Vietnam is a superb destination for anyone interested in visiting an exotic culture with ancient tombs and temples, floating markets, pristine beaches, and wanting to enjoy good food. The modern Vietnamese people are descendants of nomadic Mongols and migrants from Indonesia. Vietnamese is the official language of the country, although there are significant numbers of people speaking minority languages, including Cambodian (Khmer) and Chinese. French is also common as a second language.
The primary points of entry into Vietnam are Ho Chih Minh City (Saigon) (Tan Son Nhat International Airport) in southern Vietnam and Hanoi (Noi Bai International Airport) in northern Vietnam. The Ho Chi Minh airport is located four miles (six kilometers) north of the city center and the Hanoi airport is located about 17 miles (27 kilometers) northeast of downtown Hanoi.
Vietnam is served by the following airlines: Aeroflot (Russia), Air China, Air France, American, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, EVA, Japan, Korean, Philippine, Qantas, Qatar, Singapore, Thai, Turkish, United, Vietnam. VietJet Air and Jetstar Pacific are two low-cost carriers serving Vietnam. Note that the above list includes three U.S. airlines: American, Delta, and United.
From the U.S., most flights are through the west coast cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, often with stops or change of plane in Bangkok, Guangzhou (People’s Republic of China), Hong Kong, Seoul (South Korea), Singapore, or Tokyo (Japan). Most standard coach round-trip flights to Vietnam from the United States range in the $1,300-$1,600 price range, primarily via U.S. airlines and multiple airlines with multiple layovers. Much cheaper round-trip flights are advertised on kayak.com with China Southern Airlines for as little as $478-$535. China Southern is based in Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China, and is the sixth largest air carrier in the world in terms of number of passengers carried. China Southern flies from Los Angeles and San Francisco in the United States and from Vancouver, Canada.
If you arrive via the Hanoi airport in northern Vietnam, free taxi services are offered from the airport by some local hotels. Call them before your arrival, and they will arrange to greet you at the airport holding a sign with your name on it. The ride from the airport into town takes about 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic and the location of your hotel. Otherwise, taxis in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) are competitively priced.