Riding a motorbike or scooter is perhaps the quintessential Vietnamese experience. In busy cities like Hanoi, motorbikes are the preferred way to beat the notorious traffic and get around quickly. Visitors often want to rent a bike during their stay to fully immerse themselves in local life.
However, there are risks involved if you don’t know the traffic rules or aren’t prepared. As a foreigner, you need to take extra safety precautions when renting and driving in Hanoi. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to rent a motorbike legally and safely.
Laws and Regulations
Before hopping on a motorbike, you need to understand the relevant laws and requirements.
Helmets are mandatory for all motorbike drivers and passengers in Vietnam. You can be fined for not wearing one. Only proper full-face or half-head helmets are allowed.
Technically, foreigners need an International Driving Permit (IDP) or Vietnamese motorbike license to legally drive here. In practice, many rental shops don’t ask to see your license. Still, it’s safest to have an IDP before you arrive.
Registration and Insurance
Motorbikes in Vietnam must be properly registered and have minimum liability insurance coverage. Some rental companies may not be diligent about this. You could get in trouble if stopped by police on an unregistered bike. Ask to see the blue registration card and proof of insurance.
Fines for violations like driving without a license or registered vehicle can run from 200,000 to 600,000 VND. Your bike may even be impounded, requiring significant time and hassle to reclaim. Better to follow the rules and required documentation.
Average Motorbike Rental Prices in Hanoi
Renting a motorbike in Hanoi can cost as little as $3-5 USD per day. Here are typical rates:
- Small automatic scooters: $5-7 per day
- 100-125cc manual bike: $7-10 per day
- 150cc manual bike: $10-12 per day
- Newer models like Honda Winner: $12-15 per day
- Large capacity manual bike: $15-20 per day
Factors affecting price:
- Engine size – larger CC bikes cost more
- Age and condition – newer is pricier
- Automatic vs manual transmission
- High vs low season rental demand
- Inclusion of helmets, locks, bags
Tips for getting best rate:
- Compare prices across multiple shops
- Book longer rentals (weekly or monthly) for discounts
- Negotiate for deals on new customer rentals
- Avoid very cheap options that may have hidden issues
- Reserve ahead online for lower prices at some shops
With some shopping around, you can find quality motorbike rentals for affordable rates to explore Hanoi and beyond!
>>> Learn More: Mastering Motorbike Rentals: The Ultimate Hanoi Handbook
Where to Rent
There are motorbike rental shops all over Hanoi targeting tourists. Here are some reputable options:
- Hanoi Motorbike Rental: A favorite with excellent Tripadvisor reviews. Offers well-maintained bikes at fair prices.
- Tigit Motorbikes: Prices are higher but so is quality. Rent newer models from Honda, Yamaha, etc. Standard insurance included.
- Cuong’s Motorbike Adventure: Long-running local company with huge inventory of bikes at reasonable rates. Helpful service.
Rentals typically range from 150,000 to 300,000 VND per day. Automatic models cost slightly more. Carefully inspect the bike with staff and test drive it before committing.
What to Know Before Renting
Before you zoom off, there are some important things to learn about operating and maintaining your rental motorbike in Vietnam:
Types of Bikes
- Manual geared – Very common. Shift gears with foot pedal.
- Semi-automatic – No hand clutch. Easier for beginners.
- Automatic – Twist and go. No gear shifts needed.
- Electric – Better for short distances and easy parking. Limited range.
Locks and Security
Always lock your parked bike, even for quick stops. Ask for two locks – one for the front wheel and a bar lock for the back. Don’t leave helmets or bags visibly attached.
Wear closed shoes, full pants, jacket, and gloves – not sandals and shorts. Bring sunglasses and consider a mask to filter pollution.
Many convenience stores sell petrol. Use the green “Xăng sinh học” pumps for older bikes. Modern ones take standard gas. Ask the rental company which to use.
Learn to check oil levels, change flat tires, and spot potential problems to avoid breakdowns. Ask for a tutorial so you can do minor roadside fixes if needed.
