Beach Bus: Saigon↔Rach Gia Limousine | Passengers & Motorbikes

First Published October 2019 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

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Part of a growing trend in luxury bus lines on popular routes, Thien Thanh Limousine service runs between Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and the Mekong Delta hub of Rach Gia, gateway to Vietnam’s islands in the Gulf of Thailand. Rach Gia is the main port for fast boats and car ferries to/from Vietnam’s exquisite tropical islands, namely the well-known beach retreat of Phu Quoc, but also the lesser-known (and less-touristy) islands of Nam Du and Hon Son. Thien Thanh Limousine is a premium, luxury (or VIP as it’s commonly termed) sleeping bus that whisks you in style and comfort (and peace) from the nation’s largest city to one of its most bustling ports, from where island-hopping opportunities abound. Journey time is 5-6 hours, and there are at least 6 services daily in both directions. Comfort is exceptional and prices are reasonable: one-way fares are 280,000vnd ($12). For that, you get a private cabin, fully-flat bed with cushions and blankets, personal TV and air-con, a headset and USB sockets, free transfers to/from the bus stations and ports, and free food and drink. And you can take your motorbike on board.

Thien Thanh Limousine bus, Saigon to Rach Gia, VietnamThien Thanh Limousine is a luxury sleeper bus for passengers & motorbikes between Saigon & Rach Gia

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GUIDE: SAIGONRACH GIA VIP BUS


Below is my full guide to taking the Thien Thanh Limousine bus service between Saigon and Rach Gia, for passengers and motorbikes. I’ve divided this guide into several easy sections and plotted all relevant places on my map. I recommend using this bus service in conjunction with my ferry guides and island guides to Phu Quoc, Nam Du and Hon Son: this will give you all the information you need to go on an independent island-hopping exploration of Vietnam’s islands in the Gulf of Thailand.

*Please support Vietnam Coracle: If you use the Baolau.com links & search boxes on this page to book your bus tickets, I make a small commission. All my earnings go straight back into this website. Thank you.

CONTENTS:


ROUTE MAP

Thien Thanh Limousine Bus: Saigon↔Rach Gia

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SEARCH & BOOK TICKETS:

*Please support Vietnam Coracle: you can search bus times, prices & make bookings directly from this page by using the Baolau.com search boxes & links throughout this guide. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission. All my earnings go straight back into this website. Thank you.

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Bus Operator & Contact:

Although several other bus lines operate along the Saigon↔Rach Gia route, this guide focuses only on Thien Thanh Limousine, which is far more comfortable, easier and more enjoyable than any of the competition. The standard of comfort, safety and reliability is such that the higher price (only an extra $5) is well worth it. Thien Thanh Limousine are easily contacted by phone or through their Facebook page. (However, at the time of writing their website had been down for quite some time.) Alternatively, Thien Thanh have offices in Saigon and Rach Gia. If you speak/write some Vietnamese, then contact via Facebook, phone or in person is easy and smooth. If not, some staff speak a little English, and everyone is generally very helpful. See the contact information below or check Baolau.com:

Faecbook: www.facebook.com/xekhachkiengiangsaigon/

Phone: 0908731119 | 0908621119 | 0941962926 | 0911962926

Website: www.thienthanhlimo.com (not functioning at the time of writing)

Offices:

  • Saigon: 99 Tân Thành Street, Tân Phú District, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) [MAP]

  • Rach Gia (outskirts): 26-33 corner of Duong 3 & Duong 7 streets , Chau Thanh [MAP]

  • Rach Gia (city): Phan Thi Rang Street gas station, An Hoa Ward, Rach Gia City [MAP


Sleeping compartment of a Thien Thanh Limousine (VIP) bus, VietnamThien Thanh can be contacted via Facebook, phone, email or in person at their Saigon & Rach Gia offices


*Please support Vietnam Coracle: you can search bus times, prices & make bookings directly from this page by using the Baolau.com search boxes & links throughout this guide. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission. All my earnings go straight back into this website. Thank you.

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Bus Schedules & Prices:

At the time of writing (October 2019), Thien Thanh Limousine operates 7 journeys daily in both directions on the Saigon↔Rach Gia route. Departure times are the same in both directions. Journey time is 5-6 hours, including a 30-minute rest break midway. As a general rule: night buses take 5 hours; day buses take 6 hours (due to heavier traffic). Ticket prices for passengers are the same for upper and lower sleeping compartments: 280,000vnd per person. This price includes pick-up and drop-off transfers by mini-van to/from the Thien Thanh bus stops and your destination. For example, transfers to your hotel in Rach Gia or to the ferry port in Rach Gia. Motorbike carriage ranges from 200,000-300,000vnd, depending on the type of bike (semi-auto/auto). The schedule and prices below are accurate at the time of writing (October 2019), but are subject to change. (You can also check current times & prices on Baolau.com):

