Vietnam on a motorbike → you really want it!

1. Motorbikes in Vietnam
2. Why to travel on a motorbike in Vietnam?
3. Traffic rules and regulations in Vietnam
4. What to have when traveling on a motorbike?
5. What to do in case of a breakdown + checking a motorbike
6. What types of motorbikes you can buy or rent in Vietnam?
7. Where to rent or buy motorbikes in Vietnam?
8. Travel insurance and accident on a motorcycle
9. Prices for renting or buying a motorbike
10. I do not want to drive a motorbike, what to do?
11. What to prepare when traveling on a motorcycle?

Traveling in Vietnam on a motorbike may be your best decision.

Almost all people in Vietnam have a motorcycle or scooter, you will see it for yourself when you will be traveling in Vietnam. For the Vietnamese, it’s a cheap and quickest way of transport in the cities but also in the villages. Expensive cars are in traffic rather impractical and not everyone has the money to purchase them. The largest motorcycle chaos and millions of motorbikes you will see mainly in large cities such as. Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnamese use motorbikes also as a means of transportation of goods.

Motorbike in Vietnam as a very fast means for deliver or transportation of various goods and cargo. Chairs, tables, cabinets, refrigerator, food, or fish in sacks or 4 people on one motorcycle? Yes, you will see it in transit on motorcycles, the Vietnamese are very skilled and smart in this case .

Why to travel in Vietnam on motorbike as a tourist?

- Some interesting places in Vietnam are inaccessible without a motorcycle
- Cheap and convenient way of transport
- You do not have to wait for local buses, save a time
- Freedom of movement, stay where and how long you want
- Great adventure without to many tourists

I recommend to drive a motorbike in Vietnam for…

-  more experienced drivers
who already have some experience with a motorbike
-  people, who do not have a fear of traffic chaos in big cities
-  people, who are ready for the unexpected situations on the roads
-  people, who are not performing at 150 km/h speed
-  people, who are not afraid to take responsibility for themselves

What are the traffic rules and regulations in Vietnam?

Traffic rules and regulations in Vietnam are written by law and the fines are not small. But we can say, most people do not comply with these laws. They drive everywhere, on the wrong direction, very quickly drive, sidewalks, etc … so the transportation is chaotic. Sometimes it seems – the law does not exist. Fines or violations are resolved by drivers in the form of a bribe. But you are a tourist in foreign country, you need to respect these rules, drive slowly, you do not want complicate your vacation in Vietnam. Try to avoid any accident or incident when traveling on a motorbike!

- Since 2015 is a valid international driver’s license in Vietnam, get it!

- Along with an international driver’s license, you should also show your national driver’s license
- Motorbikes and scooters with engine of capacity to 50 cc are rent without a driving license
- Motorbikes 50 – 174 cc – you should have the official vietnamese driving licence A1
- Motorbikes above 174 cc – you should have the official vietnamese driving licence A2
- When buying or renting a motorbike you have to get a blue card of owner (at least a copy)
- Blue card shows information about the owner of the motorbike
- If you did not have this blue card, you may have a problem with the police
- Zero alcohol tolerance for car drivers and 0.5 ‰ for motorcyclists
- Motorcyclists must have a helmet when riding
- More than 2 people in transit on a motorcycle are not allowed (but you will see this everywhere)
- Seat belt while riding in a car in the front seat are mandatory
- Driving on the right side of the road in Vietnam
- You must be 18 years old
- Stronger vehicle has always a priority

Fines + penalties + traffic violations + fees on a motorbike 

Fines and sanctions + fees + violations while driving a motorbike in Vietnam you can see in this infographics (2016) or in this article (2014). Translated into English language. Just a few: driving in the prohibited area or on the wrong side > 200 000 – 400 000 dong, alcohol (by level) > 500 000 – 3 000 000 dong, driving without a license > 800 000 – 1 200 000 dong, driving without a helmet > 100 000 -200 000 dong, phone call while driving > 60 000 – 80 000 dong, driving without control of both hands > 5 000 000 – 8 000 000 dong. In the bad cases police can confiscate a motorbike. In the worst cases, eg. an hard accident, you can go to jail…

Policewoman trying to control traffic in Ho Chi Minh City 

What to take when traveling on a motorcycle in Vietnam?

