Are you insured for riding a motorbike in Vietnam? Do you need a license? Find out all the essential information before you rent two wheels.
Many travelers to Vietnam are by-passing professional services, like public transport and cars with drivers, and are driving themselves.
Before you take off on that rental bike, find out the essential information, and the answer to our most frequently asked question: do I need travel insurance to ride a motorbike in Vietnam?
Motorbikes and Scooters in Vietnam What Are the Rules?
You must have a license – one from home (best paired with an international driver’s permit) – or you can get one in Vietnam, and it has to be for the class of vehicle you’re intending to hire.
If you don’t have a motorbike license back home, you don’t magically acquire one by flying into Vietnam. Thousands of visitors each year rent a motorbike and ride around Vietnam totally unlicensed. It’s illegal.
You will need a driving license from your home country if you want to hire a motorbike or car. But, if you do not have an international license or a Vietnamese license, you will be driving illegally.
What if you’re stopped by police? Yes, you can usually pay the police officer off for a few dollars, not that we recommend that! But you should check out our guide to bribing police and find out the going rate for traffic offenses.
The fact that the shop rented you the motorbike without asking for your license, doesn’t mean you don’t need one. It’s not their responsibility if you don’t check out the local law.
Do I Need Travel Insurance to Ride a Motorbike in Vietnam?
When driving around Vietnam, it is pretty common to see police checks on the road. The police will stop you to check if you have an international driving permit. If you don’t have one, you will get a fine (about 10$ or 20$). You will have to pay this fine in cash straight away.
Sadly, motorbike accidents happen on a regular basis in Southeast Asia. Driving in Vietnam can be intimidating at first, since the rules and the driving style may be completely different from what you are used to.
That said, if you’re thinking of renting a scooter in Vietnam, you should make sure your travel insurance can cover you in case of an accident.
The coverage isn’t the only thing to keep in mind – you must be driving legally. This means you must have a driving license valid in the country where you’re driving (in this case, an international driving permit that allows you to drive a motorcycle or a Vietnam license).
DRIVE A 50CC MOTORBIKE / SCOOTER
Vietnam does not require you to hold a license to drive a 50cc motorbike (scooter). However, you should check if your home country does. Whilst you may be legal in Vietnam you may not be legal (policy wise) in your home country.
Tens of thousands of visitors each year rent a motorcycle/scooter and ride around Vietnam totally unlicensed. That doesn’t mean it’s legal.
What if you‘re stopped by police? In the poorer, less-developed countries, it‘s easier to bribe your way out of trouble. “Tea money“ of a few dollars and the problem disappears.
Many travelers report bluffing their way out of police checks with the official-looking International Driver‘s Permit (even though they don’t have a valid license from home to back it up). Because the policeman lets you go on your merry way – after paying the “fine” – it does not mean you are riding legally; you‘ve just avoided the law by paying a bribe. But we recommend that you don’t pay a bribe, it’s illegal.
The fact that the shop rented you the bike without asking for your license doesn‘t mean you don‘t need one. They know you‘re coming back (they have your passport), and it‘s not their responsibility if you don‘t check out the local law.
It‘s also not true that you don‘t need a license for a scooter under 50cc in Vietnam. Apart from the fact no one should be seen on a scooter with a sewing machine engine for propulsion – it‘s only some European countries that have this law.