Nghe An, located in north-central Vietnam, is an emerging destination for motorbike enthusiasts from across Vietnam and beyond. With its picturesque mountain roads, breathtaking coastlines, and charming rural villages, Nghe An offers some of the best motorbiking routes in the country. For tourists and locals alike, renting a motorbike is one of the best ways to explore this scenic province.
In this guide, I’ll share my local expertise on motorbike rental in Nghe An. As someone born and raised in Vinh City, the capital of Nghe An, I’ve spent years discovering the region on two wheels. I’ll provide tips on the top rental shops, popular motorbike models, required paperwork, driving safety, packing essentials, lodging, and more – including my favorite routes and hidden gems. Whether you’re a beginner rider or seasoned biker, read on for my insider’s perspective on making the most of a motorbike rental in Nghe An.
Overview of Motorbike Rental in Nghe An
Motorbike rental shops abound in Nghe An’s major cities like Vinh and Cua Lo, as well as tourist destinations like Cua Lo Beach. Models range from automatic scooters to manual transmission motorcycles up to 400ccs. Daily rental rates average 100,000 to 150,000 VND ($4-7 USD). Discounts are often available for longer rentals of 3 days or more.
Documentation needed includes an international or Vietnamese driver’s license and passport. A refundable security deposit, usually around 2,000,000 VND ($85 USD), is also standard. Wearing a helmet is required by law and provided with all rentals.
While major agencies like Tigit Motorbikes operate in Nghe An, local shops offer better value and insider knowledge. Many provide extras like saddlebags, maps, rain gear, and even organized tours. English is hit or miss, so having a Vietnamese speaker arrange rentals is ideal.
Why Rent a Motorbike in Nghe An?
Convenience of Getting Around
With its winding coastal routes and mountain switchbacks, getting around Nghe An is easiest by motorbike. Public transportation like buses exists between major cities, but is limited elsewhere. Motorbikes provide door-to-door transportation without relying on tours or taxis. You can explore anywhere whenever you want.
Opportunity to Explore the Countryside
Nghe An’s rural charm and natural beauty make it perfect for motorbiking. Cruising quiet backroads, you’ll discover waterfalls tucked away in forests, encounter historic temples, and stumble upon tiny family-run eateries. With freedom and flexibility, you can traverse mountain villages to the beach in just a day. Self-driving allows you to roam wherever strikes your fancy.
Fun Way to Travel
For many, part of the appeal of motorbiking in Nghe An is the adventure. Driving past vibrant green rice paddies and karst mountain backdrops never gets old. Stopping spontaneously for photos or snacks adds to the enjoyment. There’s an incredible sense of freedom zipping along scenic coastal routes with the ocean breeze. For travelers seeking freedom and flexibility, renting a motorbike is a blast.
Popular Motorbike Rental Shops
Most motorbike rental stores are located either right on main city centers or just on the outskirts for easy access. In Vinh City, shops dot the roads around Ho Chi Minh Square. In Cua Lo, rentals abound along Nguyen Thai Hoc street near the beach. Asking locals can help find rental stores once in town.
Bike Models and Pricing
Honda and Yamaha make up popular manual transmission motorbikes between 100 and 400ccs. Models like the Honda Winner and Yamaha Exciter are common. Automatics like the Honda Lead are better suited to beginners. Scooters are also available but not ideal for long distances.
Expect to pay 100,000 to 150,000 VND ($4-7 USD) per day for most motorbikes. Automatic models are usually cheapest at around 100,000 VND. Higher-powered bikes cost upwards of 200,000 VND. Per week pricing ranges from 500,000 to 1,500,000 VND ($22-65 USD). Discounts around 10-20% often apply for longer rentals.
Most shops include helmets, bike locks, and basic repair kits with rentals. Saddlebags, phone mounts, and rain gear can be added for an extra fee. Many shops also sell discounted guided tours ranging from half to full-day loops. Simple maps are sometimes provided for free upon request.
A few high-end agencies like Flamingo Travel even offer advanced GPS units with pre-programmed routes, though these cost extra. Most regular shops can also provide basic route planning and tips if asked.
Tips for Renting a Bike
To rent a motorbike in Nghe An, you’ll need:
- Original passport and visa
- Valid Vietnamese or International Driver’s License
- Cash deposit, usually around 2,000,000 VND ($85 USD)
Vietnamese law requires an official Vietnamese motorbike license to drive any bike over 50cc. But most shops will rent up to 400cc to foreigners with any valid license. An International Driving Permit (IDP) along with your native license is ideal.
Be sure to carry your original passport when renting and driving since police occasionally check IDs. Keep copies of documents back at your hotel rather than risk losing all originals if stolen.
