Whether you’re planning on doing the iconic motorbike tour from southern Vietnam all the way to the north, or a shorter road trip, you’ll want to make sure you’re as prepared as possible to have fun on the road. Aside from the regular kit you need to pack for a trip, there are a few items specific to doing a motorbike road trip that are essential. Here are my 10 essentials for motorbiking Vietnam that you will help you have a safe and smooth road trip.
Essentials for motorbiking Vietnam
These tips are specific to items that you need for motorbiking, but alongside them you will of course need your regular luggage which I highly recommend includes long pants and covered shoes to protect yourself during long drives.
1️⃣ Motorbike helmet
Wearing a helmet is the most essential safety precaution for motorbiking and a legal requirement for motorbiking in Vietnam. When buying a motorbike helmet, make sure it covers your ears and neck (called a 3/4 helmet). A full-face helmet offers greater protection and is advised for long-distance road trips. Whichever style of helmet you opt for, I highly recommend ensuring it has a visor to protect against wind and dust. Stores like Arrow Motorcycle Helmets, Saigon Motorcycles and Thế giới Mũ (helmet world) all sell a wide range of high-quality helmets. I also suggest checking out Chrunix, an online store founded by Tigit Motorbikes to bring international grade motorbiking kit to Vietnam. A decent motorbike helmet can cost anywhere upwards of 500k (£17/$20).
2️⃣ Bungee cords
Another essential piece of kit for motorbiking in Vietnam is bungee chords. These are elastic straps with metals hooks on the ends that will allow you to securely tie your backpack onto the bike rack. Each cord costs approximately 20k ($1) and I recommend using 3 to fully secure your bags. You can find bungee cords in local family-owned convenience stores or hardware stores, and with ease around the backpacker areas of Hanoi and Saigon. You can also order bungee cords online, at websites like Lazada.
3️⃣ Bike lock
While most accommodation, restaurants and shops in Vietnam have security guards to watch your motorbike for you, it might be wise to bring a chain for locking it up overnight during a road trip. This is especially important if you have an expensive or desirable motorbike that someone might be interested in stealing. You can find a bike lock at that same local convenience store that you’ll find bungee chords, or you can buy heavy-duty chains on Lazada.
4️⃣ Rain poncho and a backpack rain cover
Rain covers for your bags and a poncho for yourself are essential when motorbiking Vietnam during monsoon season. For better protection from the rain while driving, you might want to opt for a rain suit (pants and jacket combo). Waterproofs can be found everywhere in Vietnam, especially during monsoon season when you’ll see vendors on the side. Backpack covers are harder to find, but are for sale in many of the backpack stores around the backpacker areas of major cities. You can also find high-quality rainwear online at Chrunix and Lazada.
5️⃣ Pollution masks
Vietnamese cities are some of the most polluted in Asia, so it is important to wear a pollution mask when driving around cities and filter masks are essential for driving on the highway. AQblue masks have filters that can be used for up to 30hrs of driving, making them a health and eco-conscious choice for motorbiking in Vietnam.
6️⃣ Spare petrol bottle
Trust me, you don’t want to run out of gas on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere. If you have a motorbike with a small gas tank, like my little Honda Cub, then a spare petrol bottle is an essential piece of kit to pack for any road trip. You can find liter bottles in the same kind of stores that sell bungee chords you can opt to use an old water bottle to store some gas inside your motorbike for emergencies.
7️⃣ Spare keys
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so I recommend being prepared and having a spare set hidden away in your backpack in case the worst should happen and you lose or snap your keys (snapping keys is actually pretty common). In Vietnam, you tend to find key cutting vendors on street corners rather than in actual shops, so it can challenging to find somewhere to get keys cut. My advice is to ask your accommodation if they know of a vendor nearby.
8️⃣ First aid kit and toiletries
Having a first aid kit is another way you can ensure you’re prepared for anything to happen and is a great idea for anyone that is motorbiking in Vietnam for the first time. Everything you need to include in your first aid kit can be found at pharmacies, like Pharmacity. Alongside your first aid kit, I recommend including some toiletries for keeping clean while on the road. Here is what to include:
✅ Pain relief (paracetamol or ibuprofen)
✅ Iodine and cotton pads for cleaning wounds
✅ A variety of plasters and bandages (ask specifically for non-stick dressings)
✅ Hand sanitiser
✅ Wet wipes
✅ Dry tissues
9️⃣ Driving gloves
Even if you aren’t wearing full protective gear, which is generally not the norm in Vietnam, I suggest wearing protective gloves. Your hands are often the first defence in protecting yourself when you fall and gloves will help protect your hands from road rash. You can find motorbiking gloves at helmet stores or online at Lazada.
🔟 A rag cloth
The final thing I suggest packing is a rag cloth. I’ve found this comes in really handy for wiping up any gas spills and oil drips. It is also great for drying off your seat in the rain and just generally wiping your bike down.
✍️ For more information on motorbiking in Vietnam, check out my Complete Guide to Motorbiking in Vietnam.