Renting a motorbike is a great opportunity to get off the beaten track and discover Vietnam on your own. That is if you are able to deal with the manic traffic and less than stringent road rules.
There are many places in tourist areas such as Pham Ngu Lao in Ho Chi Minh City and the Old Quarter in Hanoi that rent bikes to foreigners. You will need to fill out a form to rent the bike along with leaving your passport as a deposit and most places offer a selection of manual shift and automatic shift motorbikes. The rentals will also come with a helmet and remember that helmet use is mandatory in Vietnam.
So if you have the intestinal fortitude to get on the open road, we have compiled together a few tips for you to make your experience a bit smoother.
Here are my top 5 tips:
1. Check your bike
Test the your turn signals and lights and take a quick test drive around the block. Finding out that your front brakes are a bit dodgy a mile down the road isn’t ideal so check it out first.When parking in a public lot, don’t lose that ticket. If you lose it, you will need to verify the ownership of the bike, which means contacting the place you rented the bike. Which brings me to number 3.
2. Get the rental agency’s contact details
This could be a lifesaver if your bike breaks down.
3. Make sure your helmet is in good order
If you feel it’s a bit dodgy, request a new one. If they refuse, head down to the next shop.
4. Anticipate your surroundings
Vietnamese drivers don’t really use their wing mirrors so watch out for the traffic ahead of you. Also, slow down through intersections as stopping at a red is more like a guideline as opposed to a rule.
Local insight: While manual shift bikes go for VND100,000/day (~$5/day), automatics will run you a bit more at around VND120,000/day (~$6/day).