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As you plan your travels through Vietnam, ferry travel may be an appealing way to get from place to place along the coast or inland waterways. Before embarking on a ferry journey, however, there are some important things you should know. Safety standards, schedules, and amenities can vary greatly between ferry operators in Vietnam. Do some research ahead of time to find a reputable company that fits your needs and budget.

Ferry Routes in Vietnam: Where You Can Go

Vietnam has an extensive ferry network connecting destinations up and down its coastline and along inland waterways. Here are some of the popular ferry routes in Vietnam and where they can take you:

The ferry from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau is a popular weekend escape for locals and visitors alike. The 90-minute journey transports you to the beaches of Vung Tau, a coastal city known for its seafood, beaches, and colonial architecture.

Ferries also run from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta's Ben Tre province, the gateway to the coconut palm-lined canals of the Mekong. The ferry terminal is 2 hours from Ho Chi Minh City, dropping you in Ben Tre town where you can explore the delta by bike or boat.

In central Vietnam, ferries connect Hoi An and the Cham Islands, an archipelago of granite islands with secluded beaches and coral reefs. The 30-minute ferry ride from Hoi An drops you on the main island of Hon Lao, perfect for a day of snorkeling, diving, and island hopping.

Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay in northeastern Vietnam are also accessible by ferry. From Halong City, ferries transport visitors to the dramatic limestone islands of Halong and Bai Tu Long Bays for cruises. Ferries are a convenient way to start and end your Halong Bay adventure.

Types of Ferries in Vietnam: Speedboats vs Car Ferries

There are two main types of ferries in Vietnam: speedboats and car ferries. Speedboats, as the name suggests, are faster but more expensive, while car ferries are slower, cheaper, and also transport vehicles.


Speedboats are a quick way to travel between destinations in Vietnam, especially for shorter routes. Journeys usually take between 30 minutes to 3 hours. These ferries have an indoor cabin with basic seating and life jackets. Some provide snacks and drinks for purchase on board. However, the ride can be bumpy and noisy at times. Tickets typically cost between $10 to $30 per person. Popular routes include Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau and Ha Long Bay to Cat Ba Island.

Car Ferries

For those traveling longer distances or with vehicles, car ferries are a more suitable and budget-friendly option. Trips can take 3 to 12 hours depending on the route. Passengers can book a ticket for an indoor cabin, outdoor deck seating, or space for a motorbike or car. Cabins provide basic bunk beds and bedding. Ferries have simple food services on board for meals and snacks. Fares range from $3 to $20 per person and $10 to $50 for a small vehicle. Major car ferry routes connect Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc Island, and Haiphong to Cat Ba Island.

When choosing between speedboats or car ferries in Vietnam, you need to consider your budget, time constraints, whether you have a vehicle, and which destinations you want to travel between. Both types of ferries provide a unique way to experience life on the open water in Vietnam, allowing you to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the journey. With some planning, ferry travel in Vietnam can be an exciting part of your adventure.


Car ferry to Phu Quoc

Vietnam Ferry Safety: What to Know Before Boarding

Vietnam’s ferry system provides a convenient way to travel between destinations, but there are some safety considerations to keep in mind before boarding.

Research Routes and Schedules

Do thorough research on ferry routes, departure times, and schedules before your trip. Ferry service can be inconsistent, with schedules changing frequently. Check with your hotel or travel agency for the most up-to-date schedules to ensure you arrive at the pier with enough time before your ferry departs. Some ferries only run a few times per week or seasonally, so plan accordingly.

Choose Higher-Quality Ferries

Vietnam has a long history of using ferries as a means of transportation. In the past, ferries were used to transport people and goods across rivers and waterways. Local ferries are often found in rural areas and often have very basic accommodation. However, with the development of modern infrastructure and transportation systems, ferries are being replaced by bridges and other modes of transportation.

Opt for ferries that service tourists and locals, rather than just locals. Ferries catering only to locals may lack important safety standards and not have staff that speak English. Look for ferries with a solid safety record that offer amenities like life jackets, emergency equipment, seating, and food/drink. More reputable ferry companies will also check passenger tickets before boarding and not overcrowd the boat.

Sit in a Designated Area

Once on board, find seating in a designated passenger area, not on open decks or staircases. In rough waters or an emergency, open areas and staircases can become dangerous quickly. Follow all instructions from the crew regarding where passengers should sit or stand.

Wear a Life Jacket

Life jackets are required for all passengers on Vietnam's ferries, so wear one at all times for maximum safety. Even on short rides, there is a risk of accident or capsizing, and a life jacket will ensure you stay afloat until rescue. Look for life jackets designed to also protect your head from impacts during an emergency situation.


