The main airport serving Ho Chi Minh City—officially called Tan Son Nhat International Airport—is one of Vietnam’s busiest air gateways, and possibly one of the most congested. Its two terminals were built for a capacity of 25 million passengers, but served some 36 million people in 2017.
Its inner-city location is both a boon and bane for travelers. On one hand, Tan Son Nhat Airport arrivals can get to their District 1 hotel (just 4 miles away!) in less than 15 minutes; on the other, the encroaching buildings deny the airport any chance of significant expansion. (The under-construction Long Thanh International Airport will replace Tan Son Nhat when it opens, but that will happen in 2025.)
Read on to find out more about this major Vietnam and Southeast Asia air hub – how to get there, how to get around from there, and what to expect when checking in for your next flight out.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport Code, Location, and Flight Information
- Airport Code: SGN
- Location: Truong Son, Ward 2, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Website: vietnamairport.vn/tansonnhatairport
- Flight Tracker: https://www.flightradar24.com/data/airports/sgn
- Phone Number: +84 28 3848 5383
Know Before You Go
Tan Son Nhat International Airport has two separate terminal buildings: Terminal 1 for domestic flights, and Terminal 2 for international ones. Terminal 1 used to handle all domestic and international flights until Terminal 2 opened in September 2007.
The airport complex has already significantly exceeded its capacity, receiving 40 million passengers in 2019 versus its inherent capacity of 25 million per annum. Travelers experience peak times at 4-8 a.m. (the usual arrival times for most international airlines) and from 4:30-7 p.m. The airport regularly exceeds its designed capacity of 35 flights every hour, particularly during peak travel seasons like the Tet New Year.
For arriving passengers, directions to the immigration counter are clearly spelled out by airport signage. There is only one counter for Vietnam visa on arrival, and it tends to have long waits (typical of the rest of the airport). Try to secure your visa well ahead of your trip to avoid a long wait.
The distance between international and domestic terminals is negligible. You’ll only need five minutes to walk from one terminal to the other—but in case you’re catching a domestic flight upon arrival, make sure to have at least two hours layover time to account for schedule changes.
Public Transportation and Taxis
Tan Son Nhat International Airport’s location within the city (as opposed to its outskirts) makes any trip from arrival-side to your hotel a short one—whether you go by taxi, bus, shuttle, or rented car.
Four bus lines serve Tan Son Nhat Airport arrivals. Buses 152 and 109 terminate at District 1 (Ben Thanh Market and 23rd of September Park respectively) and buses 119 and 159 terminate at major city bus terminals (Mien Tay Bus Terminal and Mien Dong Bus Terminal respectively).
- 152: A green (government-owned) bus with worn interiors and the cheapest fares from the airport. Tickets cost 5,000 dong (about a quarter), but you pay another quarter’s worth extra for your luggage. Operating hours are between 5:45 a.m. and 6:15 p.m., with buses arriving every 12-20 minutes.
- 109: This yellow (privately-owned) bus goes from the airport to 23rd of September Park. This bus is better-maintained, complete with CCTV and tourist-friendly signage. Fare costs 12,000 dong (about 50 cents USD) for distances under 5 kilometers, 20,000 dong (about 85 cents USD) over 5 kilometers. Extra luggage won’t be charged extra. Operating hours are between 5:30 a.m. and 1 a.m., with buses arriving every 20-30 minutes.
- 119: This yellow bus connects the airport to Mien Tay Bus Terminal (Western Bus Station), the city terminal that services buses heading to points west and south (including the Mekong Delta). Fare costs 12,000 dong for distances under 5 kilometers, 20,000 dong for over 5 kilometers. Operating hours are between 4 a.m. and 9 p.m., with buses arriving every 15-30 minutes.
- 159: This yellow bus connects the airport to Mien Dong Bus Terminal (Eastern Bus Station), the city terminal that services buses heading to points east and north (like the Central Highlands). Fare costs 7,000 dong for distances under 1.5 kilometers, 10,000 dong over 1.5 kilometers. Operating hours between 5:30 a.m. and 8:25 p.m., with buses arriving every 25-30 minutes.