You have to prepare for changing weather in Vietnam, tropics but in the mountains for the winter (rarely even snow), and less well passable roads or routes, especially in mountainous areas. Most important it is suitable choice of clothes and other motorcycle accessories, but also, of course, choosing a motorbike, international driving license, travel insurance against any accident or hospitalization. If you had insurance to prove the damage incurred while traveling on a motorcycle, you must have a lease about rent or buing a motorbike. I do not want to frighten accidents, but unfortunately it happens.

- Waterproof, lightweight but also warm clothing (jacket), strong shoes (no sandals)
- A waterproof container for backpack against rain and dust
- Helmet (usually you will get a helmet)
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- If you are buying a motorbike, it is not a problem for a few bucks to buy a helmet
- Mouth cover, dust-free purchase problem
- Bracket backpack on the bike, if not, made of metal produced at each Mini workshops
- Reinforcing straps on a backpack you can buy for a few bucks
- I recommend to take a reserve of gasoline when traveling to a plastic bottle
- GPS or maps in the mobile phone (eg. Google Maps)
- At least a basic set of tools for possible breakdown

What to do in case of failure or malfunction of motorcycle?

Lots of travelers are not experienced mechanics and repairmen of motorbikes. Breakdowns in a very cheap motorbikes (eg. chinese copy of Honda Win) are common and frequent. When you will be a long time driving with a motorbike some breakdowns will come. Blew tire, destroyed exhaust, broken blinker and others. There are some repair shop or mechanics at the roads in Vietnam, they will help you. You will see eg. tires on the hook? They will be happy to replace the punctured wheel or inflate the wheel. However, if such this place does not exists, ask the local people in the neighborhood or stop someone on the road.

It is necessary to check a motorbike before driving.

Before you rent or buy a motorcycle,
it is really necessary to check and try very carefully this machine. Lots of retailers offer an cheap and used motorcycles and scooters of dubious quality. Some official and certified commercial retailers mostly rent and sell an motorbikes of good quality, sometimes with the insurance against damage. But the situation is often different in small local or street retailers.

- Check the lights and indicators
- Check the tire and the frame
- Gasoline may not leak
- Check the sound of engine
- Stability and control of the handlebar
- Check the stand and gripping device
- Check the registration papers (Blue card owner)

What kind of motorbike you can buy or rent in Vietnam?

There are many, many, many motorbikes. The local retailers sell various brands of motorcycles in Vietnam, but also a lot of bad chinese copies. The cheap chinese copies of Honda Win are very well known, a lot of travelers buy or rent this reliable motorbike. This motorbike is very cheap (you can buy for about $200), but what is very cheap it is not also good, more money you will give for failures and repairs while traveling with this motorbike. Retailers have often these motorbikes / scooters for rent or buy: Honda (Blade, Wave, Future, Win), Yamaha (Mio Nuovo) and Suzuki (Hayate), Minsk. I drove very well with the motorcycles from Honda (not Win).


– favorite brand of motorcycles in Vietnam
– a lot of copies from China (check the registration papers)
– the price is based on age and use
– approximately around $500, the newer are a bit expensive
– you can buy an parts almost everywhere
– Honda Blade, Honda Wave, Honda Future is a good choice for traveling (semi-automatic)
– Honda Win (manual, cheap but not reliable, place to store your backpack)


– Mio and Nuovo models dominate in Vietnam
– widespread brand of motorcycles in Vietnam
– also stronger types of motorbike for motocross or difficult terrain


– widespread brand of motorcycles in Vietnam
– Hayate scooter
– you can buy parts almost everywhere and everywhere is also service
– Suzuki GS 125 ccm is a good choice for two people on a motorcycle
– price is about the same as Honda

– very old and for somebody „cool“ motorbike
– suitable for very low budget travellers
– more easily correctable fault but not too reliable motorbike
– price is about $100-400

Where to rent or buy a motorbike in Vietnam?

You can buy or rent a motorbike mainly in the center of big cities and tourists spots. Outside the shop is a row of motorbikes and the inscription “Motorbike for sale / rent”, it is a clear signal,  there is a bike shop. Vietnamese – “Xe máy” = Motorcycle, “Cho thuê xe máy” = Motorcycle Rentals. I recommend to take with you 2 original passport.

