This page provides FAQs about motorbike tours and rentals in Vietnam.
1. What types of service does Hidden Vietnam Motorcycle Tours provide?
Hidden Vietnam Motorcycle Tours offers three types of trips: Fully guided (all-inclusive), Semi-guided (bike and guide rentals), and Self-guided (bike rentals). This works with a wide budget range from at least 15$US to 229$US/day/person depending on the bike you want to ride, the type of trip you want, and the number of rider(s) in your group. Our costs are affordable for most of the riders in Vietnam.
Starting from the self-guided for experienced riders who could handle anything thrown at them on the road. Bigger bikes are always better with power and suspension.
On a semi-guided trip, you have a 3-in-1 guide who is a guide, a mechanic, and a translator. He also takes care of the routes and helps with food and hotel arrangements. He’s a real bonus to the whole experience. His salary + bike is will be added to the bike rentals and this cost will be shared among the group. We limit five riders per guide for this type of motorcycle tour. You pay fuel, accommodation, tickets, and food during the trip for yourselves and our guide. The best thing about this is your freedom to choose where to eat and stay on the trip.
Our fully guided adventures focus on the quality of services and freedom of mind. We select the best services available on the road. This is the most popular type of trip we have been providing since late 2006. Clients’ satisfaction is our prime concern and we try to make every holiday one of the most memorable trips.
2. What should I bring with me for the trip?
All departures start from the company office in Hanoi where all necessary equipment is available including protective motorbiking clothing, helmet, gloves, raincoats, etc. However, you are welcome to bring your own helmets and gloves if possible as it seems there are not many sizes in Vietnam for large riders. Riding suits and helmets are available in various sizes. Last but not least, you should bring a strong pair of shoes/boots.
You don’t need to bring with you all of your travel bags as you can leave your bags with us in the company office in Hanoi.
Here are items we suggest for motorcycle touring and please decide what you really need:
– Clothing: helmet, rain gloves, wellington boots (rubber boots for the rainy season from June to October), summer gloves, balaclava, t-shirt, socks & underwear, long-sleeved shirt, turtleneck shirt, extra jeans, light jacket, leather chaps, zip-lock bags, riding boots, bandannas, sunglasses, and goggles. Some hotels on the road have express overnight laundry service and you don’t need too many clothes.
– Personal items: basic toiletries, emergency cash, sunscreen, and earplugs.
– Emergency items: first aid kit, emergency contact number, list medical conditions, list medications, flashlight, chargers, and duct tape.
– Miscellaneous: small towel, bath towel, trash bags, duffel bags, bungee cords, camera, and cargo net. We do provide rubber straps (the local one that is recycled from truck tires and it is really good)
3. Where do you ride in Vietnam?
Our company office is based in Hanoi where all rides start, you can end anywhere in Vietnam for an extra charge. Sadly, we currently don’t provide any trips starting in any other place rather than Hanoi. Our main area is North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh trail/road that runs along the country’s length.
4. How is the traffic in Vietnam?
Within city areas, it has to be one of the craziest in the world! But all of our trips avoid driving through big cities. We prefer to take small roads, which are absolutely much more fun and beautiful than the main roads. This way you see more wonderful smiles from the local people on the side of the roads all screaming “HELLO!!”
If you don’t feel comfortable with the traffic or during any part of the trip your guide will assist you and make you feel comfortable and confident at what you are doing. He will work as a “chicken mother” and lead you to safety. Traffic in Vietnam is a river and you will flow when you are in it.
5. I’m travelling alone, is it possible to join with another group?
Tours we provide are private and customized, with no fixed/set departures. Many of our customers booked strictly private (closed door) tours while some of them wanted to have more riders (new friends) tagged along to have more fun and save some cash. The maximum of a group is limited to five or six people. As a note, an open door trip usually has riders with different riding experiences and if you care about strangers in the group, you’d better book a strictly private tour. Ideally, a trip between friends is the best because you have a good understanding of other people. Updates are posted here.
6. How long do we ride each day?
This is a difficult question, but it should be no longer than 6 hours riding a day, with a stop every 1 or 2 hours. This also depends on individual driving skills, road conditions, the number of stops we make, etc. We don’t stick to a tight schedule while on the road; sometimes we make a stop for a drink, take a photo, or even go for an interesting short walk in villages we stop by. Ideally, we recommend riding less than 200km/day on average.
If you want to find out more about the Vietnam motorbike tours our company provides, please watch the below video or visit our YouTube channel.
7. Do I need a deposit and if so how much?
Yes, we need a 100-500$US/person deposit in order to confirm our tour and also to cover expenses for all the necessities prior to the trip. The amount depends on the type of your you book. We will give you our bank account number to transfer the deposit if you do not want to carry cash. Be advised to ask your bank how much they charge and if they have to go through a third bank before Vietcombank. 80% of our customers had a double charge without notice.
