Planning your motorbike adventure through Vietnam
Riding your motorbike through Vietnam is the best way to get to know the country.
As you ride through the different villages and towns, you will get to know the Vietnamese culture and feel part of the country.
It’s a unique experience, and with a little planning and a small budget, anyone can take a motorbike trip through Vietnam. Here you can read what you need to keep in mind to plan your trip such as getting the right Vietnam visa.
Planning the route
Most backpackers choose to take the motorbike route between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (or vice versa).
This trip can be done in a fortnight and offers you a mix of white sand beaches, limestone ridges and endless rice fields. There are several routes, so you don't have to plan too much yourself. While this is undoubtedly a fantastic route, there are many other spectacular routes in this country that are much less crowded.
For example, you can also choose to explore the beautiful landscapes of northern Vietnam. From Hanoi, drive west to the border with Laos and then work your way up. The mountains, valleys, rice terraces, limestone cliffs and winding roads are breathtakingly beautiful.
Of course, there is a lot of history, culture and natural beauty to discover throughout the country. The Mekong Delta, for example, can also be a good option. Every province in Vietnam has something special to offer.
Rent or buy a motorbike
The vast majority of motorbike trips in Vietnam start in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. These are the best two places to find a motorbike.
Some travellers choose to rent a motorbike, while others choose to buy their own motorbike and sell it at the end of their trip. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.
Buying a motorbike (and selling it later on) is generally a lot cheaper. However, you should be aware that a rented motorbike is often more reliable and that, in case of a bought second-hand motorbike, you have to stop more often for repairs.
If you are going to travel through Vietnam for less than two months, it is probably better to rent a motorbike instead of buying one. In both cities, it is easy to find motorbikes for sale in the backpacker areas, and there is also no lack of rental companies.
If you decide to purchase a bike, you will receive a Blue Card. The Blue Card is the proof of ownership and contains the motorbike number, frame number, license plate and the name of the owner.
You need the Blue Card if you plan to sell the bike in the future, if you want to take it with you on a train or if you want to cross the borders with Laos or Cambodia.
Driving Licence and Insurance
Unfortunately, neither the Irish, British or the international driving licence is valid in Vietnam. Officially, you need a Vietnamese driving license to drive a motorbike. Only tourists holding a visa for more than three months are eligible for a Vietnamese driving licence.
Unfortunately, tourist visas are never valid for more than three months. Keep in mind that if you don’t have a Vietnamese driving license, you also don’t have insurance.
Irish tourists need a visa to travel to Vietnam. While Vietnam offers visa-free travel to a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland is not part of this agreement.
There are different variants of the Vietnam visa. For instance, you can apply for the visa on arrival in Vietnam.
This visa comes in two variants (single entry and multiple entry) with a validity term of one month or three months. However, the Vietnamese embassy does not recommend using visa type and instead advises tourists to apply for the online e-visa.
This is applied for entirely online. It is valid for 30 days and can be used for one trip to Vietnam.
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