Renting a motorbike is one of the best ways to explore Hanoi’s famous West Lake area. Zooming around the tree-lined streets on two wheels gives you a thrilling taste of Vietnam’s chaotic traffic while allowing you to discover hidden temples, markets, and more.
This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about renting motorbikes in Hanoi’s West Lake, including:
- The types of motorbikes available
- Where to find rentals
- Costs, paperwork, and license requirements
- Safety equipment and training
- Traffic rules and customs
- Great routes and destinations to explore
- What to do in case of emergency
Follow along for tips to rent with confidence and cruise around West Lake like a pro!
Types of Motorbikes Available for Rent
Hanoi offers several motorbike rental options suitable for zooming around West Lake:
Scooters like the classic Vespa are popular in Vietnam. With small wheels and engines under 200cc, they are relatively easy to handle for novice riders. Some common scooter models you may find include:
- Vespa Sprint
- Honda Airblade
- Yamaha Nouvo
Pros: Automatic transmission, storage under the seat
Cons: Less power for long distances
Larger street motorbikes have engine sizes from 100-400cc and include well-known brands like Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki. Some models to look for:
- Honda Winner: One of the most popular, automatic 100cc-150cc option good for beginners
- Yamaha Exciter: Manual 150cc street bike with sporty capabilities
- Suzuki Raider: Bigger 150cc engine with a muscular cruiser design
Pros: More powerful, durable, and stable than scooters
Cons: Manual transmission requires practice
Sturdy off-road bikes with knobby tires from brands like Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha can handle rough terrain. However, they are less common for renting around West Lake’s city streets.
Pros: Great for exploring rural/mountainous areas nearby
Cons: Not ideal for city usage
When choosing your motorbike, consider your riding skill level and the types of terrain you want to tackle. Novices are better off starting with an automatic scooter or street bike.
Rental Companies & Locations
Numerous rental shops make getting your own set of wheels easy. Here are some options:
Major Rental Companies
Larger companies like Cuong’s Motorbike Adventure and Hanoi Motorbike Rental have multiple locations, big fleets, and online booking but come with higher prices. They inspect and maintain their bikes well. Ideal for hassle-free rentals.
Independent Rental Shops
Small independent shops are scattered across West Lake. While cheaper than big companies, the quality may vary. Check reviews and the bikes thoroughly before renting. Look for recommendations from fellow travelers.
Rentals Around West Lake
Convenient spots to find rentals include:
- Old Quarter: Lots of shops, but busy area far from West Lake
- Around Hoan Kiem Lake: More central to West Lake but still busy
- Tay Ho: Best local neighborhood for West Lake access, less chaotic than city center
Ideally, look for rentals right in the Tay Ho area to avoid long trips across town to begin your West Lake exploration.
Costs & Payment
Rental costs depend on several factors:
Average Rental Rates
- Scooters: 60,000-100,000 VND ($3-5 USD)
- Street Bikes: 70,000-150,000 VND ($5-10 USD)
- Off-road/Dirt Bikes: 300,000+ VND ($15+ USD)
Discounts & Packages
- Weekly/monthly rentals offer lower average daily rates
- Prepaying for full rental period can reduce costs
- Bundling a rental with tours or lessons saves money
Deposits & Fees
- Examine all deposits, minimum rental periods, and associated fees closely
- Deposits average $50-$200 depending on bike value, usually cash only
- Avoid shops charging extra vagary “handling fees”
- Most shops accept cash payments in Vietnamese Dong or US Dollars
- Some large companies take credit cards, with a fee around 3%
- ATMs are easy to find if you need to withdraw more cash
To save money, smaller rental periods from reputable independent shops or locals often provide the best deals.
Documentation & Permits Needed
Before cruising around on two wheels, ensure you have proper paperwork:
Motorbike License Requirements
- An International Driving Permit (IDP) paired with your native license is required
- Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia IDs won’t fly in Vietnam, must convert to Vietnam or IDP
- You WILL get fined if stopped without proper license
International Driving Permits
Two IDP types:
- 1949 Geneva Convention IDP: Valid in Vietnam, apply via AAA in USA
- 1968 Vienna Convention IDP: NOT valid in Vietnam despite being most common IDP
Your rental shop will require:
- Valid passport
- Deposit payment
- Possibly a photocopy of license/IDP
Bring extra passport photos and cash for any additional license processing the shop suggests.
