Riding in Vietnam is always an unforgettable experience. Nothing can beat the exciting feeling of exploring the country on the back of the bike. But before you gear up, just remember something below, to make you trips full-filled with awesomeness and worry-free.
You’re driving vehicles in a foreign country, so yes, legal is a very important part you need to focus on. Here is some legal requirement depending the vehicles you drive:
- Motorbikes up to 50cc doesn’t need to have a license, they are small and suitable for driving inside the city. It’s not a good recommendation for traveling across the country, which requires a stronger bikes.
- International Drivers Permits are currently legal IF your home country has signed under the 1968 convention (countries coloured green on this map). But you must hold a motorcycle license at home and have it registered on the IDP. Australia, UK, USA, and Canada have signed only the 1949 convention on IDPs, so they are not valid and you will be riding illegally.
- A Vietnamese license is otherwise required. Without it, if you cause damage to yourself or others you will be held fully responsible and be at the mercy of Vietnamese justice.
- You can have a valid license from home transferred to a Vietnamese license in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh with a bit of time and paperwork.
- Be aware that without a valid IDP or Vietnamese license, your travel insurance will not be valid, even if you have a motorbike license in your home country. You are riding illegally. If you need to pass Vietnamese License, there are some centers to get that. Leave a comment if you need the list.
RENT MOTORBIKE OR BUY ONE?
It’s easy to rent a motorbike in Vietnam, there are renting shop everywhere in tourism city like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon), Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An… We recommend to hire a strong motorbike than a convenient scooter as you will need full control when going to difficult terrains.
There is another option, which seems cheaper, is buying a bike from some traveller who finished their trips already and want to pass it to the next holder. You can easily find some on the Facebook groups of traveller, but it may takes you a little bit more time if you can’t find the next buyer.
In case you plan to drive outside Vietnam, please remember that sometimes the border officer won’t allow you to take the vehicles out of the country.
RIDING IN VIETNAM
You should ride on the right side of the roads. In the big city, the traffic is chaos and on highways it will be extremely dangerous (yes we’re serious).
In the big city, at rush hour, you will be joining with a huge amount of vehicles on the road. There will be hundreds of motorbikes, dozens of cars and some giant buses on traffic jam. Sounds crazy huh? The secret to dive in this vehicles ocean is: keep calm. When you’re on a bike, just steadily follow your way. Don’t panic, people won’t be able to expect what you’re going to do next. Remember to give signal when you want to turn and follow the crowd’s speed, you’ll be fine.
Riding motorbike on highways in Vietnam is a different story. Vietnam has built good highways but only cars and trucks are allowed to use them, and as they come with a toll, most vehicles will still use the rougher and narrow roads that motorbikes must use.
Roadsides will fill with stalls, markets and livestock, so please pay attention at all times.
Please prepare with helmets and safety gear. You should prepare some pack of back up tire when going on a long journey. The bike repairing shop is only appear on cities or town. In case your bike broke down on the street, don’t be hesitate to ask for help on the road. Most of Vietnamese drivers are very friendly and willing to help you.
BEST BIKING ROUTE IN VIETNAM
Main Route: Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi and vice versa, following the east coast. Mostly good roads, if busy, and access to all main cities like Hue, Hoi An and Da Nang. Most travellers choose this route. It should take one to three weeks travel time, depending on speed.
Ho Chi Minh Road: Starts outside of Ho Chi Minh and winds all the way to Hanoi on the western border of the country. Incredibly quiet road with spectacular scenery; highly recommended for nature lovers who want to experience untouched Vietnam.
Ha Giang Loop: Heading from Ha Giang to the very north of Vietnam and circling back, this is widely known as the best of Vietnam’s scenery. Three to six days to complete. The road conditions alternate between great and terrible, so expect the unexpected.
You want more of local recommendation? We will be more than happy to talk to you more at Beso House. We can also help you to know more about the city and more when you’re staying at our house!