Local travel Vietnam by AU GOV

Local travel

Long Tan Cross site: Consistent with long standing practice, visitors to the Long Tan Cross site in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province may not wear medals or uniforms, or carry banners or flags. Visitors are asked to behave in a solemn manner, respectful to the wishes of local communities. See the Australian Consulate-General website for further information.

Travel is restricted near military installations. Travel is also restricted in some parts of the Central Highlands and some border areas.

Unexploded ordnance and landmines are a continuing hazard in former battlefields, particularly in central Vietnam and along the Laos border. Mine-free roads and paths are well marked.

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as mountain climbing and boat trips, may not be of the same level as in Australia. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don’t. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.

Road travel

You must have a valid Vietnamese drivers licence to drive in Vietnam for all vehicles, including motorcycles of 50cc or more. Australian International Driver’s Permits are not recognised in Vietnam. Non-Vietnamese citizens are only permitted to drive in Vietnam if they hold a temporary Vietnamese drivers licence. Fines for driving without a valid licence vary. For information on obtaining a Vietnamese drivers licence (including temporary licences) visit the website of the Australian Embassy or Consulate-General in Vietnam.

Driving standards and vehicle and road maintenance are generally poor. Traffic accidents occur frequently in Vietnam and tend to attract large crowds.

The number of tourists involved in serious motorcycle accidents is increasing. Under Vietnamese law, you must wear a helmet at all times when riding a motorcycle, including when travelling as a passenger. We recommend that you check that your travel insurance policy covers you when travelling by motorcycle.

You should consider the risks of driving a car or riding a motorcycle in Vietnam, particularly if you are unfamiliar with local conditions. If you are involved in an accident, whether or not you are at fault, you could face criminal charges and may be required to make large compensation payments to the injured person. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), you are four times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Vietnam than in Australia.

Inter-city buses have a high accident rate. Petty theft regularly occurs on buses.

Streets are crowded in major cities and road rules are routinely ignored. Be very careful when crossing busy streets as traffic can appear from any direction.

For further advice, see our road travel page.

Rail travel

Rail travel is generally safe in Vietnam, however petty theft can occur. We have received numerous reports of theft on sleeper trains between Hanoi and Lao Cai/Sapa. When travelling by rail, ensure you retain the ticket stub at all times as it is required upon exiting the train station.

Sea travel

Boats, hydrofoils and ferries in Vietnam may not meet Australian safety standards. Accidents on waterways do occur and there have been a number of fatalities resulting from vessels sinking, for example, in Ha Long Bay. Whenever considering travelling by boat,  ask tour operators about the safety record and emergency procedures, and ensure there is adequate safety equipment such as life vests on board. If adequate equipment is not available, use another provider.

Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of Vietnam. For more information about piracy, see our piracy page. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website.

Air travel

All airports in Vietnam require you to show your luggage tags when exiting the airport. Keep your luggage receipt from your airline on you at all times.

Vietnamese law requires that children 14 years and under travelling alone on domestic flights must carry a birth certificate and an authorisation letter between the legal guardian of the child and the airline confirming that the child can travel alone. We recommend that you contact the airline well in advance of the flight to confirm this requirement.

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Vietnam.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.