For most expats, motorbikes are no longer mysterious after coming or planning to go to Vietnam. In many cases, renting motorbikes in Saigon can save half of the budget spent monthly on commuting. Hoozing is here to help you out with a full, comprehensive guide for expats to choose an appropriate motorbike for your enjoyable journey in Vietnam. Moving across the country as an adventurous traveler or taking a short trip around the city will not be difficult anymore.
Scams, accessory shuffles are really common in most of the cases, even for the recommended ones. Thus, you must be even more careful checking your bike before making any purchases. If something like the horn or wheel is not functioning, try to negotiate down the price. You can even have the bike checked by a mechanic to ensure that it’s in good shape.
Choosing Motorbikes in Vietnam: An Economically Smart Choice
In Vietnam and many other Southeast Asia countries, it is normal to walk out of your home, seeing lines of motors on every streets. Upon the first step in the country, you may be overwhelmed by the sounds of horn or motor engine. Of course, you may gradually get familiar to the way it works. But yeah! It may be a bit struggling.
Actually, public transportation does exist in Saigon, but generally it is not in standard condition and operated without English instructions (except for a few new buses). And obviously, taxis are more expensive and sometimes you need to haggle as well. More than that, sitting in a bus or taxi while being stuck in traffic for hours is really uncomfortable.
That’s why motorbikes become the perfect option for everyone. Indeed, you need a little bit of practice, but when you have mastered it, it would be the most thrilling experience in Saigon. With a motorbike, you can save money, time and enjoy every small alleys or even a road trip to the outskirts of Saigon.
Motorbike Rental Requirements
For renting motorbikes, it’s not the same for every shop and the rental period is also different. If you rent the motorbike from a hotel for a few days, the hotel will require your identity card for deposit instead of money. Meanwhile, if you rent directly from a rental shop, you need to hand over your passport to the owner or deposit an amount of money (from 1.5 million VND to 3 million VND) until you return the motorbike, though leaving your passport to a shop while traveling across the whole country is not ideal. Luckily, rental shops now accept a different form of valid identification or even a copy of renter’s passport.
The rental shop will give you the blue registration card for the motorbike if you buy this motorbike. The blue card is the proof for motorbike ownership in Vietnam. However, the name on the card cannot be adjusted. If the blue card is lost, you cannot get another one. So take special care of it.
What to check when renting motorbikes in Saigon?
You must choose which kind of motorbike to rent: automatic or manual. Automatic motorbikes are easy to use, for both experts and amateurs. Manual motorbikes are a little bit more complicated and require a higher level of riding and traffic awareness. However, it is fuel-efficient, and suitable for steeping mountain passes and roads because these bikes typically have more powerful engines. Therefore, automobile is good for riding around the city, on smooth and flat roads. On the other hand, manual motorbikes are ideal for conquering mountain paths and long road trips.
You must check the status of the vehicle before renting. Ask the owner for a trial run. Then, check whether the breaks (handbrake, footbrake), lights, indicators, horn, wheels, and tires are in good condition or not. At least left wing mirror is required by Vietnam law. And remember to record a video in front of the owner of the bike. By doing this, you wont’t get charged for scratches that were already on the bike when you return.
Some owners will fill the gas tank, but most leave it empty on the first day. Therefore, you should ask them about the gas before renting. Of course, the rental price with a full gas tank is more expensive. The gap between 2 options is around 50,000 VND. If the gas tank is empty, ask the owner for the nearest gas station to fill up the tank beforehand. It usually takes around 50,000 – 70,000 VND for a full gas tank, depending on the type of bike.
If the motorbike has any issues, do not bring it to a random bike mechanic. First, call the owners and they will fix it for you. If not, you will be responsible for any damage of the motorbike because mechanics that are not trusted by your renter can shuffle parts with bad accessories, which makes the motorbike fall apart farther down the road.
When making purchase, you must be even more careful checking your bike in advance. If something like the horn or wheel is not functioning, try to negotiate down the price. If there is someone who is good at mechanics, ask them to have a look for you. However, after you buy the motorbike, spend the money to maintain the bike. Changing the oil every 1,000 kilometers keeps the engine strong and working properly. Bring an extra tire tube with you to make sure that no motorbike mechanic charges you too much for a flat.
And there will be some other things that can be wrong with a motorbike. You should keep these terms in mind: old battery failure, spark plug burn-out, no electric start, lights out, no horn, a new key that does not fit perfectly. Be cognizant of which problem your bike is facing and find a reliable mechanics.
