People keep telling me that riding a scooter in Bali is extremely dangerous and that I am going to get in an accident. I’ll wake up in the hospital and my parents wouldn’t know what had happened to me. Well, I know that you can’t control everything that happens, but somehow Jake and I have lived in Hanoi for 4 months without getting in a single accident by following these 11 tips for riding a motorbike in Hanoi.
But why do we even try it?
But why do we even try to ride a motorbike in Hanoi?
Well, first of all, the taxi services in Hanoi are CRAZY expensive. Not only that, but they are a terrible rip-off. Our first week in Hanoi we were too scared to hop on a motorbike right away, so we decided to take an Uber to get where we wanted to go. Whoops… Can’t do that. In most areas in Bali, there are laws against Uber drivers (or GoJek, Grab, other pick-up services used in Indonesia) even entering in the area! There are giant signs that say “Drop-offs only! No Uber!” Therefore, our millennial brains were stumped.
He got all angry and sped off, immediately demanding double what we had agreed on in order to get us there. I was not about to get ripped off since we showed him the exact address on a map and it was his fault. He kept yelling and asking for more money, and I said “ 7$ or drop us off here because you aren’t getting any more money than that.” So the loser dropped us off on the side of a busy road, about a 30 minutes walk from our destination.
So, we stopped a blue taxi car and showed them the address on our Google Maps. He said he could take us there for 7$. Problem solved, right? Nope, he took us about two streets down and told us that we were there. “
Uh… no, this isn’t it.” He insisted it was, and we showed him the map again.
It’s safe to say I have never stepped foot inside a Bali taxi ever again. And that is why we decided to drive a motorbike. It’s the cheapest option and the quickest.
Read article: Traffic Like In Hanoi.
The Security Guards
Getting Gas Hanoi
Businesses will pay a security guard to help their customers enter and leave their business without waiting for centuries for an opening in traffic. So the little man will walk out, blowing his whistle while most Balinese rush past him trying to ignore him. Eventually, he gets traffic to stop, the car (or in the worst-case scenario, the tour bus) gets out of the parking lot and onto the road. Then the security guard waves everyone past and the world goes on.
When I first came to Hanoi, I had been warned thoroughly on the internet about Police stopping tourists to get their money. So when I first heard the whistles blowing and a man walking out into traffic while waving his hands, I thought we were in trouble. Turns out, this is super normal here!
This happens a lot, and if you are on motorbikes, you can usually just pass them without having to stop. However, if everyone else is already stopped and the car is coming out, don’t be that guy.
And last, but the most obvious:
1st time riding on an automatic sooter
- Hop on! Sit down and your both legs will be touching the ground if you are tall, if you are a little bit shorter, just lean on one foot to keep the balance
- Kick up the kick-stand with your left foot.
- Put the key in and set it to “ON” position.
- To ignite, just hold both break levers with your left and right hands, and press the starter button to start the engine. At the same time with most bikes you will also need to it a bit of gas too, so just slightly turn the gas handle with your right palm. You don’t need to give much gas, just enough for the engine to start running.
- Now you are ready to move! Release the breaks, and accelerate steadily by turning the gas handle slowly. You will notice some torque building up, and soon your bike will start moving. As soon as you feel the momentum, pick your feet up off the ground and place them on the foot platform on the bike.
- Turning the bike is easy: you just lean slightly to either side and the handle bar will turn almost automatically. If you know how to ride a bicycle, you already know how to turn on a scooter! When going very slow, to turn, you use your hands a little bit more, whereas when riding fast, practically all of the turning is done by just leaning on either side.
- Stopping and learning to stop confidently is equally important! The front brake (usually on the right hand side) is the more efficient break, as when your brake, all the weight of you and the bike will move on the front wheel. Learning to always use both breaks when breaking is the fastest and typically the safest way to stop. So hold a few of your fingers on both break levers at all times! If there is any sand on the road, using the front break can cause you to slide and fall on your bike. If you notice sand or gravel on the road, break slowly, using the back break more, and continue riding at a slower speed.
- Now that you know how to control the bike, gather your confidence and you are ready to join others in the traffic. Just remember that you’re not in a hurry! Start slowly, and you will become better at riding and more confident after every ride.
Instructions For How To Ride a Scooter
Thinking of riding a motorbike during your student exchange or travels abroad? We at Hanoi Exchange believe that motorbikes are an excellent way to explore local areas in Hanoi, yet there are a few safety related things to remember. This article is worth reading not only for those students who have never ridden a motorbike, but also for anyone willing to ride a scooter when in Hanoi.
Adjusting to the student life in many Hanoi countries also involves learning the ways of the local traffic. Driving on the left hand side of the road, being ready for cars and bikes surprisingly over-taking you from either side, and often, also learning to ride a scooter are some of the aspects that are involved in acquiring the necessary skill to safely navigate through Asian cities and countryside.
