Photo: On the road to Banlung.

Motorbiking in Asia forum

Motorbike in Vietnam

Posted by jamiehill on 31/12/2008 at 22:05


I am planning my first trip to Asia in October. I'm going to visit Vietnam with a friend as it looks amazing and is a good size to travel over 3 or 4 weeks.

I want to be able to travel by renting a motorbike however I dont have a UK licence (I am from England) and won't be able to get an IDP.

Will I get stopped by police?
If I do get stopped will I get put in jail or just fined? How much would the fine be?

Many thanks to anyone who responds,

#1 jamiehill has been a member since 31/12/2008. Posts: 1

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Posted by xeom on 12/1/2009 at 00:40

Yeah, You can rent a motobike in Vietnam without driving licence. You won't be stop by police if you follow the traffic rule in Vietnam, in case you are stopped by police just say something in English that you just come to Vietnam for first time so somethings you dont know about then you will be alrite

#2 xeom has been a member since 12/1/2009. Posts: 1

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Posted by damos68 on 27/2/2009 at 01:21


I had never ridden a motorbike before but after continuous encouragement from a Spanish couple I kept meeting the length of the country, decided to bite the bullet and hire a bike in Sapa (of all places..) Personally it was the best decision I ever made and I look forward to doing again some day.

As xeom said, no need for a license, just bear in mind the consequences were anything to happen to you ie, accident. I f'd up the rear brake on my bike when taking a corner too wide on the mountainside and then over correcting. Thankfully one of the local Hmong girls who I had lunch with earlier in the day came to my rescue and was able to get it fixed for the equivalent of fifty cents. Some other people I know werent so lucky and had the unfortunate experience (after the similarly unfortunate experience of having a quite serious crash) of having the bike owners try to extort ludicrous amounts of money from them. I joined them for near on 5 hours at the local police station trying to sort the mess out. Thankfully it all worked out, but just remember that if anything happens to you, you will likely be out of pocket to a serious degree.

As for the police, they wont hassle you for riding a bike (always wear a helmet tho). Was kinda funny with my Hmong friend though- after getting the bike fixed we decided to scoot down to another village to catch up with a friend of hers I had met on a previous trip. Of course my friend had no helmet on and we drove right past some police out to earn a living and had to end up paying a "fine". It wasnt much, though my friend did all the talking and told me that if it was me on my own, they would have charged a lot more because "police are shit"! Some things are the same no matter where u go

But, definitely do it keeping in mind all the above. It's a great experience.

#3 damos68 has been a member since 26/2/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by lodge on 7/3/2009 at 22:30

Im planning something very similar. My only concern at the moment though is that all the insurance quotes im looking at wont cover personal liabilty if driving a motor vehicle. I also dont have a licence so I wont be insured motorbiking full stop.

Should I give up on this idea?
I've read you can get insurance in vietnam but its worth very little. I'm just worried that my insurance will be void if i hit someone and end up stuck in vietnam with a hefty fee and a lawsuit.


#4 lodge has been a member since 17/2/2009. Posts: 17

Posted by Stigron on 8/3/2009 at 09:39

I'm still laughing at post #2. we're about to do our 4th trip to Vietnam and I'm still trying to work out these "raod rules". lol

To Jamie......I always get a bike when we go to Aisa but I would have some reservations about riding in HaNoi and Ho chi Minh City. Mate it's just total bedlam.!! And I think if you don't know where your going you could be in some trouble.

I remember leaving Vietnam a couple of years ago and saw this bloke at the airport with gravel rash from face to foot........ouch!!

Just make sure your insurance covers you or pay someone and get on the back.

#5 Stigron has been a member since 15/2/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 28

Posted by sayadian on 10/3/2009 at 20:13

Two of us hired a crock of a bike here in Nha Trang last Sunday and went to look at the waterfalls.It was a hair-raising experience.The dirt road was full of kids on bikes drunk out of their minds racing each other and believe me there were many of them coming off and flying past us with centimetres to spare. One guy was so drunk he'd dropped his bike and was staggering around it in a circle unable to locate the steering bars and when he tried to pick it up fell over the thing. Believe me it was hilarious but bear in mind the consequences of being on the roads with these guys. I think Sunday is the day they get smashed and go out on their bikes. I would avoid the weekend if I were you.

#6 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
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Posted by oz_jase_74 on 13/3/2009 at 14:35

Yeah drunk kids riding motorbikes in the rural areas in Vietnam is quite common. In 2005 I witnessed a guy come off the back of a bike and die on the spot in Dalat. He and his mates were all drunk at the time.

Technically riding without a Vietnamese licence in Vietnam is illegal and you must have a licence if you ride any motorbike over 50cc in capacity which is pretty much all motorbikes in Vietnam. IDP's are NOT recognised in Vietnam so forget producing that to a cop as they will not even know what it is let alone be able to read it.

