If there’s one place that you should not miss in Vietnam, it’s got to be…
Vietnam is on the mainland South East Asia and has over 90 million people. Motorcycling in Vietnam is extremely popular with nearly 50 million motorcyclists.
Most motorcyclists in Vietnam have small scooters. However, a manual bike is much better as it gives you more power options and better suspension, as well as a braking system.
Relatives read: A Guide to Exploring the Central Highlands of Vietnam by Motorbike
Do you need a driver’s license to ride a motorcycle in Vietnam?
In Vietnam, you can drive a motorcycle with a displacement of up to 50 cc without a license. However, these motorcycles are quite small and not suitable for long trips across the country. However, they are perfect for city trips.
If you rent a more powerful motorcycle, you will need a driver’s license. International driving licenses are issued if your home country has signed the 1968 Convention (it is the Countries in green on this m). You need a motorcycle license from your home country and have to register it with the IDP. Note that if you are from Australia, the UK, the US and Canada, your driver’s license will be invalid.
You need to transfer your license from home to a Vietnamese license in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh.
Many travelers don’t go through this process. Note, however, that if you do not have a valid motorcycle license in Vietnam, your travel insurance will not be valid.
If you want to rent a motorcycle in Vietnam you need to know the rules that you need to follow to make your experience more enjoyable!
Rules to be observed when riding a motorcycle in Vietnam
Below are some rules for using a motorcycle on Vietnamese roads:
- Larger vehicles have right of way. Avoid anything bigger than you and slow down.
- Traffic is like a river that you have to flow into. The drivers will find a way to move forward.
- Use the signal and the most important thing is the horn. People don’t care about the sound of horns.
- The speed limit in Vietnam is very low (25-80 km / h).. Do not exceed the speed limit, a parking ticket is expensive.
- Animals are everywhere in the country or on mountain roads. Dogs and chickens are most, then water buffalo, cows, pigs and horses, etc. If you kill a dog or a chicken, don’t stop, cry and feel sorry, it’s not your fault. Slow down when you spot these animals and don’t meet water buffalo, cows, pigs and horses, they are just too big!
- The distance between you and other drivers (locals, guides, etc.) should be far enough not to be in for a surprise. Traffic is usually slow in cities or on crowded streets. On wide roads or in the mountains, we recommend 10-20 m. Never ride next to your guide because he is very busy.
- Be careful with split oil from trucks and buses turning corners on mountain roads, extremely slippery and we have had at least four minor accidents related to this matter.
- Buy a good road book (Vietnam Atlas) and Do the timing and routing before starting a ride. If you get lost, ask more than two people as they may be using different units of kilometers or even directions.
- If the police stop you (they rarely do) just keep speaking English or whatever you want and they will soon give up and let you go in less than five minutes.
- When the road is wet, apply both brakes at the same time with more rear brakes, as if you were applying more front brakes, it slips. Most of our motorcycles have front disc brakes and on 250cc dirt bikes you have front and rear disc brakes.
- Do not drink and drive.
Safety and guide tips for your Vietnam motorcycle tour
Here are some safety tips for a Vietnam motorcycle tour.
1. Reasons to choose a motorcycle in Vietnam
A motorcycle is considered to be the best means of transportation for mountain areas because of its convenience and initiative. With a motorcycle, you can go anywhere you love, regardless of the road conditions. He can stop whenever he feels like taking photos or relaxing instead of depending on the driver or guide. Motorcycling helps people integrate into nature and the fresh air, and you will never be afraid of motion sickness.
Choosing a car, you are likely wasting hours sleeping in the air-conditioned passenger seat, not to mention the illness caused by consecutive slopes and mountain passes. Motorcycling means living on every mile of your itinerary! In addition, you can ride a motorcycle in any terrain and it is much easier to repair if it breaks.
2. What type of motorcycle and when?
Semi-automatic motorcycles with a displacement of 100 cc or more are all suitable for roads in the mountains of Northern Vietnam. The main criteria for choosing a motorcycle are a powerful engine, fuel-efficient and flexible packing space.
The weather is one of the most important issues when planning a motorcycle tour. The best time to explore these powerful areas is from late September to early December or after Tet Nguyen Danwhen there is almost no rain and the temperature is cool. The spring rain and summer heat in the high region are somehow harmful to health and detrimental to the quality of the roads.
3. Be well prepared!
There are indispensable items to bring with you when traveling to remote areas, such as special clothing and shoes, personal items, contact information, and medical bags. However, a motorcycle tour requires more.
You have to be well prepared with a protective helmet and a tool kit for motorcycle repair and of course certain skills in repairing the engine. An additional spark plug and a motorcycle key are always required. Remember to service the entire motorcycle, change the oil, and check the tires, brakes, mirrors, horn and lights before starting. Fill your motorcycle with gasoline and know the location of the gas station!
4. On the go
Whenever possible, it is advisable to travel in groups of two or three motorcycles with an experienced guide. All members of the group must have a detailed itinerary to eliminate the risk of loss. People should not ride and talk in parallel while steering the motorcycle. So stop the bike whenever you feel the need to talk to someone.
Watch out for the bend and those who are reversing, and do not enter a different lane. Sometimes there are animals like buffalo, cows, dogs or even pigs crossing the road. So slow down and avoid panicking them. At night or in rainy weather, when visibility is restricted, travelers should better pause the trip for reasons of peace and security.
5. Other things to remember
- Do not drive when you are tired or sleepy.
- Do not drive after drinking alcohol.
- Avoid going too fast or stopping without realizing it.
- Watch carefully and look out for traffic signs.
- Bring your identity and driver’s license with you as there are police controls on the street (but these are not very strict for foreigners).
- Be extremely careful when crossing the creek. Pay attention to the water depth for the best arrangement.
- Respect the ethnic minorities and their distinctive culture.
- Protect the environment and always remember: Safe is of the utmost importance.
Fancy riding a motorcycle all over the world? Check out these posts:
Guide to backpacking a motorcycle
A guide to planning a motorcycle tour in the Himalayas
Most beautiful regions in Brazil for motorcycling
Tips for getting motorcycle insurance in Australia