This is one of the most asked questions we get in our inbox.
While it seems simple enough answer, it is really hard to answer because everyone’s version of safe is different. Motorbiking in itself isn’t the safest way to travel; if you come off your bike you are definitely going to know about it. Add to that the idea of trying to ride a motorbike for the first time, in a country where road rules are non-existent, with the only rule is that the bigger you are on the road, the more speed and space you can have. That is a little what it’s like in Vietnam on a motorbike!
I guess the reason why we get asked this so often is mostly for the fear of the unknown. Riding a bike in a Asian country can be a bit daunting for some people and I hope that this article provides at least an explanation to some concerns.
The short answer is that motorbiking in Vietnam is dangerous and there are risks you take. Yet, these risks can be the same whether you are in Vietnam or not. While it is true that a number of motorbike accidents reported in Vietnam each and every year, they are always compared to statistics of other western countries. What is unknown to most of the public is the number of motorbikes on the road in comparison to our western countries if far outnumbered.
Motorbiking is a dangerous form or transportation but it can also be the best form or transportation.
Even if you are used to riding a motorbike in a Western culture, it will give you no indication of what it is like being on the road in Vietnam. It seems as though there are no rules at all, but somehow it works and there is a certain pulse to the traffic on the road and it all comes down to practise and being surrounded by so much traffic and riding to the beat of the drum. After a little while, you will find it is a lot easier than even riding at home!
The biggest concern is not your ability to control the bike, but making sure that other drivers and riders see you. The best way you can do this is to wear bright clothing and give hand signals rather than using your indicators. It sounds strange I know to use no indicators, but it works. The quicker you can adapt to how the Vietnamese do things, the better for your riding experience. Being a cautious rider may be your first instinct but this will most probably get you into more trouble. It is better to be an assertive rider and ride into gaps in the traffic when you see them. If you delay your moves in traffic you will find yourself caught up with hundreds of other bikes around waiting for you to make your move.
It is important to always cover up and have as much protection as possible when riding your bike. This can be said for both riding at home and Vietnam is no different. I would recommend getting a good quality helmet and one that has all the necessary safety sticker checks.
Vietnam isn’t the place to learn to ride a bike, so we would suggest you get some lessons before heading over. It is important to feel as confident as possible before putting yourself in a situation you are unfamiliar with. The more knowledge you have about handling a motorbike the better and it can only help you if you are put in sticky situations.
Riding a bike in Vietnam doesn’t need to be a scary activity, it can be the trip of a lifetime if you take the right precautions. You will find the roads are only busy in major cities and once you get out onto the open road you may not see another person for miles. We have put together a comprehensive Motorbiking Vietnam eBook to give you added information and also help you discovering Vietnam by motorbike. Go check it out.