The bustling capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is known for its chaotic traffic and ubiquitous motorbikes. For visitors, one of the best ways to experience the pulse of the city is to rent wheels and join the organized chaos. This guide covers everything you need to know about renting, riding, and getting around on two wheels in Hanoi.
- Types of scooters and motorbikes available for rent
- Rental shops, required paperwork, insurance, etc.
- Traffic rules, parking, fines – the nitty gritty of navigating Hanoian roads
- Route planning, top destinations, and day trips
- Safety tips, pre-ride checks, breakdowns, and theft prevention
- Additional transport options like taxis, buses, bicycles, etc.
So let’s get rolling!
Choosing Your Ride
Hanoi offers a wide selection of scooters and motorbikes for rent. Here are some of the most common options:
- Automatic scooters – Easy to ride with automatic gears. Good for beginners. Brands like Honda Lead, Yamaha Janus, etc.
- Manual scooters – More power but requires using the clutch. Honda Airblades are popular.
- Electric scooters – No noise, eco-friendly. Limited range.
- Manual motorbikes – Versatile and powerful. Honda Wins, Yamaha Exciters, etc. Need experience operating clutch.
- Semi-automatic motorbikes – No clutch but more gears than automatic scooters. Honda Future is a popular semi-auto.
When choosing a specific ride, look at:
- Engine size – Bigger engines have more power but may be harder to handle. 125-150cc is a good size for beginners.
- Mileage – Check odometer to avoid worn-out bikes.
- Condition – Inspect for damage, rust, leaks.
Reputable rental shops can be found clustered around the Old Quarter. Ask your hotel or search sites like Lozi.vn to find rentals nearby.
Renting a motorbike in Vietnam requires:
- Motorcycle license – An IDP or Vietnamese license is legally required. Some shops rent without checking.
- Passport/Deposit – A copy of your passport and deposit around $50-$100.
- Automatic scooters: ~$4-8/day
- Manual motorbikes: ~$7-12/day
- Extra fees for helmets, locks, etc.
Pay the full amount upfront for your rental period. Many shops accept cash only.
- Optional insurance covers damage, theft, accidents. Approximately $2-5 extra per day.
- If uninsured, you’ll pay out of pocket for any damages or loss.
- Helmet rental is around $1/day. Only use good quality helmets.
- Knee pads and gloves recommended for safety.
Rules of the Road
Driving in Hanoi can be chaotic, but follows certain conventions:
- Drive on the right – But expect wrong-way traffic!
- Yield to traffic from the right when intersections are unclear.
- Pass carefully – Alert other drivers with honks when overtaking.
- Traffic lights – More of a suggestion in Hanoi. Follow other drivers.
- Lane splitting – Allowed, but take care when passing stopped vehicles.
- Defensive driving – Expect other drivers and pedestrians to make sudden moves.
- No drinking and driving – Strictly enforced.
- Park legally – Improper parking may result in fines or towing.
- Fines – Traffic violation tickets must be paid within 10 days.
Having a Vietnamese companion along for the ride can help demystify the roads.
>>> Get More: Info Revving up in Hanoi: The Ultimate Motorbike Rental Guide
With so many sights to see, planning your itinerary in Hanoi can be tricky. Here are some top destinations and sample routes:
- Old Quarter
- Hoan Kiem Lake
- Temple of Literature
- Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
- West Lake/Tay Ho
- French Quarter/Hoan Kiem
- Old Quarter Tour – 1 day to explore this bustling commercial district, including Dong Xuan market, Bach Ma temple, and Hang craft villages.
- Downtown Hanoi – 1-2 days to hit top attractions like Hoan Kiem Lake, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hoa Lo “Hanoi Hilton” prison, and more.
- Day Trips – Ha Long Bay, Perfume Pagoda, Duong Lam ancient village, and villages like Sapa and Mai Chau make great day excursions.
Apps like Maps.me work offline for navigation. Grab a physical map as backup.
>>> Seek More Insights : Motorbike Rental at Noi Bai Airport: A Traveler’s Guide
Safety and Maintenance
To stay safe and avoid breakdowns on the road:
- Inspect your bike before each ride – check lights, brakes, oil levels.
- Learn basic repairs – carry duct tape, extra bungee cords.
