International flights into Vietnam typically connect through hubs such as Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Beijing, Seoul, Osaka, Tokyo, Dubai, Melbourne, Sydney, and Taipei and fly into Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. It's also possible to fly into the international airport in Danang, in central Vietnam, via Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul. There are no direct flights between Vietnam and North America. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are the main hubs for direct flights to Vietnam from the United Kingdom.
Be aware that two airlines may jointly operate a connecting flight from an Asian hub, so ask if your airline operates every segment of your flight—you may find that your preferred carrier flies only part of the way. For instance, if you purchased a ticket through an international carrier such as Air France, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Japan Airlines, or Thai International Airways but are not flying directly to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, it is possible that your connecting flight into Vietnam will be on Vietnam Airlines.
Some layovers require an overnight stay in a connecting city. Before buying your ticket, check to see who covers the cost of the hotel—you or the airline—if you have to stay overnight.
The major gateways to Vietnam are Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport (HAN), 44 km (28 miles) north of the city, Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat Airport (SGN), 7 km (4 miles) from the center, and to a lesser extent Danang International Airport (DAD), 5 km (3 miles) from the center. As the main gateways for thousands of international visitors, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi airports have procedures that can involve more in-depth immigration checks and baggage searches, should customs officials have any cause for suspicion. If you have arranged for a visa on arrival (VOA) waiting times can be long, so allow for at least an hour prior to check-in if you have a connecting flight, and make sure all the required paperwork, photographs and visa fee are easily accessible to avoid delays. If you have obtained your Vietnam visa in advance, you are more than likely to get through immigration, pick up your waiting bags, and breeze through customs quite quickly. All the international airports have free Wi-Fi and snack bars. For domestic air travel, major transportation hubs are Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Danang, but there is also service to Buon Ma Thuot (BMV), Ca Mau (CAH), Can Tho (VCA), Con Dao (VCS), Dalat (DLI), Dien Bien Phu (DIN), Dong Hoi (VDH), Haiphong (HPH), Hue (HUI), Nha Trang (CXR), Phu Quoc Island (PQC), Pleiku (PXU), Quy Nhon (UIH), Rach Gia (VKG), Tam Ky (VCL), Tuy Hoa (TBB), and Vinh (VII).
Cam Ranh International Airport. Nguyen Tat Thanh, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa. www.nhatrangairport.com.
Cat Bi Airport. Le Hong Phong, Haiphong, Hai Phong. 225/397–6408; 225/397–6216.
Con Dao Airport. Co Ong, Con Son, Con Dao Islands, Ba Ria-Vung Tau. 254/383–1973; en.vietnamairport.vn/page/107/airports/con-dao-airport.
Danang Airport. Duy Tan, Danang, Da Nang. 236/382–3391; www.danangairportonline.com.
Dong Hoi Airport. AH14, Loc Ninh, Quang Binh. 232/381–0878; www.vietnamairport.vn.
Duong Dong Airport. Off TL 46, Phu Quoc, Binh Thuan. www.phuquocinternationalairport.com.
Lien Khuong Airport. 20 Lam Dong, Dalat, Lam Dong. .
Noi Bai International Airport. Vo Van Kiet, off QL 18, Soc Son, Ha Noi. 24/3886–5047.
Phu Bai Airport. Huong Thuy, Phu Bai, Thua Thien-Hue. 234/386–1131.
Tan Son Nhat Airport. Hoang Van Thu Blvd., Phong 2, Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City. 28/3848–5383; www.hochiminhcityairport.com.
For most international visitors, flying to Vietnam usually entails a nondirect flight, with popular layovers for U.S. travelers flying Delta, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, or Air Canada being either Bangkok, Tokyo, or Hong Kong. From the United Kingdom, Vietnam Airlines is the only carrier offering direct flights into the country. Nondirect flights with major carriers Emirates, Air France, and Malaysia Airlines are often serviced by two different airlines; flights connect from Paris, Doha, Bangkok, or Kuala Lumpur, before flying into Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi or, to a lesser extent Danang. Silk Air and Vietnam Airlines offer daily services from Danang, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to several cities in Cambodia.
Air Travel Within Vietnam
The main operator for domestic routes in Vietnam is Vietnam Airlines, which offers the most reliable service. Its smaller competitors, Jet Star Pacific (owned jointly by Vietnam Airlines and Quantas) and the privately owned VietJet Air, service fewer aircraft and despite being slightly cheaper, tend to suffer the most delays and cancellations. Flights are short and very reasonably priced; when booked in advance the two-hour trip between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can cost as little as $25 (a third of the price of the 34-hour train journey). For information about domestic airports, www.vietnamairport.vn is a good resource.
To and from the United States
American Airlines. 800/433–7300; www.aa.com.
Cathay Pacific. 020/8834–8888; www.cathaypacific.com.
Delta. 800/221–1212; www.delta.com.
Thai Airways. 020/7491–7953; www.thaiairways.com.
United Airlines. 800/864–8331; www.united.com.
USAirways. 800/428–4322; 800/622–1015; www.usairways.com.
To and from the United Kingdom
Vietnam Airlines. 0203/263–2062; www.vietnamair.com.
To and from Australia
Emirates. 800/777–3999; www.emirates.com.
Within Vietnam and Cambodia
Cambodia Angkor Air. 023/666–6786/8/9; 023/212564; www.cambodiaangkorair.com.
Jetstar Pacific. Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City. 28/3547–3550; www.jetstar.com.
Silk Air. 236/382–3391; www.silkair.com.
VietJet Air. Hanoi, Ha Noi. 01/900–1886; 28/3551–6220; www.vietjetair.com.
Vietnam Airlines. 24/832–0320; 28/832–0320; 866/677–8909; www.vietnamairlines.com.
Vietnam Airlines. www.vietnamairlines.com.
Japan Airlines. Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City. 800/577–725; www.vn.jal.com.
There are no direct flights to Vietnam from the United States. Flying time to the Southeast Asian hub of Bangkok is approximately 18 hours from Los Angeles, 20 hours from Chicago, and 22 hours from New York; the onward flight to Ho Chi Minh City takes an hour. Flying direct to Ho Chi Minh City from London takes 12 hours and from Sydney it's about nine hours.