Minh Getting Around
Public transport in Ho
Chi Minh City is extremely undeveloped, and most
people have a bicycle or motorcycle or rely on cyclos (see Cyclos
below) and taxis. Saigon Star Bus Company (tel:
(08) 864 2762) is a private bus company that operates
four bus routes within Ho Chi Minh City.
Buses to Binh Tay Market or Mien Tay Bus
Station depart from Me Linh and pass by
Ben Thanh Market. The buses to An Nhon/Thanh
Loc or An Suong depart from Ben
Thanh Market, in the heart of the city.
The Binh Tay bus departs every 6 to 10
minutes from 5.00 am to 7.20 pm; the Mien Tay
bus every 13 minutes from 4.30 am to 7.40 pm; the
An Nhon/Thanh Loc bus every 7 to 10 minutes
from 4.30 am to 8.00 pm; and the An Suong
bus every 8 to 10 minutes from 5.00 am to 7.30 pm.
Tickets cost VND1,000 on all routes
and can be bought on the bus.
Several taxi companies are available in Ho
Chi Minh City and most are normally metered. Hotels,
restaurants and bars are fairly happy to call a taxi, otherwise
you can hail a taxi on the street. Visitors are advised to make
sure the meter is turned on. The meter rates start
at around VND12,000 for the first two kilometres,
after that around VND5,000 for each additional
kilometre. Some taxis are un metered, and the fare must be negotiated
before boarding. Of course these prices are not cheaper. Tipping
is not expected but always welcome. Ben Thanh Taxi (tel:
(08) 842-2422); Mai Linh Taxi (tel: (08) 822-6666);
Saigon Taxi (tel: (08) 842-4242) and Vinataxi
(tel: (08) 811-1111) are reputable taxi companies.
Travelling around the city by cyclos is a
fun way, though somewhat nerve-wracking. The cyclo
is like a rickshaw but the driver sits
behind the passenger not in front. This means that you
are pedalled dramatically towards the oncoming traffic, which consists
of quite lawless cars, buses, motorbikes, bicycles and other cyclos.
Cyclos are slowly being banned from the city and many central streets
are out off limits to them. They generally park outside hotels or
cruise along the street soliciting business from pedestrians. A
price should be agreed before the journey, the
cost should not be more than US$1. A tight hold should be kept on
bags, also cameras and necklaces should be hidden. Thieves have
been known to grab them as they ride by on a motorcycle.
are not available. For a tourist, car hire always means
a car plus a driver.
in the City
Most travellers who visit this city are quite traumatised when they
first encounter the chaotic traffic. The streets are jammed
with bicycles and motorbikes, which dart between the greatly
outnumbered cars. Bikes frequently travel the wrong way down a one-way
street and dart out of side roads without even a glance in the direction
of the oncoming traffic. Motorbike riders discard their wing mirrors
allowing them to squeeze through the smallest gaps. Fortunately,
visitors are permitted to hire cars with drivers only.
Long-term residents are allowed to drive, although not many do.
Secure parking is scarce but somebody can always be found to keep
an eye on their car for a tip. Police will usually target foreign
drivers for ‘on-the-spot’ fines so steady and defensive
driving is advised.
To hire a car without a driver is impossible; however, travel companies
can arrange cars with English-speaking drivers.
These companies include Exotissimo
(tel: (08) 825-1723), Saigontourist
Car Rental (tel: (08) 829-8914) and Vidotour
(tel: (08) 933 0457-0469). Rates are US$26-30 per day
for jouneys within the city, with added charges for evening use.
Bicycle & Motorbike Hire
Bicycles and motocycles are available for hire in the area known
as Pham Ngu Lao, which is the backpacker
hangout. Almost every other building advertises bicycles
and motorcycles for hire. Daily rates are about
US$1 for bicycles and US$5-15 for motorbikes,
relying on its size.
Passport must be left as a deposit. Clients must carefully check
to be sure that the motorbike is in a good condition and roadworthy.
An International Driving Permit endorsed for motorbikes
is mandatory for vehicles over 50cc. Bicycles and motorbikes
should be parked in the areas set aside for them (gui xe), or they
are likely to be stolen and renters will be liable to buya replacement.
It's well worth taking a padlock for additional security.