Vietnam has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia thanks to beautiful beaches, majestic architectural works, historic site, rich culture and friendly people. Foreigners come to Vietnam not only for traveling but also for living and working. The majority of Vietnamese people do not drive cars but ride motorcycles which are cheap and effective means of transportation due to narrow streets and alleys, shortage of parking areas in crowded cities and high prices of cars in Vietnam. Many acts are allowed in your hometown and other countries but illegal in Vietnam. Whether you travel the country by motorcycle or ride a motorcycle around the city where you are currently staying, you should not miss the list of 10+ Must things to know before riding motorcycle in Vietnam.
Carry driving license, passport, motorcycle insurance
Vietnamese traffic police do not have the right to ask you to present documents. If you violate one or more traffic road laws, they will ask you to present identification card issued by Vietnam or passport, visa or work permit, driving license, motorcycle insurance, motorbike registration certificate. You can be fined up to VND 240,000 if you forget all the documents or one of them. They even keep your motorbike in case you can not present the motorbike registration certificate which proves that the vehicle was not been stolen from someone.
If you have a Vietnamese driving license, it is more simple. Just show it to the policeman. If you have an IAA or IDP driving license, you should bring your domestic driving license and must have less then 3 month travel visa. If you have an IDP driving license, you must be from one of the countries which signed Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Read more about The ultimate guide to driving license in Vietnam.
If you borrow or rent the motorbike, the owner or the motorbike rental company may give you a motorbike registration certificate of another motorbike.you should make sure to have the right motorbike registration certificate of the motorbike. All of the documents must be in good condition and not damaged.
All the people on the motorcycle must wear helmets
All the people on your motorbike must wear helmets. Although high-quality full-face, off road, modular, snowmobile motorcycle helmets are safer, other types of helmets including half (shorty), open face (3/4), German and jockey helmets are allowed. Currently, Vietnam has no law to fine or punish riders wearing low-quality helmets. So that a few people wear helmets costing only VND 30,000 (~ $1.25 USD). Bulldog, Royal, Chita, Andes, AGV, Amoro, Asia, GXT, Dammtrax are good motorcycle helmet brands in Vietnam.
Steeling motorbike helmets is popular in Vietnam
Some people find that your helmet is expensive or nice-looking and steel it. Sometimes, they forget their helmets somewhere (at home, offices) and steel helmets in parking areas.
Some of the popular ways to secure your helmets are as follows:
- Carry your helmet with you.
- If your helmet is expensive, you can buy a bag which is suitable for the helmet, gloves and other items.
- Put your helmet in a pannier or a top box.
- If your motorbike has a helmet lock, the helmet is secure. Many motorbikes do not have helmet locks, you can simply put the ratchet end under the seat. Thieves can cut the strap and take your helmet.
- Use a helmet lock to secure your helmet.
Which places are safe and unsafe for you to leave your helmet on your bike?
Most of the parking areas are not responsible for helmets and other belongings on your bike.
- Small parking area with security guards. Convenience stores such as Circle-K, coffee shops, restaurants, small hotels, having small parking areas for less than 20 bikes, you do not need to worry about the helmet.
- Large parking lots in basements of buildings including apartment buildings and office buildings, shopping malls.
- Large parking lots in the area of restaurants, coffee shops.
- Parking lots around tourist attractions.
- Parking lots near local markets, walking streets.
Have left motorcycle mirror
Vietnamese thieves usually steal motorcycle mirrors. Although these motorbike parts are not too expensive, they are perhaps the easiest parts to steel in Vietnam. They usually steal a pair of your mirror but only the left one is a must part to ride on the street without violating Vietnamese road traffic laws. Check your left mirror before hopping on the bike.
For more information, you should check if there are horn, license number plate light, tail light, headlight and all of them must work. The braking system must work properly.
Signal your intention with your direction indicators and slow down
You must slow down and signal with your direction indicators in the following cases:
- Change lanes, turn left/right, make a U-turn or 3-point turn.
- Pass other vehicles, start/park the bike, ride close to a pavement in order to park.
- Turn left when entering a roundabout and turn right when leaving a roundabout.
Turning left/right, do a U-turn/3-point turn, enter/exiting a roundabout without signaling is one of the most popular ways to get caught in Vietnam. Keep the rules in your mind when driving in the country.
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Turn on headlight from 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM, when it is foggy and in bad weather
Turning on headlights from 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM is a must when riding in Vietnam. Many Vietnamese and foreign riders usually start riding before 7:00 PM and forget to turn on the lights after 7:00 PM. Note that high beams are not allowed in cities in Vietnam.
Ride on the right lane
You can see many Vietnamese people ride on car lanes because motorbike lanes are too small. If they are lucky enough, they will not be punished. On the contrary, they are caught by the police for violating the Vietnamese traffic laws.
There is a large number of one-way streets in big cities
Vietnamese government turn many streets into one-way in order to solve traffic jams problems in big cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. So that you find many one-way streets in the center of these two cities. You can know if a street is one-way with the help of Google Map on which arrows indicate the way of one-way streets and there is no arrow on two-way streets. Watching how other people ride on the streets is very important in Vietnam.
Do not drive a third adult on your motorbike except for sick person and criminal
Only two people aged 15 and above are allowed to be on a motorbike in Vietnam. The driver must be 18 years old and above. One more child aged 14 or under is accepted. Three adults on one bike are allowed if one of them is sick and must be taken to an emergency room or two people escort one criminal.
Never drive after drinking alcoholic beverages
From 1st January 2020, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and automobile car drivers are punished if their blood or breath alcohol contents are at any level above 0.00%. Drunk motorcyclists face charges from 2 million to 8 million Vietnamese Dong and lose their driver’s licenses for 10-24 months. Do not ride your bike after drinking. If you would like to have your meal and drink some alcohol, you should book a food tour on which tour guide (rider) take you home after drinking. Read more about Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences.
Do not use umbrella, cell phone and audio devices when driving
Except for hearing aid, rider is prohibited to use audio device (headphone), cell phone or umbrella.
Do not honk horn from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM
You may have heard that the traffic is crazy and the streets are very noisy by day by night in Vietnam. It is true that drivers often honk horns in order to warn other drivers. It is prohibited to honk horn from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM
Do not park on footpaths
In Vietnam, you see that there are many motorcycles on pavements and in the streets. The fact that motorcyclists are not allowed to park on footpaths (pavements/sidewalks, pedestrian zones, educational trails, themed walks). If violators are caught by the police, they are fined and the motorbike can be kept.
Do not carry bulky items on your bike
There is no size or weight limit for the items carried on a motorcycle in Vietnamese traffic laws. However, carrying bulky items on a motorcycle is illegal in Vietnam. The police can catch any rider who ride two big or heavy items that can cause accidents on the streets. Instead of carrying large-sized furniture, you should have it shipped to your place.