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Vietnam forum

How to buy a motorbike in Hue, Vietnam, and other motorbike tips.

Posted by yiftach on 28/9/2013 at 09:42

After doing this, I thought I can maybe write a few helpful notes to those interested in doing the same. So here's what I did.

I bought my bike through Kim Thien. Kim is a honest and professional mechanic with enough English to get around tourists. (English + Honest in Vietnam = Gold) I went to his shop in 24 Nguyen Sinh Cung Street in Hue (his phone number is 0906424641) and asked him to help me buy a Honda Win. You can also find his business card in Hue Backpackers hostel. Honda Win is a very popular bike amongst backpackers. It's very common in Vietnam, and is very easy to fix. It has big wheels and good suspension and is fuel-efficient (around 40km perlitter, times a 8L tank). But, it is an older bike and visiting garages will bea not-so-small part of your journey. Another option is just buying a newer semi-automatic bike. We rented a Honda Future 125 semi-automatic for a week-long trip through the crazy beautiful mountains of Ha Giang district in the north of the country, and it had zero problems and handled like a charm. But anyway, I wanted to try driving a manual bike for the first time, and I understood that the Win is considered a good choice for manual beginners.
Kim didn't have at the time a Win of his own, so he took me to the bike shops on the north side of the old city to help buy for me a Honda Win (don't remember the street). I wanted something for 5 mil (around $230). Let's not kid ourselves, a Honda Win or any other bike will probably cost a Vietnamese around half the price. If you're braver or justreally like your money you can hunt those shops on your own and try to buy it for less. It is possible.
Before buying the bike I asked for better tires. Kim helped me bargain for a newer battery and front tire. If you know your mechanics you can bargainfor more, and get the price lower too.
I bought a Win with a 100cc engine. There's also a 110cc one, but the 100cc was enough to carry both me and my girlfriend, and another large backpack through the mountains of Vietnam, and that includes a few flooded dirt roads. SoI guess it will definitely be enough if you're by yourself. If it's a good engine, that is... Don't worry about your engine not being made in Japan. None are. They're all made in China or Indonesia around here.
Here specifications on the Win:
After buying the bike, I paid Kim 200K for a complete one day service on the bike. That also means you will need an extra day in Hue. The service included a lot of tuning and changing of small parts, putting the electric start back in order, adding a large back rack for the luggage and so on. It did NOT include a new back tire which cost 300K and other expensive parts you may need that can't be fixed. Anyway, don't try to save on important stuff like tires, especially in the rainy season. Kim will fix the bike like it's his own to the last second. Oh, and he also came with me to buy helmets and got the price down.

On the road:
Like Kim will tell you, there are few things you have to do with the Win on the road. One is change oil every 500 km or so. According to Kim, you'll need 1 litter, not 800ml that the smaller bottles have. A 1L oil bottle is supposed to cost around 80K. Another thing is adjusting the chain. Every day or two the chain will become a little loose. It will cost you a measly 5K in every garage to oil and adjust it. A garage is called "Rua Xe" and there's one nearly everywhere. Another option is just a sign saying "Honda" or justpeople fixing bikes, which is a heavy hint of bike fixing going on.
Instead of only buying a good road atlas in a book shop, another important tip if you're going a long way, is to download maps from Google Maps so you'll have them offline. Using the GPS on you smart phone, if you got one that is, you will be able to know exactly where you are without an internet connection. Without it we would probably still be lost right now. Thank God for Google, seriously.
Another tip: If you're heading to the middle of nowhere watch for thesigns saying "Nha Nghi", it means motel. A room in a motel will costaround 80K to 160K.
Oh yeah, the Vietnamese drivers are crazy. Especially truck and bus drivers. The rule here is the bigger you are, the more respect you get. That leaves the motorbike driver on the bottom of the food chain (except pedestrians, you can still bully them). We saw around three accidents on the number 1 road, and one was between a truck and a scooter. The truck won. These guys overtake without caring if there's someone on the other lane. They sometimes overtake the overtaker. All this to suggest you stick to the margins of the road like all the other two-wheelers, and slow the f down if you see a truck heading yourway. And anyway, try to drive through the side roads which are more interesting and beautiful with almost no traffic.

