Vietnam Country Guide

Getting Around


By Boat

You will be missing a big part of Vietnamese life if you do not spend some time on a boat. Do be careful though because many boats, although seaworthy, are not designed to first world standards. An example is the ferry from Phu Quoc to the mainland. This ferry has one tiny entrance for all passengers to board. When full, which it usually is, there are approximately 200 people on board. The idea of an emergency exit does not exist - in the event of an accident, the chance of everyone getting out of the boat fast enough would be very small.
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Tour boats can be chartered for a day's tour but beware of safety issues. Make sure the boat is registered for carrying tourists and has enough life jackets and other safety equipment on board. You can also book a boat tour through a tour company but be aware that in Vietnam most tour agents acrually charter from the boat owners, making margins of 30-40% from the total amount. In Central Vietnam, the northeast monsoon (September-February) limits many boat tours to the sea though other parts of Vietnam seem less affected.

Ha Long Bay (located in northeastern Vietnam) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and famous for its
thousands of limestone karsts and isles as well as biodiversity. 1-3 day boat tours are available around these natural formations. Problem is that all the boats seem to visit the same places and with high prices and poor quality boats and service, real value is hard to come by! If there is rain, mist or low cloud, you may not see much - try to pick a clear day.

Boat tour in Halong Bay by Arianos

Dozens of small family-operated boats ply the river in Hue, taking visitors to the imperial tombs southwest of the city. This journey is long because the boats are slow, taking about 4 hours or so to make the journey in one direction. A 90-minute hydrofoil boat operates from Ho Chi Minh City to the seaside resort of Vung Tau for about 120,000 dong each way - the fastest way to reach the beach from the city. Snorkelling, fishing and lunch trips are available from Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Phu Quoc to the nearby islands.

Beach at Vung Tau by Hoangvantoanajc

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