Getting around Vietnam is much easier if a person can drive themselves, either in a car or on a motorbike. While it doesn’t matter what type of vehicle a person uses, most people find that motorbikes are the easiest to maneuver due to their size. Another bonus is that motorbikes are more economical fuel wise and that can save a person a lot of money in expenses.
Driving Permit in Vietnam
The first thing that everyone will want to know when driving in Vietnam is that their international driver’s license will not be enough. While no one needs to go through the process of acquiring a Vietnam driver’s license anymore, people do need local insurance in order for their license to be valid. Anyone who does not have an international driver’s license or local insurance will not be allowed to drive legally.
Basic Rules on the Roads
As soon as a person has all their legal requirements out of the way, they can hit the roads of Vietnam. However, everyone will want to be cautious when they are driving as there are not too many rules for people to follow when driving. Larger vehicles will win the battle of who goes first when squeezing into traffic, but motorbikes can often squeeze in where many vehicles cannot. No one likes to stop in this country and they will do anything to keep themselves from doing it. Therefore, it is common to see people blast through red lights, swerve around cars, and driving on the wrong side of the road.
When to use a horn?
There are many children playing in the roads in Vietnam, so drivers will need to be careful to not hit them as they are driving around. The children can enter the streets in a moment’s notice and drivers will not have much time to stop to avoid hitting them. Everyone will want to get used to honking to let people know that they are approaching. This tactic is not considered to be rude in Vietnam, instead, it is a local etiquette that is required. Livestock can also be an issue on many of the back roads, so people will need to plan on stopping when cows or other animals get in their way. If they don’t, they will end up injured along with the livestock.
What is the Speed Limit?
The one thing that people can be pulled over for in Vietnam is speeding and everyone will need to use extreme caution in the urban areas where the speed limit is fifty kilometers per hour. Anyone that is not sure of which areas are urban will want to look for the blue signs with skyscrapers on them.
Left Lane not for Motorcycles
Another thing that is illegal in Vietnam is motorcycles driving in the left lane that is dedicated to cars. Motorbikes are supposed to stay in the right lane at all times, but many people will get into the left lane to get around people. Visitors that attempt this will want to make sure that nothing is coming towards them and shouldn’t stay in that lane for any length of time.
No one checks their mirrors or blind spots when driving, because the rule of the roads in Vietnam state that people are only responsible for what is in front of them. That means that no one is at fault if they get hit from behind. Visitors may still want to check their mirrors though so that they avoid getting into any type of accident.
Always Wear a Helmet
Anyone that is planning on riding a motorbike in Vietnam will want to bring their own helmet with them as it can be too dangerous to ride without one. There are helmets available in Vietnam, but they do not offer much protection.
Watch out the dangerous practices on the roads
As people are driving in Vietnam, they will see many dangerous driving techniques including:
- Overloaded motorbikes – It is common to see people carrying too much on their motorbikes, but it is very dangerous. No one should follow these people too closely as all their stuff could fall off at any time.
- Long poles – Some people love to carry long metal poles with them as they are weaving in and out of traffic. Anyone that doesn’t pay attention to these poles can end up hitting one if they are not careful.
- Young children on motorbikes – Parents in Vietnam are always trying to get to places quickly and that means putting their children on their motorbikes. Some of these children are just babies sitting on their parent’s lap, while older children will stand somewhere on the bike. Hardly any children will be wearing helmets, and no one will want to hit any of these bikes with the kids on them.
- Flashing lights – In many countries, it is common for drivers to flash their lights to tell the other person to go first. In Vietnam, it is the opposite and always means that the person flashing the lights will be going first.
- Drunk drivers – Everyone drinks in Vietnam, so there is always going to be a ton of people driving around after enjoying a few. This is always the worst on Friday nights.
What is the condition of roads?
There are many roads that are completely dangerous in this country and some of those roads have landslides, falling rocks, and even a runaway vehicle or two. Add all that onto the potholes and muddy unsurfaced roads and people can have a major problem keeping themselves safe on the road.
Accidents happen on the roads in Vietnam all the time, but no one should plan on getting help in a timely manner. The emergency rescue system is practically non-existent, and it can take quite some time for anyone to arrive to transport the injured to the hospital.
How to prepare for the changing weather?
Everyone traveling by motorbike throughout the country will also want to be prepared for the changing weather. It can be beautiful and warm when a person leaves one area and cold and brutal when they reach another. Waterproof clothes are the best as is a mouth cover to keep dust out of a person’s mouth. All extra items can be kept in a waterproof backpack and secured to the bike via a bracket.
Motorbikes are much better at fuel economy than cars, but everyone is going to need to purchase fuel for their vehicle. Fuel can be purchased anywhere, even on the side of the road in smaller isolated areas. However, it is common for some sellers to dilute the fuel to make more money than they should. Drivers should always try to fill their tanks from a fuel station to avoid purchasing diluted fuel.
Driving in Vietnam can be a scary experience, but it can be safe as long as everyone keeps their eyes on the road and the other drivers.
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