So, you want to motorbike around Viet Nam ey?
Sorry mom and dad that you had to find out like this, I didn’t know how to tell you!
Back in the beginning of 2013, my then boyfriend (Matt) and I decided to do just that – queue Top Gear. We didn’t really have a set route, the starting point was Ho Chi Minh/Saigon and depending how far we got, the end point would be either Hoi An or Hanoi.
I know there’s a lot of people out there thinking of doing this trip so, here are a few things you ought to know before riding a motorbike around Viet Nam
- Know what you’re getting yourself into.
It is an amazing experience, don’t get me wrong. I would recommend it to so many people… but realise the roads are dangerous and road rules are different.
- Know how to ride a motorbike, obviously.
Don’t be naive. Viet Nam is probably the worse place to learn how to ride, in my opinion. Since I didn’t want to risk it, Matt drove majority (okay, all) of the way. While we were there, we didn’t get questioned about our licenses. My tip? Don’t do anything stupid, always ride with a helmet and (hopefully) you won’t get pulled over. DRIVE SAFELY GUYS.
- The road rules you are used to back home, forget them.
Road rules are really different to what you’ll probably be used to. Learn and observe how the traffic flows and road etiquette. The quicker you learn this, the easier you’ll find driving the busy roads or major highways.
- You will hate National Route 1A (Highway 1).
This is the main highway linking the whole country. Passenger buses, trucks with massive loads and large vehicles are a common sight. They are pretty ruthless. It is pretty intimidating when most of the roads are single lane and these vehicles are trying to overtake one another. Not an ideal situation to be in.
- There are cheap motorbikes for sale but they can break down at any time.
Sure, you can find 100CC bikes for USD100 – 150 but if you’re unlucky, you can count of them breaking down in the middle of nowhere.
Due to our time constraint, we decided to splurge and bought it from an Easy Rider. A 150CC Sun Bonus with extremely comfortable seats and a backpack rack and two helmets. 3 weeks on this bad boy, with no break downs (except a loose clutch which was fixed).
- Don’t try selling your motorbike elsewhere aside from Saigon and Hanoi.
We took our time riding around and ended up having to sell our bike in Hoi An – which isn’t ideal. Most backpackers buy their bikes from either Hanoi or Saigon. So try to aim for these cities. We ended up selling our bike back to the Easy Rider we bought it from.
- Make sure you get the bike ownership card.
Especially if you buy the bike! This little yellow card essentially states that you own the vehicle and make it a little easier to border-cross to say Laos or Cambodia. A lot of the bikes don’t come with this card, which is fine if you’re just staying in Viet Nam but if you’re planning on heading elsewhere, I’d recommend having one!
- Enjoy it, relax and don’t forget to take pit stops in random places. You have the freedom to go ANYWHERE.
The scenery is gorgeous. The road sides are dotted with little wooden houses/shops/cafes and the locals are just going about their lives. Go slow. You don’t want to miss out on the little things on your journey that will make it memorable.
Now, go forth and experience the beauty that Viet Nam has to offer!
Peace, love and good vibes.