Vietnam is a jam-packed country with a lot of sights to see. With this in mind, it is assured that you will need some kind of transport while you’re in the country. With the two main cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City over 1600km apart many travelers take their time and plan a road trip around this country, so they don’t miss anything as they make their way down the country.
Once you’re in Vietnam, like many countries, it is illegal to drive without a license. For cars, you will find it very difficult to find someone to lend you are a car without the proper documents.
Driving a car yourself isn’t really an option for people who are staying in the country short-term. You can acquire a Vietnamese driving license or convert your home countries license which can take some time (7-10) days. Both are acquiring and converting can be done at the Office of Transportation in Hanoi.
For a new or converted license you’ll need:
> A copy of your passport, existing drivers license (notarized and translated), along with some spare passport photographs.
> An application form with fee (100,000d approx).
> For new licenses – a visa for at least 3-months.
Your best option is probably hiring a driver if you plan on doing lots of traveling.
More expensive than normal taxiing this service gives you the option of stopping at multiple locations and visiting different landmarks. This type of renting is most appropriate for trips around the city. Many rental companies in Vietnam suggest this option as local drivers know how to handle the countries difficult roads and traffic. Almost all companies will be able to offer trustworthy, English-speaking drivers, so it’s easy to communicate your needs.
Renting a car with a driver will cost approximately 2,300,000d per day. This includes costs like fuel and toll fees. Also, remember it’s typically expected for you to provide some food for your driver as well for long journeys. Overall for long journey car rental costs can add up.
A couple of good companies to book with are:
Alternatively, Grab is a popular app in Vietnam used ubiquitously by expats, after Grab bought out Uber. The Grab app itself has two options. First, there is the standard taxi point-to-point service – but there is also an option to rent a driver by the hour.
In Vietnam, it’s technically against the law to ride a bike without a license. However, in reality, this doesn’t stop the vast majority of travelers from finding vendors who will rent them a bike for no more than a few dollars a day.
Many tourists see this as an option for traveling visits of a few days or up to a week as the Vietnamese roads are well suited for bike trips. Be aware that the renter will probably expect a deposit and the name of the hotel you are staying at.
A few tips for people renting a bike:
> Walking down almost any street in a tourist area and you’ll find plenty of vendors willing to rent you a bike.
> Take pictures of the bike before you set off, so you have proof of its condition.
> Make sure you know how everything works – like lights and locks.
> Keep a raincoat handy for Vietnam’s unpredictable weather.
> Take out travel insurance – Vietnam’s roads can get very hectic especially for the uninitiated.
At the end of the day, a lot of tourists also choose to take public transport. Flights, trains, buses, and even boats are all options available for getting around the country at extremely affordable prices. However if like me and you’ve seen the ‘Top Gear’ Vietnam road trip – then traveling by car/bike is the best way to make a memorable and personal trip.