This is mainly for foreigners, who wants to do motorcycle trips in Vietnam.
First, imagine that Vietnam is two-wheel world. Vietnamese use their motorcycles as daily commute to everywhere, transport everything…
You can imagine thousands of motorcycles packed on every small street at center of Hanoi Capital or Hochiminh City, and please don’t be surprise if seeing it every single day.
I may say more than 95% of two wheels in Vietnam has engine less than 175cc, not big bikes.
There are two main barriers which limited the number of big bikes in Vietnam:
– Legal requirement: it was limited of personnel who can apply for driving license for big bikes.
– Commercial: restriction of big bike importation in the past, and extreme high tax for big bike importation nowadays.
o A1 license: for the motorcycle which is less than 175cc
o A2 license: for the motorcycle which is larger than 175cc plus A1
o You must hold a valid Vietnamese driving license which applied to the motorcycle you are riding / Or you can have your valid International Driving License. (See note 1)
o You must bring with your motorcycle registration (blue card) while riding it
o You must bring with your ID card while riding motorcycle
o You must have valid insurance for your motorcycle (third party insurance)
o Helmet law is applied in entire Vietnam
o Riding on right lane side (like in the US)
o Many city roads divided into lanes by type of vehicles. Means dedicated lanes for cars, dedicated lanes for two wheeled. Don’t mix up.
o Speed limit: depending, in City max 40kmh, outside City max 50 or 60kmh
o Motorcycle is not allowed on freeway. There are very few freeways currently in Vietnam, Dalat-Lien Khuong (~20km), HCM-Trung Luong (~40km), Long Thanh-Dau Giay (~55km), Hanoi-LaoCai (~260km).
o More than 18 years old, officially resident for more than 3 months in Vietnam then you are eligible for applying a Vietnamese driving license (A1 and/or A2)
o Current govern document for this issue is Decree No. 152/2013/ND-CP of November 4, 2013 on Management of motor vehicles brought into Vietnam by foreign tourists (LINK – Vietnamese) and Decree No. 57/2015/ND-CP dated June 16, 2015 (LINK – English) of the Government providing amendments to a number of articles of Decree No. 152/2013/ND-CP. (*) Please see below part of this page for some main info of the Decree 152/2013
o However, normal practice of Customs at all border gates they request you to have a Vietnamese Tourist Company to manage all paperwork for you. It’s costly, of course.
o I am not sure if the Tourist Company would buy you proper insurance or not. And so for the driving license, how they deal with that I don’t know.
o Many foreign friends of mine crossed into Vietnam by there bikes without any Tourist Company. Trick is coming into small international border gates, one by one, or in small group (2-3 bikes only). Once you are in, then getting out should be no problem.
o Law requirement: as above
o Watch out lane assignment, stay on motorcycle lane or accident or paying fine
o When in Vietnam, (try to) ride as Vietnamese do 🙂
– Insurance for motorcycling in Vietnam is compulsory.
– It’s very cheap, says approx. US $5.00 for a motorcycle / year
– Motorcycle insurance in Vietnam is mainly for fulfilling law requirement rather than protecting you or 3rd party when involve in road accident (I‘ve never heard of anyone who can claim insurance in a motorcycle accident in Vietnam).
– There are some other insurers sell motorcycle insurance (coverage for your motorcycle), and it is not compulsory.
– Chance of motorcycle accident in Vietnam is very HIGH.
– Watch out of vehicle and personnel crossing the road at any time, from any direction
– Road-signs sometimes are not so friendly, not many English subtitle on the sign board.
– Drink and ride helps die fast in Vietnam
– Speed guns everywhere.
– Cops are for punishment (fine) more than guiding people to follow traffic law
– 10% or more not following traffic light
– In Vietnam, press horn proves you are still alive (j/k)
– Fulfill all Vietnam law requirements
– Make sure you ride with good quality of helmet and other protective gears
– Having locals to help you doing all necessary paperwork and work as your local fixer. Getting your Vietnam SIM card and contact for any emergency or other support needed
– Don’t rush
– Find your local riding buddies or making sure you have a Vietnam dictionary or translation app
– Vietnam Garmin map or Google maps are good to go
– Best you can buy “Vietnam traffic Map book”, in any big bookstore, picture as top of this page. Pricing approx. US $20.00
– Motorcycle repair:
o Vietnamese mechanics know how to do with small motorcycle, very cheap price as well.
o For big bikes, please ask the locals for dedicated big bikes shops, otherwise you will be screwed up.
