Essential Guide: Arriving at Saigon Airport - SIM Card, Immigration, Money Exchange

Essential Guide: Arriving at Saigon Airport - SIM Card, Immigration, Money Exchange

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Arriving at the International Airport
  3. Navigating Immigration
  4. Getting a SIM Card
  5. Money Exchange
  6. Grab vs Taxi
  7. Taking a Venus Sun Taxi
  8. Payment Options
  9. Additional Tips for Airport Travel
  10. Conclusion


Arriving at a new destination can be overwhelming, especially if you are unfamiliar with the local customs and procedures. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on what to do when you arrive at an international airport, focusing on the specific scenario of arriving in Saigon, Vietnam. From navigating immigration to getting a SIM card and choosing the right transportation option, this guide will help you navigate the airport with ease and make the most of your journey.

Arriving at the International Airport

When you arrive at the International Airport in Saigon, you will most likely not be dropped off at a gate. Instead, you will be taken to a location in the middle of the airport, which is far from the gate. You will then board a bus that will transport you to the actual gate. If you are on an international trip, the bus will always take you to the same spot. To ensure a smooth experience, it is recommended to position yourself on the left-hand side of the front left door of the bus. As soon as the bus pulls up, make your way quickly to immigration.

Navigating Immigration

Immigration can be a time-consuming process due to the high number of people arriving simultaneously. To minimize wait times, it is advised to walk directly to immigration as fast as possible. Avoid delaying this step as it is essential to allow sufficient time for the process. Once you reach the immigration area, do not immediately pick a line. Instead, spend a couple of minutes observing the different lines to identify which one is moving the fastest. Look for a line where the officer is processing passengers efficiently, typically taking no longer than 30 seconds to a minute per person. Choosing the right line can significantly reduce your waiting time and facilitate a smooth entry into the country.

Getting a SIM Card

One of the first things you might need upon arriving at the Saigon Airport is a SIM card. Fortunately, the airport makes it convenient to obtain a SIM card and activate your phone. The preferred SIM card provider in Saigon is Viettel, which has the largest number of broadcasting stations in all of Vietnam. Another popular option is Mobiphone, although their coverage is not as extensive. To ensure the fastest 5G connection, Viettel is highly recommended. Once you have acquired a SIM card, make sure your phone is working and has data connectivity.

Money Exchange

If you need to exchange currency, it is advisable to avoid doing so at the airport. Money exchange rates at the airport are often less favorable compared to other locations in the city, such as Ben Thanh Market. To get the best rates, it is recommended to exchange money at these alternative locations. However, if you need to exchange a small amount of money, you may do so at the airport exchange counters. It is advisable to exchange only a small amount, such as $100, and conduct further exchanges at more favorable rates later.

Grab vs Taxi

Once you have completed the necessary procedures at the airport and are ready to head to your destination, you have two main transportation options: Grab or taxi. Grab is a popular ride-hailing service that offers convenience and competitive prices. However, in Saigon, taking a taxi can often be more practical, especially if you have significant luggage or prefer a more direct route. To find a taxi, simply walk out of the airport and look for the taxi line. Ignore the people offering taxi services and continue walking until you reach the official taxi line. One recommended taxi company is Venus Sun, which offers reliable service and fair rates.

Taking a Venus Sun Taxi

Venus Sun taxis, easily recognizable by their white minivans, are a trusted choice for transport in Saigon. To take a Venus Sun taxi, simply approach one of the taxis in the line and inform the driver of your destination. Unlike some taxi services that offer a fixed rate, Venus Sun taxis operate on a metered system. The typical cost of a ride from the airport to District 1 is around 200,000 Vietnamese Dong (VND). It is recommended to have cash on hand for payment, although some taxis also accept credit cards.

Payment Options

While some taxis in Saigon accept credit card payment, it is generally advisable to pay in cash. Having Vietnamese Dong (VND) on hand will ensure a smoother transaction and eliminate any potential issues with card payment systems. If you prefer to pay by card, it is recommended to have some cash as a backup, as card payment facilities may not always be available or reliable.

Additional Tips for Airport Travel

  • If you are looking for a more adventurous option and do not have much luggage, consider taking a motorbike taxi. There is often a motorbike taxi driver named Sun waiting outside the airport who offers reliable service at a reasonable price.
  • If you need to withdraw cash, there is a Citibank ATM located inside the airport near the cell phone vendors. However, it is advisable to have a bank account that does not charge transaction fees to minimize costs. Accounts such as Charles Schwab or Fidelity are recommended for international travelers.


Arriving at an international airport can be a daunting experience, but with the right information and proper planning, it can be a smooth and hassle-free process. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you will be able to navigate the Saigon Airport with ease, from immigration to getting a SIM card and choosing the best transportation option. Remember to be mindful of potential scams and always prioritize your safety and comfort. By arming yourself with knowledge, you can make the most of your travel experience in Saigon.

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