Motorbiking in vietnam: practical rules you should know

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Motorbiking the vast countrysides of Northern Vietnam was one of the most rewarding travel experiences I’ve sầu ever had. Breathtaking vistas of layered rice terraces, wandering water buffalo, blissful and generous people, authentic local cuisine — it all felt too amazing to lớn be real. I was living out an exhilarating và spontaneous dream, and each day was brimming with freedom và amazement.

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But, it was my first time riding a motorbike and I was doing so in a foreign l&. Was I nervous going in? Absolutely. My heart raced at the thought of learning a new craft on the fly. The uncertainty of the future sunk inlớn my bones.

But, I made it out in one piece.

I learned a lot of valuable information during my time exploring Vietphái nam on a motorxe đạp. I’ll tell you how lớn prepare for your trip the right way, especially if you’re a rookie like I was. Take my best tips, hop on the perfect xe đạp, và enjoy Vietnam in the most exciting way possible.


Wear Protective sầu Gear


Hands down, this is the most important tip on the menu. Motorbikes are not the safest way to get around, so prepare your toàn thân for the worst-case scenario. Wear a helmet, gloves, thiông xã jacket, face mask, goggles, và any other protection you can get your hands on. It will be worth the effort.


Travel With a Partner


While I usually travel solo, I decided to motorbike with a fellow Hanoi hostel-goer, Cris, and I’m glad I did. While we started the trip as strangers, our wild & unpredictable journey has turned us inlớn friends for life.

Additionally, in the case of a breakdown or an emergency, having someone around to lớn help will be invaluable. Cris helped me khuyến mãi with two flat tires, a minor crash, and gave sầu me valuable advice throughout our life-changing trip.


Related: Motorbiking Northern Vietnam: My Spontaneous Self-Guided Tour

Prepare for Mud & Rain (And Lots of it)


Rain is pretty much inevitable in Vietphái mạnh, even if you’re traveling during the “dry” season (November through April). Bring head-to-toe water protection & make sure to lớn safeguard your cargo as well. I wrapped my backpachồng in a thichồng, blaông chồng trash bag and a waterproof pachồng cover for good measure.

There will also be mud — lots of mud — along your journey. A pair of rubbery waterproof pants & heavy-duty boots will go a long way in keeping the swath of thick, nasty muông chồng from infiltrating your existence.


Rent or Buy from Style Motorbikes


After a couple of unsatisfying visits to motorxe đạp shops in Hanoi, a friend recommended Style Motorbikes, và I’m glad I took his advice. Styles keep their bikes in great shape, offers a 24-hour helpline and không tính phí riding lessons for new riders, suggests trip routes, và charges fair prices. The relaxed staff members are helpful và professional.

They have stores in Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, & Hanoi, so it’s possible khổng lồ piông xã up và return your bike in different locations.


Related: Hanoi in One Day: A Budget Guide to Vietnam’s Capital City

Get a Vietnamese SIM Card


Phone service in Vietphái mạnh is fast, reliable, & very affordable. I purchased a SIM card with two months of unlimited data at the airport for only $13 US. Having constant access to the internet allowed me khổng lồ make reservations, contact friends & family, & tover khổng lồ the website without the need for a Wi-Fi connection.

Just make sure to unloông chồng your phone first, so it is able to accept an international SIM thẻ.


Install a Phone Mount on Your Motorbike


Having hands-miễn phí maps will make life much easier during your motorbike adventure inkhổng lồ the Vietnamese frontier. Buy or rent a phone mount for your trip, it will be one of your most valuable pieces of equipment. Obviously, don’t use your phone for texting or mạng internet surfing while you’re riding, that would be downright reckless.


Download Offline Google Maps


Even if you have sầu a local SIM card, it will serve sầu you well lớn have sầu access khổng lồ Google Maps regardless of the strength of your signal.

Downloading maps of your route ahead of time will allow you to navigate, access waypoints, and tìm kiếm for restaurants và gas, even when the service is non-existent.


