Should I rent or buy a motorbike in Vietnam?
This isn’t as easy as a decision as it sounds, there are many factors to consider. We’ll discuss those as we progress through the article.
I went through weeks of reading and watching Youtube vids until I felt like I’d gathered enough information about the subject to make an informed decision about riding a motorbike in Vietnam, now I needed to make an informed decision as if to buy or rent and what kind of motorbike I would traverse Vietnam with.
Vietnam has some of the most unforgiving roads and routes that can be ridden recreationally and choosing a well-built machine to conquer these routes was very important to me.
Both Are Good Options
I took both options into consideration when I was doing my research about a Vietnam motorbike tour.
I wanted to get the most “adventure” out of my trip but I also didn’t want to be stuck on the side of the road between villages after dark.
There are pros and cons to both buying and renting a motorbike in Vietnam. Many of those depend on if you’re in-country just for a touristic motorbike tour or are you in-country long term.
I’ll be mainly covering buying or renting a motorbike as a tourist. As every expat’s reason for being in the country long term is different and their need for a motorbike in Vietnam will be too.
If you do plan on being in-country longterm and want a first-hand account of the pros and cons of buying or renting a motorbike or motorcycle in Vietnam please continue reading as I’m sure there is some useful information to be had if you’re looking to learn about Vietnam motorbike sales and rentals.
Buying A Motorbike In Vietnam
A very popular option for travelers is to buy a motorbike in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh and ride it either north or south respectively and then sell the motorbike once they are finished riding it.
The idea here is to pay nothing or very little but the maintenance of the motorbike by selling it at the end of your trip.
It’s a very good way to save some money while touring Vietnam by motorbike. It may not be the easiest to sell though depending on where you end your trip. (More on that in the “Selling A Motorbike In Vietnam” section.
A downfall to this approach is the quality of motorbike you choose to buy. There are many different makes and models of motorbikes to buy on the streets of Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh, etc..
Buying yourself a royal piece of crap off the street that leaves you stranded on the side of the road between villages after dark is a high possibility if you don’t know about motorbike mechanics or what makes a good motorbike good and a bad motorbike bad.
Even going with a “reputable shop” can be risky if due diligence isn’t followed. If going this route do plenty of online and social media research. There are many groups on Facebook dedicated to Vietnam Motorbike Sales.
Theses groups are usually really spammy in nature but there are ample motorbikes to look at and you can talk to the owner or the shop mechanic to get an idea of what kind of prices motorbikes go for in each city.
Once you look to purchase your motorbike there’s a good chance that you’ll have your choice of many bikes and for fair prices as well. It’s always good if you’re in a group to look for travelers or shops selling “package deals”.
Sometimes you can really stretch your money out this way if traveling with a group or linking up with travelers from the hostels.
Many travelers travel together and will be selling their motorbikes at the same time.
This is a great opportunity to find some seriously good deals because these travelers don’t want to leave the country empty-handed and since they can’t take their motorbikes with them they may be willing to take a lesser amount than advertised for their motorbikes.
If I’ve learned anything about traveling around Southeast Asia is that you better try and barter your price down on most things in most instances or you’re going to pay too much.
This goes the same for when purchasing motorbikes from a Vietnamese motorbike shop or an “eager to sell” backpacker about to fly to Thailand or Laos in a few days.
Buying A Motorbike In Vietnam Checklist
- Check Headlights and Turn signals – You’ll want all your lights working at all times even if some Vietnamese choose not to use such devices…
- Check Front and Back Brakes – 70% of your stopping is with your front brakes. Be sure not to neglect the rears because balancing out the momentum of your stop between the front and back breaks will save “wear & tear” on your front breaks but it’s also safer.
- Check for smooth shifting – When buying an automatic or manual transmission motorbike make sure the transmission shifts smoothly and there isn’t any “play” in the shifter or clutch.
- Does the motorbike shimmy, shake, or pull? – If the motorbike feels wobbly or shaky I would move on to the next one in most cases. Bearings and bushings can go bad quickly on wheels and axles leaving you in a very dangerous position in some very dangerous places.
- Maintenance Overhaul – When buying a motorbike off the street it’s wise to give it a “tune-up”. Oil change, sparkplug change, chain tightening, tire, and brake maintenance should be serviced or at the very least checked out and “Ok’d” for travel.
- Blue Card – When buying a motorbike in Vietnam make sure yours comes with a “blue card”. It’s the motorbike’s registration and will be asked for when pulled over by the Vietnamese police. More than likely yours won’t have your information on it unless you’ve bought your motorbike from a dealer.
If you’re only in the country for a month or two, you shouldn’t really worry about the details on your Blue Card. Just make sure you have it if you’re pulled over, it will make the experience a little smoother if the police ask for it.
