Renting a motorbike is one of the best ways to explore the sights, sounds and tastes of Hanoi. The bustling streets of Vietnam’s capital are filled with a chaotic ballet of scooters and motorbikes, with locals and tourists alike zipping through the city traffic. For visitors, joining the frenzy on two wheels can be an intimidating prospect. However, with some preparation and knowledge, renting and riding a motorbike in Hanoi can be easy, affordable and enjoyable.
This comprehensive guide will provide everything you need to know to demystify motorbike rentals in Hanoi, including:
- Benefits of renting a motorbike
- Types of bikes available
- Rental companies and rates
- Safety tips for riding
- Rules of the road
- Where to go and what to see
- Packing list and trip preparation
- Alternatives to renting
Follow these tips and hit the road with confidence to explore Hanoi and beyond on two wheels!
Benefits of Renting a Motorbike in Hanoi
Renting a motorbike unlocks many advantages for visitors:
- Freedom – Go wherever you want, whenever you want. A rental motorbike provides flexibility to change plans and discover new places.
- Saves money – Rentals are very affordable, often less than $5 USD per day. Cheaper than taxis or tours.
- Experience Hanoi like a local – Navigating the chaotic traffic will give you a true taste of life in Vietnam’s capital.
- Access attractions – Motorbikes can reach small alleys, parks and landmarks off the tourist trail.
- Travel at your own pace – Stop and start on your schedule. Perfect for taking photos.
- Breeze through traffic – Zip through congested streets easily on a motorbike.
Things to Consider Before Renting a Motorbike
While renting a motorbike comes with many perks, there are some important things to keep in mind:
- Traffic – Hanoi has chaotic traffic with few rules. Can be stressful for new riders. Drive defensively.
- Scams – Some disreputable shops rent damaged bikes or overcharge. Research reputable rentals.
- Safety – Accident rates are high in Vietnam. Wear a helmet and ride cautiously.
- Weather – Rain or heat can make riding unpleasant. Check forecasts before renting.
- License requirements – An IDP or Vietnamese license may be required. Verify ahead of time.
Types of Motorbikes Available for Rent
Hanoi offers a variety of motorbikes to meet diverse riders’ needs:
Manual vs. Automatic
Most rental bikes in Hanoi have manual transmission. This means manually shifting gears with a clutch. Automatic models are less common but available.
Consider how much riding experience you have:
- Automatic – No gears or clutch. Easy for beginners.
- Manual – More control but requires some skill. Good for experienced riders.
Scooters vs. Motorbikes
Scooters have smaller engines, while motorbikes have more powerful engines over 150cc.
Scooters are better suited for:
- Beginner riders
- Short city trips
- Less luggage capacity needed
Motorbikes are ideal for:
- Experienced riders
- Longer distances and highway travel
- More storage for luggage
Common rental engine sizes:
- 50-125cc – Best for new riders and short city trips
- 150-250cc – Balance of power and ease of handling
- 300cc+ – Powerful but more challenging to control
Brands and Models
Popular rental bikes:
- Honda Wins and SCR – Reliable automatic scooters good for beginners
- Honda Cub, Nouvo, Blade – Common manual scooters and motorbikes
- Suzuki Raider, Axelo – Stylish manual 150cc+ bikes for experienced riders
Test drive different bikes to choose the best fit based on your needs.
>>> Uncover More: The Backpacker’s Handbook to Renting Motorbikes in Hanoi
Many rental shops cater to travelers in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and around Hoan Kiem Lake. Options range from large franchises to family-run outlets.
- Tigit Motorbikes – Reputable company with high-quality bikes, good service and many locations. More expensive.
- Hanoi Motorbike Rental – Chain with multiple shops and motorbike variety. Mid-range pricing.
- Motogo – Reliable bikes from this Vietnam-wide company.
Smaller Local Shops
Ask fellow travelers, check recent online reviews and inspect bikes carefully before renting from local shops. Negotiate pricing. Some recommended local operators:
- Phung Motorbike – Family-owned with friendly, helpful service.
