Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published March 13th 2014
Taking the stress out of transit
Ho Chi Minh City Airport - International terminal
If you are flying to Hanoi from Australia or elsewhere with Vietnam Airlines, you might find yourself (unknowingly!) transiting via Ho Chi Minh before going onto Hanoi, given Ho Chi Minh City Airport is the more popular tourist/air traffic destination. However, this will not necessarily show up on your ticket. This happened to me when I thought I was on a straight through flight, and my flight itinerary didn't show anything different! No need to panic though. Here's the fairly straightforward process you need to follow.
1. When you get off the plane, you will arrive at International (Terminal 2) and you need to get to Domestic (Terminal 1). Walk up the air-bridge, the transit staff will have your name on a board, and will put a transit sticker on you and tell you to go get your luggage.
2. Go through immigration. If you don't have a visa in your passport, you can get one on arrival at the 'Landing Visa' desk which is on the left in front of immigration. You fill out a form (or handover your visa letters if you have applied for the online visa in advance), handover your passport, wait in the seating area, and about 20 minutes later, someone will call out your name. Go to the right hand side window and handover USD$45 (cash) for a single entry visa of $65 for multiple entry. This is fine for both tourist and business visas.
3. Go down the escalators and collect your luggage from the baggage carousel.
4. Proceed through customs (who will x-ray your checked baggage, not your carry-on).
5. In the arrivals hall, turn right and walk to the end of the terminal where there will be a sign for 'Hanoi'.
6. Give your boarding pass to the Vietnam Airlines staff who will change it over for your domestic boarding pass - it's essential you get this, or they won't let you through security for your next plane.
7. Give your luggage to the baggage handlers who will stack it on trollies. Ensure they mark it off on their list. They will transfer the luggage across to domestic.
8. Hop on the small bus directly ahead, which will take you to the domestic terminal. If there is no bus, don't stress as it's only about a 100m walk to the right along the terminal building to the domestic terminal.
9. Go into the building, then directly up the escalators to the left of the check-in to the departure hall, and pass through security, showing your boarding pass (passport not needed).
Ho Chi Minh City Airport Terminal 1 Business Class Lounge
10. If you are lucky enough to have scored lounge access, the lounge is tucked away discretely in the corner on the left, closest to the runways, and behind one of the boarding gates. If not, there are plenty of basic seating areas and a few shops to keep you entertained till your next flight leaves. The main waiting area can get pretty crowded, but if you head off along the corridor marked gates 5-12, the seating area there is much quieter and there are some nice 'market' style shops to distract you. A final tip: do keep an eye out on your boarding gate number – they seem to change somewhat randomly and regularly.