You may wonder what’s the cheapest way for an adventure on two wheels to start with? Definitely, that’s self-guided motorbike tours. You don’t have to pay all upfront but cost builds up along the way. At least you don’t have to pay for a local guide. However, you need to manage everything on your own.
If you love motorbiking with a sense of fun and an unguided adventure on your own, you have come to the right place. Enduro bikes, motorcycles, and riding gear are available for independent (self-guided) riders to hire on a daily basis. They are in good working conditions. All rentals should be reserved and paid with a deposit before you pick up the bike(s).
One Way Motorbike Hire?
We have not offered one-way rentals yet. Many clients asked if we could deliver or collect bike(s) in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City – HCMC) and rode the same route like the “Top Gear Vietnam Special” show and sadly the answer is “no”. All rentals start and end in Hanoi where our only office is located. Free advice and tips are available when you pick up the bike(s) from our Hanoi office. We share our passion for this truly amazing country and getting lost is also part of an adventure. Even a flat tyre/tire will give you a chance to have many more new friends and some clients were sad because they had no puncture!
Who Should Do Self-guided Motorbike Tours?
Since December 2006, Offroad Vietnam has helped with over 400 self-guided trips (about 1,200 riders). They all saw what they planned to explore and most had it beyond their expectations. Check out their words about our services, these are just a few customers who sent their thoughts while many customers posted their trip reports on riders’ forums across the Internet.
Novice riders or beginners are not recommended to hire our bikes. Even after you paid a deposit, there would be no refund if you couldn’t ride our bike(s). Riding lessons are not available to self-guided tour clients but guided tour customers only.
The bikes we provide were all made by Japanese Honda in Japan, Indonesia, China, and Vietnam. They all come with an electric start and some have a kick start. Usually, kick start is an option on smaller bikes.
What To Know
Riding in Vietnam is very dangerous, just after India. It’s not only crazy traffic but tricks some dishonest locals can play. These tips are provided by our clients who had real experiences to tell. Please save this page for your reference.
To rent our bikes, you need to send a rental deposit before collecting the motorcycle(s) / motorbike(s) / scooter(s). There is no deposit refund if you cancel the booking or after you pick up the rented vehicle(s).
To have an idea of our tour prices, please click here.
“Only use safe hotel parking. Fill up from petrol stations where the gas is less likely to have been watered down.” According to Iain Stewart, 2009 Lonely Planet co-author who had the gas tank emptied overnight and even had water filled in. Our advice is never to fill up your bike(s) when you end the day, only fill up in the morning when you start the ride.
Bike Service & Repairs
You need to check and adjust chain tension every day in the morning. Oiling the chain should be done every day. A local mechanic can be useful and the cost is about 20,000 VN Dongs (1$US) per bike to have the chain adjusted and oiled. In case you don’t oil the chain and sprockets or break them a full charge of a new set (30$US for XL or GL motorbikes or 80$US for XR250 dirt bikes) will be applied.
When your rented bike(s) has/have any problem on the road, first check the ignition & fuel. In case you can’t fix the bike(s), bring the bike(s) to a local mechanic shop and call us so we can give the instructions. If the bike(s) is/are not ridable or the problem is not possible to fix then we will find a way to replace the bike(s). Popular places we can send replaced bike(s) are usually anywhere 200km from Hanoi and even in Sapa, but we do have a problem in remote areas like Muong Lay, Lai Chau, Dien Bien Phu, Ha Giang, etc. We will try our best to find a solution for you.
Most of the mechanics on the roads are honest but some are very dishonest. Keep an eye on what they are doing. Poor quality or generic Chinese parts are plentiful and they can change parts anytime. One of our clients had the original CDI unit changed, then the replaced CDI exploded as it’s not the right type and finally they painted the original one to make it look “new” and installed it back on the bike. Other Chinese parts they can change are usually the wheels, shocks, plastic parts, seat, carburettor, brakes, etc., and if time allows even the inside of the engine!
Paperwork & Tips On Self-Guided Motorbike Tours
Useful words, phrases, and terminology are recommended to print because they help communicate with local people or mechanics. They are extremely useful as no mechanic speaks good English and it’s sometimes hard to explain the problem(s). If fonts display correctly, you can download a pdf file here.
Basic words and phrases
Offroad Vietnam’s simple troubleshoot
1st page bike terminology
2nd page bike terminology
3rd page bike terminology
4th page bike terminology
Navigation for self-guided motorbike tours
GPS works in Vietnam, please check with your dealer about the necessary software and/or updates. In fact, navigation is one of the most important things for self-guided motorbike tours. Luckily, a broadband Internet connection is available almost everywhere and you can find a public Internet cafe easily. Surprisingly, the cost of using broadband Internet is quite cheap (1$US = 4-5 hours). Moreover, many hotels offer free Wifi. Electricity is also available nationwide, however, there can be a shortage in summer and power-cut is common between May and August (luckily, not normally at night!).
First, none of the foreign licenses is valid in Vietnam, including your country license. There are conflicting reports about this but the reality is unfortunately not good news.
However, the good news is IDP (international driving permit) is now valid in Vietnam from August 1st, 2016 with the 46/2016/ND-CP decree. You can purchase an insurance policy easily when you have an IDP. Please also bring your home country driving license with a motorbike endorsement.
In case you have no IDP or Vietnamese driving license, the police rarely stop you checking license unless you do something wrong. It’s more to do with personal medical insurance that we cover below.
This is another very important thing for planning self-guided motorbike tours.
We don’t require any sort of license to book a trip but it’s more about insurance. Most insurance companies don’t provide a policy that covers a motorbike tour accident if you don’t have a Vietnamese driving license. Sadly, it’s impossible to get a Vietnamese license with a tourist visa. You need a business visa of at least three months, a work permit, a sponsor company, and a valid passport. All these documents should be translated into Vietnamese at a notary office. Then, a Vietnamese license is available after 7 or 10 days. It’s just too complicated and time-consuming. With just a normal personal medical insurance you will still be covered about 19 hours a day when not riding because we only ride about 5 hours a day on average. Some companies like CHI Insurance, World Nomads, and Allianz didn’t require a local driving license and covered larger displacements.
Even Vietnam doesn’t recognize any foreign license but take it easy you will be ok. We don’t need a license to join our tours or hire our bikes. More details are at this link.
Vietnam is still a developing country (or a third-world country). Therefore, standards are different (lower) than in Western countries. In fact, some people complained about hard mattresses in hotels or small and simple restaurants. Please don’t use Western standards for a country like Vietnam. We saw a sign in Thailand and it said “Thailand is still a developing country and you will have a different experience. If you want to feel at home then stay home.” Please be aware of this fact, especially if this is your first time in Vietnam.
Restaurants may look small and simple but the food is great. In reality, they offer authentic Vietnamese food that is normally not available in bigger restaurants or hotels. On our motorbike tours, we support local businesses and local restaurants offer things of real Vietnam.
Road Rules For Self-Guided Motorbike Tours Of Vietnam
The traffic looks very crazy at first, but it’s not that bad. It’s like a river and when you are in it, you have to flow. The first rule is no rules.
Motorcyclists in Vietnam become more aware of the traffic laws but you couldn’t say they always follow the rules. If you want to come back in one piece and have an enjoyable motorbike tour in Vietnam, please check the rules out.