Travelling in Vietnam
Vietnam's roads range from European trunk road standard to cratered and pitted dirt tracks, with the latter in the majority if you travel off the tourist routes. Traffic is often heavy and driving standards are poor.
With the possible exception of special-purpose vehicles such as jeeps, all vehicles used by Haivenu are less than two years old. They are all properly maintained and licensed, with highly competent, safe drivers. We have a 100% safety record and are determined to keep it!
In a developing country with poor transport infrastructure, long car journeys are often necessary. Wherever possible, we try to plan an itinerary that uses the most scenic route, and avoids retracing the same course. We also allow for regular refreshment breaks and pause at places of interest en-route. There is always plenty of room: to ensure passenger comfort we usually provide twice the number of seats that are necessary.
All internal flights are by Vietnam Airlines or its subsidiary, Pacific Airlines. Both use well-maintained modern aircraft and have excellent safety records. Airport procedures are straightforward. Visitors travelling with Haivenu will be met by a staff member fluent in the passengers' language. For people who opt to process their visa upon arrival (see the 'Getting a Visa' page), we provide a member of staff to assist you in the Immigration hall and take care of the formalities for you. Transfers to hotels will be in a private vehicle.
All tickets for internal flights will be provided on arrival or well in advance of the flight.
Vietnam's railways are functional rather than elegant, but they travel on time and provide an alternative to air travel. The rail is single track. Journey times are long, but sleeping compartments are available on the long-distance trains.
The flagship of Vietnam Railways is the daily E1 express service, popularly known as the 'Reunification Express'. It has the best rolling stock, and makes the journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and vice versa in thirty hours. Other trains ply the same route. The S1 is also a daily express, but a bit slower than the E1. Others stop at local stations en-route. There are also a few branch lines, notably an extension from Hanoi to Ha Long City.
Tickets can be bought in advance at Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City stations, but tickets to travel from intermediate stations can only be purchased at the station concerned, and there is no guarantee that the preferred seats or berths will be available. At busy times, trains are full.
Visitors travelling with Haivenu will be taken to the station and settled into their compartment by a member of our staff, and met at the destination for transfer to their hotel. For travel from intermediate stations, one of our local representatives will buy the correct tickets in advance on the passengers' behalf. Tickets for trains will be provided prior to departure.
Most travel by water is for sightseeing or on ferries: there are no routes that link more than a couple of coastal centres. Where water travel is essential, there is usually a choice between fast and slow boats, the latter being the ships that carry supplies and passengers to outlying villages and islands and seem to take forever. There are hydrofoil services in some places - from Ha Long to Mong Cai on the border with China, and from Ho Chi Minh City to various destinations in the Mekong, for example.