8. How do I pay you? Do you accept credit card payment?
Fortunately, we started to accept credit card payment online from March 2017. Of course, you still can pay via a bank transfer or Western Union Cash Transfer. We ask that you transfer to our bank account a deposit and then final balance (cash is king in Vietnam) before the commencement of a ride.
We also accept credit card payment in our office (when you are in Vietnam). There is a bank service charge of 3% for Visa and MasterCard holders or 4% for American Express cardholders. At certain times, we may apply a surcharge as banks always offer low or very low rates comparing to black/free-market rates.
PayPal applies very bad conditions to Vietnamese account holders and we don’t like their conditions. Therefore, this option is not available.
9. When is the best time for riding a motorbike in North Vietnam?
There is no good or bad time to ride in North Vietnam. Normally, the best season is from September to February. May to August will be hot while March and April are usually cool and wet. There are exceptions though as the weather is one of the hardest things to predict about. We will advise you near your departure date if it’s different from what we initially provided.
10. Where is the best riding trip in Vietnam?
There is no answer to this question, as it all depends on what you want to see but going up to the Northwest Mountains, which are full of beautiful colors from the traditional dresses of the local hill tribes is a spectacle. The Central North stirs up strong emotions on the steep limestone mountains, with views compared to the “Holy Land”. But for this, you need to be a very experienced biker. The Northeast route is relatively easy riding and the people are very friendly. You will mostly stay with host families and discover their cultures. A good proposal depends on you providing us with clear information about what you would like to do, to see, and dream of.
11. How many days is a good trip of riding?
To have a good trip we advise you to ride deep into the countryside in the mountainous areas. That trip will need at least 6 days but we suggest a 9 or 12-day trip to enjoy it in a relaxed fashion. We also organize 3 to 4-day trips to Sapa coming back on the overnight train. Even if you have just a day, the ride around Hanoi is not a bad idea.
12. I am very interested in motorbiking trips in Vietnam but I don’t have experience of riding a motorbike. Is that a problem?
Yes, you could ride as a pillion passenger on the bike of a guide or your travel partner to enjoy the trip. Or we advise you to take a riding course organized by us. You can do it anytime before the departure and costs 30 USD/person. This lesson is organized in a quiet place with little or no traffic and in 1 or 2 hours. The good news is nobody who took our lesson failed to ride and none of them was down while riding! If you drive a manual car you will catch up quickly.
13. Do I need to have my country or an international driving license to ride a motorbike/motorcycle in Vietnam?
Well, in fact, this is the most common question we received from our customers.
Vietnamese laws require riders of all motor vehicles above 50cc to have a full Vietnamese driving license (under 175cc is A1 and from 175cc is A2, 50cc or under needs road rules test certificate).
First, none of the foreign licenses is valid in Vietnam, including your country license. There are conflicting reports about this but the reality is unfortunately not good news.
Fortunately, the good news is IDP (international driving permit, 1968 Convention) is now valid in Vietnam from August 1st, 2016 with the 46/2016/ND-CP decree. However, this decree only covers countries that abide by the 1968 Convention on Road Traffic on IDPs. Many countries like Australia, UK, the USA, and Canada are not signatories to the 1968 Convention but abide by the 1949 Geneva Convention. Therefore, citizens of those countries are NOT able to drive in Vietnam with their IDPs. If you have a 1968 IDP, you can purchase an insurance policy easily for Vietnam. Please also bring your home country driving license with motorbike endorsement.
In case you have no IDP or Vietnamese driving license, the police rarely stop you to check license unless you do something wrong. It’s more to do with personal medical insurance that we cover below.
14. Do I need to have insurance for motorbiking/motorcycling in Vietnam?
This is another very important thing for planning your Vietnam motorbike tours.
Yes, you need to have personal medical insurance, even if you are a pillion passenger so that insurance will cover any accident.
We don’t require any sort of license to book a trip but it’s more about insurance. Most of the insurance companies don’t provide a policy that covers a motorbike tour accident if you don’t have a Vietnamese driving license. Sadly, it’s impossible to get a Vietnamese license with a tourist visa. You need a business visa of at least three months, a work permit, a sponsor company and a valid passport. All these documents should be translated into Vietnamese at a notary office. Then, a Vietnamese license is available after 7 or 10 days. It’s just too complicated and time-consuming. With just a normal personal medical insurance you will still be covered about 19 hours a day when not riding because we only ride about 5 hours a day on average. Some companies like CHI Insurance, World Nomads, and Allianz didn’t require a local driving license and covered larger displacements.
Even Vietnam doesn’t recognize any foreign license but take it easy you will be ok. We don’t need a license to join our tours or hire our bikes. More details are at this link.
On our trips, you ride about five hours per day on average. It means you still get insured about 19 hours per day while not riding the bike with just a normal travel insurance policy.