How to Ride Safely
Driving in Hanoi can be chaotic for newcomers. Follow these essential safety tips:
- Ride slowly and cautiously until you adjust to traffic flow.
- Constantly scan for pedestrians, vehicles entering your path.
- Cover brakes and be ready to stop unexpectedly.
- Use horns and lights to signal your presence.
Traffic Rules and Norms
- Keep right except when passing.
- Yield to vehicles joining from side alleys.
- Traffic lights are suggestions only – ignore at your peril!
- U-turns anywhere are normal. Watch both sides.
Busy Areas and Highways
- Old Quarter and downtown require extra care.
- Avoid rush hour if possible.
- Check GPS before highway routes – some ban motorbikes.
- Drive slower at night when vision is limited.
Parking and Theft Risks
- Don’t park on sidewalks blocking pedestrian right-of-way.
- Find monitored lots or leave with trusted hotel staff.
- Avoid isolated or dark areas at night.
- Use multiple locks and chains. Remove valuables.
Popular Routes and Destinations
One of the best parts of renting a motorbike is the ability to take day trips outside Hanoi. Here are some can’t miss routes:
Ba Vi National Park
Just 40km west of Hanoi, this mountainous park has stunning vistas from its peaks and deserted roads perfect for cruising. Don’t miss the ruins of 18th century temples scattered throughout.
“We rented scooters in Hanoi and made the easy ride out to Ba Vi National Park. The scenic overlooks are breathtaking and you can hike to temples ruins dotted around the forest. Riding the loop is a must-do day trip!” – Jane, tourism blogger
A full-day journey to a vast, elaborate Buddhist complex in the countryside that includes a scenic boat trip along the Yen river to reach it. Leave early to explore it all.
About 2 hours south you’ll find surreal landscapes of rice paddies and soaring limestone karsts rising from the fields. Float down the serene canals in a traditional rowboat.
Check maps.me or the XE Motorbike app for navigating backroads. Offline maps, GPS, and route planning make solo rides easier.
Additional Tips and Warnings
A few final words of caution to keep in mind during your motorbike rental experience:
Some shops have tried grossly overcharging foreigners for exaggerated damages after rental return. Thoroughly photograph every inch before and after. Only pay what was initially agreed. Walk away from dishonest vendors.
Accidents and Breakdowns
If the worst happens, stay calm. Alert police immediately if injury or major property damage is involved. Call the rental company if bike issues arise and follow their recommended steps.
Always bring a phone, cash, IDP, extra water and food, rain/wind jacket in case you get stranded or conditions change. Let someone know your route in advance. Exercise extra vigilance late at night or on less populated roads.
Final Tips for a Safe and Fun Rental Experience
To wrap up, here are a few final tips to ensure your motorbike rental experience in Vietnam is smooth, enjoyable and incident-free:
- Take a practice ride in a safe area like a parking lot after renting and before hitting roads
- Invest in good protective gear – jacket, gloves, sturdy shoes, sunglasses and mask
- Don’t ride after drinking alcohol – penalties are severe if caught
- Fill up gas tank frequently so you don’t risk running out of fuel stranded
- Carry some basic tools like a tire repair kit, extra bungee cords, flashlight, etc.
- Always lock up securely when parked and use covered garages at night
- If planning solo long distance rides, consider a satellite tracker for extra safety
- Obey speed limits and traffic laws – charges for violations are steep
- Keep copies of rental contract, passport, license, etc on you in case needed
- Stay alert, patient and defensive – it takes adjustment to learn driving here
Riding a motorbike opens up Vietnam’s landscapes, cultures and vibrance like nothing else. Follow this guide and ride carefully – then you’re sure to have the experience of a lifetime! Let the adventure begin!
>>> Learn More: Navigating Motorbike Rentals in Hanoi for Beginners
Packing List for Motorbike Trips
Taking an extended motorbike trip in Vietnam requires packing some essential items. Here’s a recommended packing list:
- Motorcycle jacket & pants – Armored ideal, or thick denim/leather for protection in falls.
