Arrival by plane
Most international flights arrive at either Hanoi in the North (HAN) or Ho Chi Minh airport in the South (SGN). Danang is located in the centre of Vietnam and has a growing number of international routes, including direct flights to Singapore, Hong Kong and Siem Reap. These airports are quite small and have few amenities compared to large SE Asian hubs. Lounges tend to be underwhelming and Priority Pass entry is not always available, so it's best not to arrive too early for departures. Arrivals can be slow due to immigration queues, although we have been lucky with this in general, especially at Hanoi airport.
From airports into town, pre-booked car transfers tend to be the best option. Services such as Blacklane are available at an increasing number of airports including Ha Noi and Saigon. Taxis are plentiful and cheap, but may not have functional seat belts.
As in much of SE Asia, we would not recommend driving a car yourself, unless you are used to the roads here. Although speed limits are low (50 mph) driving style is erratic with hazardous overtaking and undertaking (Tip - if someone flashes their headlights, it means they are coming through so move over, not a friendly gesture inviting you to move forward!). Taxis are cheap and plentiful, but we have often had cars without functional seat belts, so we wouldn't recommend taxis on a long journey. As such, we would recommend booking car services either through your hotel (which tends to be overpriced), though a local travel agency such as Vietnamairporttransfer (contact us for a quote) or through our preferred chauffeur company Blacklane. As you can see from the picture to the right, we used Blacklane for our transfer to Halong Bay for the Vietnam Do - the price was much lower than the local tour operator quoted and we could book in advance but pay afterwards!
Train classes in Vietnam are described as hard or soft, but this doesn't simply indicate how padded the seats are! Soft sleepers tend to have 4 bunk beds in them compared to 6 for hard sleepers. Soft seats are similar to Western 2nd class seating on long-distance trains. We wouldn't recommend hard seats as these are simply wooden benches.
A couple of years ago, we took the overnight train from Hanoi to Danang. Optimistically called the Reunification Express, the train averaged under 30 miles an hour, taking 14 hours for the 600 km journey. At time of writing, the Livitrans service from Hanoi unfortunately now stops at Hue due to landslip damage to the rails near Danang, but it's worth checking on this if you plan a trip later than 2016. Air-conditioned bunk beds in the tourist carriage were a bit hard and narrow, but serviceable for a night and toilets were kept clean. It's best to buy food and drink prior to boarding.