FAQS FOR MOTORCYCLING IN VIETNAM
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on this page are the most popular we received from our customers. They help answer many questions when it comes to planning a tour on two wheels in Vietnam.
1. What types of the trip does Vietnam Offroad provide?
Vietnam Offroad offers three types of trips: Fully guided (all-inclusive), Semi-guided (bike and guide rentals), and Self-guided (bike rentals). This works with a wide budget range from at least 15$US to 219$US/day/person depending on the bike you want to ride, type of trip you want, and the number of rider(s) in your group. Our costs are affordable for most of the riders in Vietnam.
Starting from the self-guided for experienced riders who could handle anything thrown at them on the road. Bigger bikes are always better with power and suspension.
On a semi-guided trip, you have a 4-in-1 guide who is a guide, a leader, a handy mechanic, and also a translator. He also takes care of the routes and helps with food and hotel arrangements. He’s a real bonus to the whole experience. His salary + bike is extra and on top of the bike rentals. In fact, this cost will be shared among the group. We limit five riders per guide for this type of motorcycle tour. You pay fuel, accommodation, tickets, and food during the trip for yourselves and our guide. The best thing about this is your freedom to choose where to eat and stay on the trip.
Our fully guided adventures focus on the quality of services and freedom of mind. We select the best services available on the road. This is the most popular type of trip we have been providing since late 2006. Clients’ satisfaction is our prime concern and we try to make every holiday one of the most memorable trips.
2. What should I bring with me for the trip?
All departures start from the company office in Hanoi where you can rent some necessary equipment including protective motorbiking clothing, helmet, gloves, raincoats, etc. However, you are welcome to bring your own helmets and gloves if possible as it seems there are limited sizes in Vietnam. Riding suits and helmets are available in various sizes. Last but not least, bring a strong pair of shoes/boots.
You don’t need to bring with you all of your travel bags as you can leave your bags with us in the company office in Hanoi.
Here are items we suggest for motorcycle touring and please decide what you really need:
– Clothing: helmet, rain gloves, wellington boots (rubber boots for the rainy season from June to October), summer gloves, balaclava, t-shirt, socks & underwear, long-sleeved shirt, turtleneck shirt, extra jeans, light jacket, leather chaps, zip-lock bags, riding boots, bandannas, sunglasses, and goggles. Some hotels on the road have express overnight laundry service and you don’t need too many clothes.
– Personal items: basic toiletries, emergency cash, sunscreen, and earplugs.
– Emergency items: first aid kit, emergency contact number, list medical conditions, list medications, flashlight, chargers, and duct tape.
– Miscellaneous: small towel, bath towel, trash bags, duffel bags, bungee cords, camera, and cargo net. We do provide rubber straps (the local one that is recycled from truck tires and it is really good)
3. Where do you ride in Vietnam?
Our company office is based in Hanoi where all rides start, you can end anywhere in Vietnam for an extra charge. Sadly, we currently don’t provide any trips starting in any other place rather than Hanoi. Our main area is North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh trail/road that runs along the country’s length.
To have some idea about Vietnam motorbike tours my company provides, please watch the below video or visit our YouTube channel.
4. How is the traffic in Vietnam?
Within city areas, it has to be one of the craziest in the world! But all of our trips avoid driving through big cities. We prefer to take small roads, which are absolutely much more fun and beautiful than the main roads. This way you see more wonderful smiles from the local people on the side of the roads all screaming “HELLO!!”
If you don’t feel comfortable with the traffic or during any part of the trip your guide will assist you and make you feel comfortable and confident at what you are doing. He will work as a “chicken mother” and lead you to safety. Traffic in Vietnam is a river and you will flow when you are in it.
5. I’m travelling alone, is it possible to join with another group?
Tours we provide are private and customized, with no fixed/pre-set departures. Many of our customers booked strictly private (closed door) tours while some of them wanted to have more riders tagged along to have more fun and save some cash. The maximum of a group is just five or six people. As a note, an open door trip usually has riders with different riding experiences and if you care about strangers in the group, you’d better book a strictly private tour. Ideally, a trip between friends is the best because you have a good understanding of other people. Tours with spaces available are here.