- Motoopen – Small operation with scooters and touring bikes.
- Nguyen Tu Motorbike – Canadian-Vietnamese owner. Quality bikes and repair shop.
Comparing Rental Companies
When choosing a company, consider:
- Reputation and reviews
- Range of bike models and sizes
- Rental rates and discounts
- Condition of bikes
- Customer service and responsiveness
- Policies (deposits, paperwork required, etc.)
Shop around to find the best match for your needs.
Rental Rates and Packages
Rates vary by company, bike type and rental period. Packages and deals can cut costs.
Daily, Weekly and Monthly Rates
Typical rental periods and average rates:
- Daily – 100,000 to 150,000 VND ($5-7 USD)
- Weekly – 500,000 to 800,000 VND ($20-35 USD)
- Monthly – 1,500,000 VND+ ($60+ USD)
Rates usually include basic bike maintenance and repairs.
Discounts and Deals
Many companies offer deals like:
- 5+ day and weekly discounts
- Free helmets, rain ponchos, locks, etc
- Referral and return customer rewards
- Off-season promotional pricing
Check company websites or ask for current special offers.
Insurance and Deposits
Most rentals require:
- Deposit – Generally 1-5 million VND ($40-200), returned after bike is checked when back
- Passport – Held as security, be sure to get it back promptly
Insurance is rare. You pay for any damage. Consider travel insurance.
Watch for extra fees like:
- Parking and traffic fines
- Gas – usually pay to refill tank before returning
- Pickup/drop-off charges outside defined zones
Clarify all fees upfront to avoid surprises when returning your motorbike.
What to Look for in a Rental Motorbike
Inspect bikes carefully before renting. Test drive and check:
Condition and Maintenance
- Tires – Sufficient tread, no cracks or bulges
- Brakes – Functioning front and rear brakes
- Lights – Headlight, brake and turn signals all working
- Mirrors – Adjusted for best rear visibility
- Gears – Smooth gear changes
Reject bikes that feel unsafe or not properly maintained.
Take a quick test ride to check:
- Acceleration – Responsive speeding up
- Handling – Easy turning and stability
- Braking – Strong brakes, no pulling left/right
- Unusual sounds/vibrations – Should run quiet and smooth
Ensure reservoirs have sufficient:
- Engine oil – Vital lubrication for the motor
- Fuel – Avoid spluttering out mid-ride
- Brake fluid – Important for safe stopping ability
Top off if lower than recommended levels.
Safety Tips for Riding in Hanoi
Riding in Hanoi’s chaotic traffic requires caution. Follow these tips for a safe journey:
Obey Traffic Laws
Though road rules are loosely followed in Vietnam, obeying laws will help avoid accidents.
- Speed limits – Rarely enforced but stay within limits for safety
- Traffic lights – Follow signals and pull forward safely if others creep
- Keep right – Ride on the right side of the road
- No phone use – Don’t text or talk on a phone while riding
Constantly scan for hazards and be ready to brake or evade:
- Expect the unexpected – Anticipate people, vehicles emerging suddenly
- Cover brakes – Keep fingers ready to brake quickly
- Use rear brake more – Safer than only front brake in slick conditions
Wear Safety Gear
AT minimum, always wear a good quality helmet. Also recommended:
- Reflective/bright jacket – Increase visibility
- Closed shoes – Protect feet and ankles
- Gloves – Prevent abrasions in a crash
- Face mask – Guard against pollution
Ride cautiously in the rain with reduced visibility.
Rules of the Road in Hanoi
Understanding basic road rules and etiquette will help you ride safely among the organized chaos of Hanoi’s streets.
Licenses and Paperwork
By law, you must have:
- International drivers license – Technically required for foreigners though not often enforced
- Passport – Always carry when renting in case stopped by police
- Rental agreement – Proof of valid rental for your bike
Obtain proper licenses to avoid potential problems.
