Motorbiking Vietnam: whether it’s a day trip from the city, a short loop around one region or motorbiking the whole of Vietnam, you are sure to have a blast! Avoid encountering any issues and follow these 5 easy tips!
1. Keep roadside essentials in a hidden money pouch/fanny-pack
Making sure you have somewhere safe to store things you’ll need quick access to is a great idea for a road trip. On my motorbike trip through Vietnam I used a hidden money pouch but you could use a fanny-pack or small cross-body I guess.
Inside you’ll want to keep: your drivers license, blue card and ~200k VND ($8.50), plus any other items you’ll need easy access to like your phone and toiletries to help you refresh when you stop.
Related Post: 10 Essential Items you Need for Motorbiking Vietnam
Keeping some cash, ideally less than 500k VND ($21) safe here is incase the police pull you over. There are areas of Vietnam that are notorious for the police setting up road blocks. There is potential for them to extort cash from you, and ensuring you don’t have to go into your backpack and show them all your cash will keep the amount lower.
I know, that all sounds a bit scary right? During my 7 week motorbike trip in Vietnam I saw hardly any police presence on the roads, and at no point did I see them pulling people over. However I avoided travelling to Mui Ne for these exact reasons as it is notorious for this issue.
2. Wear padded biker gloves
On the mountain pass from Vung Tau to Bao Loc I took a little tumble and skidded on gravel taking a hairpin turn too fast. I instinctively put my hands out to break my fall and ended up scraping a chunk out of the palm of my hand. As if it wasn’t bad enough, I then pulled the scab off again taking YET ANOTHER tumble the next day. I promise I’m actually a safe driver, I simply deluded myself into thinking I had an off-road bike and decided to go down steep dirt tracks with my Honda Cub… Note: Honda Cubs are not built to go off-road. You will skid and fall off.
Anyways, long story short, I decided to get myself some protective biking gloves after my quick succession of falls. While I didn’t come off my motorbike again, I did appreciate the extra protection and know wearing them would have avoided wounding myself in the first place.
3. Alway get gas when you have the chance
This seems to be turning into a list of me sharing my embarrassing failures from my Vietnam motorbike trip… Yup, I ran out of gas. Multiple times. How. Mortifying. In my defence, Honda Cubs are so old that they are pre-gas gauges, meaning there was no way of knowing how much gas I was burning through while driving.
Even with a modern bike you’ll want to be careful to top up your gas whenever you get the chance. The majority of the highway is dotted with gas stations every couple of kms. But there are also long stretches where there are no gas stations for over 10kms. For example the coastal road from Vung Tau to Mui Ne, and the coastal road coming into Hoi An both have sections with no gas stations for miles and miles and miles. I vividly remember I was starting to panic on these roads that I was going to have another embarrassing moment. (spoiler: thankfully these are some of the few places I didn’t run out of gas)
TIP: Pack a litre bottle of gas so that you can top your motorbike up if you find yourself in an emergency. Just buy yourself a bottle of water in the store and refill it with gas.
4. Use Google maps offline
Did you know that you can download Google maps for use offline? Having Google maps saved offline means that you can search and find directions without needing any internet or phone signal!
I found saving my route map offline before each leg of the journey to be a lifesaver. For example, in those embarrassing moments where I misjudged my gas consumption I was able to search for the nearest gas station, despite being in the in the middle of nowhere and having limited internet/signal.
5. Set up safety check-ins
This is my biggest recommendation for motorbiking Vietnam, ESPECIALLY if you are also a solo female biker. I set up a WhatsApp group chat with my parents and some friends who were in Vietnam (one expat friend and one Vietnamese friend) and sent them a quick message before every long drive. I would then update them half way through the drive to let them know I was doing fine and then one last time when I got to my final destination for the day. The idea was that they knew when I was driving long distances and would be able to tell quickly if I had an accident or didn’t turn up in my end destination.
I must admit I am lucky because as a resident in Vietnam, I had friends here who could assist quickly had something happened. If you don’t know anyone in Vietnam, try to include friends in nearby time zones if possible (for example if you know anyone also travelling or living in Asia etc).
Hopefully these tips will help to keep you road savvy and safe on your Vietnamese motorbike trip! Where do you plan on motorbiking to?
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For more on Motorbiking Vietnam:
- Learning to Ride a Motorbike in Vietnam / Ride With Me Saigon
- Lessons I Learned on my First Vietnamese Motorbike Trip
- 10 Essentials Items you Need for Motorbiking Vietnam