>>> Investigate Extra: Best Motorbike Rental Services in Hanoi’s Long Bien District
Inspecting & Choosing a Motorbike
Don’t just hop on the first bike offered! Carefully inspect options:
What to Look For
- Check tires for proper inflation and tread wear
- Test front and rear brakes for responsiveness
- Ensure mirrors, lights, and signals are intact
- Confirm no leaks under the bike
- Review the odometer for total miles ridden
- Take a quick test drive to check acceleration and handling
Choosing the Right Motorbike
Consider your skill level, travel companions, and riding plans when selecting a motorbike.
- Novices: Automatic scooter or street bike under 150cc
- Carrying a passenger: Look for a 150cc+ street bike
- Longer journeys: More powerful street bikes with 250cc+ engines
- Off-road exploring: Only dirt bikes can handle this
A properly running 125-150cc street bike offers the best combination of stability and power for West Lake cruising.
Test drive your options and don’t settle on a bike that feels underpowered or not running smoothly.
Safety Equipment & Training
Riding in Vietnam’s chaotic streets requires proper gear and preparation for staying safe:
- ALWAYS wear a helmet when riding
- Try on helmets at the shop for comfortable fit
- Full face helmets provide the most protection
- Only use an undamaged helmet with untampered safety stickers
Other Safety Gear
- Sturdy shoes, long pants, and long sleeves help prevent road rash
- Consider bringing lightweight riding gloves
- Wear reflective material or lights to aid visibility at night
Getting Accustomed to Your Motorbike
If new to motorbikes:
- Review controls like the clutch, throttle, brakes, signals
- Practice slowly in a parking lot before hitting roads
- Get tips from rental staff on handling your specific bike
Even for experienced riders, take it easy when first getting accustomed to an unfamiliar bike. Practice braking, turning, and balancing at low speeds before revving up.
Rules of the Road
To stay safe while motorbiking in Vietnam:
Though rules are often treated as suggestions, know that officially:
- Speed limit in cities is 60km/h
- Running red lights or signs risks a fine up to 6 million VND
- Blood alcohol limit is 0%, so no drunk driving allowed
- Driver and passenger must both wear a helmet
Common Courtesies & Customs
- Use your horn and drive defensively
- Be alert for other vehicles darting into your path
- Pass carefully on left when safe
- Park bikes responsibly, not on sidewalks
- Give right of way to vehicles bigger than you!
Dealing with Chaotic Traffic
- Stay calm and go slow till you adapt
- Avoid direct eye contact when upset
- Don’t let road frustrations escalate into road rage
- Back off and let aggressive drivers pass
- Take breaks when feeling overwhelmed
Above all, don’t drive faster than your ability to react. As a tourist, patience and defensive driving are your best strategies for staying safe on Vietnamese roads.
Popular Routes & Destinations
West Lake offers picturesque areas to uncover by motorbike. Here are top recommendations:
Tran Quoc Pagoda + Quan Thanh Temple: Morning route seeing key pagodas with relaxing lakeside stops.
West Lake Loop: Afternoon driving the ~17 km circuit around the lake.
>>> Additional Reading: Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem: Motorbike Rentals & Exploration Tips
Perfume Pagoda: Full day riding into Ba Vi mountain hills. Have an experienced guide arrange this trip.
Duong Lam Ancient Village: Morning departure north into rice paddy lands dotted with ancient architecture.
Ba Vi National Park: Secluded mountain getaway with hiking and nature exploring about 60 km from Hanoi.
When planning longer routes, be sure to check a map and ask locals about road conditions and traffic. Leave early to allow plenty of time for excursions.
>>> Find More Content: Explore Hanoi’s Old Quarter: Motorbike Rentals & Guide
What to Do in Case of Emergency
Hopefully your West Lake motorbiking goes smoothly, but here are tips if trouble arises:
Who to Contact
- Police Hotline: 113
- Ambulance: 115
- Vietnam Tourism Hotline: 1080
Program these numbers into your phone. Don’t depend on 911 working.
Repairs, Accidents & Breakdowns
- Carry shop’s repair contact info for issues during rental
- For minor breakdowns, have bike transported vs riding back
- File police reports for any accidents
- Avoid confrontations, be apologetic if at fault
- Take photos to document damage or injuries
Hospitals & Police Contacts
Major hospitals near West Lake:
- 108 Military Hospital
- Saint Paul Hospital
- Tây Hồ District Police
- Ba Đình District Police
Know your route to these locations in case needed.
Riding a motorbike opens up many of Hanoi’s hidden gems. We hope these tips help you safely navigate the roads around the capital’s beautiful West Lake region. Just take it slow and enjoy the fresh lakeside breezes. With this guide, you’ll be biking through West Lake like a pro local in no time!