Pro Tip: Yamaha’s Nouvo bikes are often rented or being sold. These bikes, regardless of model, all have very similar keys.There are key makers all over Saigon that can make keys that work perfectly for any Nouvo bikes. This means that somebody can steal your bike very easily. So avoid renting Nouvo.
Traffic Laws and Things to Know
Saigon is famous for its crazy traffic, so you should be extremely careful when riding here. The best advice is to actually take a motorbike or Grab bike/ Go Viet to experience the traffic on the back of a bike with an experienced driver first. You will get used to it after a few days before starting to drive by yourself.
But people say that danger is everywhere in Saigon. So here are a few tips and things to be aware of on the road.
1/ Always wear a helmet when riding, and there can only be two people on a motorbike. In Vietnam, people drive on the right side of the road. So keep this in mind if you grew up driving on the left. Notice that there are specific road signs that indicate the lane for cars and for motorbikes.
2/ Beeping is important to show people where you are. Beeping in Vietnam is not considered rude, so don’t worry when you hear beeping, it’s only an indication of location. Plus, turn on your turn indicators when turning through traffic, like in any country. For heavy traffic, wait for more motorists to join you, then all go at once. In that case, traffic would stop for you. As long as you go slow, you can thread your way through traffic, usually, motorists are very aware and swerve around you.
In Vietnam, motorists sometimes don’t stop at traffic lights. However, just ignore them and follow the rules for your own safety. Moreover, you will even see drivers driving on the wrong side of the road, most people do this out of convenience. Simply be aware and have your head on a constant swivel.
3/ Just like any countries, do not drink too much alcohol when anticipating the traffic. According to the rules, one beer is acceptable. If not, police will catch and fine you with a lot of money.
In accordance with Vietnamese law, people who ride motorbikes with an engine capacity under 50cc don’t need to have a driving license. Therefore, you can choose this kind of motorbike if you want to get around the law. If it was not the case, taking driving training course and test is requested.
4/ Last but not least, ensure that you have travel insurance when traveling to Vietnam. It’s better safe than sorry, in case that something might happen unexpectedly on the road.
Long Trips Tips and Tricks
If you plan to travel across the country – from the south to the north by motorbike, keep in mind these tips before you leave.
1/ Select a high-quality helmet, which covers your full face and has a windshield. There is a lot of dirt on the road so a helmet with an eye shield is highly recommended.
2/ Buy protective clothes such as gloves, knee and elbow wraps, reflective cloth, and first aid kit to protect yourself as much as possible on the road.
3/ Prepare a waterproof bag to store your passport, the registration card of the motorbike, and other important papers. A rain suit is also necessary because the weather in the north, center, and south of Vietnam is quite different and hard to foretell.
You also need to check the weather prediction beforehand and prepare appropriate clothes for the trip.
4/ Keep a safe distance between motorbikes or your motorbike to the car in front of you, especially on the mountain road. Beep before you drive through blind bends just in case there is another motorbike or car coming from the opposite direction. Stop at the gas station, or drink stall after one to two hours driving, so both you and the motorbike can have a break.
Reliable Motorbike Shops
The rental price per day is around 80-150K VND for a manual motorbike, 150-250K VND for an auto motorbike, and more than 250K for the higher-grade motorbikes. If you rent for one month or more, the price will be lower. By the way, two helmets are included in the price.
The purchase price varies, especially for foreigners, 6,5 million VND to 65 million VND (300 USD to 3,000 USD), depending on the type of bike, engine capacity,etc.
In addition, some motorbike shops deliver the motorbike directly to the airport, train station, or your hotel, but some do not. The following list includes details about reliable motorbike stores in Saigon. Select your favorite bike and schedule the delivery based on your availability.
With Delivery Service
Vi Na Sat
Address: 19 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Phone number: +(84) 913 122 111
Address: 263 Nguyen Trong Tuyen Street, Ward 10, Phu Nhuan District
Phone number: (+84) 946 666 566
Address: B2-00.01 Sarimi, 72 Nguyen Co Thach Street, An Loi Dong Ward, District 2
Phone number: (+84) 128 875 8055
Without Delivery Service
Saigon Scooter Centre
Address: 151 Luong Dinh Cua Street, An Phu Ward, District 2 Phone number: (+84) 903 013 690 Website: www.saigonscootercentre.com
Address: 182/5A De Tham Street, District 1
Phone number: (+84) 909 283 280
Address: 368 Vo Van Kiet Street, District 1
Phone number: (+84)28 6683 3796