A Blue card is absolutely necessary. Especially, if you plan to cross the border to Cambodia or Laos.
Which Type Of Motorbike?
Choosing the right bike for your Vietnam motorbike tour is a very important decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
There are fake Chinese Honda’s, genuine Honda’s, copy Honda’s, Yamaha’s, Detech’s, Kawasaki’s, and probably many more.
The thing is you can motorbike in Vietnam with any of these bikes but some may produce a better experience or ride than another. It all depends on what kind of adventure you’re looking for.
Some people love the thrill and experience of having to source out the local roadside motorbike mechanic halfway between destinations for a quick engine rebuild or chain tightening and others might prefer regular maintenance on their Honda or Yamaha at a respective dealership or shop.
If you really plan to motorbike Vietnam I suggest watching every video on Youtube that you can of first-hand travel vlog experience of people on cheap Honda copies or even just old worn-out Honda’s and Yamaha’s. It can be a grueling adventure if you get a lemon!
Most of the cheap “Honda Win 110cc copies” don’t have oil filters. This requires you to obtain an oil change every 200 to 400 km depending on the motorbike’s dust intake. It’s good to change the oil frequently on these bikes or you just may blow a seal or throw a rod and piston.
Doing your due diligence and learning a little about motorbikes before coming to Vietnam to purchase one off the street or from a fellow traveler will take you a long way in ensuring safety and assurance that you won’t be caught buying a piece of junk and later stuck on the side of the road between villages after dark.
Automatic or Manual???
This is an easy choice for most especially in Vietnam with all the different choices of motorbikes you could choose from to ride.
If you’re experienced with motorbikes and manual transmissions and that’s what you want to ride, then go for it!
But if you’re a new rider or just learning. I wouldn’t use Vietnam as a place to learn how to use a manual transmission motorbike.
Choose Automatic over Manual motorbike if a new rider – Automatic motorbikes are easier to ride for beginners but can lack horsepower.
I suggest choosing an automatic motorbike if you’ve never ridden a manual transmission bike.
Selling A Motorbike In Vietnam
This could be easier depending on what city you decide to call it quits in.
If you start in Saigon and end in Hanoi it might be harder to sell your bike and IF you do sell it, it might just go for a lower price than what you paid in Saigon.
This has to do with the “supply & demand” of the route. Hanoi has an abundance of used backpacker motorbikes for sale because the Saigon to Hanoi route is the most popular.
Regardless of what city you end your trip in selling your motorbike is about getting it seen by the right people at the right time.
Start advertising it in the multiple Facebook groups dedicated to selling motorbikes in Vietnam 5 or 6 days before you are to arrive in your departing city. You can also put an ad on Craigslist. As to how effective this still is, I’d love to know.
The goal is to make sure any backpacker that’s searching the likely places on the “web” sees your motorbike and knows you’re ready to sell.
Take this one step further once you arrive at your departing cities hostel and start selling it by “word of mouth” in the hostels, bars and cafes. This is where you’ll find real people ready to make a deal. Don’t be afraid to get to know your fellow travelers.
Stay persistant and keep your ears open for potential leads. If all else fails and your departure is coming you can always speak to the local motorbike shop and see what they will offer to buy your motorbike for.
This should only be used as a last resort because they are more than likely going to offer you a very low price because you have no choice at this point but to take their offer.
Take their offer or take nothing?
I know what I would do.
So when selling a motorbike in Vietnam start early and try anything. You’re fellow travelers are your best bet. Start with Facebook and then hit the streets once your in the city.
Rent A Motorbike In Vietnam
It took a couple of months of research when preparing for my first motorbike in Vietnam trip before I decided I was going to rent a motorbike in Vietnam instead of buying one off the streets.
I had watched countless hours of YouTube videos of kids buying junk motorbikes off Facebook and from random travelers in hostels and then proceeding to have a horrible experience trying to ride them across Vietnam.
At a certain point, I realized that maybe I didn’t want to be broken down or at the mechanics every other day, so I started looking for an alternative.
I had heard about motorbike rental companies that had offices in more than one city so that you could pick up your motorbike in Hanoi and drop it off in Da Nang or pick up in Da Nang and drop off in Saigon or vice versa.
Renting a newer, serviced name branded motorbike appealed to me much more than purchasing a random motorbike from Facebook or other travelers and hoping I chose right and not buy a piece of junk that would leave me on the side of the road between villages after dark.
I also didn’t want to deal with trying to sell a motorbike in whatever city I decided to end my trip in. I wanted my journey to be as “spur of the moment” as possible and this style of rental seemed to suit my style of travel. I only planned to be riding for a couple of weeks and didn’t want to set dates, times, and locations.