SAIGON→RACH GIA:

  • Departures: 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 11pm, 12pm (daily)
  • Passenger Ticket: 280,000vnd (upper or lower sleeping compartment)
  • Motorbike Ticket: 200,000-300,000vnd (semi-automatic/automatic) [Details here]
  • Price Includes: transfers to/from bus stations & destinations

RACH GIA→SAIGON:

  • Departures: 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 11pm, 12pm (daily) 
  • Passenger Ticket: 280,000vnd (upper or lower sleeping compartment) 
  • Motorbike Ticket: 200,000-300,000vnd (semi-automatic/automatic) [Details here] 
  • Price Includes: transfers to/from bus stations & destinations

Thien Thanh Limousine (VIP) bus, VietnamThere are 7 daily services in both directions between Saigon & Rach Gia: 280,000vnd per passenger


*Please support Vietnam Coracle: you can search bus times, prices & make bookings directly from this page by using the Baolau.com search boxes & links throughout this guide. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission. All my earnings go straight back into this website. Thank you.

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Booking Tickets:

There are several ways to book tickets for the Thien Thanh Limousine bus: in person at one of their offices, online via Baoalu.com, over the phone, or via the Thien Thanh Facebook page or website (although, at the time of writing, the latter was unavailable). In all cases, I found the Thien Thanh staff to be well-organized and very helpful. If booking online via Baolau.com, you will need to enter your passport details, but booking via any other method only requires your name and phone number. In most cases, you only need to make a booking on the day of travel (with the exception of public holidays, of course). However, it’s a good idea to book at least a day in advance to be sure of getting a ticket for your preferred departure time, especially if travelling on a weekend. Bear in mind that, because the limousine buses are spacious and luxurious, their capacity is far smaller than the average sleeper coach. Thien Thanh Limousines only have 20 sleeping compartments, compared to at least twice that on an average sleeper bus in Vietnam. See below for booking options:

 • By Phone(some English is spoken) 0908731119 | 0908621119 | 0941962926 | 0911962926

 • By Baolau.commake your book at www.baolau.com or use the search box below

 • In Person at the OfficesSaigon [MAP] | Rach Gia city [MAP] | Rach Gia outskirts [MAP] 

 • By Facebook: (some English is available) www.facebook.com/xekhachkiengiangsaigon/ 

 • By the Website: www.thienthanhlimo.com (not functioning at the time of writing)


Sleeping compartments of a Thien Thanh Limousine (VIP) bus, VietnamTickets can be booked online via Baolau.com or via Facebook, by phone, or in person at the offices


SEARCH & BOOK TICKETS:

*Please support Vietnam Coracle: you can search bus times, prices & make bookings directly from this page by using the Baolau.com search boxes & links throughout this guide. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission. All my earnings go straight back into this website. Thank you.

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Taking your Motorbike:

Putting your motorbike on the Thien Thanh Limousine bus between Saigon and Rach Gia is easy and a really useful resource for bikers wanting to visit the Gulf of Thailand islands, such as Nam Du, Hon Son, Phu Quoc, and the Pirate Archipelago. This is because it cuts out the long crawl through Saigon’s industrial suburbs and across the vast, flat, hot, wet plains of the Mekong Delta (a full day’s ride). Instead of that long ride, you can simply drive my motorbike to the Thien Thanh bus station in Saigon, load your bike onto the 11pm departure (for example), travel overnight to Rach Gia, ride to the ferry port, and get a car ferry at dawn to any of the islands. By 9am, you and your motorbike will be standing on a beach in the Gulf of Thailand. 

Taking my motorbike on the Thien Thanh Limousine Bus, Saigon to Rach Gia, VietnamMotorbikes can be carried on-board: a great convenience for riders heading to the Delta or islands

The process is straightforward and the price isn’t too bad considering the convenience of the service. Bear in mind that there’s limited space on the buses for motorbikes. It’s best to book a place for your motorbike by phone (see Contact for details) at least a day in advance, but showing up at the bus station a couple of hours before departure should also be OK. Your bike will not be packaged or even emptied of gas. You do not need to show your motorbike blue/green card or your driving license. Your motorbike is stored in the undercarriage of the bus, lying on its side. Prices are 200,000vnd (semi-automatic) or 300,000vnd (automatic).

Taking my motorbike on the Thien Thanh Limousine Bus, Saigon to Rach Gia, VietnamMotorbikes cost between 200,000-300,000vnd depending on the type of bike


*Please support Vietnam Coracle: you can search bus times, prices & make bookings directly from this page by using the Baolau.com search boxes & links throughout this guide. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission. All my earnings go straight back into this website. Thank you.