6. How long do we ride each day?
This is a difficult question, but it should be no longer than 6 hours riding per day, with a stop every 1 or 2 hours. This also depends on individual driving skills, road conditions, the number of stops we make, etc. We don’t stick to a tight schedule while on the road; sometimes we make a stop for a drink, take a photo, or even go for an interesting short walk in villages we stop by. Ideally, we recommend riding less than 200km/day on average.
7. Do I need a deposit and if so how much?
Yes, we need 100-500$US/person deposit in order to confirm our tour and also to cover expenses for all the necessities prior to the trip. The amount depends on the type of tour you book. We will give you our bank account number to transfer the deposit if you do not want to carry cash. Be advised to ask your bank how much they charge and if they have to go through a third bank before Vietcombank. 80% of our customers were double charged without notice.
8. How do I pay you? Do you accept credit card payment?
Fortunately, we started to accept credit card payment online from March 2017. Of course, you can still pay via a bank transfer or Western Union Cash Transfer. We ask that you transfer to our bank account a deposit and then final balance (cash is king in Vietnam) before the commencement of a ride.
We also accept credit card payment in our office (when you are in Vietnam). There is a bank service charge of 3% for Visa and MasterCard holders or 4% for American Express cardholders. At certain times, we may apply surcharge as banks always offer low or very low rates comparing to black/free-market rates.
PayPal applies very bad conditions to Vietnamese account holders and we don’t like their conditions. Therefore, this option is not available.
9. When is the best time for riding a motorbike in North Vietnam?
There is no good or bad time to ride in North Vietnam. Normally, the best season is from September to February. May to August will be hot while March and April are usually cool and wet.
10. Where is the best riding trip to Vietnam?
There is no answer to this question, as it all depends on what you want to see but going up to the Northwest Mountains, which are full of beautiful colours from the traditional dresses of the local hill tribes is a spectacle. The Central North stirs up strong emotions on the steep limestone mountains, with views compared to the “Holy Land”. But for this, you need to have extensive riding experience. The Northeast route is relatively easy riding and the people are very friendly. You will mostly stay with host families and discover their cultures. A good proposal depends on you providing us with clear information about what you would like to do, to see and dream of. Please check at the tour page and photo gallery and we are sure you could make a decision easier.
11. How many days is a good trip of riding?
To have a good trip we advise you to ride deep into the countryside in the mountainous areas. That trip will need at least 6 days but we suggest a 9 or 12-day trip to enjoy it in a relaxed fashion. We also organize 3 to 4-day trips to Sapa coming back on the overnight train. Even if you have just a day, the ride around Hanoi is not a bad idea.
12. I am very interested in motorbiking trips in Vietnam but I don’t have experience of riding a motorbike. Is that a problem?
Yes, you could ride as a pillion passenger on the bike of a guide or your travel partner to enjoy the trip. Or we advise you to take a riding course organized by us. You can do it anytime before the departure and costs 30 USD/person. This lesson is organized in a quiet place with little or no traffic and in 1 or 2 hours. The good news is nobody who took our lesson failed to ride and none of them was down while riding! If you drive a manual car you will catch up quickly.
13. Do I need to have my country or an international driving license to ride a motorbike/motorcycle in Vietnam?
First, none of the foreign licenses is valid in Vietnam, including your country license. There are conflicting reports about this but the reality is unfortunately not good news.
Fortunately, the good news is IDP (international driving permit, 1968 Convention) is now valid in Vietnam from August 1st, 2016 with the 46/2016/ND-CP decree. However, this decree only covers countries that abide by the 1968 Convention on Road Traffic on IDPs. Many countries like Australia, UK, the USA, and Canada are not signatories to the 1968 Convention but abide by the 1949 Geneva Convention. Therefore, citizens of those countries are NOT able to drive in Vietnam with their IDPs. If you have a 1968 IDP, you can purchase an insurance policy easily for Vietnam. Please also bring your home country driving license with motorbike endorsement.