Inspecting the Bike
Give any rented motorbike a quick inspection beforehand:
- Check tires for adequate treads and inflation
- Test brakes to ensure they function properly
- Check lights and signals are working
- Ensure no oil or gas leaks when engine is on
- Test throttle and handling for responsiveness
Point out any issues to the rental shop beforehand to avoid assuming blame later. Take photos showing the bike condition as well to protect against any damage claims.
Understanding Rental Terms
Clarify all rental terms upfront:
- Rental price, deposit amount, discounts
- Included equipment like helmets, locks, bags
- Fuel policy: some shops provide full tank, others require refilling
- Refund process for deposit if no damages
- Repair and replacement costs for common parts like mirrors
- Penalties for late or damaged returns
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Reputable shops will explain policies clearly and provide them in writing. Get copies of your rental contract and inventory checklist in case of any disputes later.
Best Routes for Motorbike Tours
For mountain scenery, the 150 km northwest loop from Vinh towards the Laos border is stunning. Riding via smaller highways QL46 and QL15A, you’ll pass through lush valleys and waterfalls around Pu Mat National Park. Highlights include Phap Luat grotto, Vinh Quang Pagoda, and Loi Son garden. The remote roads see far less traffic for an easier ride.
Hugging the shoreline from Vinh down to Cua Lo offers a relaxing seaside ride. Stopping at Lang Sen wetlands, Trieu Son temple, and Sam Son beach along the way. Continuing south past Nghia Dan and Nghi Loc takes you alongside vibrant fishing villages. Don’t miss the coastal Cua Hoi lagoon famous for fresh seafood. The route covers around 200 kilometers showcasing some of Nghe An’s best coastal scenery.
Meandering south of Vinh towards Hue provides a rich taste of rural life. Following back roads towards Thanh Chuong, you’ll stumble upon emerald rice paddies, local markets, and hillside pagodas. Exploring off the beaten path lets you experience authentic Vietnamese countryside. Easy riding conditions make this a great beginner loop. Cover around 100 kilometers before looping back to Vinh.
Safety Tips for Driving
Like elsewhere in Vietnam, driving defensively is key. Keep safety in mind:
- Drive slowly, especially around turns or intersections
- Watch carefully for pedestrians, cyclists, and animals
- Overtake vehicles with ample room and use signals
- Keep right except to pass since trucks use the left lane
- Avoid driving at night when possible due to poor lighting
Leave plenty of braking room, use mirrors, and don’t assume other vehicles see you. Patience and vigilance will prevent most accidents.
Dealing With Traffic
Congested traffic is common, particularly around Vinh and Cua Lo. Here are some tips:
- Expect vehicles from all directions – drive cautiously
- Don’t trust indicators – wait until cars start moving before pulling out
- Use your horn liberally to alert others
- Pass assertively yet safely when needed
- If unsure, pull over and wait for congestion to clear
- Keep an eye on the vehicle in front in case of sudden braking
Staying calm and not getting frustrated will make navigating traffic much easier.
A few local scams to watch for:
- Rental shops insisting on retaining your passport – never allow this
- Police requesting an on-the-spot fine for made up violations
- Total mileage limits that seem abnormally low if you plan long distances
- Damage claims for minor pre-existing scratches or dents
- Fuel not filled as promised before rental begins
Carefully vetting shops, documenting bike condition, and understanding your legal rights will help avoid most scams.
Where to Go and What to See
Top Attractions and Landmarks
No trip to Nghe An is complete without visiting:
- Vinh City for its vibrant riverfront and nightlife
- Cua Lo Beach with its sandy shores and resorts
- Kim Lien Village, Ho Chi Minh’s birthplace
- Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park and its famous caves
- Kẻ Gỗ Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Nghe An
- Cầu Rồng Bridge, an iconic Vinh landmark over the Lam River
And don’t miss overnighting at:
- Pu Mat National Park to gaze at the starry night sky
- Con Co Island for its pristine beaches and seafood
Venture outside the tourist track to:
- Dien Lam spiritual temple hidden near mountains
- Chua Danh holy shrine on Hon Ngu peninsula
- Hang Mua caves with stunning limestone cliffs
- Mon Son market selling woven handicrafts
- Ham Rong and Rao Nan viewpoints overlooking lush valleys
Ask locals for their hidden gem recommendations to find places not listed in any guidebook.
>>> Further Insights: Motorbike Rental in Nghe An: A Local’s Perspective
Recommended Stops for Photos
Top scenic spots for photos include:
- Lòng Sông Café’s sunset river panorama
- Linh Cốc Tự’s imposing triple Buddha statues
- Cầu Treo bridge overlooking a lush canyon
- Long Sơn rice terraces mirrored in irrigation waters
- Vực Trăm waterfall flowing down a sheer rock face
- Nhất Trụ Pagoda framed by neighboring peaks
Pack wide angle and zoom lenses to capture both sweeping vistas and fine details.
