Ho Chi Minh Airport
The Tan Son Nhat International Airport, sometimes called Ho Chi Minh Airport, is located just four miles north of Ho Chi Minh City and is the largest airport in Vietnam. There are two terminals, one handling domestic flights (Terminal 1) and one handling international flights (Terminal 2). The airport has the capacity to handle up to 17 million passengers per year. The airport currently has a total of two runways in operation. The international airport code for Tan Son Nhat is SGN derived from Ho Chi Minh City’s former name, Saigon. The airport received its name as it was built in a village that was originally named Tan Son Nhat.
History of the Airport
Tan Son Nhat was built in the 1930s by the French Colonial government and the United States added an international runway in 1956. The French originally built a small landing strip that was designed for non-commercial flights and used predominantly by the French government. During the Vietnam War, both the United States Airforce and the South Vietnamese Airforce used the airport. The war eventually caused the airport to shut down with the last United States flight into Vietnam before the Fall of Saigon arriving on April of 1975. In 2004, the airport re-opened for the first time to a United States carrier allowing for regular tourism into the country.
Because Tan Son Nhat is located with-in the city itself, any additional expansion for the airport is near impossible. The airport has already gone through multiple renovations and expansions to upgrade itself. In 2020, a new airport, the Long Thanh International Airport, will open and replace Tan Son Nhat as the primary international airport used for arrivals and departures. Tan Son Nhat will continue to handle many domestic flights throughout Vietnam.
Negotiation is a part of daily life at the airport and the Vietnamese culture. Whether you are getting in a taxi or a mini-bus, prepare to negotiate with the drivers in advance and be sure to only use a driver that wears an official taxi badge. Travelers should also be prepared to negotiate with custom officials if bringing in expensive items like laptop computers, digital cameras or high-end clothing and accessories including athletic shoes. Do not carry a lot of cash money, the more you have, the higher the expected amount from the negotiations.
For anyone who prefers to stay at the airport for transit in the newer international terminal, Tan Son Naht offers Internet services, entertainment areas, health care and several beauty services from hair salons to manicure stores to massage centers. Mobility within the airport is made easy by 20 escalators, 18 elevators, 8 moving walkways, and 8 sky bridges.
For those traveling domestically, the old domestic terminal uses four aero-bridges, installed in the late 1990s, to make mobility easier. The old terminal handles up to seven million passengers per year.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport uses the ARINC AirVUE system to disperse information to passengers about flights, offering real time flight information to make traveling more efficient, using flight arrival and departure displays that are located on-site at the airport, instead of being handled via a remote server.