Our final destination was HCMC. The first thing you do is advertise yourbike on Craiglist. I had only three days and I really didn't want to waste allmy time on this, so I published it for around the original price I bought it for, and eventually sold it for 210$ through Craiglist to the first guy who came to see it. Another, more embarrassing way, I heard about and tried myself for one night, is hanging two signs on your chest and back, saying you're selling a bike. Luckily I sold it the next morning and didn't have to go through that again.

Good luck and take care,
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#1 yiftach has been a member since 28/9/2013. Posts: 1

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Posted by pekkas on 2/10/2013 at 08:54

Honda Win is best motorbike in Vietnam if you want scooter then Honda wave. They are most common in Vietnam and spare parts will find in every small village. But remember to check a bike before you start your trip.
Check brakes, lights, tires, and remember that you can not trust all mechanics and sellers in Vietnam. Here in Ho Chi Minh are only few trusty places to buy a motorbike. If you buy a motorbike somebody who has just driven 1500 km, you need to spend about 100$ at least to fix it. Fixed, I mean really fixed not that they say so, fixed Honda Win cost at least 350$. Be careful also craigslist, there are many sellers who just cheat foreigners. I am happy that somebody has started to write in craigslist about places who just cheat tourist.

#2 pekkas has been a member since 2/10/2013. Posts: 6

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Posted by pekkas on 8/10/2013 at 04:59

I found interesting website, if you are buying a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh.

#3 pekkas has been a member since 2/10/2013. Posts: 6

Posted by frere on 14/11/2013 at 11:26

good post [yiftach] - I only add that RUA XE is wash your bike [every 100 metres] mechanic is SUA [not so common]

i didn't know about the 8/10 oil = thanks for that

i don't know where i should post this info but there is a new stretch of real motorway on highway three north from hanoi. they seem intent on keeping it a secret. about 35 km north of HN you cross a big river and a tiny dirty road on your right leads to the motorway. if you hit the "arc de triomphe" announcimg trai nguyen you are just a few yards past the turning. go back! it saves a lot of time and is a good road. also: leaving hanoi take the railway bridge not the main bridge - easier and faster route to highway three. "CU QL3 is the old road - QL3 MOI is the one you want.
come visit me in bac kan!

of course, being where it is, you may find a car coming the opposite way down your fast lane. happened to me today while i was daydreaming about adding to my blog about the schoolkids riding three-a-breast down the wrong side of same highway - but the bicycles wouldn't kill you.

#4 frere has been a member since 27/9/2012. Posts: 28
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Posted by Zanzo on 4/1/2015 at 02:59

Do you know Kim Thiens email. I have his card but the email is old. Thanks

#5 Zanzo has been a member since 3/1/2015. Posts: 3

Posted by frere on 7/1/2015 at 02:36

update QL3 going north east from hanoi
the highway is now for cars only
there is a new bridge over song hong - go on the road towards to hay. new good road goes straight to the airport and there is a clear sign to QL3 shortly before noi bai airport. it is a ***** the other way as the signposts are misleading so be careful. the road near thai nguyen has been improved and it is a quite easy ride

#6 frere has been a member since 27/9/2012. Posts: 28
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Posted by offroadvietnam on 9/3/2016 at 07:01

I think we need to be clear here. You can't buy a real Honda Win for the prices mentioned here. That's price of a Chinese copy. So if anyone tells you it's a Honda Win then it's straight out a lie. Many people came to Vietnam with this wrong information and they left Vietnam with disappointment. You really get what you pay for. To know more please check at

#7 offroadvietnam has been a member since 25/1/2007. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 4
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