- Helmet & gloves – Full face best. High-quality with visor to protect from sun, rain, debris.
- Face mask – Filters pollution, dust. Protects from cold mountain winds or bugs at night.
- Footwear – Over ankle boots with grip soles to prevent feet from hitting hot exhaust.
- Eye protection – Sunglasses or riding goggles.
- ** rains** – Waterproof layer for downpours.
- Bags & straps – Secure bags that won’t shift while riding. Bungees to strap gear tightly.
- Tools/spare parts – Tire repair kit, foot pump, extra rearview mirrors, spark plugs. Zip ties, duct tape, multi-tool.
- First aid kit – Disinfectant, gauze, bandages, pain relief medicine.
- Navigation apps – Download Maps.me, Google Maps, XE Motorbike app with offline maps.
- Chargers – Bring along portable charger, Vietnamese power adaptor.
- Copies of documents – Passport, license, rental paperwork, visas. Keep digital and paper copies.
Properly packing for motorbike trips makes the journey safer and more enjoyable when the inevitable bumps in the road arise. Bon voyage!
XVI. Useful Vietnamese Phrases for Renting and Driving
Learning some key Vietnamese phrases is helpful when renting, communicating with other drivers, or dealing with roadside issues:
- Cho tôi thuê xe máy – I’d like to rent a motorbike
- Bao hiểm đã bao gồm chưa? – Is insurance included?
- Xe máy tốt không? – Is the motorbike in good condition?
- Tôi có thể lái thử không? – Can I test drive it first?
- Xe bị hỏng giữa đường – The motorbike broke down mid-route
- Tôi bị lạc – I’m lost
- Có chỗ sửa xe gần đây không? – Is there a mechanic shop nearby?
- Tôi cần cảnh sát – I need the police
- Tôi đã bị tai nạn – I’ve been in an accident
- Xe của tôi bị trộm – My motorbike was stolen
Even just basics like hello, thank you, and numbers go a long way in navigating rental and driving in Vietnam. Useful translations to carry.
Choosing Between Organized Motorbike Tours vs. Renting Solo
Many travelers are torn between organized motorbike tours of Vietnam or tackling a solo rental. Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of each:
Organized Motorbike Tours
- Expert local guides handle logistics and navigation
- Introduction to driving skills in a group -preset routes hit top highlights
- Meet fellow riders for camaraderie
- Repairs and issues handled for you
- More expensive than solo rental
- Less flexibility to change plans
- Group dynamic not ideal for all
- Can feel overly scheduled
- Complete freedom to create own route
- Go fully at your own pace and schedule
- Lower cost than an organized tour
- Learn skills to travel solo long-term
- Can take detours or extended stays
- Handle all logistics like repairs yourself
- No guides to help navigate or teach driving
- Higher risk if in accidents alone
- Can feel isolated compared to group tours
Consider your budget, skills, travel style and preferences to decide if a tour or solo rental better fits your needs for a Vietnam motorbike trip. Both offer incredible experiences!
Final Review of Key Tips
To recap the key tips for renting and driving motorbikes in Vietnam as a foreigner:
- Obtain International Driving Permit and required Vietnam license
- Thoroughly inspect rental bikes and take photos
- Verify bike registration, insurance papers are valid
- Drive defensively – expect the unexpected
- Take initial rental rides in safe areas to get oriented
- Use navigation apps like Maps.me to plan routes
- Always wear quality helmet and protective gear
- Be vigilant about parking safely and theft risks
- Learn basic motorbike repairs and maintenance
- Consider joining group tours to hone skills if new to driving here
- Travel with copies of documents, cash, tools, first aid essentials
- Practice common Vietnamese phrases for emergencies
- Stay alert, patient and enjoy the incredible freedom of Vietnam on two wheels!
With this complete guide, you are fully prepared for an amazing and safe motorbike rental experience. Hit the open road to adventure!
Budgeting for Motorbike Rental and Expenses
Renting a motorbike in Vietnam is very affordable, especially compared to car rental. Here’s a sample budget:
- Bike Rental – $5-10 per day for 100-150cc bikes. Up to $20/day for larger sizes.
