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Getting here

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The number of direct flights to Vietnam’s three main international airports – Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang, in order of importance – have increased steadily in recent years. However, the majority of visitors take the cheaper option of an indirect flight routed through Bangkok, Singapore or Hong Kong; a stay in one of these cities can be factored into your schedule, often at no extra cost. You may well save even more by taking a bargain–basement flight to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, and a separate ticket through one of the region’s low–cost carriers, such as Jetstar, Tiger Airways and Air Asia, for the Vietnam leg.

Airlines that fly in and out of both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City normally sell you an open-jaw ticket, which allows you to fly into one city and out of the other, leaving you to travel up or down the country under your own steam.

Airfares always depend on the season, with the highest generally being July to August, during the Christmas and New Year holidays and around Tet, the Vietnamese New Year; fares drop during the “shoulder” season – September to mid-December – and you’ll get the best prices during the low season, January to June.

You can often cut costs by going through a specialist flight agent – either a consolidator, who buys up blocks of tickets from the airlines and sells them at a discount, or a discount agent, who in addition to dealing with discounted flights may also offer special student and youth fares and a range of other travel-related services such as travel insurance, rail passes, car rentals, tours and the like.

Combining Vietnam with other Southeast Asian countries is becoming increasingly popular – and a lot cheaper and easier – thanks to some good-value regional air deals. Jetstar (w jetstar.com), for example, flies from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City (from $50 one-way), while Tiger Airways (w tigerairways.com) flies from Singapore to Hanoi (from $70 one-way) and Ho Chi Minh City (from $50 one-way). Air Asia (w airasia.com) offers daily services from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur to both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with fares starting at $50 one-way to Ho Chi Minh City, and a little more to Hanoi. As with all discount airlines, prices depend on availability, so the earlier you book the better, though you may also find last-minute promotional fares, seat giveaways and so forth at less busy times of the year.