Tan Son Nhat Airport Arrival Tips
Built in 1930, Tan Son Nhat International Airport plays an important role in Vietnam. It is the largest airport in the country and one of 3 main gateways into Vietnam for foreigners. The airport comprises of 2 terminals: Domestic Terminal and International Terminal opened in September 2007. Tan Son Nhat International Airport is situated on Truong Son Street, Ward 2, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. It is about 8 km northwest of the city center (District 1) which is home to most of the hotels and starting points of many Ho Chi Minh Day Trips.
Whether you fly on domestic or international flights, these useful Tan Son Nhat Airport Arrival Tips are good for you to know. The ultimate Tan Son Nhat Airport Arrival Tips give you information about immigration, landing visa, luggage, and customs. Some tips on currency, Sim card, 3G/4G, Wifi, transportation are also available. In addition, I also recommend you some good restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels near Tan Son Nhat Airport
Tips at transfer counter, immigration, landing visa
Upon arriving at the airport, you should follow the appropriate arrows and signs. If Ho Chi Minh is not your final destination and you have to fly to another airport, you should go to the transfer counter.
In the opposite, you should head to the immigration desks with your passport and ready visa to get the immigration entry stamp. There are usually long lines of passengers waiting for their turns at the immigration desks. The immigration process is relatively slow. It takes more time if you arrive at the same time as other international flights. I could not tell you exactly how long you will be waiting in line there. If you would like to wash your face, do it before waiting in line.
In case you do not have the visa available, you should head to the landing visa counter before going to the immigration desks. Show a pre-arranged approval letter issued by a third-party. Fill the visa application form, 2 passport-sized photos, pay for the fee (10 – 135 USD), and get the visa stamped on your passport. The penalty for arriving without an approval letter is steep (up to hundreds of US dollars) so that prepare the letter at least one month before the flight. They charge you 5 USD for leaning you up against a white wall and taking your photos if you do not have photos.
The pros of the visa on arrival (VOA) include low cost and ease. However, it takes a long time to issue if you are not the first in line. So that preparing the fee in exact change, photos and filling the visa application form before can help to minimize your time at the landing visa counter. For your information, read more about Vietnam Visa.
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Tips on luggage and customs
After going through the immigration process, head to the baggage claim area which is one floor down the greeter hall (immigration hall). There is a board with information about the baggage belts. Make sure to wait at the right belt and it is better to be there before your luggage arrives.
In case you do not find your luggage, find the Lost & Found Baggage.Phone: +84835470415 or +84838446665 extension 6062; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are just transiting, you can have your luggage kept at the airport service counter. The service costs 27,500 VND/bag/hour.
Now it is time for shopping, filling your stomach, refreshing with a drink, currency exchange, and buying Sim card.
After that, you head to the customs office and you will choose to go through one of the 2 gates: Nothing to declare and Good to declare.
Facilities at Tan Son Nhat Airport
Tan Son Nhat offers lots of facilities for passengers. The facilities include not only ATM, currency exchange, and Sim card kiosks but also lockers, post offices, medical service, free charging stations, free Wifi. Do not forget to take care of your phone at the charging station.
Tips on eating and shopping:
KFC, Popeyes, McDonald’s, Burger King serving chips, fried chicken, and other fast foods.
Fresh2Go Convenience Store, serving dim sum, steamed wheat flour cake, cakes, instant noodles, coffee, bottled drink.
Kinh Do Bakery, serving lots of savory and sweet cakes, hamburgers, donuts, buns.
Phoenix Restaurant, serving authentic Vietnamese foods such as Steamed rice with chicken drumstick, Pho with beef tail, Chicken lotus seed soup.
Hoa Mai Restaurant, Pho Cho, and Skynet restaurant, serving authentic Vietnamese foods.
Trung Nguyen Coffee Shop, serving a perfect coffee which is known as the king of coffee in Vietnam.
SASCO Duty Free, selling clothing, fabric, watches, glasses, perfumes, cosmetics, handicrafts, coffee, teas, cashews, lotus seeds.
If you are not very hungry, you can skip eating in the area of the airport in order to save time. In addition, there are various cheap and delicious foods in the center of the city. It is better to buy duty-free goods after checking in for the flight when you leave Ho Chi Minh. In conclusion, skipping eating and shopping save your time and money in the city.
Walking to the exit gate
Tips on currency
In the airport, there are many ATMs where you can withdraw your money (in VND). I would like to recommend to stick to withdrawing cash for safety reason. However, keep some cash on you because problems may occur with your credit cards. Vietnam is high on the fraud list so that it is worth notifying your bank before the trip to this country.
At some currency exchange counters in the airport area, you can sell your foreign currency. However, the exchange rates at the airport are always lower than that in other places in the city. Shop around for the best currency exchange rate. You can check the rate at https://www.xe.com.
