I remember a friend of mine compares riding in Vietnam to an “elegant, yet frantic dance”, as thousands of motorcycles on the road weave in and out of the lanes skillfully, still paying little respect to the other riders. However, many (adventurous) tourists consider their trips to Southeast Asia incomplete without riding behind the handlebars of a motorbike (or scooter, as you may call it).
I would not recommend you to ride a motorcycle in Vietnam if you are not familiar with traffic rules and do not hold a driver’s license. If you want to try, good news is that the roads in Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An are among the easiest roads in Vietnam to get around – much less crowded, clear lane division, and specially, beautifully scenic and peaceful routes.
Motorbike safety tips:
- When you rent a motorbike, remember to check the conditions of the motorbike: brakes, mirrors, oil and fuel, speedometer, tires and wheels, lights, lock, license plate, etc.
- It is the law to wear a helmet. If you rent from a quality agency, the helmet should have quality certification tag attached to the helmet.
- Ride on right lane, and to the far right of the lane.
- Ride slowly. Watch out for speed limit signs. Prepare for unexpected moves of other drivers.
- Use signal lights before turning. Watch the road carefully through the mirrors before making a turn. To be on the safe side, you may use your hands to signal as well. Use horns before you turn into a narrow lane or road bends to alert other drivers travelling the opposite direction.
- Drive decisively. Vietnamese road trippers are used to guessing the moves of the other drivers on the road and will act according to their expectation of your moves. So if you are signalling to turn right, please make a turn right as they will most likely pass you to your left.
- Don’t make assumptions based on your knowledge of the law or your previous experience. For example, don’t assume that vehicles entering the roundabout after you should give way to you. Watch carefully and make clever judgements before you make a move.
- Give way to any vehicle larger than you. On multi-lane roads, the left and center lanes must be reserved for larger vehicles.
- If you get into any traffic trouble (touch wood), stay calm. Don’t get into a fight (verbal or physical) in the street.
- Never drink and ride.
- Do not ride with more than 2 adults and 2 kids on one motorbike.
- If you observe the above rules, drive carefully and stay away from accidents, chances that a cop will pull you over is pretty low.
Renting a motorbike in Da Nang or Hoi An
You can rent a motorbike from almost any hotel or rental agency in Da Nang or Hoi An. Only rent from recommended motorbike rental agencies, or rent through hotel reception desks (you don’t have to stay in that hotel in order to rent a motorbike).
At Ocean Apartment A103, we can also help arrange motorbike rentals for you – you pay around VND 200,000 (USD 9) per day and receive the motorbike at the apartment garage.
When you rent a motorbike, the rental agency will normally ask for a copy of your passport/ ID documents, and probably a deposit.
Ask the rental agency for petrol stations along your planned routes, in case you need to fuel up.
Happy road tripping!