Do I Need A License To Ride A Motorbike In Vietnam?

Jan 30, 2020
Whether you’re in Southeast Asia or anywhere in the world for that matter, the simple answer is yes. You do need a license to ride a motorbike in Vietnam.


Do I need a license to ride a motorbike in Vietnam? The answer is yes.

Sometimes your home country motorcycle license will do, sometimes the local police will insist you need an International Driver’s Permit too, and in some cases, you’ll need to sit and pass a local test for a local license.

In the countries where an International Driver‘s Permit is accepted, it allows you to drive/ride the same class of vehicle covered by your home country license.

So, if you’re licensed ONLY to drive a car at home, you are NOT covered to ride a motorcycle or scooter just because you have an international permit. Similarly, if your motorcycle license restricts you to a certain engine size, you cannot jump on a pimped-up scooter with a throbbing engine. It’s up to you to make sure you are licensed for the type of motorbike (or moped) you hire.

Some travelers openly admit to ticking the “motorcycle“ box on their permit even though they don‘t have a valid license at home. That might fool the traffic cop who pulls you over in Phnom Penh, but it won‘t cut it with your travel insurance.

Plus, if you have absolutely no training and no experience at handling a two-wheeled machine at home, what makes you think you‘ll magically acquire those skills in a foreign country where the roads are shoddy, the vehicles dodgy, the congestion is mind-boggling and the road rules boil down to “might equals right“? Seriously, Ho Chi Minh City is NOT the place to learn to ride. Thailand and Vietnam have shocking road accident fatality statistics, among the highest per capita in the world. The other regional nations aren‘t far behind.

But if you DO have a valid motorcycle license from home, the International Driver‘s permit will be accepted in Bali, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. But get the license before you leave home, the permits are not valid in the country of issue – so you can‘t apply from within Thailand for a permit to use in Thailand.

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