We've found Expedia (USA) to be one of the best websites for searching for flights to and within Vietnam as they allow you to book flights with Vietnam Airlines online - no easy feat on VA's own website - as well as offering great cheap flights and connections to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. For some reason Vietnam Airlines are only available on the US site though, so travellers from outside the USA will need to make their purchase in US Dollars.
More tips for finding cheap fares to Vietnam
- Choose unusual times to fly - Most people fly on weekends, making Fridays and Saturdays some of the most expensive flights available. By opting to depart mid-week you can make significant savings, sometimes hundreds of dollars. I find Tuesdays and Thursdays are often the best.
- Use flight search engines - Rather than just booking direct at an airline's website or travel agency, a flight search engine can often suggest some surprisingly cheap fares from airlines you may not have considered.
- Be flexible with destinations - Many people, myself included, like to enjoy the journey as much as the final destination. By electing to fly to a major transport hub such as Hong Kong (HKG), Singapore (SIN) or Bangkok (BKK) rather than direct to Vietnam you can make considerable savings, which will often pay for a few days hotel stay in that destination too. From these locations you can then use a budget airline to hop into Vietnam, or travel overland - the choice is yours!
In the last couple of years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of no-frills budget airlines serving Vietnam, offering travellers an alternative to the heavily potholed roads of Cambodia and Laos on the way in and out of Vietnam. While they can be handy for those short on time, we really would advocate travelling overland where possible - both from an environmental perspective and because when you travel over land you get to meet more people and learn more about the countries you are passing through.
Air Asia - Based in Malaysia, Air Asia provide flights connecting Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Bangkok to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), with fares starting as low as $16 one way before taxes. Most of their connecting flights depart from KL, where it is possible to fly on to Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, the Phillipines, Singapore and Thailand, as well as many destinations within Malaysia
Bangkok Airways - Offers flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok, and was awarded Best Regional Airline by SkyTrax in 2008. From Bangkok you have a choice of several destinations within Thailand, or flights on to Burma/Myanmar, Male in the Maldives, Guilin and Xi'an in China, Macau, Luang Prabang and Vientiane in Laos and Hiroshima in Japan
Nok Air - Has suspended flights between Bangkok and Hanoi, and currently only offers domestic flights within Thailand.
JetStar, JetStar Asia & JetStar Pacific - Jetstar, which has been flying cheap routes from Australia, Singapore, Bangkok and New Zealand to Vietnam for a while has recently formed a partnership with domestic carrier Pacific Airlines, offering budget flights around Vietnam at a discount to Vietnam Airlines' rates. In addition to these domestic and international routes from Vietnam, connections from Singapore include routes to Jakarta + Denpasar Bali in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Manila in the Phillipines and Taipei in Taiwan as well as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia. From Australia it is also possible to reach Japan and Hawaii with Jetstar, but it would be a fairly inefficient route!
Tiger Airways - Tiger Airlines offer routes from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore, where the airline is based. From Singapore it is possible to fly on to Haikou, Shenzen and Guangzhou in Chinam Bangalore and Chennai in south India, Phuket and Bangkok in Thailand, Manilla in the Phillipines, Macau, Padang in Indonesia and a good number of destinations in Australia. In 2009 they plan to expand into South Korea with connections on to Mongolia, Russia, China and Japan.
Viva Macau - Viva Macau offer cheap flights directly between Ho Chi Minh City and Macau, where you can take flights on to Tokyo, Okinawa, Sydney and Jakarta.
From August 15th domestic airlines including Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific and Vasco will start adding a fuel surcharge to flights to help beat increased costs. Charges will range from $3 to $11 depending on the distance travelled, and will help offset some of the losses made by the airlines this year.