Download an Offline Translating App


I recommkết thúc using Google Translate. Be sure to tải về the Vietnamese language add-on so you can communicate with locals even if you don’t have phone service. This ứng dụng has helped me find mechanics, order delicious food (và avoid eating dog meat), and have sầu long, meaningful conversations with my homestay hosts who spoke no English.


Travel Better: Best Budget Travel Resources

Visit VietnamCoracle.com


Vietnam giới Coracle offers detailed traveling and motorbiking guides khổng lồ Vietphái nam. The biking guides are complete with Google Maps loaded with recommended routes, restaurants, & gas stations along the way. Tom, the website’s creator, is passionate about Vietnamese culture & offers endless thoughtful tips & advice lớn those traveling the country.


Get an Early Start


Rise with the crowing roosters, drink some strong Vietnamese coffee, and get on the road with ample daylight ahead of you. The sooner you get moving, the more time you will have khổng lồ stop for photos, explore small villages, và khuyễn mãi giảm giá with unexpected delays. And, there will be plenty of delays.

Getting off to a late start sets the tone for your whole day. It will force you to ride during the hotthử nghiệm hours & push you to lớn rush towards your next destination.


Understvà the Way of the Vietnamese Road


Drivers in Southeast Asia just kind of vị as they please. Cars và semis daringly pass regardless of oncoming traffic, bikers run red lights when the mood strikes, và pedestrians walk inkhổng lồ busy roads without hesitation. Traffic laws don’t seem khổng lồ be applied or followed much, for better or worse. Know that the roads in Vietphái mạnh will be chaotic and prepare khổng lồ conquer the madness.


Embrace the Annoyances


It is impossible to lớn predict the course of your day on the road, so welcome the randomness of life on a motorbike and roll with the punches. I experienced flat tires, wipeouts, nasty weather, reckless drivers, unpleasant people, and awful road conditions along the way, but I always knew that something wonderful was waiting just around the corner.

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Give sầu Yourself Some Wiggle Room


Torrential rain, breakdowns, late starts, and unexpected delays can throw even the best itineraries out of balance. Be willing khổng lồ temper expectations và adjust plans on the fly during your journey. Give sầu yourself the gift of a flexible và generous trip window và your days on the road will be carekhông tính phí và relaxed.


Plan as You Go


Don’t plan too far ahead during your journey. Sure, put together a loose itinerary, but know that it will probably be tweaked and reworked constantly along the way. Late starts, breakdowns, & pesky weather can mess up your best-laid plans, & that’s okay.


Avoid Highways


Motorbikes aren’t allowed on highways in Vietphái mạnh, so don’t include them in your plans. If you’re using Google Maps khổng lồ navigate, select the ‘Avoid highways’ box under ‘Route options’ and your phone will stichồng lớn routing you along roads that you are allowed to use.


Don’t Avoid Toll Roads


Motorbikes don’t have to lớn pay tolls in Vietphái mạnh, so don’t worry about trying lớn save sầu money by enabling the ‘Avoid tolls’ box on Google Maps. When you vì approach a toll station, follow the path for motorbikes, which should be on the rightmost side of the road. You can breeze past the tollways without ever stopping.


Pay Attention to lớn the Forecast


The weather will have sầu a profound impact on your overall experience when you’re exploring on a motorbike. Check the forecast first thing in the morning, before you prepare for your day.

Vietnam is known for its heavy rain (especially in the summer), so be ready lớn khuyễn mãi giảm giá with it & be willing to lớn take time off from riding lớn let especially bad weather run its course.


Pay Attention lớn Road Conditions


While many of the roadways in Vietphái nam are well-maintained và a joy to lớn ride on, they can change in an instant. Potholes, ruts, mud, và wet, oily surfaces can show up out of nowhere, so stay focused and adjust your driving style accordingly. Pay extra cthua attention during turns to avoid sliding out on gravel or slick patches of road.


Pay Attention to lớn the Animals


Water buffaloes, cows, goats, dogs, horses – I encountered them all on the roadway during my trip through the north. While some animals are more aware than others, keep an eye on any and all creatures near the road. Assume they are all oblivious lớn your presence. Be ready khổng lồ dodge the aloof animals that wander inkhổng lồ your path.


