Sitting apart about 1000 km if you travel overland or 635 km if you want to fly, Hue and Ho Chi Minh are connected by planes, trains and buses. The former is obviously the fastest way to travel between the two and sometimes can cost you more or less the same as a berth in a sleeper. The overland journey from Hue to Saigon can take as long as 24 hours, so breaking it into two parts with a stopover
at the increasingly popular seaside resort of Nha Trang is a good idea.
From Hue to Ho Chi Minh City by plane
To get from Hue to Ho Chi Min City in just an hour and a half you would need to book yourself on one of the 10 daily flights that go from Phu Bai International Airport (HUI) in Hue to Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) in Ho Chi Min City.
The operators on this route include Jetstar Pacific, VietJet Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. The former has 1 flight a day departing Hue airport at 11.25am. Airfares are around USD50 per person.
Similarly priced VietJet (between USD30 and USD80) offers numerous daily departures between 7.30am and 10.10pm.
Vietnam Airlines is the most expensive of the bunch with tickets normally sold at USD200+ one-way. They have at least 6 daily flights.
The flight time from Hue to Ho Chi Minh is around 1.5 hour and you should allow additional time to negotiate the airports and transfers from your accommodation.
From Hue to Ho Chi Minh City by train
The distance from Hue to Ho Chi Minh if travel by train is about 1040 km. The North–South Railway or Reunification Express between Hanoi and HCMC calls to Hue on its way south, so taking a sleeper train from Hue to HCMC is a great option to travel between the two.
The journey by sleeper train to Saigon from Hue takes between 20 and 24 hours depending on which train you book and what time of day or night you’re planning to travel. Tickets start from USD25 for a 2nd class soft seat and go up to around USD80 for a VIP 4 berth sleeper cabin through Violette Express which is a commercial carriage within the same Vietnam Railways train. If you are looking for that extra bit of luxury and so want to book the Violette Express VIP option then you’ll need either the SE1 or SE3 service.
The other rains that run on this route and are operated by Vietnam Railways include SE5, SE7, SE21, and TN1. Trains leave from Hue Station (2 Bui Thi Xuan, Phuong Duc, tp. Hue) between 3.50am and 10.50pm every day.
From Hue to Ho Chi Minh City by train via Nha Trang
Should you decide that a stop over in Nha Trang on your way from Hue to Ho Chi Minh City is the way to go then the journey will take between 12 and a half and 14 hours to cover the 600 km between Hue and Nha Trang first with tickets priced between USD18 and USD32 depending on your class of travel and time of departure.
All of the trains mentioned above (SE1, SE3, SE5, SE7, SE21 and TN1) that operate between Hue to Ho Chi Minh also stop and Nha Trang.
Why make a stopover in Nha Trang?
The seaside resort of Nha Trang is what you might call up-and-coming in Vietnam. This modern, chic destination is set around an impressive beachfront promenade that looks out to the horizon, which is dotted with tropical islands. Nha Trang is a Vietnam’s newest party town and is becoming increasingly popular with people of all tastes due to it’s array of quaint boutiques, quiet parks, cosmopolitan restaurants, beachfront open bars and late-night clubs. It’s not hard to see why this high-rise, modern beach resort is becoming so popular with visitors to Vietnam.
The onward journey from Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City will take between 7 and 10 hours.
To do this, you could simply catch any of the direct services from Hue we’ve mentioned above as they pass through Nha Trang station or you could use one of the additional services that run between Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh. These include the HNT7, SNT1, SNT3, SNT5 and SE25.
The train services to Saigon from Nha Trang depart between 8.35am and 10.50pm daily and tickets per person cost between USD5 and USD60 depending on what time you travel and the class of travel you choose.
From Hue to Ho Chi Minh City by bus
The most affordable method of travel in Vietnam is to use sleeper buses, which are also known as Open Ticket Tours.
While Open Ticket tours are the most cost effective way to see Vietnam they can be quite an adventure too! The roads in Vietnam, especially outside of the main cities, sometimes are quite poorly maintained which can make the ride a little bumpy in places and depending on how much traffic there is during your trip, delays can occur, too. If you’re the laid back, adventurous type and none of that bothers you – go ahead.
Hanh Café have two services from Hue to Nha Trang daily, which depart at 8.30am and 1.30pm at a cost of USD14 per person. The journey is advertised to take around 13 hours but it’s advisable, for the reasons already highlighted, to leave some extra time if you have a direct connection in Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City.
The distance to Saigon from Nha Trang is 450 km and takes about 9 hours by bus. Once you reach Nha Trang, you then have a few more choices for your onward trip to Saigon.
Open Ticket Tour operators with services from Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh include Hanh Cafe which has 4 daily departures between 8am to 9pm at a cost of USD9 per person and the Sinh Tourist which operate 2 buses daily on this route; one at 7.15am and the other at 8pm. Tickets for the Sinh Tourist service are around USD12 per person.
Why Visit Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon
Steeped in history and yet pulsating with modern energy, Saigon is a chaotic, dizzying blend of class and culture. It is a journey of discovery – HCMC has attractions for every budget. From cheap guesthouses to 5-star modern luxury Ho Chi Minh has something just for you. You can explore the markets and enjoy local street food or shop in its exclusive boutiques and enjoy its classy restaurants – whichever you prefer, the choice is entirely yours.
Onward travel from Ho Chi Minh
The bustling fishing port of Phan Thiet is from 4 to 5 hours from Saigon either by train or bus and makes for a great choice if you need some beach time to recover from the energetic fun and chaos of Ho Chi Minh City. Quiet and reserved but teeming with pristine beaches Phan Thiet is definitely worth considering.
Although a little further away at around 7 hours by bus, another great option for some quiet relaxation time would be to head for Da Lat with its pleasant climate, French colonial charm and European vibe.
Ho Chi Minh is a convenient starting point for an overland travel to Cambodia with direct buses linking it to Phnom Penh. The trip takes around 6.5 hours from Ho Chi Minh by bus or just 45 minutes by plane and will give you many more options of places to see and enjoy, in addition to exploring Phnom Penh itself.
Siem Riep from Phnom Penh, for example, takes between five and half and seven hours and bus; tickets start from just USD12 per person. Siem Reap is the gateway to the Angkor Wat UNESCO World Heritage site, which is steeped in religious history and was once the capital of the Khmer Empire.
If beaches are more appealing to you than history and culture then from Phnom Penh you could get to the seaside resort of Sihanoukville by bus in only 4 and half hours. Believe us, if white sand beaches and sun-drenched tropical islands excite you then you’re in for a real treat in Sihanoukville!
Some more options that are a little further away in South East Asia but easily accessible from Ho Chi Minh City include Bangkok with it’s huge mega-malls, top world luxury and buzzing nightlife or how about the clean sophistication of Singapore, which is only a couple of hours from Saigon. Another very popular option from Vietnam is to head for Kuala Lumpur with its luxurious hotels and towering skyscrapers as it’s only a couple of hours from Ho Chi Minh City, too.