Vietnam by motorbike is a great idea to explore this beautiful country, especially the countryside or mountains. This experience gets you through mixed feelings: the thrill of conquering the passes or the embarrassment of being stuck in a chaotic traffic jam.
However, you should know that the traffic situation in Vietnam takes you into a new world of rules and standards. You should not skip those lifesaving tips below before hitting the roads.
16 Traveling Tips To Discover Vietnam By Motorbike With Fun
Vietnam By Motorbike: Useful Tips
Prepare For Horrible Traffic
It is a fact that motorbikes encroach on every road in Vietnam. On the bright side, you can rent or buy a motorcycle at an affordable price for your adventures.
Yet, the traffic density becomes crowded closer to the central area. During rush hour, motorcycles rush from all corners with millions of different sounds. We were shocked and scared by the chaotic scene when we first came to Ho Chi Minh City.
Beyond imagination, we notice some dangerous (and magical) riding manners. Some road users pulled over the sidewalks to escape the crazy traffic jam while a few men carried 2-3 passengers in their vehicles. We thought we could never win against this crowd, but everything was fine.
Don’t let fear defeat you at first sight. It may seem like an impossible mission for outsiders, but you can feel a clear and comfortable direction when you join others.
Invest In Reliable Motorcycles
As your companion on dirt roads, a powerful bike deserves a good investment. Don’t be greedy as suspiciously cheap offers are a double-edged sword. You may encounter problems along the way, and repair takes a large part of your wallet. Also, such unexpected situations waste your time and dampen your enthusiasm.
Put On Protective Gear (Especially A Helmet)
Controlling a motorbike always lurks unexpected dangers; thus, preparing quality protective gear keeps you safe. The compulsory item is an approved helmet since it is part of local law.
Though the traffic in Vietnam sometimes drive us crazy, we hardly find anyone hitting the road without a helmet.
Sunglasses, masks, gloves, and raincoats are also worth your investment for a comfortable journey.
Keep An Eye On Kickstand & Front Brake
Once you pay a fortune, you may get a modern motorcycle that does not start with a lowered kickstand. In most other cases, you have to deal with this part yourself. Hence, lift the kickstand every time you start up. Otherwise, it frictions the road and causes your vehicle to unbalance.
Additionally, limit the use of the front brake except in real emergencies. When you travel at high speed and apply the front brake, the front tire is locked, and the motorbike pushes forward. A second later, you fell on the road.
Just Go With The Flow
If you have an odd situation on the way to explore Vietnam by motorcycle, do what everyone around you is doing. For instance, don’t be the only motorcyclist entering the truck’s lane. It seems impossible, but you can feel the invisible order in the chaos at the major intersections.
Somehow everyone started moving or turning at the same time. Some crazy riders may take risks but follow the normal flow of road users for standard behavior.
Keep A Driving License In Your Wallet
According to Vietnamese traffic laws, driving without a driver’s license is illegal. That’s why you should refer to the 1986 Convention to check whether your country is acceptable to convert to an international license.
Unfortunately, some foreign nationals must obtain Vietnamese licenses by taking theory and practical tests.
Feel Free To Ask Locals For Help
Even if you do not have a companion on the roads, do not worry because you are never truly alone in this beautiful country. The Vietnamese people are always happy to lend you a hand whenever you need assistance. Some amazing locals even come to you before you ask for help.
The beautiful landscapes in Vietnam captured our eyes, but the noble gestures of the strangers there moved our hearts. A few domestic riders set aside their schedules to show us a way to our destination.
We also received a kind treat when our vehicle ran out of fuel. The locals put their feet on the footrest of our motorbike and pushed it toward the gas station. To be honest, we were a little apprehensive about the idea but grateful for what we received.
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Download Offline Translating Apps
It would help to learn basic Vietnamese communication phrases – the basic survival lesson when visiting a foreign country. Good preparation comes in handy for haggling, asking for directions, or finding a mechanic.
It also helps to install Google Translate or any similar app. Some translations may be inaccurate, but most locals get your point.
Buy A Valid SIM Card
Invest in a Vietnam SIM card so you always stay online. You can pay an affordable price for one unit and a data package daily. Foreign visitors don’t need to provide personal identification for purchases if they give up their phone number after returning home.
Weak signals may occur near borders or remote mountainous areas, but Viettel or MobiFone networks do well in most other conditions.
Stay Away For Big Vehicles
Keeping your eyes in the mirror is hard because the beautiful scenery on both sides catches your attention. But it is a must mainly to avoid trucks or buses.
You can fall from cloud nine when a giant vehicle appears behind you and honks its huge whistle. Whenever you notice large vehicles, give way to them by moving to the right.
Pay Attention To Road Conditions
The greatest minus of our experiences comes from the bad infrastructure. Besides the dreaded traffic jam, Vietnamese roads often suffer from potholes or floods after heavy rain. Highway 1, the main route through the country, is in good condition, but you have to deal with heavy dust.
We were prepared for the poor road conditions, but the state of the country roads was even worse. It was quite narrow and full of holes. Some sections are not cemented but paved with stone. Be extra careful as our companion had a slippery accident on rough surfaces.
Fortunately, we survived the mountain passes in North Vietnam. The bumpy roads winding through the towing mountains sent chills down our bones. Fog or rain made riding even more challenging.
Be Prepared To Deal With Policies
Vietnamese police officers often sleep on foreign motorcyclists. However, it is not the worst case when you are pulled over. A good dealing measure is to use a language other than English.
The communication barrier discourages them, and you are free from punishment. If you want to leave quickly, offer them an attractive “bribe.”
Get Travel/Health Insurance
Wherever you go, not just Vietnam, remember to spend money on travel insurance for your safety and belongings. You cannot predict what’s likely to happen and may get stuck in a dire situation without appropriate medical care or compensation.
That said, the accident coverage does not make sense if you don’t have a driver’s license.
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Be Extra Cautious At Intersections
Never let your guard down, especially at busy intersections. Look ahead, check your mirrors, and slow down whenever you want to cross the road or make a U-turn.
A bad habit of local riders is to start a few seconds ahead of the green light. This poses a danger to vehicles traveling at other corners. Be careful!
Get Lost Sometimes
Google Maps does not always get you to the desired destination. However, stay calm even if you get lost. You never know what amazing scenes the random motorbike trip may lead you to. We stumbled upon an abandoned park in Da Nang, and it was a creepy yet fun adventure.
Leave A Few Days Unplanned
You never know how great your destination is until you spend quality time there. Hence, a well-planned motorbike itinerary shows what you should do but leave a few days blank. You may then use this free period to extend your stay in a certain city.
For example, we spent 2 more days than expected in Danang. A local friend took us to hidden tourist spots far from the center. We arrived in a fishing village and set sail with squid anglers at night.
Discovering Vietnam by motorbike is the best way to admire wild nature and get along with amazing people. The tips above will benefit your riding since getting used to the traffic situation in a foreign country is not easy.
Consider Vietnam motorbike tours if you want to share great moments with many like-minded people. Follow our blog for detailed information and interesting itineraries!
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