Tips on Connection (Wifi, Sim card)
Tan Son Nhat provides free Wifi, choose FreeWifi TanSonNhat AirPort to connect to the Internet. The Wifi is strong enough for you to search for useful information and contact your family or friends, partners, tour agencies, hotels via email, messengers, and even video call. For detailed information, read our Guide to Wifi in Ho Chi Minh City. They also offer global Wifi rental service.
You can obtain a Sim card with 3G at a Sim card kiosk in the area of Tan Son Nhat airport. They usually offer you a combo of Sim card, 3G/4G, tens of minutes for international calling and SMS. They often ask for a few hundred VND (about 10 USD or more). Viettel, Mobifone, Vinaphone are 3 popular telecommunication providers in Vietnam. 3 of them offer Sim cards and packages designed specifically for international tourists who plan to stay in Vietnam for a short time. They usually ask you to show them your passport to buy a Tourist Sim Card. Let the sellers help you to install the Sim card on your phone and check the call, Internet connection, and balance before leaving.
Do not pay more than 500,000 VND for the Sim card, 3G/4G package, and credits to top up the balance in total. For example, a Mobifone Sim Card costs 50,000 VND. The Mobifone Happy Tourist package 109,000 VND (or 100,000 VND). The HP2 package includes 70 minutes of domestic and international network call and 30 SMS, 18 GB of data. It is really cheap and worth buying the Sim card and the package. Check out our Guide to Sim Card in Ho Chi Minh.
Tips to avoid snatch thief and pickpocket
International Tan Son Nhat Airport is always crowded due to overloading. So that it is a paradise for snatch thieves and pickpockets. You should have your luggage and bags locked. Keep your hand on your phone and wallet which hold cash, credit cards in case they are in your pockets. It is better to put them in a small bag and you always take your eyes and hands on it.
Tips to reach the city center from Tan Son Nhat safe and on the cheap
There are various ways to escape from the airport: taxi, private car, airport bus, motorbike taxi, Grab (car or bike). Depending on your budget, you can choose one of the above ways. Each has some advantages and disadvantages.
In case you are a budget traveler, just take a bus to leave the airport. The bus fares range between 5,000 – 40,000 VND. You can wait for the bus at Column 12, International Terminal or Column 18, Domestic Terminal.
Buses stop at Tan Son Nhat include Yellow Bus #109 (Tan Son Nhat Airport – 23/9 Park), Yellow Bus #49, Bus Yellow #119 (Tan Son Nhat Airport – Mien Tay Bus Station), Yellow Bus #159 (Mien Dong Bus Station – Tan Son Nhat Airport An Suong Bus Station), and green public air-conditioned bus #152 (Tan Son Nhat Airport – District 1 – Trung Son Residental Area). The staffs speak English on yellow buses, so that I would like to recommend these buses. Certainly, the yellow bus fares are higher than the green bus fares. Especially, yellow bus #49 which fare costs 40,000 VND does not stop at public bus stops like the others but only hotels on its way. Although the fare is the highest, Bus #49 is the most convenient and fastest. Read more about How to catch a bus from Tan Son Nhat Airport to Ho Chi Minh City Center.
A drive from Tan Son Nhat to the city center costs 120,000 – 200,000 VND, depending on the taxi brands and the destination. To avoid taxi scams, choose good taxis such as Vinasun and Mai Linh. To catch a taxi, follow the arrows and reach the taxi station, queue in line for your turn. Read more about How to catch a taxi at Tan Son Nhat Airport?
By private car
The most convenient way perhaps is private car. The driver will wait for you at the exit gate and bring a board with your name on it. In addition, he also helps you to take care of your luggage, and drive you to the destination without any scams and danger. Certainly, the cost of private car is the highest and this is the only minus of this choice. A private transfer from Tan Son Nhat Airport costs from 180,000 VND. Many counters such as Song Viet, SASCO offer prepaid transfers which cost around 180,000 VND. Song Viet which provides fixed price taxi service and Sim card is a good choice. You can find Song Viet counter at the last booth upon exiting the Ho Chi Minh airport. If you have enough time, shop around for the best price.
You can book the transfer service with your hotel or trusted travel agency. Scooter Saigon Tour provides the cheapest private transfer from Tan Son Nhat Airport to District 1 for our customers who book our Ho Chi Minh Day Trips. CLICK HERE for more details.
Where to stay near Tan Son Nhat Airport?
Ibis Saigon Airport, 2 Hong Ha Street, Ward 2, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City; 1 km from the airport; prices are from 58 USD.
The Airport Hotel, 11 Cuu Long Street, Ward 2, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City; 2.5 km from the airport; prices are from 29 USD.
If you would like to experience Ho Chi Minh in a different way on the back of a motorbike with a local female guide, do not hesitate to book our Saigon Motorbike Tour.