How to get from Phnom Penh to Hanoi

Hanoi is an excellent weekend getaway from Phnom Penh, filled with lots to see and perhaps more importantly, lots to eat. The last time I went to Hanoi, I spent a week scratching my head trying to figure out how to actually get there. But now that I’ve figured out, I’m here to tell you the best ways to get from Phnom Penh to Hanoi.

A motobike with a giant basket of flowers on the back in Hanoi.

Hello Hanoi!

There are no direct flights between Phnom Penh and Hanoi. Vietnam Airlines flies the route with a 45-minute stop in Vientiane. The flight takes a little over three hours and costs start at $227 one way, or $355 for a round-trip ticket. Flights can often go up to as much as $600 return. To add insult to injury, they don’t serve alcohol on the flights.  It’s possible that come high season they will start doing direct flights again, but right now there aren’t any scheduled.

Irritated by the price and schedule, I, like many intrepid expats, made my way to Hanoi with a mix of busing and flying, which can be done for less than $70 each way.

There are a number of buses that go between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City. The trip takes anywhere from six to eight hours depending on how things are at the border.

One of my favorites is the Giant Ibis bus from Phnom Penh to HCMC. They offer luxury buses with WiFi leaving every day at 8:00 a.m. Tickets cost $18 and include hotel pickup. You can book online (recommended) for an extra $1 and reserve a seat in advance.

I’ve also taken the less expensive use a travel agent than to go to the Vietnam Embassy in Phnom Penh.

Once you’re in HCMC, it’s a $6 or $7 taxi ride to the airport (take Mai Linh taxis if you don’t want to experience the joys of rigged Vietnamese taxi meters). There are a dozen daily flights that fly the HCMC-Hanoi route, priced as low as $40. Vietnam Airlines is the most reliable but most expensive and they charge extra for one way fares. A better option is Jetstar Vietnam. They’re cheap and while Vietnam expats like to gripe about them, I’ve had pretty good experiences with them.

There’s a newcomer on the scene, Vietjet Air. I’d strongly recommend against using them. Although they have 6 flights a day on this route, they usually combine them to fill planes, and only run a few per day. Both of my Vietjet Air flights were cancelled, and I was moved onto one of the later flights. On the way there, it was only an hour delay. But on the way back it was a 5 hour delay. Definitely not worth the $5 savings. With any of these airlines, though, expect some delays and don’t schedule tight transfers.

If you’re not the flying sort, there are buses from HCMC to Hanoi, but they’re long and unappealing. Consider instead taking the Reunification Express, a train that runs the length of Vietnam. The trip is long, it’s 2.5 days and best to break it up with stops along the way. But you’ll see some of the most gorgeous countryside in Vietnam as you make your way up the country.

Another option for those just looking for cheaper flights is the new Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City route on Qatar Airways that’s priced at $215 return. Combine this with Jetstar and you can get to Hanoi for around $315.

Finally, another option is to get yourself to Siem Reap by bus, taxi, or plane, and fly Vietnam Airlines from there. They’ve got a direct flight from Siem Reap to Hanoi that usually starts at $340 return or $200 one way. Although this way is not always the cheapest, the flights with Cambodia Angkor Air line up well and allow for a long weekend in Hanoi. Happy Hanoi-ing!

Bus tickets purchased through links in this post to read more here.

16 Responses to How to get from Phnom Penh to Hanoi

    Aly Smyth says:

    Hi Lina,

    Thanks for this blog, it is amazing and has really helped us plan our trip to Cambodia and Vietnam this summer.

    We are travelling from Phnom Penh to Hanoi booking a flight from Ho Chi Minh. There is one at 19:45 and another at 22:05 departing to Hanoi. Planning on catching the 8am bus from Phnom Penh.

    Thinking the 22:05 should give us plenty of time, but wondering if the 19:45 would be ok? Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.


    Aly and Katie

      Aly Smyth says:

      By the way, its 4th August we are planning on going if that makes any difference. Thanks again!

      Lina says:

      A friend has taken the Giant Ibis several times in the last month and says he’s arrived at 16:30 pm at the very latest. He said he would be comfortable taking a 19:45 flight, but would go for the 22:05 if you’re a cautious traveler who likes to be at the airport very early.

        Lina says:

        He also said: “Its about 40 mins from District 1 in HCMC to the airport. For domestic flights I was advised to leave in a taxi no less than 1.5 hours before the flight (obviously longer for international flights).”

    Kristy says:

    How often does the bus actually arrive in 6 hours with border control?
    How much time should I leave to be sure not to miss the flight from Hochimihn to Hanoi?

      Lina says:

      Never. I need to update this. More like 7-8.5 hours, and I would give a lot of padding time for a flight, just to be safe.

    Edwin Gatia says:

    we’re traveling in a group from Hanoi to Siem Reap in March..
    I can’t seem to find any schedules for TRAIN ride for that connection.
    ..and HOW MUCH are the train tickets?

    El Caldero de Nimue says:

    Thank you SO much for this post. I had already given up on reaching up to Hanoi, because flights back to Phnom Penh were so pricy. But know I know there’s a better way! Plus, I’ll get a chance to visit Saigon which was not on our route. FOREVER GRATEFUL!!!

    Rhea says:

    This is so helpful, thank you! One question – will the flight ticket prices (Ha noi – HCM and vice vera) be the same if you buy them at the airport or do we book them in advance? Can you please suggest a website if we have to book in advance?

    Emily says:

    Another option, if you want to get as much time of your weekend in Hanoi as possible before work starts on Monday, is to fly via Siem Reap. You can get most of Sunday in Hanoi by leaving on one of the Vietnam Air evening flights to Siem Reap, then catching a later flight to Phnom Penh on Cambodia Angkor Air. A similar connection would not work via Ho Chi Minh City because there aren’t late enough flights to Phnom Penh from HCMC.

    Marah says:

    Good tips there since I am planning to fly to Vietnam next year. Im glad I bumped on your site and get very useful info about the country. Thanks!

    Alicia says:

    Thanks so much. I just booked a flight to HCM and a bus to PP. You saved me a lot of money from what I originally thought was the only route, flying. Hopefully it all works out now!

    Bunna says:

    The mix: bus from PNH-HCM and Fly: HCM-Hanoi

    Skyla says:

    I could kiss you. This information came at the perfect time, thank you. :-)

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