- Gas – Gas costs around 22,000 VND ($1 USD) per liter. Budget 2-3 liters per 100 km.
- Oil changes – Change oil every 500-800 km if doing long trips. Oil costs 15,000-30,000 VND ($1-2).
- Helmet Rental – Many shops rent helmets for 20,000-30,000 VND ($1-2) per day. Or buy one for $20-50.
- Repairs – Budget an emergency fund for minor repairs like flat tires or stalls.
- Lodging – Can find guesthouses for as little as 200,000 VND ($10) per night.
- Food – Street food and basic restaurants cost 25,000-50,000 VND ($1-3) per meal.
- Activities – Budget entrance fees for any major attractions or parks along your route.
Allow $30-50 USD per day for rental, gas, food and lodging on average. Beyond that, costs depend on route, bike size, activities, etc.
Packing Electronics and Gear
If embarking on a longer motorbike trip, some key electronics and gear can be lifesavers:
- Offline maps app like Maps.me with Vietnam maps pre-downloaded
- Cell phone charger and portable charging bank for on-the-go power
- Spare phone mount or GPS system to navigate
- Waterproof phone case or dry bag
- Helmet Bluetooth system for music, directions, hands-free calls
- Rear view mirrors, horn
- Bungee cords, net or straps to secure luggage
- Zip ties, duct tape, multi-tool for roadside repairs
- Headlamp or bike lights for visibility at night
- Satellite tracker like InReach or SPOT for emergencies
- Solar panel charger if camping in remote areas
The right gear enhances safety, convenience and enjoyment on long motorbike journeys through Vietnam.
I hope this comprehensive guide gives you all the knowledge to rent, ride and explore confidently! Let me know if you need any other tips. I’m happy to help fellow adventurous travelers prepare for the motorbike trip of a lifetime. Ride on!
Comparing Motorbike Rental Companies in Hanoi
Choosing the right motorbike rental company in Hanoi is key to having a safe, smooth experience. Here’s an overview of some top options for foreigners:
Cuong’s Motorbike Adventure
- Huge selection of new and older bikes
- Reasonable prices, good quality
- Helpful mechanics do repairs
- No hassle, transparent pricing
Anh Quan Motorbike Rentals
- Smaller family-run shop
- Mix of new and vintage bikes
- Cheap helmets included
- Flexible with pickups/dropoffs
Hanoi Motorbike Rental
- Large modern showroom
- Online booking available
- Higher end bikes like Yamaha
- Extra services like maintenance
Motorbike Thu Ha
- Focus on quality over quantity
- Require cash deposit
- Have 125cc automatics good for beginners
- Have roadside assistance
- Most expensive but newest bikes
- Honda and Yamaha models
- Handle all paperwork
- Highest level of service
- Primarily offer bike tours, but have rentals
- Guide can teach riding skills
- Arrange custom multi-day trips
- Help plan logistics and routes
Research in travel forums, ask at your hotel, and compare pricing/reviews. Many solid options exist in Hanoi for motorbike rentals.
Choosing the Right Motorbike for Your Riding Ability
Selecting an appropriate motorbike model for your skill level is key to safely navigating Vietnamese roads. Here are some top picks based on experience:
- Honda Cub: Often automatic. Light and maneuverable in city traffic.
- Honda Wave 100: Small and easy to handle. Good for learning.
- Honda Winner: Automatic with forgiving clutch. Stable at low speeds.
- Honda Blade: Manual 125-150cc. Nimble size for congested streets.
- Yamaha Nouvo: Automatic 135cc. Smooth acceleration and braking.
- Honda Wave RSX: 120cc manual good for practicing gear shifts.
- Honda XR 150: Capable 150cc manual for long distances.
- Yamaha Exciter 150: Light 150cc manual fast on highways.
- Suzuki Raider 150: Sturdy 150cc manual for rugged terrain.
- Honda GL: Larger 150-200cc for confident experienced drivers.
