Ho Chi Minh City is served by an efficient network of city buses, mostly originating from the 23/9 Park (Pham Ngu Lao) Bus Terminal in District 1. Airport connectivity is also supported by city buses, with the dedicated Airport Bus Service 109 departing frequently from 23/9 Park Bus Terminal to Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Note: 23/9 Park as I’ve learnt isn’t pronounced as Twenty-Three Nine Park, but rather, Twenty Third of September Park.
The amount of buses at 23/9 Park Bus Terminal may be a little bit overwhelming at first, but there’s actually just one main waiting area for buses at their office.
Just look out for the bus number while waiting.
The departure times of all bus services can be seen from the TV screen at the waiting area. Airport Bus Service 109 departs every 15 to 30 minutes from 5.30am to 1am daily.
Don’t cross the bus park to find the bus, all services will drive by the pick up point first.
Airport Bus Service 109 will be easy to spot, since it’s the only service from this terminal operating with yellow buses.
Getting on the bus is relatively easy as well with 3 doors open for boarding and the platform at around the same height as the bus’s first step.
The interior of the Airport Bus.
The interior is fitted with mostly single seats for more aisle space to place your luggage at.
Seats are even removed around the middle of the bus.
The route map of Airport Bus Service 109.
Departing from 23/9 Park Bus Terminal.
The Airport Bus Service 109 proceeds down the length of District 1, thereafter making a stop at Ben Thanh Bus Terminal.
Ben Thanh Bus Terminal is made up of many platforms in the middle of the road.
The platform height at Ben Thanh Bus Terminal also matches with the bus’s first step.
After Ben Thanh Bus Terminal with most passengers heading to the airport on board, the conductor comes around to sell tickets for the journey. Fares for the Airport Bus Service 109 cost VND 20,000 (~S$1.18) one way per person. This is a premium fare as the local Service 152 (normal green bus) costs just VND 5,000 (~S$0.30) on a similar route, though you need to walk a little bit towards Ben Thanh if you’re staying in Pham Ngu Lao to catch it by the road side. However, paying this premium fare gets you a lot more space for yourself and your luggage.
Free WiFi was touted on board, but I couldn’t find any to connect to.
Full window advertisements needs to be banned everywhere around the world.
Crossing the railway line at Phu Nhuan.
The bus went at a leisurely 40km/h throughout the journey. The route is touted as a 45 minute journey to the airport, but in the morning with no jams, the ride took just 30 minutes end-to-end.
Approaching Than Son Nhat International Airport.
Turning left into the international terminal building.
The Airport Bus Service 109 terminates at the Tan Son Nhat international terminal. To get to the domestic terminal, you need to walk ahead through the covered walkway.
The bus stops at the arrivals level on the ground floor.
If you’re heading from Tan Son Nhat International Airport to the city, just look out for the line of buses parked on the outer lane.
Follow the signs to ascend to the departures level. The entrance will be beside Burger King.
Head up with the escalators to the 2nd Floor for departures.
The escalators will lead up to the departure driveway. Show your boarding pass to the security personnel at the door to enter the check-in area.
Overall, the Airport Bus Service 109 is an affordable and fuss-free way to get from downtown Ho Chi Minh City to Than Son Nhat International Airport. With buses in Ho Chi Minh City having an unofficial priority over other vehicles on the road with everyone giving way when a bus is approaching, this might be one of the best ways to get to the airport.