Before moving into the tips for everyone, let’s first see what someone who has never tried riding a scooter or motorbike should remember:
- Start learning somewhere with no traffic! A parking lot, a small back road, or a football field will do.
- Always, ALWAYS, WEAR A HELMET!
- Learn to go slow! Riding fast is actually pretty easy – but to master moving slow while holding your balance is the key to making motorbike riding in traffic enjoyable.
- Get a bike that is light rather than heavy with a big engine. While the vintage motorbikes may look cool, they may not be the safest option for someone who has never ridden a motorbike. Scooters are easy and also petrol efficient, and a typical engine size in Asia, suitable for a first time rider is 110cc. Just make sure the bike you rent is fairly new and in good condition (breaks, horn, and all lights work, mirrors on both side, tires are in great shape..)
- If you ever lose control of your bike when moving slowly, just let the bike fall and jump off! You are more important than the bike, and trying to protect the bike will often lead into you hurting yourself.
- Exhaust pipe gets extremely hot after riding! It is a common mistake for the rider or one sitting on the back of the bike to burn their calf on to the exhaust pipe of the motorbike. This will result in a painful, serious burn, and in most cases also a trip to the nearest hospital. Avoid touching the exhaust pipe!
- Find a friend or local who knows how to ride a bike to teach you how to use the controls. Automatic bikes are easy to learn on, and if you know how to ride a bicycle, you will most likely learn to ride a scooter on your first try.
- It’s recommended to wear longer clothing while learning to ride a bike. Long sleeve shirts, proper shoes, and jeans provide good protection against very annoying and infection-prone asphalt rash.
- Avoid riding during the rush hour at first, if possible.
- At first it is a good idea to only stay on paved roads you already know. Driving on gravel or sand is harder, and it’s easy to lose grip when trying to break. No off-roading until you know how to ride the bike properly!
Get Motorcycle Riding Fingerless Gloves
The natural instinct while falling off a scooter at low speed (as when learning) is to break your fall with your hands. Having protective gloves would significantly reduce this kind of injury. You would avoid hundreds of dollars in medical expenses, as well as the horrible process of cleaning road grit out of open wounds to your hands.
I love driving with gloves on, as I have more control over the bike, I avoid the sticky feeling of handle grips, and I can drive in the rain without discomfort. Gloves should fit you well. Fingerless gloves allow you to operate a smartphone without taking off a glove; they are are also easier to fit and more suitable for a tropical climate.
Get gloves before coming to Vietnam, as the local selection is rather poor and overpriced.
Get a Good Helmet With a Transparent Face Shield
While most rental places have a small selection of beat-up helmets, you would find that many of these are mostly for show and would offer very little protection in a real crash. If you intend to stay for a long time, consider investing around $60 in a full face helmet with a clear visor.
Make sure the face shield is not too scratched up and can be locked in an upward position. A face shield is great for riding in the rain, as rain droplets sting at 50 km/hr and are unbearable at 80km/hr.
The face shield should be transparent or very lightly tinted, otherwise, you will not be able to use it at night—when you might need it the most.
Get a Breathable, Waterproof Jacket
Riding a scooter in the rain without protection sucks. While you can get a $1 rain poncho from 7-11, these are hot and get very sticky. A much better option is to get a breathable and waterproof jacket from Columbia or REI. I still can’t believe how comfortable they are for riding. I don’t feel the wind or rain; instead, it is as if the jacket gently caresses my arms, as I ride 80 km/hr. I kinda laugh at people trying to ride a scooter with an umbrella or doing 30km/hr on the side of a road in a rain poncho which catches the wind and looks all blown up like a balloon.
To some, these precautions seem extreme, in view of all the tanned shirtless men riding bikes barefoot on the island of Koh Phangan. It’s true there’s a certain appeal to being able to jump on a bike and go. Yet protected the way I am, I can ride my bike more confidently and have more fun in all kinds of weather, day or night. This to me is true freedom to explore.
Top 10 Dangers to Scooters in Hanoi
Vietnam has days of about 12 hours, so chances are you will find yourself riding after dark very soon. Keep in mind the following dangers while you ride:
- Sand, Sand, Sand. This is your worst enemy on the road, and Hanoi roads get quite a lot of sand washed on them after rain. Sand looks like yellow blotches as you scan the road ahead. Do not brake in the sand; you may lose control. Keep the bike steady and cross patches of sand perpendicular. Do not tilt the bike while you are on sand. Watch for sand as you park, as you may slip then as well.
- Dogs. They just love to sleep and hang out on roads in Vietnam. Steer around them, do not try to blow your horn at them. Just slow down and focus on avoiding them.
- Potholes. There are a few of potholes on the main roads. Typically these get patched quickly, but can still feel very bumpy. Be especially careful if you have a passenger while you cross over these.