Test drive different engine sizes and models like above to choose one tailored for your current skill level in Vietnam. Size up cautiously – prioritize control over power.
Essential Motorbike Maintenance Tips
Besides renting a quality bike, keeping it well maintained is vital. Here are some key tips:
- Check oil levels daily and top off if needed. Change oil regularly.
- Clean air filter periodically to prevent overheating.
- Check tire tread depth and pressure before long trips.
- Clean spark plugs to avoid misfires or poor starts.
- Adjust chain tension for smooth shifting. Lubricate with chain cleaner.
- Check brake pads visually for wear and replace as required.
- Verify lights, mirrors, horn and other electrics function properly.
- Inspect for loose screws, fittings, leaks – tighten or service.
- Replace worn out parts like brake cables and clutch plates preemptively.
- Adjust suspension for proper sag and rebound.
- Wash bike thoroughly after muddy/dusty rides.
Taking time for basic maintenance gives you the best chance for a trouble-free motorbike trip through Vietnam!
Finding Reliable Mechanics on the Road
When renting a motorbike in Vietnam, it helps to know how to find a trustworthy mechanic for roadside repairs if needed:
- Ask your rental shop for mechanic recommendations in the area you’ll be riding.
- Look for shops with Honda and Yamaha dealership signs – they work on those makes.
- Search maps for garages near your route and save contact info.
- Ask hotel or restaurant staff for well-reviewed local mechanics.
- Join motorbiking groups to get referrals from fellow riders.
- Use navigation apps like Xe Om to locate mechanics nearby.
- Garages near petrol stations are convenient.
- Search forums like Tripadvisor for recent recommended shops.
- Avoid makeshift roadside stands unless desperate – quality dubious.
- Confirm fair pricing estimates before any major repairs.
- Have your rental shop’s contact to authorize costs if excessive.
With some research, you can find reputable mechanics around Vietnam to fix any motorbike issues that crop up.
What to Do if Your Bike Gets Stolen
Bike theft, while uncommon, is a risk when renting in Vietnam. If your motorbike goes missing:
- Immediately notify local police and file a report.
- Contact the rental shop right away and report to them.
- Provide all details like license plate number, make/model, color.
- Check with hotel or wherever last parked – may have moved.
- Ask if rental shop, hotel have cameras to review for footage.
- Contact your travel insurance provider to report the incident.
- Keep receipts for costs incurred related to the theft.
- Ask rental company about compensation policies. Negotiate if inadequate.
- Remain civil but firm in asking rental shop for fair reimbursement.
- Dispute the charges if needed through your credit card company.
- Get official paperwork from police and rental company documenting loss.
While very inconvenient if a motorbike is stolen, following protocol can minimize headaches and issues when renting in Vietnam.
How to Handle Accidents and Breakdowns
Even seasoned motorbike drivers can encounter mishaps in Vietnam. Here’s how to handle them:
For minor breakdowns:
- Try to coast to shoulder and off the roadway
- Turn on hazard blinkers and use cones/flares for visibility
- Call rental shop for next steps if under warranty
- Attempt common fixes like refueling, tightening parts, changing spark plugs
- Flag down a mechanic if needed
- Move to safe spot and check for injuries
- Call emergency services if anyone is hurt
- Notify police immediately and file a report
- Take photos of damage and scene
- Exchange insurance and contact info with other parties
- Contact rental shop and insurance providers ASAP
Stay calm. Have emergency funds, tools and contacts on hand. And get back on the road!
Must-Have Mobile Apps
These mobile apps are invaluable for navigating and driving motorbikes in Vietnam:
- Maps.me – Download detailed Vietnam maps for offline navigation.
- Xe Om Vietnam – Plan and share driving routes, find petrol and parking.
- Google Translate – Translate Vietnamese words using camera or typing.
- Grab, GoViet – Hail rides if too tired or unwell to drive.
- AirVisual – Monitors air quality index and pollution.
- Vietnam Traffic – Brush up on road signs, rules and violations.
- GPS Navigation & Map – Voice-guided turn-by-turn directions.
