Photo: Canals of Ca Mau, Mekong Delta.

Vietnam forum

Recommended motorbike rides in Vietnam(not tours)

Posted by tomwatt on 11/11/2012 at 02:56

4 kiwis looking into a day/overnight motorbike ride in vietnam, seen a few videos on youtube of rides through the mountains etc which look awesome! google search just gives me private tours etc. any tips or recommendations??!!

#1 tomwatt has been a member since 11/11/2012. Posts: 3

Posted by travellingsarah on 11/11/2012 at 03:33 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

It depends where in Vietnam you're going to be - what's your plan?

#2 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 684
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Posted by tomwatt on 11/11/2012 at 04:09

fly into HCMC and travel up to Hanoi by train most likely, gonna stop off at the main tourist towns along the railway line so where ever has the best trails/scenery

#3 tomwatt has been a member since 11/11/2012. Posts: 3

Posted by Andrumac on 11/11/2012 at 05:52

I flew into HCMC with the intent to train and bus it up to Hanoi , ended up buying a motorbike for about $300 aus and rode it from HCMC half way up the coast to HUE (about 1500 KMs) then got the train with the bike up to Hanoi for the last Leg. the whole of vietnam is an an awsome place to ride but you have to get out to the places between all the touristy areas. if you just want to go for a day ride, Cat Ba Island of the coast or Ha-Long bay is awsome, you can hire a bike for about $5 aus a day and you can ride round the iisland with **** all cars. it honestly feels like your riding rounds Jurasic park. its Insane! getting out on the open road on a bike is far better then the train or bus, its the best trip ive ever had! im planning to do it again next year but into cambodia, laos and thailand.
Good Luck!

#4 Andrumac has been a member since 11/11/2012. Posts: 1

Posted by tomwatt on 11/11/2012 at 06:27

Awesome cheers andrumac, sounds epic. Probably looking into more of a day trip thing cause our packs are a bit big for long distance

#5 tomwatt has been a member since 11/11/2012. Posts: 3

Posted by ryder80 on 17/12/2012 at 10:20

hey guys,

to start off, i back packed SEA last year for about 3 months solo, thailand, malaysia, singapore, laos and cambodia. due to time, i missed vietnam, philippine, indonesia.

i have plans with-in 2 years or so to head to vietnam to purchase a motor-bike and ride, i ride a motor-bike back here in toronto, so this vietnam excursion is something i'm looking forward too...

any-how, for those of you that have done the vietnam riding on your own, did you guys use any sort of maps, that you purchsed online, or what did you use, or did you just ride and end up where-ever you are...

i'm looking to purchase a map to have an idea of what to do where to go, so wondering what's a good site to purchase a well designed riding map for motor-biking in vietnam, something designed specifically for that, if there is any like that to purchase online?


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Posted by somtam2000 on 17/12/2012 at 18:27 admin

I'm just back from a ten day motorbike trip through the Mekong Delta. Route was:
Saigon -> My Tho -> Ben Tre -> Tra Vinh -> Soc Trang -> Bac Lieu -> Ca Mau -> Rach Gia -> Can Tho -> My Tho -> Saigon

We did it on rental bikes out of Saigon and of the 1,200 odd km, only perhaps 50km was on a main road.

I've got a full trip report coming up prob later this week (only got home last night), but a couple of quick notes:

*) Legally, you require a Vietnamese motorbike license. Without one, your travel insurance most likely will not cover you in the event of an accident. We did the trip without these and one of the reasons we stuck to minor roads was to dodge the cops. I talked to a bunch of foreigners in Saigon about getting a licence and couldn't get a straight answer on how to do it.

*) We used a combination of Apple Maps and Google maps for routing. Even in the most remote areas we were about to get an EDGE connection, but most of the time was 3G the whole way. The advantage of using smart phone mapping is you can figure out where you are as on the minor roads the signage is non-existent and really isn't even all that good on the main roads.

*) The traffic levels on main roads can get a bit hairy, especially the buses and heavy trucks. It is not, in any way, like riding in your home country (unless you're Indonesian!)

*) Start early and don't ride at night. The last two hours of our final leg back to Saigon were at night -- not something I'd ever want to do again. (We rode Can Tho to Saigon in one hit with a break for beer and noodles at My Tho. The ride took nine hours)

*) Speed limits are low. They're generally 40km/h in towns and villages, 50km/h on the open road. The cops are quite busy enforcing these rules -- you'll notice how in some areas nobody, not a soul, is speeding -- I guess speedtraps, but am not sure.

*) We were only pulled over once (I was speeding) and the police officer just told me to slow down and let me go. The rental shop told us to offer 100,000, 200,000 or nvere more than 300,000 dong to deal with the no license issue, but in practise we never had to test this out.

*) Most people motorbike north from Saigon to Hanoi -- the Delta is a very different experience -- it is flat as a pancake, but very very beautiful and once you get south of Ben Tre there are ZERO other tourists.

If you have other questions, let me know.


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Posted by exacto on 17/12/2012 at 19:21

nice one. i'll look forward to the trip report later this week.

normally i'd want to know what size scooter/motorbike you had and what the available rental options are. but i'm guessing that since speed limits were so low, that the size of the bike doesn't matter as much as it might in other places.

are helmets the norm and readily available with a rental or purchased bike?

is there anyone else reading this who knows about getting the motorbike license?


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Posted by somtam2000 on 17/12/2012 at 21:08 admin

Hey exacto,

Bikes were Honda Airblades, 125cc. They're automatic bikes, very easy to ride and have a fairbit of pickup for a bike of this type.

Came with helmets - which are worn close to universally in Vn now. I had to ask for a different helmet though as mine had a hole in it! So they're not exactly a-grade material.