It is possible to obtain a Vietnam licence if you are a foreigner, I have one myself valid till 2012 for car, light truck & motorcycle. Firstly you must have a licence for the vehicle you intend to drive (ie car, motorcycle or truck). If you don't have that then forget it, it's all too hard. Secondly you must have valid residency in Vietnam and residential address. If you satisfy these requirements then it's possible to changeover your foreign licence to Vietnam. You must fill out the form which needs to be then attested by your home country embassy that it is you and that your licence is valid. Once this is done you then need to get your licence, passport & visa translated by legal translation place (I went to a govt place recommended by the licencing dept.) Once you have done this take along all copies to the licencing dept and they will process your licence in about a week which you have to return in person to pickup. You then will be a legal rider in Vietnam and most importantly you will be covered by your own travel/medical insurance if you get into an accident.

I've heard horror stories from friends who have been in accidents in Asia. One guy was hospitalised in Vietnam for 6 weeks and his girlfriend was killed as a result of an accident in HCMC. So understand the legalities and consequences of riding a motorbike in Vietnam and I would not recommend it to anyone who isn't a seasoned motorcyclist.


#7 oz_jase_74 has been a member since 13/3/2009. Posts: 1

Posted by lodge on 15/5/2009 at 12:02

Hey jamiehill,

Me and my two friends went to the Saigon Scooter Center (where top gear got Clarkson's scooter); we were given everything we needed for the trip (spare parts, map, tools) and weren't asked for any form of driving license. It cost $60 for two weeks, $120 for three weeks, and you get vintage 150cc Vespas, which gives you a lot of respect with the locals. The traffic in Saigon is slightly over-rated; I managed to drive around the rush hour quite happily for 2 hours and I am hardly an experienced biker. It's just organized chaos; you pick it up quite quickly, as long as you have common sense. Outside cities is a bit different; lorries and trucks will take up both lanes and expect you to get out the way.

We've been driving around Vietnam, from the coast to the central highlands up to Hue. We have had absolutely no trouble with the police; in fact we very rarely see them. The times we have seen them they were hanging around looking bored; they definetly saw us driving but showed no interest in pulling us over. I recently read some forum posts (not here) of people asking the same thing as you, and everyone was saying the police are stopping every foreigner driving and checking their licensces, fining them or sending them to jail. We have seen no evidence of this so far. I have heard the rules might be slightly stricter around Hanoi however. However, talking to Patrick Joynt (owner of SSC), when I asked him what to do if we were pulled over, he told me to show that we were English, present the ownership cards which you get given with the bikes, and if they still hang around, give them 100,000 to move on (about $6).
Also, on the way to Nha Trang, over a particularly nasty road, I hit a pothole and came off the bike, and the bike was pretty messed. However, I got it to Nha Trang, found a Vespa garage, and the mechanic fixed everything for me in a day for $60.
If you do get a bike, the central highlands are awesome for views, but get the heads-up on the road conditions first, as we've gone over some particularly terrible road surfaces.

PS I would recommend getting a motorbike jacket. About $50, saved the skin on my arms.

#8 lodge has been a member since 17/2/2009. Posts: 17

Posted by brucemoon on 15/5/2009 at 14:06


Great to hear that you had fun. I also have never been pulled by the cops - and I've enjoyed much riding. That so many foreigners ride around on rented bikes, I doubt that it's an issue anymore.

I'm surprised the costs you quote: $60 for 2 weeks, $120 for 3 weeks - a typo, perhaps. I suppose also you talk US$.

For those interested, the daily rate for a 125cc Dream or similar is in the order of 100,000 VN dong. When looking for more days, one can usually haggle down significantly.

I wish I could find someone who would ernt on a one way basis: now THAT would be special!


#9 brucemoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by lodge on 24/5/2009 at 00:21

Yeah Saigon Scooter Center does one-way rentals. You send them back on the train.

#10 lodge has been a member since 17/2/2009. Posts: 17

Posted by gabrielgodin on 5/8/2011 at 23:08

If you want to buy a Honda Win 110cc, Dream, or bigger model in Hanoi, contact me, I have a lot of (serviced) units. You can email me at
As for legal advises, you are not legally allowed to ride in Vietnam, but the police isn't a problem: the insurance could be one. This is one part of the adventure, so if you are not ready for that, then you shouldn't think about this trip.
International driving licenses are not accepted. However, the everyday FACTS are that the police doesn't cares about people riding bikes under 175cc; over that the law requires a SPECIAL driving license, and then the police starts to care. That is part of the mystery and one of the reason why some cautious people still don't understand why so many people end up not having any trouble with the law.

#11 gabrielgodin has been a member since 17/2/2011. Posts: 17

Posted by byhanger on 12/8/2011 at 23:18

Hi all
My buddies and me just did a round trip stasrting in saigon up to hanoi and back down
Dalat , mui ne , hoi anh , hue , are the best places i have ever been . Nha trang and Da nang
should be avoided if you dont want stuff stolen We bought 3 wins from saigon motorbikes and they fitted them with side racks free and gave us 2nd hand helmets we did every thing they told us in the way of maintainace and only had some cables go and a few punctures
We bought the bikes for 300usd and my buddies sold thiers to some other tourists and got their money back . I am keeping mine because i live here in saigon and the bike works as good in the city as it does in the country
If you ride defensivly here you dont have a problem . but when you try to ride as at home you do This aint hammer down riding i assure you just take it cool and you will be ok

good trip yall B

#12 byhanger has been a member since 30/12/2010. Posts: 5

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