Choosing The Right Company
Like I’ve mention in this article a couple of times before is that I probably watched 100’s of hours of motorbike in Vietnam videos on YouTube when researching my motorbike Vietnam tour.
During this time I kept running across informative motorbike in Vietnam videos from Tigit Motorbikes in Saigon, Vietnam.
The main guy is named Jon and I’m pretty sure it’s his company but he was the one to convince me (through video) that to rent a motorbike in Vietnam was the best choice for me for that trip. Their Youtube channel is called the same “Tigit Motorbikes”.
His YouTube channel is quite informative and even if you’re not renting a motorbike from Tigit you should check out some of their videos because you’re guaranteed to pick up some useful knowledge about motorbikes in Vietnam and different routes that you can choose while traversing the country on your motorbike Vietnam tour.
He has video reviews and rides of each motorbike with commentary as he rides them through Saigon traffic.
This was extremely helpful when deciding what motorbike to rent as I’m a taller rider and Jon is much taller than me so I knew that I would be comfortable on a bike if he was also.
Why I chose Tigit to Motorbike in Vietnam
Once I stumbled upon the Tigit Motorbike YouTube channel and website I started learning more about what to expect when buying and renting a motorbike in Vietnam and as to why I might want to rent over buying one.
I’m not 25 and I’m definitely not 30 years old anymore and I wanted a bike that I could count on not to leave me stranded when I set off for the days ride that morning.
I was convinced that renting a Newer and Regularly serviced motorbike was for me. I liked the idea of renting a newer Yamaha or Honda and not worrying about changing the oil every day or two depending on how hard and far I’m riding.
Tigit offered two motorbikes for rent that I liked and thought would be a great choice for my motorbike Vietnam tour.
I settled on a choice between a Honda Winner 150cc and a Yahama Exciter 150cc. Each is manual transmission motorbikes and can handle most roads and some lite offroad too.
I didn’t have any preference of one over the other but once I started learning about each I decided that I liked the idea of there being Honda dealerships and shops in many cities across Vietnam.
There are many Yahama dealerships and shops too but I’m just more familiar with the Honda brand I assume is why I went with the Honda Winner over the Yahama Exciter.
I remember watching Tigit’s videos about each of the motorbikes and discussing with my father about the pros and cons of each.
Here’s my quick list of why I chose Tigit Motorbikes for my motorbike in Vietnam tour.
- Easy pick up and return
- Quality of Motorbikes
- Cost and Ease of Maintenance (on newer maintained motorbikes)
- Expert Travel Route Resources (tigitmotorbikes.com)
- I felt like they were there to help if I got in a jam*
*Let me elaborate on that last bullet point real quick.
They rent out 400 different motorbikes at one time all over the country of Vietnam. They have many contacts around Vietnam if your bike breaks down and you’re in a jam. They will help you.
This quote comes directly from their website “Wide coverage with contacts countrywide to deal with almost any situation. There is nothing we have not seen or fixed when it comes to travelers on motorbikes!”
This just means if for some crazy reason your newer, well-maintained motorbike breaks down on the side of the road and you can’t fix it, that they will make sure that you are helped in one way or another.
This is a definite reassurance that you’re just not going to get with every motorbike rental company out there and that made a big difference in my decision.
I never thought I’d need that kind of help and I didn’t but just knowing that help is there made my choice to motorbike in Vietnam and my choice to choose Tigit that much easier.
So In Conclusion
Choosing to do a motorbike in Vietnam tour got me a lot of crazy looks the first time I told many of my friends and family but I knew after all the research and watching of YouTube vids and charting out different routes that this trip would be one of the most exciting and fun things I may ever do so doing it the right way was of utmost importance.
Choosing the most comfortable and “safe for you” motorbike option is an extremely important decision if you’re going to have a fun trip. It can be the difference between life and death too.
Do your research and find the best option for you. Tigit’s motorbike rental service was perfect for my motorbike in Vietnam trip but that might not be the same for you.
This isn’t a paid post or affiliate spiel for Tigit. I just have first-hand knowledge of their services and quality of motorbikes and thought this guide could be useful for someone who is starting their research on a motorbike in Vietnam tour.
So when deciding to rent or buy a motorbike in Vietnam, I suggest following your heart and dreams because all I can do is hope this post added a little bit of substance to the conversation and maybe taught you a thing or two about a motorbike in Vietnam journey.
If you’re interested in Learning How I Save Big $$ Quickly for World Travel then please click here!
If you want to see what a real motorbike in Vietnam trip looks like then check out my video below!!
It’s jammed packed full of amazing Waterfall views and a near death experience or two!
It’s an experience you’ll never forget…
I love to Motorbike In Vietnam!
Check it out!