Travel in Vietnam is easier than it used to be. Means of transportation are usually very comfortable. Routine travel in Vietnam between major cities and tour destinations is generally comfortable and hassle free as well. Independent travelers will sometimes be required local knowledge for a decent level of comfort.
By air: You can get almost anywhere while visiting Vietnam, but scheduled flights to some Vietnam travel destinations are few and late changes in aircraft type can impact travel plans.
By train: Rail is still slow. The rail network is limited. Lines run between Hanoi – Saigon, Hanoi – Lao Cai – Hekou (China) – Kunming (China), Hanoi – Langson – Beijing (China). The train to China departs from Hanoi train station. You can join the train to Kunming at the Lao Cai station, but you can only join the train to Beijing from Hanoi. The train stations for some Vietnam travel destinations can be literally in the middle of nowhere. The rolling-stock is generally serviceable, but old and spartan by western standards.
By local bus: Bus travel used to be available only packed sardine-style into hot and stuffy, smoke belching reject Russian 40-seaters with bicycles, motorbikes and maybe the odd pig strapped to the roof. For the true adventurer only! These buses are still around and popular with the locals (tickets are dirt cheap).
However, there is now a system of privately owned buses, open-tour buses, minivans (usually 12, 15 or 16-seaters) connecting most sizeable population centers with neighboring towns and cities. Ask your travel consultants at Footprint how to get to your next travel destination by minivan.
In most of the cities you can find cyclo or xe om for transferring around, negotiation for prices before you jump on is a must in Vietnamese Dong.
Bicycle or motorbike rentals can be found in major cities of interest, like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh or Hue, Hoi An, but make sure that you understand the traffic rules before riding.
On Foot: You may need to learn how to cross city streets, especially in Saigon and Hanoi. City traffic in Vietnam is like “water on wheels”, It is constantly moving on and flowing around everything in its path. The daytime traffic never stops. People are always on the move.