Rent a Car for Travel in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, locally known as Saigon, is Vietnam’s largest and most exciting metropolis. With its French colonial landmarks, wartime sites, buzzing commerce scene and vibrant nightlife, this city of over 13 million offers endless possibilities for exploration. Having your own set of wheels makes getting around this immense city and surrounding areas convenient and flexible.

Benefits of Renting a Car in Ho Chi Minh City

Renting a car provides many advantages for travelers in Ho Chi Minh City:

  • Freedom – Go wherever you want on your own schedule without relying on group tours or public transport.
  • Flexibility – Make spontaneous changes to your itinerary, side stops and visits easily.
  • Convenience – Avoid wasting time waiting for buses or trains. Travel directly from point to point.
  • Accessibility – Go beyond the city center to see sights not easily reached by transit.
  • Comfort – Travel in air conditioned comfort with space for luggage and passengers.
  • Affordability – Cheaper than relying solely on metered taxis, especially for families.
  • Door-to-door service – Travel from your hotel anywhere in the city without lugging bags on transit.

Types of Rental Cars Available in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City offers rental cars ranging from:

  • Economy – Smaller cars like Toyota Vios ideal for squeezing through congested streets.
  • Compact Sedans – Models like Honda City good for 2-3 passengers.
  • Standard Sedans – Midsize cars like Toyota Altis with room for 4-5 people plus luggage.
  • SUVs – Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest and similar for rougher terrain.
  • Vans – Spacious models like the Hyundai Starex fitting up to 8 passengers.
  • Luxury Vehicles – Indulge in premium brands like Mercedes, BMW and Lexus.

Where to Rent a Car in Ho Chi Minh City

Major rental locations include:

  • Tan Son Nhat Airport – Counters in both domestic and international arrival halls. Drop-off at departures.
  • Hotels – Many hotels offer car rental partnerships for guests.
  • City Center – Agencies located downtown near major sights.
  • Travel Agencies – Rentals available through tour companies and agencies.
  • Online – Reserve ahead online for best rates and guaranteed bookings.

Documentation Required to Rent a Car

Bring these documents when picking up your rental:

  • Valid driver’s license from your home country
  • Passport – Required to show to verify identity along with license.
  • International Driving Permit – Strongly recommended to accompany license.
  • Credit card – For payment as cash or debit cards are not accepted.
  • Voucher – Any confirmation voucher if you prepaid your booking online.

Driving Laws and Rules in Vietnam

Important laws and rules to follow when driving in Ho Chi Minh City:

  • Drive on the right-hand side of the road.
  • Driver and all passengers must wear seat belts.
  • Using handheld mobiles when driving is illegal.
  • Drinking and driving is strictly prohibited. BAC limit is 0.
  • Motorcycle helmets must be worn by law when riding as a passenger.
  • Observe speed limits – 60km/h on urban streets, 100km/h on highways.
  • Be alert for pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikes at intersections.
  • Keep car doors locked in traffic to deter snatch thieves.

Top Destinations to Visit By Rental Car

Having your own car makes accessing top sights simple:

  • Cu Chi Tunnels – Vast underground network used by Viet Cong troops during the war. 45 min drive.
  • Cao Dai Temple – Beautiful temple of the intriguing Cao Dai religious sect. 2 hour drive.
  • Mekong Delta – Explore islands, floating markets and villages of the Mekong. 2-3 hour drive.
  • Beaches – Drive to coastal getaways like Vung Tau, Mui Ne or Phan Thiet for sand and sea. 2-3 hours.
  • Dalat – Beloved highland retreat town known for scenery, waterfalls and flowers. 5-6 hour drive.
  • Phan Rang – Coastal town with the unique Po Klong Garai Cham towers. 3.5 hours away.
  • Tay Ninh – Center of Cao Dai faith with enormous Holy See temple. 1.5-2 hour drive.

Driving Tips for Ho Chi Minh City

Follow these tips for safe, stress-free driving:

  • Opt for a car with GPS or data connectivity to help navigate HCMC’s chaotic roads.
  • Be extremely vigilant of motorbikes, which may drive on sidewalks and the wrong side of the road.
  • Drive defensively as other drivers tend to be aggressive. Follow speed limits.
  • Confirm in advance if your agency provides emergency roadside assistance.
  • Keep your passport, license, voucher and rental agreement accessible when driving.
  • Stay alert – ignore calls and texts to avoid accidents from distracted driving.
  • Park only in approved spots like hotels that provide parking to avoid issues.
  • Make sure your rental insurance covers any necessary cross-border trips into neighboring countries.

FAQs about Renting a Car in Ho Chi Minh City

What is the minimum age requirement for car rentals in Ho Chi Minh City?

The minimum age is typically 23-25 years old, depending on rental company. Some may allow 21 with an added fee.

Is an International Driving Permit required in Vietnam?

It is highly advisable to have an IDP along with your native license when renting.

Are manual transmission cars more common than automatic?

Yes, manual shift cars are far more prevalent than automatic transmission vehicles.

Can I take a rental car from Ho Chi Minh City across the border into Cambodia?

Yes, but notify the rental agency in advance. Cross-border fees may apply.


Renting a car allows you to explore Ho Chi Minh City and beyond Vietnam at your own pace. Just be sure to research driving laws, print out maps as backup, and drive defensively to accommodate the local road culture. With an affordable set of rental wheels, you can make your Vietnam experience more flexible, convenient and filled with adventure.


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