Anytime you go on a holiday, there are usually two major costs to deal with – accommodation and flights. I’m a big fan of budget airline flights for the cheap prices (though who doesn’t miss flying full service) that make quick weekend getaways that much more affordable.
When VietJetAir invited me up to Ho Chi Minh City, I was keen not just because this wasn’t a part of Vietnam that I’d flown before, but it was a chance to check out a new airline. I can sometimes be a bit of an airline snob and tending to stick to airlines I’m familiar with unless a really, really good deal is available, so this was my chance to check out a new airline option.
I thought I’d give you a closer look my flight experience with VietJetAir – overall I had a pretty good experience, but here’s a more detailed break down so you can see if it works for you.
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon (SGN) is just 2 hours away from Singapore and 1 hour behind, so great for a weekend getaway as you don’t lose a lot of time in transit. We took the 1305hrs flight from Changi Airport Terminal 3 and reached Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC on time.
- SIN > SGN: 1305 – 1410 or 1800 – 1905
- SGN > SIN: 0855 – 1205 or 1355 – 1655
What makes HCMC an extra attractive weekend getaway destination is that the city is also fairly close to the airport – 20 minutes on a good day but closer to an hour if you hit peak hour traffic. Even if you do take the 1800hrs flight, you can still make a later dinner.
See what works for you – If you’re one to maximize your short trip by having a very early start and don’t mind waking up very early, Tiger and Jetstar do have 7am+ timings (though remember that means being at the airport at 5am >_<).
We came back on the 0855hrs flight, which meant waking up quite early to get to the airport on time – i definitely would have preferred the 1355hrs flight, but returning to Singapore at midday gives you enough time for a nap and to wind down/unpack if you’re headed back into work the following day.
Eco flights from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City via VietJetAir cost around $$134, which puts it on par with the prices of Jetstar and Tiger Air. The premium option SkyBoss (with the additional perks we’ll talk about later) cost around $645 though!
The cheapest direct full-service flights to Ho Chi Minh City are via Vietnam Air – they had an equivalent flight with similar timings going at $186 (though most of the prices were around $200 on average) and Singapore Airlines at around $300.
(I did a quick scan on Skyscanner to get these numbers, which tend to fluctuate. Easiest way to monitor instead of constantly checking back is to set up a price alert on Skyscanner if you want to know when prices fall to within your preferred budget)
AFFORDABLE INFLIGHT FOOD
One thing that surprised me was how much cheaper the inflight food cost compared to other budget airlines I’ve taken. Each meal cost 50,000 Dong which is just S$3! That’s way cheaper than anything I’ve seen on the other budget airlines so far. It’s a small thing but if you’re counting pennies, something you can appreciate.
The food isn’t too bad either – you have a choice of Vietnamese or Western style cuisine, and while you’re not looking at gourmet level cuisine it’s quite decent for the price you pay.
The VietJet folk let us check out SkyBoss, their premium service ticket for those who want to pamper themselves a bit. What that entails is really:
- priority check in services (there’s a separate counter, special Skyboss carpet and all. there’s a separate bus to bring you to/from the tarmac at the airport as well)
- complimentary 20kg baggage allowance (which I didn’t use unfortunately)
- priority seat selection
- airport lounge access (yay to lounge access)
- inflight meals
- flexibility to change flight dates and timings.
SkyBoss also has exclusive seats right in the front of the plane (rows 1-3 usually) so you’re first on and off the plane. They do ‘partition’ off the area to try and offer as much exclusivity as a curtain in the aisle can give, but frankly I think people walking up and down the aisle who keep having to rip open the velcro closures can get a little annoying.
The Skyboss seats do offer more legroom so I was very comfortable even when stuck in the middle seat at one point. Even better was the fact that i scored an empty row to myself on the flight up though, woohoo
It was a short flight, but it went smoothly enough. Not much to say really, but an uneventful flight to me is the best kind of flight there is!
In sum? I would consider flying VietJetAir on my own, especially if they are having promo prices. They’re not that well known in Singapore as they only set up routes here in mid-2014 and only have Singapore-HCMC at the moment, but you have lots of available domestic routes from there to the rest of Vietnam. My experience was pretty good and they are comparable to the other budget airlines I’ve flown before.
Thanks again VietJetAir for the invite! I wish I had a bit more time to explore Ho Chi Minh City – I did spend an exhilarating evening on the back of a Vespa and checking out some of their war history, but I met some pretty amazing people on this trip – it’s rare you make friends on trips like these that you even end up hanging out with even after the trip is long over.