1. From Aug 2014, Vietnam registered in CONVENTION ON ROAD TRAFFIC (VIENNA, 1968), however, from 1st OCTOBER 2015 Vietnam starts to issue International Driving License and accept International Driving License. So officially, from 1st Oct 2015, you can ride/drive in Vietnam legally with your valid and appropriate International Driving License. Check with your local Authorities to have more info about International Driving License.
(*) Updated Mar 2016
To be updated…
Decree No. 152/2013/ND-CP of November 4, 2013, on Management of motor vehicles brought into Vietnam by foreign tourists
Article 1. Scope of regulation
This Decree regulates motor vehicles of foreigners registered overseas and operated by foreigners (below referred to as foreign motor vehicles) on the road in Vietnam for tourist purposes; and responsibilities of related organizations and individuals.
Article 2. Subjects of application
1. This Decree applies to Vietnamese and foreign organizations and individuals related to foreign motor vehicles moving on the road in Vietnam for tourist purposes.
2. Domestic and foreign organizations and individuals related to foreign motor vehicles moving on the road in Vietnam for tourist purposes shall comply with the provisions of this Decree and relevant legal documents. In case a treaty to which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a contracting member contains different provisions, such treaty prevails.
PROVISIONS ON FOREIGN MOTOR VEHICLES TO ENTER AND MOVE ON THE ROAD IN VIETNAM
Article 3. Conditions for foreign motor vehicles to enter and move on the road in Vietnam
1. A Vietnamese international travel enterprise carries out procedures to request approval and organizes implementation. The permitted duration of moving on the road in Vietnam is 30 days at the maximum. In case of force majeure events (natural disaster, traffic accident, vehicle damage irreparable in Vietnam), vehicles may be kept in Vietnam for no more than 10 additional days.
2. The Ministry of Transport grants a written approval.
3. Conditions on vehicles:
a/ Being a left-hand drive passenger car with 9 seats or fewer or a motorcycle;
b/ Being owned by a foreign organization or individual, registered overseas and having a foreign number plate;
c/ Having a valid vehicle registration paper granted by a competent authority of the country where the vehicle is registered;
d/ Having a certificate of technical safety and environmental protection inspection for motor vehicles granted by a competent authority of the country where the vehicle is registered (for automobiles).
4. Conditions on drivers:
a/ Being a foreign citizen;
b/ Possessing a passport or a paper of passport substitution validity which remains valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry and a visa (except cases of visa exemption) suitable to the time of stay in Vietnam;
c/ Possessing a driver license suitable to the vehicle he/she drives.
Article 4. Sequence and procedures for approval for foreign motor vehicles to enter and operate on the road in Vietnam
1. A Vietnamese international travel enterprise shall send to the Ministry of Transport 1 dossier set comprising the following documents:
a/ A written request for approval for organizing a tour involving foreign tourists who bring along motor vehicles to operate on the road in Vietnam, specifying the number of vehicles, number of tourists, dates and border gates of entry and exit, and the route in the tourist program;
b/ Copies of the documents stated at Points c and d, Clause 3, and Points b and c, Clause 4, Article 4 of this Decree;
c/ A list of vehicle drivers and a list of vehicles and their number plates, paint colors, frame and engine numbers (the international travel enterprise shall sign and append its seal and take responsibility for the accuracy of information in these lists);
d/ A copy of the international travel business license granted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
2. Within 5 working days after receiving a complete and valid dossier prescribed in Clause 1 of this Article, the Ministry of Transport shall grant a written approval for foreign motor vehicles to operate on the road in Vietnam. This written approval must be sent to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Finance, the Border Guard Command, and People’s Committees of related provinces and centrally run cities for coordinated management. In case of disapproval, within 5 working days the Ministry of Transport shall issue a written reply clearly stating the reason.
3. The written approval of the Ministry of Transport must specify the border gates of entry and exit, number of tourists, number of motor vehicles and their frame and engine numbers, paint colors, number plates and names of drivers, the route and duration of moving on the road in Vietnam.
4. In force majeure events specified in Clause 1, Article 3 of this Decree, after receiving a report of the travel enterprise, the Ministry of Transport shall issue a written notice to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Finance and the Border Guard Command for coordinated management.
(And many more…. I will find and update later)