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Departure & Arrival Bus Stations:

In my experience taking the Saigon↔Rach Gia Thien Thanh Limousine bus service, passengers need to know three different bus stations: one in Saigon, two in Rach Gia. In Saigon, all buses depart and arrive at the same bus stop; but in Rach Gia, there’s a separate bus stop for arrivals and departures. See below for details, and remember that Thien Thanh Limousine offers a free pick-up/drop-off service to/from their bus stops (you’ll need to arrange this in advance: see Contact for details):

The Thien Thanh Limousine Departure/Arrival Bus Stop, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)Passengers need to know three different bus stops: one in Saigon & two in Rach Gia


Saigon (Departure & Arrival Bus Stop): 99 Tân Thành Street, Tân Phú District [MAP]: Known as the Thien Thanh Tan Phu Stop, all buses depart and arrive at this location in Saigon’s ‘wild west’. Way out in Tan Phu District, among the pulsating tangle of streets, throbbing with life and youthful energy, this bus stop isn’t exactly convenient if you happen to live in central Saigon. Nor is it a particularly beautiful bus station. In fact, it appears to be a large, gravel parking lot on what looks to be the clearing site for the foundations of a huge new apartment block. The office and waiting area is on the right as you come in from the main street. There are seats and free refreshments, such as noodles, biscuits, coffee, and soda. The toilets are fine and, although the bus stop might look pretty shabby, it’s well-organized and perfectly fine.

The Thien Thanh Limousine Bus Stop, Tan Phu District, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)The Saigon bus stop in out in Tan Phu District: there’s free food & drink for waiting passengers

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Rach Gia (Arrival Bus Stop): Phan Thi Rang Street gas station, An Hoa Ward, Rach Gia City [MAP] Thien Thanh buses arrive at the large gas station on Phan Thi Rang Street, in the new southern suburbs of Rach Gia. This broad boulevard has easy access to all of Rach Gia’s main thoroughfares, namely Nguyen Trung Truc (to the city centre), and Duong 3 Thang 2 and Ton Duc Thang streets, both of which run parallel to the coast, leading north to Rach Gia ferry port, from where all boats to the Gulf of Thailand islands depart. There’s a Thien Thanh Limousine ticket office at the gas station and several cafes and shops nearby. However, Thien Thanh buses only arrive at this stop; departures are from a different location (see below for details).

The Thien Thanh Limousine Arrival Bus Stop, Rach GiaThien Thanh buses arrive at the gas station on Phan Thi Rang Street in the new suburbs of Rach Gia

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Rach Gia (Departure Bus Stop): 26-33 corner of Duong 3 & Duong 7 streets , Chau Thanh [MAP] A few kilometres south of Rach Gia city centre, the departure stop for Thien Thanh Limousine buses is at the corner of two small streets, behind the main provincial bus station (Bến Xe Tỉnh Kiên Giang). The bus stop has a Thien Thanh ticket office, waiting area and bathroom. Just like the Saigon bus stop, free drinks and snacks are available for waiting passengers. The immediate area around the bus stop is pretty quiet and empty, but there are shops along the busy main road just two minutes’ walk to the west.

The Thien Thanh Limousine Departure Bus Stop, Rach GiaThien Thanh buses depart Rach Gia from a stop in the streets behind the main Kien Giang provincial bus station


*Please support Vietnam Coracle: you can search bus times, prices & make bookings directly from this page by using the Baolau.com search boxes & links throughout this guide. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission. All my earnings go straight back into this website. Thank you.

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The Buses:

Thien Thanh Limousine buses are Hyundai Universe Express Noble coaches. These are standard vehicles for long-distance bus travel in Vietnam. But the ones used by Thien Thanh Limousine are converted for maximum space, comfort, convenience, and luxury. Several other bus lines on other routes in Vietnam operate similar ‘VIP’ (as they’re known) coaches, but Thien Thanh are the smartest I’ve been on so far. Each bus only has 20 individual sleeping compartments, compared to 40 or more berths on ordinary sleeper buses. Of course, Thien Thanh is more expensive than standard sleeper coaches. But, not really by much: a standard sleeper bus between Saigon and Rach Gia costs around 170,000vnd ($7); Thien Thanh costs 280,000vnd ($12). The difference is 110,000vnd ($5), but the gulf in quality and comfort is enormous. In my opinion, it’s worth the extra expense, especially if (as in my case) you’re taking the night bus and then heading straight to the ferry port in Rach Gia for a connecting boat to one of the islands in the Gulf of Thailand. Add to this, the massive convenience of being able to carry your motorbike on-board the coach, and I think Thien Thanh is great value for money.

