In 2018 Uber sold it’s ride hailing operations in Southeast Asia to Grab. So there’s no longer any Uber in Vietnam. But Grab is a similar ride hailing service that’s easy for travelers to use. Uber first entered Vietnam in 2014 providing a great alternative to the rather informal taxi system that was prone to ripping off tourists. Grab entered the market after Uber and basically crushed them with promotions, marketing, and the very popular Grab scooters.
Now, in 2019, Grab is the main ride hailing tool for tourists in Vietnam. Local authorities have limited Grab to Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City, and the provinces of Khanh Hoa and Quang Ninh. But these are the most popular tourist destinations. So chances are, your visit to Vietnam will overlap with at least some areas of Grab operations.
I’d recommend downloading the Grab app before you head to Vietnam. And try to add a credit card to your profile. This is a buggy part of their system so it’s not always easy. You can try on desktop as well, if you can’t get it to work in the app. Some people have more success there. Try different credit cards: I found that an Amex worked where all other cards failed. You can also try adding a debit card. I find having a card linked to be great for saving me from fumbling around with cash after every ride, but if you can’t link a card it’s ok, you can always pay the drivers in cash after your ride.
Also, take note of the options in the Grab app: a bike (aka scooter) is much cheaper than a car. If you’re just one person, a bike is the way to go. They’re also more widely available. Grab drivers all carry an extra helmet for passengers, and I found them to be safe and considerate drivers, for Vietnam. But you should take that statement with a big grain of salt: roads on Vietnam are chaos, and scooters are more dangerous than cars in any situation. So a risk vs cost assessment might conclude the cars are a much better deal.
An alternative to Grab is Be, a new Vietnamese ride hailing app that just launched at the end of 2018. You can’t create a Be account without a local sim card. And the app is entirely in Vietnamese, a significant barrier to use for most travelers. Nonetheless, if you can work these things out, I’ve heard good things about availability and pricing with Be.
Finally, there is Go-Jek, an Indonesian-based ride hailing company that entered Vietnam in 2018 under the name Go-Viet. Currently services are in Ho Chi Minh city and Hanoi. There is an English language app, so this is a good alternative to Grab in those two cities.
Not ready to try out ride hailing upon arrival in Vietnam? Klook offers a friendly alternative to the scammy taxi services and the often crazy-expensive hotel airport shuttles. You can book a ride in advance for a fixed fee based on the region of your destination. Klook monitors your flight and picks you up at a designated spot in the airport where you’ll find your driver holding a sign with your name. You get a private car, just like with Grab or Uber. But Klook is more expensive. You’re paying for the security of a pick up waiting when you walk out of the airport. Klook doesn’t require an app, you can just book ahead on their website.