Learning to drive in Vietnam - Motorbike lessons in Vietnam

Sep 15, 2012
G.T-Rider members consist of experienced riders. However, there are a lot of beginner riders, and even people who have never ridden a bike before searching for information from the experienced riders to help work out the best approach to buy, rent and plan their trip in Vietnam.

This article is aimed at the inexperienced and beginner riders.

Vietnam is no place for beginners, so please take your time to learn until you have plenty of experience and confidence to have a safe, enjoyable ride! For any beginner, venturing out on a big trip really is jumping in the deep end and one that should really be consider hard because of the numerous dangers involved.

If you are determined like so many other travellers to complete a trip in Vietnam by motorbike then please, please, do the following:
  • Buy a good ABS quality helmet. Better to bring your own from back home or, if you don't have the room to carry it then i would recommend you buy a Andes helmet or Osakar helmet. Both companies cater to foreigners, so it will help get a good tight fit. Under no circumstances should you buy a cheap fake helmet that the market is flooded with or if you buy a bike, don't accept an old beat up helmet from the seller that doesn't fit. Brocken bones can mend but your brain is very sensitive and difficult to mend.
  • Buy some body amor protection or at least wear long sleeves , jeans, gloves and boots. It will help protect you from the strong sun but will give you some mild protection if you have a small crash. Wearing boots and gloves are a must because in an accident, a natural reaction would be to either put your feet down to gain balance or if you come off the bike you would tend to automatically put your hands out.
  • Always respect the bike. Once your away It's easy to start gaining confidence and start racing or driving recklessly. In my experiences this is usually when a close accident accrues or even an accident happens and it can some times take that experience to learn to always respect the bike.
  • In Vietnam there is a lot happening on the roads. When ever you move lane or take a turn its essential that you check over your shoulders. Its easy to forget this, and to easy to rely on your ears and mirrors for surrounding traffic. There are many blind spots, so always cover all areas by checking your shoulders.
Learning to drive in Vietnam - Motorbike lessons in Vietnam
How to ride a Semi automatic

Vietnam is one of the countries that are best commuted by motorbike. Actually, the first thing a first-time visitor always notices is the overwhelming number of scooters on the roads and the long lineups behind a red light! To give you an idea, back home you see a few scooters a day (if the weather permits), in Vietnam there are millions on the road all year round, as this is the main affordable method of transport.

So, if you want to live here, you have two options: (1) walk/take taxes/bum rides and be inconvenienced or (2) go with the flow and ride a scooter. Now, if you are worried about how to ride one, you should know that it is not that much different from riding a bicycle and you can always have motorbike lessons in Vietnam and get the hang of it without spending a fortune.
What are the essentials when trying to learn how to ride a scooter?

1. Learn how to ride a BICYCLE in the Vietnamese traffic – Familiarising yourself with the traffic is important. As a pedestrian, things are easy. You just make sure you always walk outside (or across) the traffic flow. As a cyclist, though, you will have to learn how to manoeuvre the bicycle in and out of the flow, identify when the motorist in front of you is going to turn (you won't see much of a turn signal-instead, Vietnamese drivers slightly tilt their heads to the side), and how you can make your way on the road, where car drivers treat everyone else as second-class citizen.

2. Find a bike & Place to practice – It's best to start with a automatic scooter because scooters are lighter and slimmer (hence easier to handle) than manual motorbikes. Once you get the hang of a automatic you can move on to a Semi automatic, and finally a manual. So, having a friend that can take you someplace convenient to learn how to ride your bike is a must or you can join a BASIC TRAINING SCHOOL. There are plenty of empty roads, perfect for the occasion, in suburban districts.

3. Learn the Basics – This will be one of the easiest motorbike lessons in Vietnam! First, sit on the bike. On your right hand, you have the Front brake and throttle. If you are riding an automatic bike, you will have an extra hand brake on the left (Back brake). A fully automatic doesn't have any gears so it's just twist and go! On a Semi automatic you have gears, no clutch your left foot control the gears and your back brake is controlled by pressing your toes down on a lever with your right foot. To change gears with your left foot you click down using your toes and you go up a gear (you can go from Neutral to 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th). If you click back using your heel or toes, you go down a gear.

After learning how to drive a semi automatic, driving a manual isn't that much more difficult. Hold in the clutch and press down once with your left toe to put the bike into first gear. Hold in the clutch and click the gear up with your toe to put the bike into second gear, and so on up to the 5 or 6 gear. To put the bike into Neutral just, Downshift all the way to first gear, then a light click up will get you into neutral. Neutral is between 1st and 2nd gear.

Here are the laws that you should abide by when riding a motorbike in Vietnam:

1. You must have a driver's license to be eligible to ride a motorbike that is larger than 50cc (besides Honda Cubs, this applies to the majority of common bikes).

2. On the rare occasion police stop you (they usually don't stop foreigners), you will have to pay a small fine.

3. You must wear a helmet at all times, regardless of what you believe about the protection provided by wearing one.

4. Motorbike riders can occupy the rightmost lane. All other lanes are reserved for car drivers, although almost everybody in Vietnam rides a bike. It seems that the rules are made by car drivers.

5. No one will yield to you, unlike in other countries. So make your own way.

6. Look for the speed limit that applies to the type of road and vehicle you are riding. There is little signage, though.

7. You can't run a red light, although you will see the exact opposite more times than you can count. Also, you can't go the wrong way on a street or the wrong lane, despite the fact that you will see that happening all the time.

8. Always carry a raincoat. Rainy seasons in Vietnam are not to mess with.

Learning to drive a manual motorbike in Vietnam.
Below are two videos to help you get a better understanding how a manual bike works and how to drive it.

If travellers are seriously considering buying a motorbike in Vietnam then they should read my Article below:


When it comes to road rules Vietnam has its own unique system so best to have a read about:

Road rules in Vietnam

If you want to take lessons to learn how to drive a motorbike in Vietnam please visit the link below

Basic training school - learn how to ride a motorbike in vietnam

Chris - Flamingo Travel