Sleeping compartments on a Thien Thanh Limousine (VIP) bus, VietnamThien Thanh Limousine buses have two rows of fully flat sleeping compartments

Thien Thanh Limousine buses feature two rows of individual sleeping compartments on two levels: upper and lower. There’s no difference between the top- and bottom-level cabins: they’re the same size and getting in/out is equally easy (or challenging, depending of your agility). Each compartment is pretty substantial and private: there’s a window on one side, a curtain on the other, and proper partitions at the top and tail ends, so the space is entirely yours. Each cabin features a soft, nearly flat bed. The length is suitable for a genuine sleep, but taller passengers will be frustrated: I’m about 1.8m and was able to get comfortable and doze off happily (although some seats have an irritating bump which digs into your spine at certain angles). Also provided inside your private cabin are: blanket, pillow, comforter, personal air-con with remote control, headphones, USB port, personal T.V with remote control, WiFi, drinks holder, shelf space, tray table, mood lighting, and even a framed photograph of a famous Vietnamese tourist destination. What more could you want? There’s no toilet on-board, but the bus stops once en-route (about 2.5-3 hours into the journey) for a bathroom break and refreshments.

Sleeping compartment on a Thien Thanh Limousine (VIP) bus, VietnamThe cabins are very comfortable: TV, air-con, WiFi, pillows, blanket, mood lighting & more

But the luxury on-board the Thien Thanh buses goes further than the amenities. The whole experience is much more pleasant than an ordinary sleeper bus. Various ‘rules’ are in place to ensure this: no shoes are allowed on the bus (you must take them off and bag them up when you board); no odious or messy food and drink is allowed in the cabins (this means no horrible smells, no irritating loud crunching, no crumbs between the seats); no loud music, movies or phone calls are allowed in the cabins, and none are played on the bus systems either (this means no being forced to listen to other people’s [bad] music, no listening to other passengers family rows, no hearing annoying ringtones and video game sound effects). It’s quiet, civilized, peaceful; professional, hushed and organized. Staff are actually quite strict (but nice) about these rules. This is a rarity on transportation in Vietnam. There are even some safety measures, such as seat-belts and a little red hammer in each compartment to smash the glass in the event of being stuck. The driving discipline seemed better, too: not too fast, and not leaning of the horn for the entire journey.

Thien Thanh Limousine (VIP) bus, VietnamThien Thanh buses are clean, quiet & ‘civilized’: the whole experience is very different from regular buses


*Please support Vietnam Coracle: you can search bus times, prices & make bookings directly from this page by using the Baolau.com search boxes & links throughout this guide. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission. All my earnings go straight back into this website. Thank you.

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The Journey:

I usually take the night bus, so there’s not much to see as the bus glides through the flat plains of the Mekong Delta on arrow-straight roads, crossing colossal new bridges spanning the great width of one of the world’s longest rivers. During the daytime, there are industrial suburbs which melt into a tapestry of green rice fields and orchards of tropical fruit, bisected by narrow canals, with large barges, laden with an agricultural cargo, ploughing the viscous, chocolatey waters. Even at night, there’s a sense of the vastness of the Delta: on the two occasions that the route crosses the Mekong River, at the My Thuan Bridge and the newly opened Vam Cong Bridge, if you peer out the window, you’ll see an expanse of shimmering silver-black water stretching to the horizon, in it reflected the lights of dozens of boats, plying the waterway from farm to factory.

Sleeping compartment of a Thien Thanh Limousine (VIP) bus, VietnamComfortable in your cabin, you can sleep or watch the flat agricultural plains of the Mekong Delta go by

Journey time between Saigon and Rach Gia is now only 5-6 hours, thanks to the recent opening of the Vam Cong Bridge, which cuts out the time-consuming and massively overused ferry crossing. Indeed, there’s no longer any ferry crossing at all on this route. The first hour from Saigon utilizes the CT01 Expressway, which was the first of its kind to open in Vietnam. It’s a smooth and fast ride. However, the second hour is along the old and dreadfully inadequate Highway QL1A, a dreary, traffic-clogged drive all the way to the enormous and impressive My Thuan Bridge. After a 30-minute rest stop, the journey continues on Road QL80, which ultimately leads all the way to Rach Gia. West of Sa Dec, the Delta becomes lusher and more interesting. Canals run parallel to the road, where rickety homes of wooden and corrugated iron sheets lean over the water’s edge. A long, new stretch of road flies across the brand new Vam Cong Bridge before deteriorating into the old (and pretty bumpy) road. This dead-straight last leg on QL80 takes over an hour. In general, the nighttime journeys are quieter and quicker than the daytime ones.

Sleeping compartments of a Thien Thanh Limousine (VIP) bus, VietnamAt night there’s not much to see, but during the day the vast Mekong River can be viewed from bridges


Disclosure: I never receive payment for anything I write: my content is always free & independent. I’ve written this guide because I want to: I like this bus route & I want my readers to know about it. For more details, see my Disclosure & Disclaimer statements here

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