Sale and rent of motorbikes, offers on the Internet + websites + expats:

- rental of motorbikes (+motorbike tours)  in Hanoi+Ha Giang, Da Nang (good reference) –
- rental of motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh city – Saigon scooter rental
- sale and rental of motorbikes in Hanoi (good reference) – Phung Motorbike / Tigitmotorbikes / Flamingotravel
- the good website where travelers sell motorbikes in Vietnam – Travelswop
- advertising community site – sales of motorbikes in Vietnam – TNH Vietnam
- motorbikes for sale or rent in Vietnam (Facebook group) – Vietnam Backpacker Sales
- motorbikes for sale or rent in Vietnam (Facebook group) – Backpacking Vietnam by bike
- sale and rental of motorbikes in Vietnam – Vietnam Craigslist
- motorbikes for sale in Vietnam – Expats

Travel insurance and any accident on a motorcycle.

Before you go to Vietnam arrange a travel insurance and obtain an international driving license. It is important to say, if you were involved in an accident and you do not have any international driving license, travel insurance and a contract for renting or buying a motorbike –  you pay the full cost of your hospitalization (without repayment from the insurance company). Beware of “Exclusion of additional liability insurance.”

Liability insurance of motorbike can be arranged also in Vietnam (bud you need to have a vietnamese driver’s license, for tourists on tourist visa is practically impossible). Secure your luggage in case of theft. The baggage have to be placed in the luggage compartment of motorbike and can not be visible from the outside.

What is the price for rent or purchase a motorbike in Vietnam?

Prices are different and quite low. Of course, everything depends on the condition, age and model of a motorcycle. Most motorbikes of street vendors or advertisers on the internet are already used models. Check carefully your motorbike before you rent or buy and pay for her. Somewhere you  could rent a scooter already for $6/1 day and somewhere for $15/1 day. Prices are reduced if you take a motorbike for a longer period of time, eg. for 1 month.

 Rent a motorbike or scooter in Vietnam:

Scooter / motorbike for 1 day > $6 – 15 (Honda Wave, Future, Blade, Yamaha…)
Scooter / motorbike for 1 month > about $100 – 200 (the price decreases in long-term borrowing)
Stronger motorcycle for 1 day > $30 – 60 (the price decreases in long-term borrowing)

 Buying a motorbike or scooter in Vietnam:

Scooter / motorbike for tourists > apx. $250 – 1 000 (eg. Honda Wave, Future, Blade, Yamaha…)
– low price from advertisers or street vendors (can be copies of motorbikes), higher price for certified vendors
– some companies offer redemption, you buy eg. for $1 000, and when you return you will get back $800
– you can sell your motorcycle when you are going home, through the advertising servers or sellers, usually a lower price

What to do if I’m afraid to drive a motorcycle or scooter?

They are prepared also for this in Vietnam. Mainly in the larger cities operate services of mototaxi (Xe Ôm). Motorbike drivers ask where you want to drive. Sometimes it’s convenient, eg. bus stops 3 km from the city center. So if you’re afraid to drive a motorbike or you do not have a driver’s license, you can use them. Try also ask people when you will see a lot of motorbikes, people are mostly friendly. But before you take a mototaxi, arrange in advance the price for this service and ask for the duration of a trip.

Organized motorbike tours by travel agencies.

The possibility of traveling on a motorbike in Vietnam is also using the services of tourist guides and organized tours on a motorbikes. Plenty of travel agencies in Vietnam, also offers guided trips on a motorcycle. Certainly there is no danger that you wander somewhere to the wrong or with a inoperable motorcycle. Prices for this for example 3-day motorcycle trip is about $150.

For what to prepare when traveling on a motorbike in Vietnam?

- Traveling on a motorbike is physically demanding,
even though you’re sitting
- You will be tired, really
- To much dust on vietnamese roads
- A lot of water on the roads in monsum season
- Bad roads in mountainous areas (gravel, falling stones, holes…)
- Distances between cities are sometimes more than 100 kilometers
- You will be driving a maximum speed of about 50 km/h
- You can meet fake cops (read this article)
- Fantastic scenery, adventure and experience

Plan and prepare your travel itinerary for Vietnam > Itineraries for the north
Watch this instructional video > How to drive a motorbike in Vietnam

Vietnam on a motorcycle is a great adventure and experience. I wish you a wonderful travel experience while traveling on a motorbike in Vietnam! Enjoy it!