- Ulmon City Maps – More offline Vietnam map options.
- Tripadvisor, Booking.com – Read reviews and book hotels/restaurants.
- Google Maps – Use for traffic info and alternative routes.
Equip your phone with these apps for a stress-free motorbike trip in Vietnam!
Finding Secure Motorbike Parking
Parking safely is crucial when renting a motorbike in Vietnam. Some tips:
- Ask your hotel if motorbike parking is available on-site. Ideal if secured lot.
- Only use official attended parking lots, not curbside. Verify someone monitors all day.
- For restaurants etc, park close to entrance in visible areas.
- Don’t park overnight on isolated streets, dark alleys.
- Use multiple locks – disc brake lock plus chain/bar lock. Remove valuables.
- Stay at hotels with secure parking for multi-day stops. Research in advance.
- Have your hotel call ahead to your next night’s lodging to arrange parking.
- Near attractions, parking attendants may offer to watch your bike for a small fee.
- Leave contact info visible so bike can be moved if needed while gone.
Take time to find proper parking to protect your rental bike and belongings when stopping.
Dealing with Mechanical Issues on the Road
No matter how well you maintain a rental bike, issues can still pop up during your trip. Here are some tips for handling common mechanical problems:
- Carry a basic tool kit, spare parts like fuses, spark plugs, bulbs. YouTube tutorials can assist repairs.
- Flat tire – Use patch kit or change inner tube. Many petrol stations have air pumps.
- Overheating engine – Check oil level. Clean air filter and radiator debris. Give time to fully cool before riding. Add coolant if needed.
- Dead battery – Try bump starting the bike and riding to charge battery. Otherwise need jump start or replacement.
- Loose chain – Tighten to proper tension. If keeps slipping may need chain or sprockets replaced.
- Leaking fluids – Determine the source. Oil is serious, fuel or coolant leaks may be quick DIY fixes.
- Unusual engine noises – Have inspected ASAP as could indicate serious internal damage if ride far.
Address issues immediately before they strand you or create bigger problems down the road!
Top Destinations for Longer Motorbike Road Trips
Once you’ve gotten comfortable riding in Hanoi, consider an extended motorbike road trip to some of Vietnam’s top destinations:
Hoi An and Hue
Historic towns with beautiful temples, old world architecture, beaches and amazing cuisine. The scenic Hai Van Pass connects them.
In far Northern mountains near China, explore traditional hill tribe villages, lush valleys, waterfalls and rice terraces.
Dramatic rock formations and limestone cliffs in rugged landscapes close to the Chinese border. Sites like Dong Van Karst Plateau.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Ride through jungles to massive caves like Hang Son Doong, Paradise Cave, and Dark Cave.
High elevation city surrounded by lush pine forests, lakes, waterfalls, and flower gardens. Cooler weather is a nice change.
Coastal resort town famed for towering red and white sand dunes. Kite surfing and beach relaxation.
Con Dao Islands
Remote island chain with pristine beaches, densely forested interior, historic sites, and great diving/snorkeling.
With open road, a trusty motorbike, and sense of adventure, an unforgettable journey awaits!
Finding Hidden Motorbiking Gems Off the Beaten Path
Avoid crowded tourist traps on your Vietnam motorbike trip by searching out these lesser known gems:
Bac Ha Sunday Market – Colorful weekly gathering of flower Hmong hill tribes.
Than Uyen – Remote frontier town with unique cuisine near Chinese border.
Cuc Phuong National Park – Jungle trails to endangered primate conservation center.
Thac Ba Lake – Pristine highland lake with homestays and kayaking.
Ban Gioc Waterfall – Stunning multi-tier waterfall on Vietnam-China border.
Lao Cai – Sapa Highway – Spectacular but little used mountain road alternative.
Ha Giang North Loop – Breathtaking vistas around Dong Van Karst Plateau.
Son La – Lush countryside with valleys, tea and coffee plantations.
Cao Bang – Provincial capital near Chinese border with towering karsts.
