Travel by air is the most convenient means of arriving in Vietnam. International airports are found in Da Nang, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. These are strategically spaced across the country to offer convenient access to each region. Long-haul flights to Vietnam usually involve a layover at a regional hub, typically in Thailand, Japan or Singapore.
Discount carriers Jetstar and AirAsia operate some of the most affordable flights to Vietnam. China Airlines, Bangkok Airways, EVA Air, United Airlines, SilkAir, Korean Air, Japan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Dragonair, Lao Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways International are among the roster of carriers that serve Vietnam.
Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi) is the most convenient gateway into northern Vietnam. Da Nang International Airport is used by travellers bound for Vietnam’s central region, and it is substantially smaller than Tan Son Nhat International Airport near Ho Chi Minh City. Gateway to the southern region, this is the largest and most modern of the three. Visitors can cut out backtracking by flying into one of these airports, then departing from another.
It is possible to arrive in Vietnam overland by bus, an attractive option for anyone involved in a wider tour of Southeast Asia. Three crossing points exist along the border with China, the most popular of which is the Friendship Pass at Huu Nghi Quan, where passengers by rail or road may cross. The most popular of the six crossing points with Laos is across from Lao Bao.
Four border crossing lie on the border with Cambodia. The crossing at Moc Bai connects Ho Chi Minh City with Cambodia’s Phnom Penh. The crossing at Chau Doc also connects to Ho Chi Minh City and is passable by boat along the Mekong River.
Aside from this Mekong River crossing point, there is no other way to arrive in Vietnam by boat. Visitors may notice international cruise liners in Vietnamese waters, but there is no protocol allowing their passengers to disembark and enter Vietnam.
To the north, it is possible for international rail passengers to pass between China and Vietnam at selected crossing points. The most popular rail connection is at Dong Dang, making it possible for passengers to cross between the distant cities of Hanoi and Beijing. Trains travelling from Vietnam to China’s Yunnan province are less reliable.