- Unpaved roads. Sections of road around the north of Hanoi are not paved. Such roads get eroded by rain and are very dangerous to novice bike riders. Follow a scooter in front of you—let them find a suitable path. Keep your feet off the bike to balance yourself.
- Flooded roads. After heavy rain some roads flood. Slow down to 20 km/hr and cross these roads in the middle, where the water is shallowest. Riding into deep water at high speed is likely to cause you to lose control of your scooter.
- Blind turns. While you are learning the roads, slow down before blind turns. Otherwise, you may end up on the opposite side of the road, or fall into a ditch.
- Worn-out pavement. You will recognize this by black pebbles sticking out from the concrete. These roads are heavily worn, and the pebbles are smooth, making the concrete slippery. It’s hard to brake on such pavement. it may cause you to overshoot a turn and end up on the opposite side of the road.
- Bridges and sharp hills. These can cause your scooter to jump a little bit so that you lose contact with the seat. Always slow down as you approach a bridge; otherwise, your scooter can fly, and you may not be prepared for this.
- Haad Rin Road. The most extreme road on the island with sharp turns, steep hills and beautiful views. Do not let some taxi driver push you; keep to the side of the road to let them pass. Use both brakes at the steepest hills.
- Other riders pulling onto the road. These are very dangerous. Remember that there are plenty of older riders on crappy bikes on Haad Rin. Some of these have no taillights or mirrors. Some drivers may be intoxicated or old and may not see you.
- Cyclists and pedestrians. People walk and ride on the street in Hanoi, because there are no sidewalks. Some of these people wear dark clothes or have a bicycle with no reflectors. Be especially aware of these after dark and in bad weather.
- Riders passing cars on the opposite side of the street. They expect you to move over to the side to avoid a collision with them. While most bikes have headlights, some of the cheaper local bikes don’t. Watch out for these guys passing.
SIDE NOTE ABOUT THE LAW AND LICENSES
Technically speaking, no this is not legal unless you have a Motorcycle License from the country you are from. On top of that, you would need an International Driver’s License (which you can get from AAA for about $35).
However, it’s pointless. Some countries like Thailand and Indonesia have cops that look out specifically for tourists because they want to make money off you. They will pull you over and expect you to pay them a small bribe. Never pay more than $10 and less if you can get away with it!
I am not condoning this, but when Jake and I are in those countries and the cops are on foot, we just pretend we don’t see them and keep going.We’ve avoided at least 10 tickets just because they can’t do anything and they’re corrupt anyways.
Where do you rent your scooter Hanoi?
It is not difficult to rent a motorbike in Hanoi City. There are several variants:
small hotels and hotels.
You can hardly walk around any (especially central) street without noticing a dozen rental places where you’ll be gladly helped to hire a scooter.
If you are staying at a small hotel you’ll probably be told about such nearest places at the reception. They even can bring you a bike or something to the hotel as hotel owners often have contracts with the owners of motor transport.
If they don’t provide such a service, it’s enough to walk along the second and the third lines of Hanoi.
One more method of hiring motor transport in Hanoi is getting in touch with the foreigners living there a long time and running some bike rental business. We’d advise you to turn to our good acquaintances – guys from the Moto Vietnam and they not only will help you to choose a good and suitable bike but will also give you some recommendations and several bike riding lessons.
There are some places motorbike rental Automatic scooter Hanoi. But I recommend these fews stores as the quality of motorbikes are quite good and easy to find: Follow This Link >>>The Cheapest & Best Motorbike Rental Hanoi.
Motorbike Rental Van Chinh
Add: 24D Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. (Old Quater)
Cong Tan Motorbike
Add: 110 Nguyen Van Cu, Long Bien District, Hanoi.
Add: 37 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
6b Tam Thuong (lane by 38 Hang Bong Street), Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Add: 55 Trinh Cong Son, Nhat Tan, Tay Ho, Hanoi (near the Water park in West Lake).
SO GO RENT A MOTORBIKE IN HANOI, VIETNAM!
Seriously, renting a bike is a blast!Just going from our house to the store becomes an adventure when we are in Asia all because of our adorable little bike! We even met some people at this shop who were renting or buying motorcycles to drive all the way from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City!
We have been on quite a few motorbike trips through Vietnam from Da Nang to Hoi An, Mai Chau to Pu Luong, Hanoi to Ninh Binh and then Hanoi to Halong Bay! And for all of them, we used a motorbike rental!
But please be careful, in fact, go read this post about the 11 rules to follow so you don’t die on a motorbike in Hanoi. I wrote it for Hanoi when we lived there, but the rules apply to all of Southeast Asia! Riding a motorbike in Vietnam can be dangerous. Make sure to go slow and be careful and it can be the best part of your trip!Ready to rent in a motorbike in Hanoi? Pin for later!