There are several reputable bus companies that offer regular departures from Ho Chi Minh City on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches to major towns and cities in the Mekong Delta and points north. It pays to do a bit of research on the latest road conditions leading to a chosen destination before deciding whether to take the bus, the train, or a flight.
Ho Chi Minh City has a number of bus stations. More than 200 big and small bus companies operate out of Mien Dong Station, 7 km (4 miles) east of District 1, from destinations including Vung Tau, Phan Thiet, Dalat, Nha Trang, and places in the central highlands. Buses from the Mekong Delta arrive at and depart from Mien Tay Station. An Suong Station, a 45-minute taxi ride from downtown, serves Tay Ninh. Ho Chi Minh City bus stations have no central office. Instead each bus company that uses the bus station has a ticket office, most with a waiting area. Disembarking passengers are accosted by an array of taxi and xe om drivers, but bus companies may offer a free minibus shuttle to bigger, more convenient bus stations. The shuttles can be very cramped, and information is very difficult to elicit if you don't speak Vietnamese, so if you plan to take the easier option of a taxi to downtown, consider pushing through the throng to find a trusted brand, such as Mai Linh or Vinasun. Some bus stations, including Mien Tay, have their own taxi company, which means you have to get past the "approved" drivers to find Mai Linh or Vinasun taxis, which will be waiting outside. Using public buses to get around the city can be time consuming and confusing. Your best bet is Ben Thanh station; buses depart here for all corners of the city, including Cholon. Inside the covered waiting area, there's often a uniformed bus company official who speaks enough English to assist wide-eyed travelers.
In locations other than bus stations, the trick is identifying a bus stop (they're usually unmarked) and knowing where to get off. If you can work out which route you should be taking, that is. Commuters in Ho Chi Minh City are usually eager to help out their fellow travelers but if you can't understand Vietnamese, the help on offer isn't very helpful at all.
An Suong Station. Hwy. 22, Ba Dien, Hoc Mon District, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City. 28/3883–2517.
Ben Thanh Station. One of Ho Chi Minh City's main stations for the public bus network, buses depart here for all corners of the city, including Cho Lon. Inside the covered waiting area, there's often a uniformed bus company official who speaks enough English to assist wide-eyed and confused travelers. Ben Thanh Roundabout, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City. .
Cholon Station. 86 Trang Tu, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City. 28/3854–8313.
Mien Dong Station. 292 Dinh Bo Linh, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City. 28/3899–1607.
Mien Tay Station. 395 Kinh Duong Vuong, Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City.
September 23 Park Station. Pham Ngu Lao St., District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City. .