Fines and Violations
Fines are levied for offenses like:
- Speeding – Cameras and police enforce speed limits on highways
- Traffic violations – Running lights, improper passing, etc.
- Drink driving – Strict penalties for driving under the influence
Fines must typically be paid immediately if stopped by police.
Accidents and Insurance
Hopefully you won’t have any accidents but if so:
- Exchange information – Get contact details and bike papers from other parties
- Take photos – Document damage and scene
- File police report – Required to process any insurance claim
- Contact rental company – Inform them of damage and next steps
Popular Motorbike Routes and Tours from Hanoi
With so many options, here are some top motorbike routes and tours to consider around Hanoi:
Scenic Areas Around Hanoi
For beautiful riding nearby:
- West Lake – Ride the lake loop and stop at temples, cafes and gardens
- Perfume Pagoda – Day trip to sacred mountain riverside pagoda about 60km from Hanoi
- Ba Vi National Park – Forested park with hiking, temples and great views under 100km away
Escape the city for overnight trips:
- Halong Bay – Ride to this stunning World Heritage coastline and islands
- Tam Coc – Dramatic karst rock formations and rice paddies a few hours south
- Mai Chau Valley – Stay in stilt houses in this scenic rural valley overnight
Northern Vietnam Loop Tours
For multi-day riding adventures:
“The North Loop via Ha Giang should be on every rider’s Vietnam bucket list.” – From Vietnam Coracle
- Northwest Loop – Ride from Hanoi up to Ha Giang, Dong Van Karst Plateau and back
- Northeast Loop – Explore mountain roads, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Ban Gioc Waterfall bordering China
- Pu Luong Nature Reserve – Remote roads through forests, villages, rice terraces and mountains
Packing and Preparing for Motorbike Trips from Hanoi
Pack properly for safety, convenience and comfort during your motorbike adventures around Hanoi.
Tools and Spare Parts
Carry a small toolkit and supplies in case of minor breakdowns or repairs:
- Basic tools – wrenches, screwdriver, pliers, spark plug socket, etc.
- Spare inner tube and tire repair kit
- Duct tape
- Spare bulbs and fuses
- Bungee cords to strap on luggage
Clothing and Rain Gear
Dress in layers for changing conditions:
- Lightweight, breathable pants and jacket
- Warm layer like fleece for colder mountain areas
- Waterproof rain poncho or jacket
- Eye protection like sunglasses or riding goggles
- Face mask for dust and pollution
Maps, GPS and Connectivity
Have navigation backups to avoid getting lost:
- Offline maps app – Like Maps.me with downloaded maps and GPS
- Dedicated GPS device – More accurate than phone GPS
- SIM card – Local SIM with data for ride tracking apps and connectivity
- Guidebook map – Physical map as another reference
Alternatives to Motorbike Rental in Hanoi
If renting a motorbike doesn’t suit you, consider other ways to get around:
>>> Continue Reading: The Tourist’s Guide to Motorbike Rentals in Vietnam’s Capital
Hanoi has public bus systems, though routes are limited:
- Local city buses – Difficult for non-Vietnamese speakers but very cheap
- Tourist bus – #86 circles top attractions and Old Quarter with commentary
Taxis and Private Car Services
Taxis like Vinasun provide air conditioned comfort and convenience:
- Metered taxis – Most economical option over short distances
- Uber/Grab – Reliable ride sharing apps popular in Hanoi
- Private car – Hire a car and driver for maximum flexibility
Guided Motorbike Tours
Join a tour on the back of a motorbike driven by a knowledgeable local guide:
- Hanoi motorbike day tours – See top attractions and neighborhoods
- Overnight guided tours – Follow a set route with guide, meals and hotels included
- Off-road/adventure tours – Exciting riding through remote northern regions
So don’t be intimidated by Hanoi’s wild traffic. Follow these tips and renting your own motorbike for discovering Vietnam’s charms will be smooth riding!