Colorful, busy, and energetic are just three of the words you could use to describe Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam. Still commonly known by its former name of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is filled with culture and grand architecture, and it’s a city that pulses with energy 24 hours a day. Once you’ve experienced the busy streets, a popular respite is the coastal city of Nha Trang. Vietnam’s premier beach destination is the ideal place to kick back and relax on its gorgeous white sand beaches by day, and soak up the nightlife by night.
How to Get from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang
The shortest road route from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang is over 430 kilometers (about 270 miles), so although Nha Trang is a popular escape from Ho Chi Minh, it’s quite a trek to get from one city to the other. Traveling by road is therefore a lengthy journey, with bus options taking somewhere between 9.5 to 11 hours, although the good news is that there are overnight buses if you’d like to just lie back and go to sleep. A faster option is a train, although the duration of services do vary from 7 hours to over 9 hours, so if timing matters to you be sure to shop around for the best schedule. The final option is a flight from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang – this is easily the fastest way to travel, and, surprisingly, is not necessarily the most expensive. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of all three options below.
Flights from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang
Let’s start with the fastest way to get from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang, by air. The Tan Son Nhat International Airport is the busiest in Vietnam and it’s set centrally within Ho Chi Minh City. From here, there are flights to Nha Trang’s Cam Ranh International Airport with three different airlines: Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, and Jetstar Pacific Airlines. Out of these, VietJet Air has the most flights per day and, this airline is also usually the cheapest for flights from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang, so there’s a great deal of choice if you prefer flying over taking a bus or a train.
And, flying really isn’t that expensive compared to some of the other transport options. With VietJet Air, the cost of a seat can actually be less than the price of a bed in a sleeper cabin on some of the railway services, but the main advantage with flying is the time it takes – the flight itself is only around 1 hour, and even when you add on a couple of hours for getting to and from the airports and going through security, flying is still by far the quickest way to get from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang, allowing you to leave Ho Chi Minh City in the morning, and be in Nha Trang in time for lunch!
From Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang by Train
As you have already read above, flights are the fastest way to get from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang and they can be cheaper than some train services. However, bear in mind that if you’re buying a ticket for a bed within a sleeper cabin on the train, you are saving yourself the cost of a night’s accommodation in either Ho Chi Minh or Nha Trang, so although flights may be cheaper, you would need to add on an extra night in a hotel to that cost to make the comparison more realistic.
One of the big advantages with traveling from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang by train is that there are always plenty of services operating between the two cities. This gives you increased flexibility as you should always be able to find a train that fits in with your schedule, whether you prefer to travel overnight, or through the day. The good thing about traveling through the day is that you’ll be able to see plenty of passing scenery that you would miss overnight, or by flying, so bear this in mind when choosing your tickets.
Vietnam Railways is the operator and you can buy tickets directly with them whether you’re looking at the cheapest rail options – 2nd class seats only – or you want a sleeper cabin. The service provided by Vietnam Railways is acceptable, but if you prefer a little more luxury and attentive staff you could consider one of the private operators: Saigon Golden Train, or Livitrans Express. You will still be on a Vietnam Railways train, but the private operators have special cabins with more comfortable sleepers in them. Of course, you will pay more for the privilege, but the extra comfort can be worth the cost.
From Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang by Bus
The final option is both the cheapest and often the slowest way to get from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang. So, weigh up the pros and cons of bus travel before choosing this option.
Traveling by bus does have its advantages then – it is by far the cheapest way to travel so it’s perfect if you’re spending time in Asia and are getting around on a tight budget. Considering the distance you’ll be traveling, bus tickets are extremely good value for money but, spending so long on a bus is not for everyone.
Two major companies operate services between Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang: Hanh Cafe, and The SinhTourist. Buses operated by Hanh Cafe are substantially more basic than those by The SinhTourist, only providing AC and standard seats for the roughly 9.5 hour journey, while with The SinhTourist you’ll be enjoying sleeper seats, TVs, steward and snack services as well as onboard toilets, and you’ll get all of this for just a few dollars more.
If you’re someone who can easily get to sleep, the overnight buses are a great idea and they add affordability as you don’t have to spend the night in a hotel.