Moc Chau – Cow and tea plantation covered hills.
With some route planning creativity, incredible sights await off the tourist trail! Have an amazing ride!
Tips for Renting Bikes Outside of Hanoi
While Hanoi is the most popular place for foreigners to rent motorbikes in Vietnam, you can also rent from other cities and destinations:
Ho Chi Minh City
- Lots of rental shops clustered on De Tham and Pham Ngu Lao streets in District 1.
- Drive more cautiously here – traffic is busier than Hanoi!
- Many hotels and travel agencies rent bikes and offer tours.
- Ideal base to explore beautiful coastal and mountain routes.
- Cooler weather makes biking around lakes and hills enjoyable.
- Can rent from shops on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street downtown.
- Rent from shops along Nguyen Dinh Chieu street near the beach.
- Great for cruising scenic coastal roads.
- Rent right in town before hitting mountain twisties.
- Allow extra time to acclimate to high elevations.
- Easy to find bike shops near hostels on Ly Thuong Kiet street.
- Fantastic riding through rural villages and jungles.
Vietnam has abundant motorbike rental options beyond Hanoi alone. Do your research to find reputable shops.
Best Times of Year for Motorbike Trips
Vietnam’s climate varies quite a bit by region. Here are the ideal times to ride different parts of the country:
- Hanoi & Northern Mountains – May to October has pleasant weather, less rain.
- Central Region – Dry season from January to August is best. Very hot mid-summer.
- Ho Chi Minh City & South – December to April avoids the rainy season.
- Coastal Route 1 – January to August for sunshine and minimal rain.
- Far North Mountains -July-August is warm but chance of rain and fog.
- Central Highlands – December to March avoids rain while not too hot.
Check forecasts 1-2 weeks in advance. Showers still possible even in dry months. Plan routes and timing accordingly to maximize nice riding weather.
Renting a motorbike can greatly enhance your Vietnam experience by allowing you to explore freely at your own pace. By following the guidance above, you can have an awesome and safe adventure. Just use common sense, take it slow until you get comfortable, and be prepared.
The endless sights, sounds, and excitement of seeing Vietnam from two wheels makes it an unforgettable way to travel. With so many rental options in Hanoi, there’s nothing stopping you from hitting the open road!
Answering Common Questions
As a foreigner renting a motorbike in Vietnam, you likely have many questions and concerns. Here are answers to some frequently asked ones:
Do I really need an International Driving Permit?
Technically yes, it is required by law. In practice, many renters skip this step and use home licenses without issue. But an IDP adds an extra layer of protection in case you are stopped. They are easy to obtain before arrival.
What CC is best?
For beginners, a 100-125cc bike provides enough power while remaining very manageable. More experienced riders may opt for 150-250cc for Highway capabilities. Anything larger can be unwieldy in congested urban traffic.
Should I rent a manual or automatic?
Automatics are pricier but greatly simplify driving by removing the need to shift gears. Less risk of stalling in busy traffic. Ideal if you are not comfortable with manual transmission.
What should I look for in a helmet?
Avoid cheap helmets with thin straps that may break in a crash. Seek reputable brands with sturdy chin straps and thick impact-absorbent lining inside. Should fit snugly all around with no gaps.
What if it rains during rental period?
Vietnamese drivers stay on the roads in all conditions. Drive slowly, allow longer stopping distance between vehicles, and watch for pooling water that could cause hydroplaning. Avoid riding at night if heavy rain.
Can I cross into neighboring countries?
Some rental companies prohibit taking bikes across borders. Others charge a fee and require paperwork to enter Cambodia, Laos or China. Ask in advance about paperwork needed if leaving Vietnam.
How can I extend my rental period?
Most shops allow you to keep the bike longer, assuming it is available. Give them a few days notice to avoid a last minute scramble or lost deposit. Pre-pay any additional days/weeks you want to add.
Should I purchase extra insurance?
Optional insurance to reduce liability for damage is wise for peace of mind, but can double rental costs. Review policies closely to understand coverage and if deductibles apply. Some credit cards include coverage.