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Posted by LolaNguyen on 18/12/2012 at 05:11 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

Bikes are legal up to 125cc's, getting a motorbike licence is relatively easy, imigration offices / police stations can usually point you in the right direction, obtaining your licence varies from a short test manoeuvring around traffic cones to just handing over an over inflated fee.. prices - of course vary!
It is illegal to ride a motorbike in Vietnam without a helmet and you can pick up a relatively good (usually Andes) full face one for about $25 - which ever helmet you do buy make sure it has a holograph on the back which means its legal - if you are stopped with a helmet without this it will be smashed on the road and you will have to buy one off the police - again prices vary, locals pay 50,000VND $2.50.
The reason there are so many police stops now (Dec) is because of the lead up to Tet where the police clamp down on every thing they can take an on the spot fine for (lucky Tet money), this happens every year for a couple of months prior and over Tet which is on 10th - 13th Feb 2013. You must have a working horn (even if it were not a legal requirement you'll want one), at least one mirror and working lights to avoid further fines.
When choosing your bike you are best to go for the most common bike (Honda) especially if you are driving off the highways or you will struggle to find anyone to fix it when you breakdown in the middle of nowhere, standard repair fee is 50,000VND whatever is wrong, but when you get to a bigger town have the repair checked out - bodge it and scarper is common here, but if it gets you out of the middle of no where for a couple of bucks its all good.
Regarding routes, it really does depend on your start off point, here in Hoi An we have some incredible day trips - the Hai Van Pass, Son Tra or you can scale the hills and visit the hill tribes near the lao border taking in a little of the Ho Chi Minh trail and the great thing is its all easy to navigate with a bit of google mapping and keeping off the main highways.
Its a blast, stunningly beautiful scenery and incredibly lovely locals (when you get out of the touristy places), speed limits may be low - but hey! You'd miss all the good stuff if you just barrelled along flat out.
Dress appropriately, invest in the best helmet you can find and try to learn a few basics in Vietnamese (or how to sign effectively) and enjoy.

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Posted by ryder80 on 18/12/2012 at 07:07

considering how majority of the travellers that go to vietnam to motor-bike, don't go for a license, makes me feel the same as well, but if it's that easy to get one, then i wouldn't mind doing that just as a caution, any idea of a price range?

"somtam2000" - you mentioned you used your phone, i'm from canada, so no idea if i just bring a smart phone with me, gps will work fine?? i was thinking of buying a gps from canada and seeing if i can upload south east asia maps on it, is that possible? but i wouldn't mind physically having a map at all times, just so it'll be easier to work with... you know of any sites to purchase a well printed map for motor-biking in vietnam?

is 90 days the longest visa i can get?

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Posted by somtam2000 on 18/12/2012 at 17:43 admin

@ryder80 - I have an unlocked iPhone and my travel companion an unlocked Samsung something -- so we both just bought local sim cards. If your phone is not unlocked I'd be wary of using it as we did because could get very expensive very quickly.

The main issue with the maps isn't that they are not accurate (there are some very good altases I've used in the past) but that there is little signposting, so it can get very confusing figuring out where you are.

Not one of the foreigners I talked to in Saigon made getting a local Vietnamese license sound easy at all.

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Posted by daawgon on 18/9/2013 at 10:51

The latest news about renting bikes to unlicensed foreigners from Thanh Nien News

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Posted by ryder80 on 18/9/2013 at 13:50

that's not good news, i'm actually planning to back pack next year in vietnam via motor-bike....

what be the way for someone such as myself to obtain a license, i know it says in the article, if you've been in vietnam for 3 months u can obtain one, but that won't be happening with me or many others...

as anyone on here, actually have obtain a license? if so, what was the time and process for you to get one?

is it actually offical that foreigners won't be allow to motor-bike in vietnam without license, or just enforcing the law?


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Posted by Blackartemis on 25/9/2013 at 22:30

Hey few questions:

Will arrive on Sunday, I am going to risk riding on a Thai Drivers license, as since this year we are being told that all ASEAN countries are allowing other ASEAN drivers licenses. We will see if it works

I was planning on bringing my own DOT/SNELL rated helmet and proper jacket with CE armor and renting a manual clutched bike.
Now I am worried that this helmet might be in danger because it doesn't have a proper sticker like some vietmanese POS would.

I was planning a 2 week loop of the North
Something like:
Hanoi > Mai Chau > Lai Chau > Sa Pa > Lang Son > Cat Ba > Hanoi

Should I skip bringing my own gear? I have a helmet, jacket, kevlar jeans, boots, and gloves. A bit much on a Honda Win, but better than shorts and sandals...

#15 Blackartemis has been a member since 16/7/2011. Posts: 36

Posted by Want2BHappy on 26/9/2013 at 07:05

Blackartemis, I'm an ATGATT type of rider, but it can be so hot in vietnam that it just isn't feasible. I take boots, gloves, jacket with all the warm linings stripped out. I have a full face helmet. Always wear the boots and gloves in Vietnam. The helmet is fine when on the open road above 40km/h or so, but in the mountains on rough tracks, it's too hot, even with the visor up, so I usually borrow a more open helmet in Vietnam (but worry about how good it really might be). Jacket gets worn in the mountains, but can be overkill elsewhere. (whoops). I just wear chinos. I'd definitely stay away from shorts and sandals....

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Posted by Blackartemis on 26/9/2013 at 08:21

Thanks Want2Bhappy, I ride with the leather jacket Daily here in Thailand, and Hanoi is even further North, so I am hoping I can just deal with it like i do here. I just do an hour stop and drink half a liter of water each time and sweat like hell hahaha

#17 Blackartemis has been a member since 16/7/2011. Posts: 36

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