Motorbike is the most popular means of transport in Viet Nam and they can be found anywhere from big cities to remote areas. With the entire length of the country, riding a motorbike is the best way to experience and discover the beauty of Viet Nam in freedom way. Therefore, if you intend to get a motorbike trip in Viet Nam, some suggestions below might be useful:
1. The pros of riding a motorbike
It is a feeling of freedom, you will have a chance to stop anywhere you like and explore places where loads of transports are unable to reach.
Exploring cities, towns, and villages will give you a basic understanding of the culture, but riding between them will make you feel part of it all.
It is a cheap and easy way to travel in general.
2. The cons of riding a motorbike
Generally, the traffic in Viet Nam is chaotic and it can be dangerous for those who do not have much experience in riding a motorbike.
Some parts of roads are not always in good condition, so you will likely face pothole or rough streets once in a while.
3. Buying or renting a motorbike
Should buy or rent a motorbike is presumably worries for explorers who expect to discover Viet Nam by two wheels. Actually, they have both advantages and disadvantages.
Buying a motorbike
- Full freedom.
- Full-time using
- Do not need the deposit.
- Do not know much about the bike’s quality and conditions.
- Highly risk of the bike breaking down (unless you buy new 100% bike) and likely spend much money on repair cost.
- Take the time to sell the bike back.
- Resolve the problems on your own.
- Risk of scam for unreputable selling places.
Renting a motorbike
- Get the motorbike in good condition.
- Less risk of the bike breaking down and do not care for engine problems.
- It can be inexpensive.
- Need to hand over the deposit if you rent a highly valued bike.
- Fill in paperwork.
- Risk of scam from unreputable rental shops.
In general, you can make up your mind whether buying or renting a motorbike depending on how long your holiday is. If you have a short amount of time, renting would be a better option due to its safety. Try to rent or buy from reputable companies that provide well- maintained bike and reliable service even the cost of these is a bit more expensive compared to other rental shops but it’s definitely worth it.
4. What bike to rent or buy
Most of the roads in Viet Nam, the bike 110 to 135cc will be completely sufficient for touring the country. I would highly recommend the semi or scooter automatic. For those who want to get the bigger and more powerful bikes, you can opt for manual bikes. The cost depends on what kind of bike you want and the pickup and drops off locations as well.
If you want to buy the motorbike, the cost is around 200-300$ for scooter and 400-500$ for semi-automatic( the second hand). I do not recommend you rent or buy Honda Win even though it is sexy but it is more prone to breakdowns as the parts inside are almost certainly Chinese knock- offs. The cost for Honda Win ( used bike) should be around 200$.
5. Some main biking routes in Viet Nam
Main road: This is the main road in Viet Nam which is access to all beautiful cities like Ha Noi, Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh, etc. Most of the roads are in good condition, but they are quite busy and loads of means of transports.
Ha Giang loop: Ha Giang is the province in Northern of Viet Nam, lining the Chinese border. This road is filled with towering mountains, deep valleys, winding rivers, and overall breathtaking views. It can be completed in 2 days if you don’t make many stops on the way, but that would not recommend this.
Ho Chi Minh trails: Riding a motorbike through the forest to explore the spectacular sceneries around the trails. You will also have a chance to learn about minority people’s daily life and culture in this area. I would recommend you go with the tour guide because this route is deep inside the forest which is not easy support. This trip can be completed for at least 2 days riding depend on where you start and finish.
Hai Van Pass: This is one of the most famous roads in Viet Nam with high coastal passes, amazing sea views, and empty beaches. Riding between Hue, Da Nang, and Hoi An via Hai Van Pass is definitely a must thing to do when riding a motorbike in Viet Nam.
6. Some tips for travelers
First, if you are a complete novice, you should have a trial one day before the trip. Usually, scooter automatic would be definitely a good choice for beginners. I would highly recommend the tour guide for those who don’t have much experience ( sitting on the back of the driver).
Second, be careful about scamming from unreputable rental shops or bad motorbike guys who will easily reach you anywhere.
Third, if you stay in Viet Nam for more than a week, you should buy a Vietnamese sim card with internet data. Or download an offline map for Viet Nam on your phone and Maps.me is a good app.
Next, you should bring suncream when the sun is shining or a jacket if you are riding in winter months. Otherwise, a raincoat or poncho could be essential, especially in changing seasons.
Then, the speed limits are low within Viet Nam ( 40 km/h for cities and around 60 km/h for highways), so make sure not to ride too fast.
Finally, try to choose reputable companies to rent or buy a motorbike. They will provide well- maintained bikes and reliable service.