Renting a motorbike and exploring Vietnam by road is a popular activity for many travelers. However, there are regulations around the legal driving age that determine if you can legally operate a rented motorbike. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about renting and driving a motorbike in Vietnam as a foreigner.
Legal Driving Age in Vietnam
Vietnam has regulations around the minimum age to drive different vehicle types. This impacts your eligibility to legally rent and drive a motorbike as a foreigner.
Minimum Age to Drive a Motorbike
The minimum age to drive a motorbike in Vietnam is:
- 16 years for motorbikes under 50cc engine size
- 18 years for motorbikes over 50cc engine size
To legally drive any rented motorbike as a foreigner in Vietnam, you need to be at least 18 years old.
Requirements for a Vietnamese Driver’s License
Foreigners in Vietnam can obtain a Vietnamese driver’s license by:
- Passing a medical check
- Passing a traffic law test
- Passing a driving test
- Being a Vietnam resident with a work permit or long-term visa
The minimum age to obtain a Vietnamese license for motorbikes up to 175cc is 18 years. For larger motorbikes, you must be at least 21 years old.
As a foreign tourist, you are very unlikely to obtain a Vietnamese driver’s license. Therefore, you will not be able to legally drive in Vietnam under 18 years old.
>>> Investigate Further: Do I Need a License to Rent a Motorbike in Vietnam?
Rental Companies’ Policies
Renting a motorbike in Vietnam as a foreigner under 18 years old can be challenging. Most rental companies have age policies of 18 or 21 years minimum.
Common Minimum Rental Ages
The most common minimum rental ages at motorbike rental companies in Vietnam are:
- 18 years – This is the most common minimum age and aligns with the legal driving age. Some companies may allow 16 or 17 year olds with a large deposit or fees.
- 21 years – Some rental companies only rent to 21+ year olds for larger bikes.
- No minimum – A handful of companies do not have a minimum age policy. However, you still must meet the legal driving age.
Additional Fees for Young Riders
Companies that allow younger renters may charge:
- Higher insurance costs – Due to increased risk of accidents for young drivers.
- Larger security deposits – Up to $1000 for 16 or 17 year old riders.
- Geofencing fees – For tracking bikes outside certain geographic areas.
Types of Motorbikes for Rent
The two main types of motorbikes available for rental in Vietnam are manual and automatic transmission.
Manual motorbikes are the most common rental bikes in Vietnam. They have:
- Gears that you manually shift
- A clutch lever to change gears
- Engine sizes from 100cc to 175cc typically
Learning to drive manual bikes takes practice. Renting one under 18 years old can be challenging.
>>> See more: Navigating Motorbike Rentals in Hanoi for Beginners
Automatic motorbikes are easier for beginners to drive. Features include:
- No gears – uses a torque converter instead
- No clutch lever for gear changes
- Engine sizes around 125cc to 150cc
Automatics cost slightly more to rent but are ideal for young drivers with no experience.
Safety Concerns for Young Drivers
Renting a motorbike in Vietnam as a teenager has additional safety risks beyond just following traffic laws.
Lack of Experience
Younger drivers lack driving experience, leading to a higher chance of accidents. Common risks include:
- Losing control of the motorbike
- Improper braking
- Difficulty judging speed and distances
- Getting confused by complex traffic situations
Taking a practice lesson can help improve basic skills for beginners. But experience only comes with time.
Traffic Risks in Vietnam
Driving in Vietnam poses hazards, especially for young foreign riders. Challenges include:
- High traffic volumes in cities
- Aggressive local driving style
- Lack of adherence to traffic laws
- Poorly maintained roads with potholes
- Animals, people, and vehicles on roadways
Staying alert and not overdriving your abilities is crucial to safety.
Tips for Safe Driving
If you plan to rent a motorbike in Vietnam under 18 years old, following important safety tips can help minimize risks:
Take a Practice Lesson
Arrange for a lesson to practice in a quiet area before renting:
- Learn controls and shifting
- Get a feel for clutch and throttle
- Practice braking and balancing
- Test turning and maneuvering
Lessons build basic skills for beginners.
Always Wear a Helmet
- Use a quality helmet that fits properly
- Ensure chin strap is tightly fastened
- Choose bright colors for visibility
Do not ride helmetless – it’s dangerous and illegal.
Be Alert and Defensive
- Drive slowly and carefully
- Watch for other vehicles, pedestrians
- Brake early and use horns
- Expect the unexpected
Defensive techniques compensate for lack of experience.
Motorbike rental prices in Vietnam are affordable but vary by location, bike type, rental shop, and season. Age can also impact costs.
Factors Affecting Costs
Elements influencing rental prices include:
- Motorbike Type – Automatics cost more than manual bikes
- Engine Size – Larger bikes over 125cc have higher rates
- Rental Shop – Prices range widely between companies
- Season – High season has increased demand and rates
- Rental Period – Daily and weekly rates are common
- Age – Added fees for younger drivers
Shopping around helps find the best value rentals.
Average Rental Rates
Average rate estimates for motorbike rentals in Vietnam are:
- Manual 100cc bikes:
- Daily Rental – 100,000 to 150,000 VND ($4 to $7 USD)
- Weekly Rental – 500,000 to 700,000 VND ($22 to $30 USD)
- Automatic 125cc bikes:
- Daily Rental – 200,000 to 300,000 VND ($9 to $13 USD)
- Weekly Rental – 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 VND ($45 to $65 USD)
Higher engine sizes have increased costs. Under 18-year-olds can expect added fees.
Where to Rent
Major tourist destinations in Vietnam have an abundance of motorbike rental shops. But age policies vary between locations.
In large cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, most major rental companies have age minimums of 18 or 21 years. But some local shops may be more flexible.
- Hanoi – Old Quarter have many shops
- Ho Chi Minh City – District 1 and Pham Ngu Lao have concentrations of rentals
Smaller tourist destinations like Da Lat and Phong Nha tend to have lower age requirements at local shops.
- Da Lat – Try shops around Xuan Huong Lake
- Phong Nha – Look around the main village area
Research rental age policies before visiting more remote sites.
Insurance and Deposits
When renting a motorbike in Vietnam under 18 years old, insurance and security deposits are very important.
Liability coverage is mandatory for motorbike rentals in Vietnam. This protects you from costs if you damage the rental bike.
- Review policy details closely for age restrictions
- Ensure sufficient medical coverage too
Without insurance, you are liable for all damages.
The rental shop will require a monetary deposit, typically 3-5 million VND ($130-$215 USD).
- If under 18 years, deposits may be doubled
- Expect to pay deposit in cash in VND
- Get receipt to reclaim after safe return
Follow rental conditions to maximize deposit refund.
Conclusion and Summary
Renting a motorbike under 18 years old in Vietnam is challenging but possible. The minimum legal driving age is 16 or 18 years depending on engine size. While some rental companies have flexible policies, most require drivers to be at least 18 years old, with additional charges for younger renters. Carefully researching rental policies, following safety precautions, and understanding insurance requirements help ensure an enjoyable experience driving a motorbike in Vietnam as a teenager.