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Infrastructure / Transport

Geographic location and territorial shape of Vietnam has profound impact on the formation and development of the country’s transport and communication system. Beside certain advantages, its current infrastructure is rather limited, which requires proper investment.

Mỹ Thuận bridge - Cần Thơ province


Vietnam’s total length of roads is 220,000km including 17,300 km of over 90 national highways, 21,760 km of provincial highways, 45,000 km of district highways, 6,650 km of urban roads and the remaining more than 130,000 km of commune roads. Quality of these roads is rather limited. Only 42,170 km (approximately 19%) out of the whole road system are covered with tar. Road is still narrow in width and there are still many bridges of low capacity. In total, there are 7,440 bridges to be built on national and provincial highways, of which new permanently built bridges account for more than 60%.


Highway No.1 is the backbone route of the country’s road transport. Running from Huu Nghi border gate (Lang Son province) to Nam Can (Ca Mau province), it connects 6 out of 7 economic zones of the country (except for the Central Highland). Recently, investment has been spent on upgradation and new construction of the highway. That remarkably helps increase transportation capacity and lessen the time. Such newly constructed roads includes Ha Noi – Lang Son, Hai Van road tunnel, My Thuan Bridge which has permanently replaced ferry-boats, etc.


Vietnam’ second road transport axis is Ho Chi Minh City route, which runs in parallel with Highway No.1 and goes through the Central Highland. The route is expected to foster development of the country’s western area. The first phase has been completed which connects Hoa Lac and Ben Cat (Binh Phuoc province). It is expected that roads will be extended to Cao Bang in the North and Ca Mau in the South in the second phase. Other important routes include road system in the North area which converges in the transportation centre of Hanoi and some East-West inter-provincial routes; East-West road system in the central area and road system of the South whose centre is Ho Chi Minh city. Vietnam’s road system is linked with that of China, Laos and Cambodia and is part of the regional road system including trans-Asia roads and roads of ASEAN countries, roads of the sub-region of Mekong River and East-West lobby.


It is planned that about 20 highways with total length of 5,900km worth more than 50 billion USD will be built. A series of big projects on highway construction have been or will be started such as Cau Gie – Ninh Binh – Vinh – Ha Noi – Hai Phong, Noi Bai – Lao Cai in the North and Ho Chi Minh City – Trung Luong, Ho Chi Minh city – Long Thanh – Dau Giay in the South, which will remarkably improve road transport infrastructure of Vietnam.



At present, Vietnam has 3,142.7 km of railway in all including 9 main lines of 2,632 km in length, 402.7km station lines and 108km branch lines. All these are single lines. Railroads whose gauge is 1000mm is 2,251km, accounting for 85.5% while that of 1435mm is 161km, accounting for 6.1% and dual gauge is 220km, accounting for 8.4%. There are 1.790 railway bridges with total length of 45.4km and 31 combined bridges of 11.8km and 39 tunnels of nearly 11.5km.


HanoiHo Chi Minh City and Ha Noi-Hai Phong, the two main railway lines, connect almost all major economic centres in Vietnam except for the Mekong river delta. Vietnam railway is connected with that of China through such railway lines as Ha Noi – Dong Dang (Lang Son province) and Ha Noi – Lao Cai. It is planned that the railway will be developed to connect with that of Cambodia, Thailand,  Malaysia, Singapore and Laos.


Currently, Vietnam is considering to construct North-South high-speed railway system with total length of 1,600km worth more than 30 billion USD. In the coming time, some old railway lines will be restored and put into used. It is also planned that some new branch lines will be built especially for economic development purpose of the Central Highland area.



Vietnam Inland Waterway system is quite diversified. There are more than 2,360 rivers and canals with a total length of 42,000km. Out of which, 11,000km of inland waterway are being exploited, mainly in the delta areas of Red River (2,500km) and Mekong River (4,500km). Waterway lines in the North (mainly include Red River and Thai Binh River) is affected by hydrographic factors. The minimum width ranges from 30 to 60 meters while that of depth is from 1.5 to 2 meters. There is great difference in depth between the dry and rainy seasons (5-7m, even 10m). Waterway lines in the South (mainly include Cuu Long and Dong Nai rivers)  is rather convenient due to interlacing canal systems. The minimum width ranges from 30 to 100 m while that of depth is 2.5 to 3 m. The difference in depth between the two seasons is from 2 to 5 m. Waterway system in the Central area is not convenient because rivers are small and short with great slope and is affected by many bridges along Highway No.1. Besides, there are hundreds of river ports but most of them are small with low capacity of loading and unloading.


In spite of many limitations, waterway transport is still a favorite choice because it is inexpensive and suitable to certain kinds of goods. Vietnam is now carrying out a program on upgradation of river ports as well as river bed dredge to improve waterway transport ability.




With total coastal lines of 3.260km and its strategic location in the East-West sea route and many deep-water ports, Vietnam has favorable conditions to develop sea transport. This kind of transport accounts for as much as 80% of the total Vietnam’s import-export output.


Currently, Vietnam has more than 100 seaports of different sizes with a total length of more than 30,000 m. There are 22 seaports in the North (from Quang Ninh province to Ninh Binh province) of which Cai Lan and Hai Phong seaport complex are the most important ones. The number of seaports in the Central of Vietnam (from Thanh Hoa province to Binh Thuan province) is 37 of which seaport complexes of Da Nang (general) and Nghi Son, Dung Quat (specialized) are the most important ones. Seaport system in the South comprises of 45. This is now the country’s biggest entrepot, especially the area of Sai Gon – Thi Vai – Vung Tau seaport area. All of the most significant inland water lines originate from the above-mentioned ones. Most important international sea routes start from Hai Phong/Ho Chi Minh city to the Eastern Asia regions (Russia, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, etc.).


It is planned that some big seaport complexes will be developed into entrepots of all the three areas such as Hai Phong seaport complex in the North, Da Nang complex in the central area and that of Ho Chi Minh city – Dong Nai – Ba Ria Vung Tau in the South. These complexes are expected to be capable of receiving 100.000 ton ships. Especially, the Van Phong international seaport will also built with capability of receiving 200-300 thousand ton ships.



Vietnam has favorable geographical location to develop airway transport and become a centre for passenger and goods transportation in the region. Currently, Vietnam has 20 airports including 5 in the North (major entrepot is Noi Bai international airport in Hanoi), 8 in the central area (the most important destination is Da Nang international airport), and 7 in the South (major entrepot is Tan Son Nhat international airport in Ho Chi Minh city). Airports in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh city are capable of receiving the world’s biggest passenger airplanes such as Airbus A380.


Vietnam Airlines Corporation currently owns 49 airplanes and some other hired ones. Apart from 20 destinations domestically, there are also 41 destinations abroad including main areas of East Asia, South East Asia, Europe, America and Australia. Vietnam Airlines has affiliated with 12 others in exploration of international airlines. Apart from which, 30 airlines have their destinations in Vietnam. It is rather easy to find an international airline to/from Vietnam.


Recently, the new Tan Son Nhat international airport has been built to increase airway transportation capacity. New construction of Noi Bai international airport will be continued in the coming time. It is planned that Long Thanh international airport, which is about 50 km South East of Ho Chi Minh city, will also be built. Apart from which, some old airports will be restored or changed into civil service rather than military one. Vietnam Airlines has ordered more than 50 airplanes of different kinds and has plans to cooperate with other airlines in increasing the number of new airlines as well as the flight frequency of usually fully-booked ones.



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