Considering to Buy a Motorbike in Vietnam?
It may seem that buying a motorbike in Vietnam and crossing the country is an impossible task. What comes to mind? Insane traffic, crowded streets, corrupt police and then that’s about all the reason’s they have not to go.
However, with a little bit of my guidance, it is actually pretty easy.
If you decide to motorbike across Vietnam you will have a very rewarding experience. The country is so diverse in culture. There are incredibly scenic motorbike routes such as the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the Ma Pi Leng Pass, and the Hai Vann Pass from Hue to Danang. And, I haven’t even mentioned the food yet.
Where to Buy a Motorbike in Vietnam?
Ho Chi Minh City
Earlier in my travels, I was given one bit of advice for buying a motorbike in Vietnam, “find the guy next to the big red bull.” At the time I had no idea what that meant. When you arrive at the backpacker street in QL1 you will find out pretty quickly.
At the end of the main backpacker strip, there’s a huge red neon bullhead. Go to that sign, walk in the alley to the left, and meet the guy fixing used motorbikes. He has a huge stash underground with the average motorbike selling for about USD 300.
Which Motorbike Should I Buy in Vietnam?
Plain and simple, here are your options in Vietnam:
- Honda Dream, full-automatic, 100cc scooter. Price Range USD 200-300
- Honda Wave, semi-automatic 100cc motorbike. Price Range: USD 200-300
- Russian Minsk, clutch 125cc motorbike. Price Range USD 400+
- Honda Win, clutch 110-125cc motorbike. Price Range USD 300-400
Honda Wave & Honda Dream
If you want to go out looking incompetent and not looking a real biker then you can go for the Honda Wave or Dream. You get a nice comfy seat and a bike that changes gears easy. Really though, where is the fun in that? Would you really have motorbiked Vietnam or just scooter’d it?
The Russian Minsk which may look and sound awesome, but you’re digging your own grave. The Russian Mink will break down every other day even while properly maintained. Being an exotic Russian machine means the repair costs are naturally higher. You’ll probably end out spending more on repairs than on the motorbike itself.
The prime choice for best value and best riding quality when you buy a motorbike in Vietnam is, without doubt, the Honda Win. With the Honda Win, you will be accepted by fellow riders as having a real motorbike. Importantly the Honda Win will also give the extra clutch control needed to ride the mountain passes of central and northern Vietnam.
The Honda Win will break down as all motorbikes in Vietnam do. However, in the long run, the Honda Win in Vietnam is truly indestructible. Replacing a chain will cost up to $5 and even blowing up an engine will only cost $50 each time.
What to Check Before Buying a Motorbike
If you have never ridden a motorbike in Vietnam, welcome to a new type of machine. All of these motorbikes HAVE been crashed at some point. All will have been damaged. Not all will have been properly repaired. Here are a few basic checks to make before handing over your $300 and committing to buy a motorbike in Vietnam:
- Check the rear swing arm is straight, those 2 forks holding the rear wheel in place. If this is bent then your ride will sway sideways every time you pass an infamous Vietnamese rumble strip.
- Check the headlight works and is powerful. Riding at dusk or night in Vietnam is going to be dangerous enough with a full powered headlight, and you are not always going to reach your destination in daylight hours.
- Make sure your battery properly charges and holds a charge. This is the steady power supply for your headlight.
- Double check the horn works. This is your new voice on the road, and without it you won’t be getting far.
- Test the front brake before taking off too quickly. I didn’t, mine didn’t work properly, and I ended up running into a roadside stall before the deposit had even been paid while on the test run.
- Check that the motorbike has it’s Blue Card (registration papers)
Useful Tips for Motorbiking in Vietnam
After buying a decent motorbike there are a few useful accessories for your journey ahead. These items will make the journey much easier, much more rewarding and much more enjoyable:
- Bungy cords make fast work of tying down luggage loads on the motorbike. Forget about clumsy old ropes. Be sure to grab a few spares as the Vietnamese quality snaps easily.
- Wet weather gear. Although it looks expensive now, it is worth every one of these thousands of Dong once a chilly mountain range thunderstorms rocks over-head.
- Essential spares include; headlight bulbs, fuel filters, fuel line hoses, tire tubes. They will all come in handy.
- Tools; spanner, hammer, hand tire pump – all the basics.
- A decent road map of Vietnam, this is essential for exploring the back roads!
Where to Next in Vietnam?
Check out this 2 Week Vietnam itinerary which will take you from Ho Chi Minh City in the south to Hanoi in the north. Otherwise, spend a few days hanging out in Ho Chi Minh city with this guide to local attractions.
These are the basics of buying a motorbike in Vietnam and getting yourself properly set up for the journey ahead. Don’t rush, take it easy and enjoy the ride!
Tip: grab quality gear before you head to Vietnam from Bike Bandit, offering the best motorcycle parts online.
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