>>> Discover More: Ha Tinh Motorbike Rental: Insider Tips for a Memorable Trip
Finding Mechanics and Repairs
Basic puncture repair kits provided by rental shops cover simple flats. But in case of breakdowns or accidents, finding a mechanic is advised:
- Ask your rental shop for their recommended garage
- Search Google Maps for “Sửa xe máy” to locate shops
- Inquire locally once broken down, residents can direct you
- Consider pre-booking mobile mechanics through apps like GoBike
For serious issues, towing may be necessary to a garage. Minor repairs average 100,000 VND ($4 USD). Major engine or body repairs can cost millions of VND – have adequate travel insurance.
Returning Bikes and Potential Issues
Upon returning your rental:
- Arrive on time, shops charge hefty late fees
- Come with a full petrol tank to avoid fuel penalties
- Present bike in clean condition, especially after wet/muddy rides
- Note any new damages not previously documented
- Be prepared to pay for new damages like crushed mirrors
- Retrieve your passport deposit after inspection
For disputes over excessive damage claims, firmly request to see the original pre-rental checklist and contest any unwarranted charges. Having documentation, photos, and a positive rapport with the shop staff will aid resolution.
Packing and Gear for Motorbike Trips
Essential items to pack and wear for motorbiking include:
- Sturdy shoes and long pants – for protection in case of falls
- Rain jacket – sudden downpours are frequent
- Face mask – reduces dust inhalation
- Sunscreen/bug spray – prevents burns and bites
- Sunglasses and hat – cut glare during long rides
- Scalable layers – temperatures fluctuate between mountain and coast
- Small backpack – carries items not fitting in saddlebags
- Printed map, mobile GPS – in case you get lost
- Mobile charger – keeps your phone powered
- Snacks and water – recharge when riding long distances
Pack light if possible as weight impacts handling and fuel economy. Store valuables in saddlebags or hotel safe rather than on your person during rides.
Lodging Options for Motorbikers
Good lodging options accessible for motorbikers:
Hotels and Resorts
- Modern conveniences like secure parking lots
- Mid-range pricing from $25-50 USD per night
- Found concentrated in major tourist areas
- Authentic experience staying with a local family
- Typically include home-cooked meals
- Around $10-20 per night
- Best booked via sites like Vinh Homestay
- Cheapest option at $5 USD or less
- Provides full flexibility overnighting anywhere
- Many shops rent camping gear like tents and sleeping bags
- National parks have designated camping areas
Pack a sleep sheet for cleanliness when camping. For security, use hotel parking where available rather than street parking.
Driving at Night vs. Daytime
Is driving at night advisable? Consider:
- Better visibility to enjoy the scenery
- More convenient for sightseeing
- Cooler temperatures
- Less reckless night drivers
- Less congested roads
- Easier to find hotels with vacancies
- Can experience nightlife in cities
- Good stargazing away from city lights
Night riding is feasible but higher risk. With poorer lighting and visibility, anticipate more dangers from pedestrians, vehicles, and potholes. Drive slowly and use high beams judiciously. Avoid long distance rides at night.
Renting vs Bringing Your Own/Buying Motorbike
Is it better to rent or have your own motorbike?
- No transport logistics bringing it in or out
- No ownership hassles for short stays
- Can swap bikes if mechanical issues
- Insured under the rental company
Own Motorbike Pros
- Familiar with model condition and handling
- No daily rental costs for long trips
- Greater peace of mind regarding maintenance
- Can customize and modify to your preferences
Short term visitors are best off renting. Those staying 1-3 months could consider buying locally then reselling the bike after. Require an extra Vietnam visa for your bike and beware scams when purchasing used.
>>> Supplementary Details: Unlocking Thanh Hoa’s Charms: The Ultimate Motorbike Rental Guide
Final Tips and Conclusion
I hope these tips help you plan an amazing motorbiking adventure across Nghe An. With its mix of coastal routes, mountain switchbacks, rural charm and natural beauty – it’s a hidden gem for motorbiking in Vietnam. By renting a bike, you’ll gain the freedom to immerse yourself and explore wherever your journeys lead.
Ride defensively, prepare properly, and seek local insights when planning your route. Respect speed limits through villages and beware of loose gravel on steep turns. With common sense and caution, you’ll find cruising Nghe An by motorbike an unforgettable experience. The province continues emerging as a must-ride destination – so set out for your own journey of discovery today.