- Refuel often – don’t let your tank hit empty.
- ** Secure belongings** in storage or bring in a backpack.
- Use trusted mechanics – your rental shop can assist with repairs.
If theft occurs, contact police immediately and notify your rental shop with a police report to avoid paying damages.
Additional Transport Options
While motorbikes are the default, consider other ways to get around Hanoi:
- Taxis – Mai Linh and Vinasun are reliable. Grab/Uber also operate here.
- Public buses – Inexpensive but can be crowded/confusing. Useful for longer distances.
- Bicycles – Available for rent if you prefer pedal power.
- Walking – Hanoi is very walkable, especially around Hoan Kiem Lake.
These options allow you to rest your road-weary soul or avoid Hanoi’s rainy season downpours.
To conclude, final tips for an awesome motorbike experience in Hanoi:
- Get an International Driving Permit and Vietnamese license translated.
- Take initial test rides in less chaotic districts before braving main roads.
- Carry paper maps as backup and avoid going off-course.
- Allow extra time for rainy days and Hanoi’s heavy traffic.
- Use apps to find gas stations before you run low on fuel.
- Ride conservatively and defensively until accustomed to traffic flow.
- Pack tools for basic roadside repairs like jump-starting batteries.
- Always wear quality helmets and protective gear, even on short rides.
- Enjoy leisurely trips outside Hanoi in addition to seeing the main city sights.
With preparation and common sense, a motorbike rental lets you immerse yourself in local culture beyond touring by foot, taxi or bus. From relaxing rides along Hanoi’s lakes to conquering mountain switchbacks, motorbiking Vietnam is an experience like no other!
Learning key Vietnamese phrases and words helps getting around:
- Xin chào – Hello
- Cảm ơn – Thank you
- Vâng/Không – Yes/No
- Xin lỗi – Sorry/Excuse me
- Bao nhiêu? – How much?
- Nóng/lạnh – Hot/Cold
- Nước – Water
- Sữa – Milk
- Bia – Beer
- Đường phố – Street
- Bệnh viện – Hospital
- Cảnh sát – Police
- Hết xăng – Out of gas
- Hỏng/sửa – Broken/Repair
Even a few key words in Vietnamese go a long way towards positive interactions!
>>> Learn Beyond: The Must-Read Manual for Renting Motorbikes in Hanoi
Rental Bike Upgrades
Beyond basic rentals, some upgrades to consider:
- Saddlebags – More storage for longer trips. Waterproof options available.
- Phone mounts – Convenient for navigating on the go.
- Trunk boxes – Add rear cargo capacity and protection from elements.
- Tire repair kits – Plug punctures quickly during breakdowns.
- Upgraded suspension – Important for rugged terrain and off-road riding.
- Auxiliary lights – Improve visibility at night in remote areas.
- GPS trackers – Help locate stolen bikes, but not a foolproof anti-theft system.
- Phone chargers – Hook up your phone to the bike battery.
- Taller windscreens – Deflect wind and debris at highway speeds.
Discuss add-ons like these with your rental company to customize your bike.
Now fully equipped, head out on the open road for the motorbiking adventure of a lifetime! Let the wind be at your back and the throttle in your grip!
>>> Explore Further: A Guide to Motorbike Rental, Laws, Road Safety for Tourists in Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi’s chaotic traffic takes getting used to, but motorbikes provide unmatched freedom to immerse yourself in Viet culture. Follow this guide to rent, ride, and stay safe on your wheels. Revel in the organised chaos by joining the dance of scooters, motorbikes, and more that fill Hanoi’s streets.
The key takeaways:
- Choose a motorbike suited to your skill level. Automatic scooters are ideal for beginners.
- Find reputable rental shops and know licensing, insurance, gear, and documentation required.
- Navigate Hanoian traffic by being defensive, vigilant, and following cues from other drivers.
- Plan routes using apps, maps, and sample itineraries – but go with the flow!
- Ride safely by inspecting your vehicle, refueling often, and securing belongings from theft.
- Consider alternative transport like taxis or bicycles, especially in bad weather.
With this guide handy, you’ll be equipped for an unforgettable, two-wheeled adventure in Vietnam’s chaotic capital!