoating that reduces corrosion.
The owner is best known as Dr Joe and this shop is where the nouveau riche of the city customise their rides. The garage also does maintenance and repairs but, as you get what you pay for, expect to pay a bit more.
To date, they provide a wide variety of vehicles from Luxury Sedan class five seaters such as Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 series and BMW 5 series, SUV/ MPV classes such as Toyota Fortuner (seven seats), Toyota Sienna (seven seats), to Large vehicles such as Ford Transit (16 seaters) for the transfer of office staff.
Types of taxis: Toyota Vios 1.5E (seats four), Toyota Zace (seats seven), Toyota Innova G (seats seven) Initial fare: VND16,000 Fare per 1km: VND16,000 Payment options: cash English speaking hotline operators: Yes English speaking taxi drivers: No
Types of taxis: Toyota Vios (seats four), Toyota Innova J & G (seats seven) Initial fare: Toyota Vios - VND11,000, Toyota Innova J - VND11,500, Toyota Innova G - VND12,500 Fare per 0.7km: VND18,000 Payment options: Cash, pre-paid cards along with Visa, MasterCard, JCB credit cards English speaking hotline operators: Yes English speaking taxi drivers: Yes (on request)
Types of taxis: Toyota Vios (seats four), Toyota Innova G (seats seven) Initial fare: VND13,500 Fare per 0.7km: VND18,500 (after 31km: VND15,500/km) Payment options: cash only English speaking hotline operators: Yes English speaking taxi drivers: No
This shop sells bikes on the cheap. However, they stand by their bikes and offer a set of bike warranties depending on where the bike was built (three months for China, six months for Taiwan, and one year for Japan).
It’s very likely that in your travels around Ho Chi Minh City, you have - at least a few times - been stuck trailing behind a bus spewing thick black smoke in your face. You probably weaved through traffic at this point, attempting to overtake the ecological disaster in front of you.
Buses operating in Dien Bien Phu-Hanoi Highway – Photo: SGGP
Ho Chi Minh City is not an emissions ...
If you do not hold a driver’s license of any kind, you have to pass both theory and driving tests. The theory test is in Vietnamese and you are not allowed to have an interpreter or translator.
To register for this case, you must:
Be a Vietnamese residents or a foreigner who is allowed to reside, work or study in Vietnam.
Be at least 18 years of age.
Getting Lost in Saigon
Finding your way around HCMC is challenging for anyone who drives. Unfortunately, I have not yet installed a GPS in my car. Coming from France, which probably has the best signage system in the world, I never needed it there, or elsewhere for that matter.
Photo by: Anthony Tong Lee
Too often in HCMC, I found myself looking around for any signs to point me to a d...
For 10 years I have been a fervent daily observer/experiencer of transportation issues in our city. I began while driving my unregistered 250cc motorbike without license and now “drive” a legal car with papers from/to home everyday. What used to take me 15 minutes in full speed, now takes about 45 minutes in “slow” mode.
My favourite time was during Tet when HCMC's stre...
What is happening with the Metro? Is it as far behind schedule as people are saying? How long will it be before trains are running? Citypassguide.com tracked down one of the men in the know. Project Manager Stephane Faure.
There are three companies working together on the project:
Freyssinet One of the Vinci group which is one of the biggest construction company in France.
VSL Originally fro...
Vietnam’s economic growth in the past two decades has led to more and more motorbikes, and as of late, many more cars. Driveways are now lined with cars as the Vietnamese find comfort in what up until recently was considered a luxury. Congestion has grown with population, and the streets are jam-packed with vehicles of all sorts. Pollution is rampant and road safety is an increasing conce...
Lawson Dixon is an amiable Australian who started with the News Ltd media company in the 1980s but has spent more time out of Australia than in since. He has a background in automotive advertising and has worked with Ford and Chrysler in the past. He started Ducati in Vietnam before finally getting the Harley-Davidson franchise off the ground in 2013. He beat 70 competitors to win the right to ...
It’s not difficult to recognise the anarchy of Vietnam’s road system - it pretty much slaps you in the face as soon as you walk outside! What is an issue is recognising the rules in all this chaos. What regulations should we all know and follow when riding the roads? Apart from the general rule of “don’t do anything unexpected”, there are quite a few laws and forma...
Someone once said if you are irritated by every rub, how will you ever be polished?
When you hear a Vietnamese colleague say, once again, “I’ve been unlucky…had an accident yesterday”, as they hobble displaying a bit of agony, almost gone is the sympathy, instead you’re bursting to say: IT’S NOT THAT YOU’RE UNLUCKY! PEOPLE DRIVE LIKE THEY ARE COMPLET...
Driving in Saigon requires a high level of skill, yes, but even more than that it requires daring. Bravery. Heck, insanity! Driving a motorbike on the dusty, dense, wild streets of this city is an activity that I would never recommend anyone unless they were stark raving mad, because to join chaos you’ve got to be chaotic. There’s a pulse to the rush of the roads here, and the key t...