Renting a Car in Vietnam

activities - Saigon/HCMC: Oct. 25, 2016

Renting a car in Vietnam is not as common as it is in the West. This is a shame, as to get the best out of Vietnam requires a certain amount of extensive travel. Vietnam is a reasonably large country; 1,600 kilometres from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, and there is an awful lot of gorgeous places in-between. To save time, people often think that renting a car in Vietnam is the way to go. Why wait for buses or trains when you can just slip behind the wheel and away you go? Well, it’s not that straight-forward. Read below to see what renting a car in Vietnam actually requires.

Photo by www.forbes.com

Renting a Car in Vietnam: Enough to Drive You Crazy

Driver’s licence requirements in Vietnam are like all other official requirements here; complicated. On the face of it, it should not be a problem. International driver’s licences are recognised, and a legally notarised copy of your home nation’s driver's licence is valid. However, whether or not the traffic cop that stops you understands this is a whole different ball game. To get a Vietnamese driving licence only takes about five days, meaning that for residents it is not much of a problem. However, for holidaymakers it is. Nobody wants to spend valuable holiday time standing in a queue staring at a bureaucrat.

If you do wish to apply for a Vietnamese driver’s licence or have your home country licence converted, contact and visit the Office of Transportation on 63 Ly Tu Trong, District 1.

To convert an existing licence you will require the following:

- A copy of your passport; both your visa and passport need to be valid
- A copy of your existing driver's licence, with a notarised, translated version
- Three passport size photos (4 cm x 6 cm)
- A completed application form (which can be downloaded here)
- VND135,000 for the processing fee

As far back as 2014, the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam announced that starting in 2015, the government would issue international driving permits to local residents and also recognise licences held by foreign drivers. A word of warning: the international driving permit issued here does not carry any validity within Vietnam. It’s for driving outside the country only.

Rent a Car or Take a Taxi?

Many people choose to simply hire a reliable taxi, or even a private driver and pay them a daily rate. In many ways this is the best way to go, though finding a really good guy can be eventful, to say the least. Personal recommendations are always more reliable. There are plenty of good drivers around Vietnam who will work out a reasonable fee. It is also worth considering that many of Vietnam’s roads are not of the same quality that you will be used to. The roads in the countryside can be in very poor condition, and thus require drivers familiar with the poor conditions.

Photo by vietnamtravelbudget.com

Most immigration companies do not recommend renting a car in Vietnam; the roads are simply considered too unsafe for anyone but a local person with experience dealing with the chaotic traffic.

If you are still determined to get a local licence, there are now companies that are renting out vehicles. Budget Car Rentals on 117-119 Ly Chinh Thang in District 3 (+84 28 3848 6868) offers a good fleet of cars from which to choose. Chaocom.com is also a good source.