Your Guide to Ho Chi Min Airport

Your Guide to Ho Chi Min Airport

In Travel While Working by Phoebe Nicolas

Tan Son Nhat Airport was first constructed in the 1930s by the French Colonial government as small unpaved airport. By mid-1956, The US foreign aid built a 7,200-foot (2,190 m) runway and terminal facilities to became South Vietnam’s international airport. During the Vietnam War, Tan Son Nhut Air Base was used by both the United States and the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF). Today, it is South Vietnam’s main airport and one of the world’s busiest airbases.

 

Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat International Airport, a joint civilian and military airport, is located 6 km north of the center (District 1) of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

What to Expect

Tan Son Nhat International Airport operates from two terminal buildings – Domestic Terminal 1 and International Terminal 2. The new international terminal opened in September 2007 with the capacity of 8 to 10 million passengers per year, giving the airport a total capacity of 15-17 million passengers per year.

Your Guide to Ho Chi Min Airport

Some flights arriving at Ho Chi Minh Airport are parked away from the jetways. In this case, there are buses that taxi passengers to the terminal building. Most passengers disembark through the jetways and then it is just a 5-minute walk to the Immigration area. This is also where you pick up your visa on arrival (VOA).

Things to note:

  • The arrivals terminal houses a tourist information desk, post office, and foreign currency exchange.
  • Its Departures terminal has air-conditioning, restaurants, duty-free shopping, and a medical centre. It also has toilet facilities.
  • You may find the airport staff to be friendly and warm but lacking in English language skills.
  • When you leave the terminal building, there are taxis, motorcycles, and buses to Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Entertainment at Ho Chi Minh Airport is limited, save for customary TV screens within the departures lounge.
  • You have access to free Wi-Fi, computers, and international phones before your flight.
  • Do not try to exit the airport with checked baggage without having your baggage claim stub and flight ticket, as attendants check baggage stubs upon leaving.
  • Drinking water fountains are available free of charge.

Airport Location Map

Transportation

Going to your chosen accommodation from Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat International Airport will not be difficult as there are plenty of public transportation to choose from:

Bus

There are several ways to get to Ho Chi Minh City from Tan Son Nhat International Airport. The air-conditioned airport bus, service #152, is the cheapest option. It passes major hotels along De Tham Street and Dong Khoi Street. Don’t forget to inform the driver in advance so that it stops in front of your hotel.

Your Guide to Ho Chi Min Airport

Metered Taxi

Minibuses and cyclos (motorcycle taxis) are available but you will have to haggle down the prices. Your best option is to catch a metered taxi. If possible, choose a taxi that is parked outside the terminal instead of a private taxi as you may encounter payment problems. Always carry small change as many drivers prefer not to change large notes.

Your Guide to Ho Chi Min Airport

Private Cars

Foreign visitors are not allowed to drive in Vietnam, but you may hire a car and driver throughout your stay. Another option for a private car rental and probably the easiest of them all and my personal choice is to book a GrabCar. Just download the app and register. You need to select the pillar/exact location you will wait at when you book a GrabCar. The driver will usually call/text you to confirm your location.

Immigration Process

The VOA (visa on arrival) desk is located before the Immigration counters. You need to hand in your passport along with the letter you received via email on your online visa application. Normally the process takes less than 30 minutes, however, there are times that it may take a bit longer, about 1-1.5 hours during peak hours, so be patient.

To save more time for queuing to get visa stamp at the airport, you must prepare carefully and accurately all necessary documents as listed below:

  • The Vietnam visa approval letter sent to you via email, this must be printed and taken together with you to the airport.
  • Completed entry-exit form and 2 passport-type photos (4*6Cm)
  • Bring your original passport to the airport and make sure that its validity remains at least 6 months. Your passport is required to have at least one blank page where the visa sticker can be placed.
  • Cash for paying the visa stamping fee at Immigration Counter. For visa fees and other charges, please visit https://www.vietnam-immigration.org.vn/visa-fee.html

There are Immigration desks for ASEAN and non-ASEAN travelers. You get to enter the Baggage Hall once you have cleared Immigration.

The next step is passing through customs clearance. Here, you see a tourist information centre and foreign currency exchange booths.

Money Exchange and Banks

You have two options for getting Vietnamese Dong at Ho Chi Minh Airport:

 Your Guide to Ho Chi Min Airport

Withdraw cash from ATM

You will find plenty of ATMs at Ho Chi Minh Airport but cash withdrawal in Vietnam is usually more expensive option than currency exchange. When withdrawing local currency from ATM, you not only loose on exchange rate (your home bank will often offer worse foreign exchange rate than Vietnamese banks) but you also have to pay your bank’s foreign withdrawal fees and an additional fee charged by the local bank.

Exchange your foreign currency

Even if most of the airports worldwide are known for giving low exchange rates, Ho Chi Minh Airport is not one of them. Currency exchange rates at Ho Chi Minh Tan Son Nhat Airport are mostly equal to some of the best exchange rates you can get in Ho Chi Minh City, if only you choose the right money changer.

Money changers can be found at both terminals of Ho Chi Minh Airport: domestic terminal (Terminal 1) and international terminal (Terminal 2). However, for getting the best exchange rate you will need to go to Terminal 2.