Speed boat to Con Dao Island

Cost of Ferries in Vietnam: Fares and Tickets

Ferries are an inexpensive way to travel between destinations in Vietnam, but there are a few things you should know before embarking on your journey.

Fares and Tickets

Ferry fares in Vietnam are very affordable, ranging from around 30,000 to 200,000 VND ($1.30 to $8.70 USD) for most shorter routes under 4 hours. Longer overnight ferries may cost 300,000 to 700,000 VND ($13 to $30 USD) for a basic seat or more for a private cabin. It is best to purchase your tickets in advance through a travel agency or ferry company to ensure you get a seat, especially on popular routes or during holidays and festivals.

Tickets can typically be paid for in either Vietnamese Dong or US Dollars. Some ferry companies may charge slightly higher fares for foreign tourists, so check with multiple companies to compare prices. Tickets usually need to be purchased at least 30 minutes before departure to allow enough time to board. Do not wait until the last minute.

Once you have your ticket, arrive at the ferry terminal at least 45 minutes early to allow time for loading vehicles and cargo before passengers board. Seating is usually first come, first served, so arriving early will give you the best choice of available seats. Seats fill up quickly, especially on shorter ferry rides. Be prepared for crowds and lines.

Most ferries in Vietnam are very basic, with hard seats, limited amenities, and no entertainment options. It is a good idea to bring snacks, water, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, entertainment, and anything else you may need to make your journey comfortable. Not all ferries have functioning washrooms available. Overnight ferries will provide a thin mattress and blanket for sleeping, but conditions are very basic. Come prepared.

What to Bring on Your Vietnam Ferry Ride

When taking a ferry in Vietnam, there are several essential items you should bring to ensure a comfortable journey.

Valid ID

To board any ferry in Vietnam, you will need to present a valid form of identification, such as your passport. Some domestic ferry routes may accept a photocopy of your passport, but it is best to carry your actual passport to avoid any issues.


Ferry fares in Vietnam are paid in cash, so be sure to bring enough Vietnamese Dong (VND) to cover your ticket. Fares vary depending on the route and class of travel, but you can expect to pay between 100,000 to 300,000 VND for a basic seat. It is a good idea to have small bills in denominations of 5,000, 10,000, and 20,000 VND.

Food and Water

Most ferries in Vietnam do have basic food, snacks, and drinks available for purchase on board. However, the selection may be limited. It is a good idea to pack some food, fruit, nuts, or granola bars, especially if you have any dietary restrictions or preferences. You should also bring bottled water to stay hydrated, as ferry rides can last up to 12 hours for longer routes.


Ferries are not always well-heated or air-conditioned. Nighttime ferry rides in particular can get quite chilly. Be sure to pack a light blanket, jacket, or sweatshirt. A travel pillow or neck pillow can also make it easier to sleep on an overnight ferry.


For longer ferry rides, bringing some entertainment like a book, magazine, cards, or small games can help pass the time. Some ferries may show movies or TV, but selection is limited. If you want to ensure entertainment options, pack your own.

Following these tips and packing essential supplies for your ferry ride will help ensure a smooth journey in Vietnam. Come prepared for any situation and you'll be sailing comfortably.

Best Time to Take a Ferry in Vietnam

The best time to travel by ferry in Vietnam depends on several factors, including weather, crowds, and your personal preferences.

Dry Season (December to April)

During the dry season from December to April, the seas are typically calmer, making ferry rides more pleasant. Fewer rain showers also mean a lower chance of delays or cancelations. However, this time period coincides with the high tourist season, so ferries may be more crowded. If you want to avoid big crowds, travel in December or April.

Shoulder Months (May and November)

The shoulder months of May and November can also be an ideal time to take a ferry in Vietnam. The rainy season has not quite begun, so you'll still enjoy mostly dry weather, and the crowds have started to dwindle from the peak season. Fares may be slightly lower during these months as well.

Rainy Season (June to October)

The rainy season lasts from June to October in Vietnam. While ferry rides can still operate normally, be prepared for occasional delays, cancelations or rough seas due to storms and heavy rain. The benefit of traveling during these months is avoiding the big crowds and taking advantage of lower prices. If unpredictable weather does not bother you, the rainy season can be a great time to find deals on ferry travel in Vietnam.

Weekdays vs. Weekends

For shorter ferry rides around Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay, opt to travel during the weekdays if possible. Weekends, especially Sundays, tend to be the busiest days with more local tourists. You'll encounter fewer crowds and a more peaceful experience if you can take ferries Monday through Friday.