In case you have no IDP or Vietnamese driving license, the police rarely stop you to check license unless you do something wrong. It’s more to do with personal medical insurance that we cover below.
14. Do I need to have insurance for motorbiking/motorcycling in Vietnam?
Yes, you need to have personal medical insurance, even if you are a pillion passenger so that insurance will cover any accident.
We don’t keep any sort of license to book a trip but it’s more about insurance. Most of the insurance companies don’t provide a policy that covers a motorbike tour accident if you don’t have a Vietnamese driving license. Sadly, it’s impossible to get a Vietnamese license with a tourist visa. You need a business visa of at least three months, a work permit, a sponsor company, and a valid passport. All these documents should be translated into Vietnamese at a notary office. Then, a Vietnamese license is available after 7 or 10 days. It’s just too complicated and time-consuming. With just a normal personal medical insurance you will still be covered about 19 hours a day when not riding because we only ride about 5 hours a day on average. Some companies like CHI Insurance, World Nomads, and Allianz didn’t require a local driving license and covered larger displacements.
Even Vietnam doesn’t recognize any foreign license but take it easy you will be ok. More details are at this link.
On our trips, you ride about five hours per day on average. It means you still get insured about 19 hours per day while not riding the bike with just a normal travel insurance policy.
15. What gift should I bring with me?
Useful objects or typical items from your country are the best gifts. For example, a torch, a knife, or a sewing kit – simple, but quality. We redistribute medicines and photos.
16. Can I bring my motorcycle with me to Vietnam?
Vietnam no longer allows the import of used/second-hand motorcycles, except foreigners with a valid working permit import for their personal use. The capacity limit for Vietnamese citizens of under 175cc was removed in May 2007 as part of agreements with WTO. Large displacement bikes generally cost more than twice as much as in your country since the government charges 90% import tax, 10% VAT plus big registration fees. For example, a brand-new imported Honda CRF 250cc costs about 14,000 USD, a CBR600RR is about 24,000 USD and a Harley Davidson 883cc goes for nearly 25,000 USD. If you have a work permit and an international driving licence, you can bring your own bike (brand-new or second-hand) to Vietnam and register it under your own name. However, when you leave Vietnam, you have to take your bike out of the country or sell it very cheaply.
You can get more details from the Customs regarding importing a bike, the Registration Office of the local Transport Police regarding registering a bike, and the Department of Labor regarding a work permit. Unfortunately, we couldn’t assist in importing your bike(s) into Vietnam.
In case you have any questions, suggestions, or recommendations regarding FAQs motorcycling in Vietnam, please feel free to contact us.
I’m keen to hire a motorbike and travel to Ho Chi Minh via Cambodia and Laos. Do these countries allow your bikes to cross their borders? And can I pay for a visa into each country at the time?
Hello Justine. We operate in Vietnam only and if you want to ride cross border you’d better buy a bike. You can have a look at bikes we sell here. Visa for Vietnam is okay for us but sadly not the other countries.
We are travelers riding a 48cc motorbike through China and are considering riding into Vietnam. Do you think we will be able to enter Vietnam with a 48cc motorbike?
How much deposit do we place on a self guided tour for a Xr 250 and what happens if it breaks down what happens then?
Hello Rich. We do encourage our customers to do a self-guided trip due to traffic, language, bike mechanics outside of Hanoi and value the guide adds to the whole experience. If you do a self-guided tour on XR250, you first need to be experienced riders and then need to know mechanic basics. You only save money if you know how, otherwise you will loose money. I would say more customers had trips of their life-time by booking guided motorbike tours than when they self guided. Some self guided tour customers even paid more due to the fact that foreigners are usually charged more than locals. Our XR250 are old model but still reliable, a tool kit and spare parts will be provided. If it’s engine problem we will replace bikes but if it’s from your side or wrong usage or poor service then you pay for replacement. A good local mechanic will be acting as a referee if the bike is broken down. For deposit, we require either your country driving license (no foreign license is valid in Vietnam) or 1,000$US cash.