Expat Exchange
Free MembershipSign In

Public Transportation in Ho Chi Minh City

Mastering the public transportation system in Ho Chi Minh City is a crucial aspect of adapting to life there. This article provides a detailed overview of the available local transit options.
|-Public Transportation in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, is a bustling metropolis with a variety of public transportation options. The city’s public transportation system includes buses, taxis, motorbike taxis (known as “xe om”), cyclos, and a new metro system that is currently under construction. The city’s public transportation system is extensive and affordable, making it possible for expats to live comfortably without a car. However, the system can be chaotic and confusing for newcomers, and traffic in the city is often heavy and unpredictable.


The bus system in Ho Chi Minh City is the most extensive public transportation option, with over 150 routes that cover the city and its surrounding areas. Buses are a cheap and efficient way to get around, with fares typically ranging from 3,000 to 10,000 VND (about $0.13 to $0.43 USD). However, buses can be crowded, especially during peak hours, and they may not always be on time due to the city’s heavy traffic. The bus system is generally safe, but pickpocketing can be a problem, so it’s important to keep an eye on your belongings.


Taxis are a common form of transportation in Ho Chi Minh City, and they can be a convenient option for expats who are not comfortable navigating the city’s bus system or chaotic traffic. Taxis are metered and relatively affordable, with fares typically starting at 12,000 VND (about $0.52 USD) for the first kilometer and 8,000 VND (about $0.35 USD) for each additional kilometer. However, it’s important to make sure that the taxi is licensed and that the meter is running to avoid being overcharged.

Motorbike Taxis (Xe Om)

Motorbike taxis, or “xe om,” are a popular and quintessentially Vietnamese way to get around. These motorbike taxis can be found on almost every street corner, and they can be a quick and efficient way to navigate the city’s congested streets. Fares are typically negotiated before the ride and can vary depending on the distance and time of day. While xe om can be an exciting way to experience the city, they are not for the faint of heart, as traffic in Ho Chi Minh City can be chaotic and motorbike accidents are common.


Cyclos, or pedal rickshaws, are a traditional form of transportation in Vietnam that is still used in Ho Chi Minh City, especially in the city’s historic districts. Cyclos can be a fun and leisurely way to see the city, but they are not as practical for everyday transportation as buses or taxis. Fares are typically negotiated before the ride, and it’s important to agree on a price to avoid being overcharged.


Ho Chi Minh City is currently building a new metro system, which is expected to significantly improve the city’s public transportation options when it is completed. The first line of the metro is scheduled to open in 2021, and it will connect the city center with the northeastern suburbs. The metro is expected to be a safe and efficient way to get around, and it will provide a much-needed alternative to the city’s congested streets. However, it remains to be seen how the metro will impact the city’s existing public transportation options and traffic patterns.

In conclusion, while Ho Chi Minh City’s public transportation system can be chaotic and confusing, it is also extensive and affordable. With a little patience and a sense of adventure, expats can comfortably live in the city without a car. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and challenges, including heavy traffic, pickpocketing on buses, and the potential for motorbike accidents.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Additional Information:

International Citizens Insurance

Cigna Global Health
Award winning International Health Insurance for Individuals and families living abroad.

Copyright 1997-2024 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal

LoginJoinPlease Login to Continue. New? Join today (it's free).
Since 1997, we've supported millions of people as they explore the world and share the adventures and challenges of living abroad.