Restaurants Inside the airport

Ho Chi Minh Airport has many options in both T1 and T2 terminal. The choices vary between Vietnamese cuisine and fast-food international cuisine; not to mention comfortable coffee shops with a good view of the airplanes and runway. All places have 24/7 service, free wifi, and outlets to charge your mobile phone or laptop. After the security check, there are not many options so it is better to grab food before you go through security.

Your Guide to Ho Chi Min Airport

Here are some airport restaurants and where to find them:

T2 terminal – Before security:

  • Third floor West wing – Cafe and Fast food, Lucky Café, and Skyboss Cafe & Fastfood
  • First floor and Third floor – Burger King, Star Cafe, Chill, and BigBowl

Departure hall

  • Third floor – East wing: Fastfood & Drink, Bamboo Cafe & Fastfood, Fresh Garden, and Coffee PB’s Boutique
  • Third floor: Burger King, Star Cafe, Popeyes, and Two Tigers

T1 terminal – Before security:

  • Ngoc Suong Restaurant (first and fourth floor), Lucky Cafe (first and fourth floor), Coffee-Fastfood (first, third, and fourth floor), Aero cafe (first floor), Bamboo Cafe & Fastfood (second floor, Hall E), Cafe & Fastfood (second floor, Hall E)
  • Departure lounge: Food and Drink (second floor, Hall E), Fastfood (second floor, Hall A, and B)

Airport Lounges

Regardless of what class of service you are flying, there are lounges that you can enter by paying at the door, purchasing a lounge pass or through a lounge membership program. Check out the individual lounge page for more details and to also find out how you can gain lounge access with just an economy class ticket.

Your Guide to Ho Chi Min Airport

  • Passes Le Saigonnais Business Lounge – Location: Domestic Terminal, Airside, in front of Gate 11. Lounge Access: Prepaid lounge passes • Lounge membership programs.
  • Passes Orchid Lounge – Location: International Terminal, Airside, 2nd Floor, near Gate 9. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door (USD 30 for 3 hours) • Prepaid lounge passes • Lounge membership programs.
  • Lotus Lounge 1 – Location: Domestic Terminal, Airside, 1st Floor, near Gate 7. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door (VND 350,000 or US$ 17 for 3 hours).
  • Lotus Lounge 2 – Location: International Terminal, Airside, 3rd Floor. Showers are available. Pay at the Door (USD 30 for 3 hours). the airport

Closest hotels

There is a hotel at Hanoi Airport and several nearby hotels with shuttle service. Please check for options below (insert booking.com).

Booking.com

Airport WiFi and Mobile Charging Stations

Airport free wifi

There are free unlimited WiFi available at Tan Son Nhat Airport in both Domestic and International terminals. Just connect to the “FreeWifi TanSonNhat AirPort” network.

  • You will need to register.
  • Once connected, open your browser.
  • You will be shown a registration form.
  • Fill in your details and then submit.

Mobile charging stations

Mobile charging stations, each with up to 10 charging points, are available in these locations:

  • T1/Domestic, landside, 1st floor, Public Halls A & E
  • T1/Domestic, airside, 2nd floor departure’s lounge Halls A, B & E
  • T2/International, landside, 3rd floor Information Counter
  • T2/International, airside, departure lounge, near Gates 21, 22, 23, 28, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35.

Shopping

Shopping at Ho Chi Minh Airport is by no means extensive. The second floor of the Departures terminal has a souvenir shop selling handicrafts and Vietnamese snacks. There are several duty-free outlets that offer branded cosmetics and alcohol in the terminal.

 Your Guide to Ho Chi Min Airport

Duty-free

Noi Bai airport has two duty-free shops in both terminals called NIA Duty Free. You can expect to find clothing, beauty products, and perfumes from many luxury brands. Furthermore, you can also buy Cognac, Whisky, Vodka, Gin, Rum, and Wine imported from Europe and America.

Where to buy duty-free goods

T2 terminal:

  • Arrival lounge (first floor)
  • Departure lounge (third floor)

Souvenirs

There are souvenirs shops in each terminal. You can buy your last-minute gift for your friends or yourself; choose between goods such as fine art products, handcrafts from Vietnam, textile products, and fashion products. Keep in mind that the prices of these products are much higher in the airport. Unless you really need last-minute gifts, we advise you to buy them in the night market.

Where to find it?

  • T2 terminal: Two souvenir shops in the central area (third floor)
  • T1 terminal: Departure lounge (second floor) – Hall A and B

Your Guide to Ho Chi Min Airport

If you have an airport question or need help finding your way around, there are information desks available:

  • Domestic Terminal (T1) – Landside, First Floor • Landside, 1st Floor, connector bridge of Hall E and A.
  • International Terminal (T2) – Landside, First Floor • Landside, 3rd Floor.

 

This guide is for informational purposes only. All information, including rates and hours, are subject to change at any time without prior notice. The information in this page is based on information collected from different sources. We are not representatives of any of the above-mentioned service providers. To report errors or to add/update any items mentioned in this page, please send us an email.

Phoebe Nicolas
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