Lonely Planet Writer

Everything you need to know about Vietnam's new budget airline

January saw the start of operations for Bamboo Airways, another budget carrier based in Vietnam. Bamboo Airways, the country’s fifth airline, joins national carrier Vietnam Airlines and its wholly-owned domestic airline, VASCO, as well as two other budget carriers, Jetstar Pacific Airlines and Vietjet Aviation.

Flight attendants of Vietnam’s newly-launched Bamboo Airways pose on the airline’s first day of operation in Hanoi. Image by MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images

To start, Bamboo Airways is serving a modest list of destinations, mainly between Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi to the popular beach destinations of Nha Trang, Danang and Phu Quoc, as well as Dong Hoi (the gateway to Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park where the world’s largest cave, Son Doong, is located), up-and-coming Qui Nhon on Vietnam’s Central coast, and Buon Ma Thuot in the Central Highlands, home to several ethnic minority groups and a robust coffee-growing industry.

Street food seller in Ho Chi Minh City. Image by ©Photo by John Quintero/Getty Images

While Bamboo Airways does offer business and economy classes, its cheapest fares include 7kgs of carry-on baggage only with checked luggage and seat assignments costing extra. At the time of writing, many flights were only available early mornings or in the evenings, however, the trade-off were low base fares, starting at just 149,000d (US$6.40) before taxes and fees.

Bamboo Airways plans to expand its route network to 37 Vietnamese destinations in 2019 with an eye on servicing Japan, Korea, Singapore and Europe by year’s end.

Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. Image by ©www.jethuynh.com/Getty Images

Vietnamese carriers flew over 50 million passengers in 2018, making the country’s aviation market one of the world’s fastest-growing, having increased at a rate of 17.4% over the past decade. That trend is likely to continue, with the addition of 112 million new passengers by 2035, according to the latest 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast by the International Air Transport Association. AirAsia Vietnam also recently announced that it intends to enter the market, with flights starting sometime this August.

Words: James Pham