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Local Buses

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Ever hopped on one of Vietnam's local busses and gone on an adventure? If not, you're missing out. Vietnam's bus system is extensive, cheap, and the perfect way to get around like a local and see the countryside. Forget taxis or trains - buses are where it's at. The brightly colored buses zip around cities and towns, picking up and dropping off all sorts of characters. You never know who might plop down in the seat next to you. It could be a farmer headed to the market, students traveling to school, or a family moving their entire household belongings to a new home. One thing's for sure, it's never a dull ride. For the price of a coffee, you get a peek into the daily lives of ordinary Vietnamese. Local buses provide an experience you can't get any other way.

Vietnam's Extensive Local Bus Network

Vietnam has an extensive bus network that covers almost every city and town, making it easy to get around without spending a lot on taxis or tours. The buses are cheap, frequent, and can take you almost anywhere you want to go.

To ride the local busses, you'll first need to buy a ticket. Tickets typically cost between 5,000 to 30,000 VND depending on the distance. You can buy tickets on the bus, but during rush hour the buses often fill up quickly, so buy in advance if possible. The ticket will have a number that corresponds to your seat.

  • The buses typically run from early morning until late evening, about 5 am to 9 pm. In some areas, night buses operate as well from 9 pm to 5 am.

  • There are no set schedules, busses simply leave when they fill up. So during busy times, expect busses to depart frequently, maybe every 5-10 minutes. During off-peak hours, you may wait 30 minutes or more.

  • Busses can get very crowded, so be prepared to stand in the aisle or share your seat. Backpacks should go on your lap or between your legs.

The bus system may seem chaotic, but it's an essential part of life in Vietnam and transportation for many locals. Experience it for yourself, and you'll get a real feel for the daily rhythms of life in Vietnam's cities and towns. The low fares mean you can hop on and hop off wherever your wanderlust takes you!

Riding the Local Bus: What to Expect

Riding the local busses in Vietnam is certainly an experience you won't forget. Here's what you can expect:

The busses can get very crowded, especially during rush hour and on popular routes. Be prepared to stand for the whole ride - don't expect to always get a seat. And hold onto your bags; things can get bumped around with all the people shuffling on and off.

Fares are paid directly to the driver's assistant when you board. Have small bills ready, as change may not be given.

Schedules don't always run on time, so build in some buffer if you need to be somewhere punctually. Busses can sometimes be delayed, especially if there's traffic or the bus fills up and needs to bypass stops.

Be aware that the driving style can seem a bit chaotic and hazardous to the uninitiated. But rest assured, the drivers are highly skilled and accustomed to navigating the organized chaos that is transportation in Vietnam. Just sit back, hold on, and enjoy the ride!


A bus attendant in charge of selling tickets

Tickets and Fares for Vietnam's Local Busses

Some tips for paying the fare:

  • Have exact change ready to avoid getting overcharged. Bus attendants may claim to not have enough small bills to make changes for larger denominations.

  • Double-check that the attendant issues you a printed ticket. Some may try to pocket the fare instead of printing a ticket. Politely insist on receiving your ticket.

  • Ask the attendant or person in line before you how much the fare is to your destination. This helps ensure you are charged the correct amount before boarding.

  • Be prepared to pay a small surcharge for larger items of luggage. An extra 5,000 to 10,000 VND ($0.25 to $0.50 USD) per item is common.


Discounts of around 20-50% off the fare are frequently offered to students, elderly and disabled passengers. Be ready to show proper ID to qualify for the discount. Some bus companies also offer monthly passes for frequent riders along popular routes.


Electric buses operated by VinFast

Double-decker buses for sightseeing

If you are in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, be sure to look for the Hop on – hop off buses. For a reasonable cost, locals and tourists can take advantage of these buses for a nice city tour.


Double-decker bus city tour

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