Be a Defensive Driver


Cars, trucks, 18-wheelers, và other motorbikes are going to lớn drive recklessly & pass dangerously – it’s just how things work in Vietphái nam. And, let’s face it, no truckers will be moving their rigs out of the way for a puny little motorxe đạp. So, be ready for the chaotic roads và react defensively & safely lớn the unpredictable maneuvers of other drivers.


Don’t Be Afraid lớn Use Your Horn 


Cars và motorbikes honk at each other frequently in Vietphái nam, & it’s not considered rude. Use your horn to alert other drivers and pedestrians of your presence on the road. Beep regularly when you’re passing other drivers, approaching pedestrians, or passing through busy intersections. Let other drivers know you’re around – it’s the safe và logical thing to lớn vì chưng.


Don’t Ride at Night


It’s simple: the darker the road gets, the more dangerous the motorbike journey. When day gives way to lớn night, visibility diminishes leaving less time to lớn react to road conditions, pedestrians, and other drivers. Roads in Vietphái mạnh are poorly lit (if they’re even lit at all) và are stressful lớn ride on at night. Limit your riding lớn the daytime & enjoy a safer journey.


Don’t Ride in a Bad Mood


Riding a motorbike through Vietphái nam can be an emotional experience. If the frustrations from the road push your mind towards negativity, take a few deep breaths, focus your psyđậy, và push onward with a positive attitude. Driving angry & distracted can lead lớn reckless and foolish decisions và put your safety in jeopardy. If you’re riding in a bad mood, you’re doing it wrong.


Be Prepared khổng lồ Deal With Police


In my experience, the Vietnamese police don’t have much interest in pulling over foreigners on motorbikes, & this seems khổng lồ be their comtháng mindset. There are exceptions khổng lồ the rule, however, as I’ve sầu heard stories of police soliciting bribes from foreigners. Driving without a Vietnamese driver license is technically illegal, so respect the driving laws và be ready to lớn talk khổng lồ cops if the moment arrives.


Sleep in Homestays


Homestays are an extremely affordable way to live sầu, however briefly, with a local family and immerse yourself in authentic Vietnamese culture. More often than not, the hosts of my homestays provided exceptional food, warm hospitality, and cozy, clean accommodation.


Don’t Rush


While it’s sometimes tempting to lớn blaze down the road as fast as your bike will allow, realize that excessive sầu speed lessens your reaction time và will threaten the safety of you & other drivers around you. Drive sầu effectively, not recklessly. The beauty of Vietphái nam is best enjoyed at reasonable speeds.


Give Bachồng to lớn Vietnam


To ride through the gorgeous Vietnamese countrysides, interact with the welcoming people, và enjoy the affordable & flavorful cuisine is an absolute privilege. Don’t take it for granted. Express your gratitude.

Tell the locals how much joy their country has given you. They’re proud of Vietphái mạnh and your kind words will be music lớn their ears. Smile often, be patient & generous, & respect the country that has hosted you so graciously. Being a kind-hearted traveler will pave sầu the way for future explorers who ride down the same path.

So, there you have sầu it: all the best tips và advice I can offer for an unforgettable journey cruising through the sensational & thrilling land of Vietnam.

If you’re going to hop on a motorbike & explore this wonderful country, vị it the right way. The thrill of experiencing Vietnam giới on two wheels is an exhilarating feeling that can’t easily be replicated.

Safe travels! May the journey be fascinating, inspiring, and life-changing.


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Are there any tips that I missed for motorbiking in Vietnam? Do you have any questions about my experience renting a bike and driving over 1600 kilometers? Reach out by leaving a comment below!


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Noel Krasomil
Hey, I’m Noel Krasomil. I pack light and explore the globe searching for awe-inspiring hiking trails, rich cultural experiences, và ways lớn continue traveling indefinitely.


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3 Comments


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kurt says:
February 22, 2019 at 5:37 am

very good? for me also important: – fill up you gas in time? gute fahrt, kurz


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