Preparing for a motorcycle trip in Vietnam
86% of Vietnamese family own at least one motorbike, that just show how prevalent riding motorbike in this country is. In this article, I'd show how you can rent or buy a motorbike and ride it on the road safely and enjoyably. Right before the Tet holiday I took my bike out to ride it to Quy Nhon, which is roughly 600km from my home so pretty much a lot of this article will provide some useful tip and info on the road so you can have a safe trip.
Renting or buying one
First you get to understand owning a motorbike in Vietnam requires you to have a license, but being a foreigners may exempt you from having to obtain one, so get to the part of renting or buying one. There're different bikes to suit different needs. I would classify motorbike in Vietnam into 3 categories, number one, Scooters and underbone bikes, these are the most common. Second, adventure, dirtbikes with the engine capacity under 175cc, where the cost to own or rent one is still low, and you woudn't need a special license to ride one. And the last one is high performing bike, with the engine goes above 175cc, now you would need a special license to own and ride it, you may need extra paperwork and deposit, specialized garage who sells or rents them.
For the sake of keeping this article simple and the same to your trip, I'd steer away from the last category and just look for the other two. Now the problem is to rent or to buy one. If you plan on riding the bike from one end of the country to the other end, and subsequently leave the country, and you wouldn't mind riding an ordinary looking bike, then you may want to consider to buy one in the first category, and that would actually cost you a lot less than to rent.
The second category would cost you a lot more, about 500k -1500k ($20-$30) per day, $500 deposit, some examples of which is the Honda XR150, Kawasaki KLX 150 BF, Yamaha WR155R. I've found one website where you can read the quotes, https://chrunix.vn/
My scooter on the way to Buon Me Thuot
To buy a motorbike without proper documentation is simple, you look for one on Facebook Marketplace, or Chotot.com or even better is Expat/ foreigners group on facebook and get to the seller. At this point you can choose between a Scooter (no gear shift, turn the throttle and the bike move) or an underbone bike (with gear shift, with or without the clutch).
Buying a motorbike may look like a big purchase at the time, but you can always resell it at the destination, I would say this is my preferable method since you can always find a buyer on Facebook/ Reddit groupd and save a tons of money. My conservative estimate for the bike at this category is under 15 milion VND ($650) for a perfectly conditioned bike, you can look for some wiggle room from the seller. For the bike above this price is not worth it. The reselling is the same as buying it, which you can just sell the motorbike for a few hundred bucks less. Some motorcycles names under this category : Vision, Yamaha Exciter, Honda Airblade, Honda Winner, Hone Wave etc.
A vintage Honda Cub 50cc
Servicing and choosing the Intinery.
If your motorcycle don't have a baggage rack alrealdy, buy one on shopee vn (vietnamese Amazon), the keyword in Vietnamese is "baga cho [insert your bike name]" and bring the rack to the nearest motorcycle mechanic (may be a garage or just some ordinary mechanic pop up kiosk). By the way, change the oil in the mean time too, and frequently change it within the distance of 800km. Then you're good to go.
This is the list of costal road where you will see amazing sceneries
The Vietnamese highways are separated into 2 parts, highland and coastline, each of which has it's pro and cons. The highland highway is a bit easier to ride, but there's nothing much to do. Whereas the coastline is much more interesting, albeit you get bumpy road once in the while.
Without a motorbike it's hard to get near these paddy field
Speaking from my book, stay away as much as possible fromt AH1, Asian Highway 1 or QUOC LO 1A. This road is plagued with precarious sleeper bus and horrible road condition.
Otherwise, the road is quite easy to ride, given enough time and patience