BusMap, a semi-official phone app, can be downloaded for free to help you with bus travel to, from and within Ho Chi Minh City.
Upon exiting the terminal building, turn left to reach the taxi queues and prepay counters. Assuming an honest driver with an untampered meter, taxi fares should cost 50,000 dong for District 1 and 80,000 dong (and up) for Districts 2-3. Prioritize riding reputable taxi brands like Mai Linh and Vinasun; other taxi brands have a reputation for dishonesty that’s frankly off-putting.
Coupon taxis within the terminal building are a little more expensive, but at least don’t feel like a ripoff. The SASCO counter, for instance, offers a flat rate depending on the distance; you’ll pay upfront and be escorted to your waiting car.
As you exit the arrival hall, turn right to find the car rental counter.
Where to Eat and Drink
Tan Son Nhat Airport has a small but satisfying range of food and beverage outlets, with an understandable bias for local foods like pho, banh mi, and coffee. Passengers with a taste for Western fast food can chow down at franchise outlets by Burger King, Popeye’s, and Domino’s Pizza.
There are more food options at Terminal 2 than at Terminal 1, though you can dine at 37th Street Restaurant at the latter before checking in.
Eateries close for a few hours late in the night, so overnight travelers should factor this in when they get ready to fly out.
Right across the airport, a sizeable shopping center—the six-story Menas Mall (formerly Parkson CT Plaza) on Truong Son Street—has a moderately-sized food court at lower prices than what you’ll find airside. The mall is open from 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Where to Shop
The shopping scene at Tan Son Nhat International Airport can be a little underwhelming compared to what you’d usually find in places like Singapore's Changi Airport, but it’s adequate for the somewhat discerning tourist.
SASCO Duty-Free stores hold a monopoly on duty-free and souvenir stores in Tan Son Nhat Airport. Aside from locally-made handicrafts and food items, they also sell the usual range of airport goodies—chocolates, cosmetics, perfume, clothing, and fashion accessories.
If you’re newly-arrived, or if you haven’t gone airside yet, the Menas Mall across the street from the airport offers the full shopping-center experience, at lower prices relative to the duty-free stuff.
A VAT Refund counter at Airside, Terminal 2 allows you to claim refunds on the value-added tax you spent on your souvenir shopping.
You can get a good rest at the airport, courtesy of a couple of lounges and a dedicated sleep zone.
SASCO operates “Le Saigonnais” lounges in both Terminals 1 and 2 in Tan Son Nhat Airport. Both lounges allow unlimited access to showers, newspapers and magazines, and food to paying guests. You can prebook at the websites liked above.
- The domestic Le Saigonnais is located on the second floor opposite Gate 12, and charges 425,000 dong for three hours’ use of their facilities, which open from 4:30 a.m. to the last flight of the day.
- The international-side Le Saigonnais charges around 945,000 dong for four hours’ use of their lounge, which (unlike the domestic one) is open 24/7. You’ll find this lounge on the third floor, near the staircase to Gates 18-20.
A Sleeping Zone can be found airside at Terminal 2, on the second-floor hallway near Gate 27. Twenty-four sleep chairs are available free of charge, and 10 sleep boxes can be yours to use for US$ 7 for one hour, and US$ 4 for an extra 30 minutes.
You can prebook your Sleeping Zone nap online.
Airport Tips and Facts
- Travel got you down? A massage station at Terminal 1 airside (Sen Viet Spa, opposite Gate 10) offers professional spa and massage services. A foot spa at the International Terminal can relax those little piggies.
- Free shower facilities can be found at Terminal 2 airside, opposite Gate 25.
- Smokers can cut loose at smoking sections in both terminals. At the domestic side, you’ll find it airside opposite Gate 14; over at international, it’s also airside opposite Gates 15 and 18.
- The airport has free Wi-Fi; look for the “FreeWifi TanSonNhat AirPort” network and connect.
- A left luggage station allows you to leave your bags behind for a short layover. You’ll find the counter near Columns 13 and 14 at the International Arrivals area; expect to pay about 27,500 dong per piece per hour for a maximum of ten hours; and 275,000 dong per piece per day. The counter is only open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.