With limited time and patience, getting around Vietnam by flights seems the easiest, but is definitely costlier. Besides, many of the gorgeous northern highlands don't have airports, and renting a vehicle is the best method of getting there, and the most worthwhile option. Public transport is cheaper, but many a time, foreigners find it difficult to navigate through them, and are sometimes the victim of overpriced ticket scams too. Hence, to make sure you have a smooth trip, renting a vehicle in Vietnam is the best way to get around.
So, let's get to know the details of renting a car or bike in Vietnam to help you embark on one hell of a road trip!
Renting a Car in Vietnam
Renting a car in Vietnam works in two ways ? you can rent a car with a driver, or rent a self-drive car. Tourists are advised against renting a self-drive car in Vietnam unless absolutely necessary because roads in Vietnam are extremely unsuitable. The main cities are super crowded with motorbikes and scooters leaving barely any space for cars. Even locals prefer not to drive cars here. Hence, if you're thinking of renting a car in Vietnam, try and choose the option with the driver.
Option A ? Renting a Self-drive car in Vietnam
Your home country driving license is completely invalid in Vietnam, and the process for acquiring a driver's license in Vietnam is a very complicated and time taking (7-10 days). There are many conflicting reports about this, but no solution. Hence, you have to acquire a Vietnamese driving license or convert your home country's license, both of which can be done at the Office of Transportation.
Documents required to rent a car in VietnamThe documents required to apply for or convert your existing license are:
- A copy of your passport
- A copy of your existing driver's license, with a notarized and translated version (by a public notary place)
- Three passport size photographs
- A completed application form (attach)
- Processing fee of approximately VND 100,000
- A valid visa for a period of three months (required only to apply for a new Vietnamese license, not for conversion
Option B - Renting a Car with a Driver in VietnamMost of the car rental companies in Vietnam suggest renting a car with a driver to the tourists because local drivers know the routes well and can dodge the traffic on city roads easily without much hassle. These companies offer English speaking and trustworthy drivers, so all you have to do is make the rental booking, and then just get packing.
Companies That Rent Out Cars in VietnamSome of the best companies offering car rentals, self-drive and with drivers, in Vietnam are:
- VN Tours and Car Rental
- ChaoCom Car Rental
- Green World Car Rental
Cost to Rent a Car in VietnamRenting a car in Vietnam along with a driver for hire would cost approximately VND 2,300,000 per day. This would include fuel costs and toll fees. Over that, the drivers usually expect you to feed them too. At the end of the day, car rental in Vietnam is an expensive affair, and hence you will see many foreigners sticking to buses, trains, flights or motorbikes.
Renting a Bike in Vietnam
As mentioned above, car rental might not turn out to be as great an idea as renting a bike in Vietnam. The roads in the cities and the countryside are perfectly suited for motorbikes. Bike rental shops in Vietnam often advise the tourists to start with a 100 CC bike with semi-automatic clutchless gears for a better control. All the motorbike rental shops have Japanese bikes, popular brands being Yamaha and Honda.
Cost of Renting a Bike in VietnamThe approximate daily cost of renting a motorbike in Hanoi, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh, and other Vietnamese cities, is VND 100,000 - VND 200,000. Most Vietnamese bike rental companies usually take 50% deposit and 50% balance upon collection.
General Tips While Renting a Bike in Vietnam
- When renting a bike in Vietnam, the first thing you should do is head to a mechanic, check the oil, engine, brakes and make sure all the electrics are working. Even though the renting company is expected to check all this, more often than not, they don't. So instead of having your bike stop in the middle of a country road without mechanics, it's better to take no risk from the beginning.
- At the rental shop, make sure to click images of the existing damage, like scratches on the bike.
- Take down all the details of the shop and the shopkeeper.
- Make sure the gas tank of the motorbike is full before renting. Sometimes the shopkeepers will sell it with the gas tank almost empty and expect you to pay for your own refill.
- Carry ponchos or windcheaters.
- Ask the shopkeeper to provide you with a helmet, or buy one.
Companies That Rent Out Bikes in VietnamSome of the best companies offering bike rental services in Vietnam:
- Rent A Bike
- James Motorbikes
- Tigit Motorbikes
- Saigon Scooter Centre
- Offroad Vietnam Motorbike Adventures
Insurance Required While Renting a Bike in VietnamYou need the following insurance policies to be fully covered while riding a bike in Vietnam:
- Personal Medical Insurance: As mentioned above, it is very difficult to obtain a driving license in Vietnam. Therefore, you cannot buy a personal medical insurance policy in Vietnam. Luckily, you can buy one from various websites including Lonely Planet and World Nomads, which just requires your country's motorbike driving license.
- Third Party Insurance: You can buy this in Vietnam for around VND 100,000.
- An insurance in Vietnam is required only when you're riding a motorbike with a capacity of over 100 CC. So if you don't want to go through the insurance hassle, it is advisable to rent a bike in Vietnam with a capacity lower than that.
Inclusions and Exclusions While Renting a Vehicle in VietnamWhen you rent a vehicle in Vietnam, the services provided by various rental shops include the vehicle, initial gas refill that would last you for a while, helmet and a driver (if you choose that service). However, the services strictly do not include any insurance mentioned above and the licence and registration costs. The tourists are expected to manage the insurance on their own.
All this being said, it's a popular option for tourists to choose flights, buses or trains as to avoid the license and insurance complication. However, there are still many tourists who love the idea of an adventure of the cross-country road trip, and we try to make renting a car or bike in Vietnam easy for them.