Traveling Vietnam on a motorbike is guaranteed to be your favorite adventure no matter how many countries you have explored. It’s your chance to see the country at your own pace. Enjoy the coffee plantations, pagodas, rice terraces, water buffaloes, amazing landscapes and scenic coastlines. A Motorbike tour of Vietnam allows you to ride slow and explore the remote corners of the country, visit even the remote villages tourists hardly visit and mingle with the locals. Furthermore, you will be right at home when traveling in Vietnam on a motorbike- most of the locals use bikes.
Should you buy or rent a motorbike in Vietnam?
The decision to buy or rent the bike will depend on your preferences. If you buy, then you must spend some days or weeks looking for a buyer. Renting allows you to return it immediately you are done. If you choose to buy from a fellow traveler, make sure you know something about bikes to avoid getting a worn out one.
Whether you decide to buy or rent, make sure to get a well-maintained bike. You don’t want to spend your time looking for repairs along the way. It will cost you more, and you will waste valuable time you would have spent on road sightseeing.
What brand do you buy?
There are many brands available in the Vietnam market, but it’s best to buy from reputable companies like Yamaha and Honda. You can then take it to one of the official repair shops and get charged a fair rate. If you have no prior information about bikes and you buy a local bike, then you may not know if the repair is faulty and whether they are overcharging you.
The brand you buy will depend on what part of the country you will be touring. The rough northwest will, for example, require a powerful bike to take you through the rough roads and climb the many mountains.
While on the road, be prepared for emergency breakdowns. However, most Vietnamese know how to fix bikes, and a mechanic is available every 5 kilometers. That’s why you need some basic bike information to avoid getting overcharged on repairs.
Motorcycle buying checklist in Vietnam
- Get a Blue card or paper registration for the bike. It proves ownership of bike once you get to roadblocks. You will also need it when it’s time to sell your bike.
- Get an international driver’s license converted in Vietnamese.
- Make sure your bike has a good luggage rack and straps. Learn how to strap your luggage before leaving the shop.
- Get a good helmet
- Get a rain jacket, boots, good pants and cover for your luggage in case it rains. Get a windbreaker jacket and gloves too.
- Get sunscreen and sunglasses
- Have a phone with a good GPS or a map of the area you are touring. There are offline maps available to download.
- Carry some snacks or food on the road
- Have a first aid kit
- Purchase a local sim card and load it with data.
- Get some lessons if you’ve never ridden a bike before.
What’s the best route when traveling on a motorbike in Vietnam?
You can choose the south to North route or vice versa. The are many routes, but the most common is the coastline. It’s scenic and has pretty good roads. You can also choose to take the road that borders Cambodia and Laos for a forest/ nature ride. The Ho Chi Minh trail also has stunning views and allows you to visit villages. You can also choose to mix it up and explore unbeaten roads.
Where to stay when riding across Vietnam
It’s always safe to call ahead before you get to a destination and book accommodation. There are hostels and hotels available but many tourists and expatriates are living in Vietnam, and if you’ve not booked earlier, you may have to drive around before you can get accommodation.
Where to park
Do not pack on the small alleys or main streets. There are designated parking spots where you have to pay for the night. The hostels and hotels will allow you may be an hour or two free.
How to sell your motorbike?
Place a for sale sign on it after cleaning it and tweaking it a little. You can post it on craigslist, Facebook or hostel boards. Add a number to the post for easy communication. If running out of time, sell it at the motorbike shops.