Renting and Driving a Scooter in Vietnam: Everything You Need to Know

Considering renting a scooter in Vietnam and driving it around the city? Here’s what you need to know!

Like many parts of southeast Asia, Vietnam practically runs on scooters (aka motorbikes). While of course regular cars do exist, scooters zip through the city en masse, weaving between the cars (and each other), and enjoy what seemed like practically no traffic rules*.

*There are actually rules, and although they seem to be rarely enforced, you can get pulled over.

We rented a scooter and drove around Vietnamese cities three times, and had an absolute blast doing it. It’s something I would definitely recommend – with a few caveats. And, if you decide scootering yourself sounds like more than you’re up for, no worries, I have several recommendations for exciting scooter tours at the end of the post.

Let’s get into everything you need to know about renting and driving a scooter in Vietnam.

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Renting a Scooter in Vietnam: Where, How, and How Much It Costs

Each time we rented a scooter, we rented from the hotel we were staying at, or from a hotel nearby.

In Sapa, we rented a scooter when we stayed at Homestay 715. We paid 60,000 dong for a half day use. Now, if that sounds like a lot, you should realize that it’s about 25,000 dong to $1. Less than $3 for a half-day rental? Much better.

In Ninh Binh, we again rented a scooter from our hotel, Greenland Hotel. This beautiful hotel also offers free bicycle use, and we biked part of the day and scootered part of the day. We paid about 40,000 dong for a few hours with the scooter; gas included.

In Ho Chi Minh City, we rented a scooter from the Hai Nam Boutique Hotel, which was just literally across the street from the Bon Ami Hotel, where we were staying. We paid 250,000 dong for a full day. (The big city was clearly more expensive, but $10 was still definitely worth it.)

In all of these cities, you can also find official scooter rental shops to get a scooter for the day. If you want to reserve one ahead of time, these can be a good option. However, it is fairly likely that your hotel will have a scooter to rent, or that they will be able to point you to a spot nearby where you can rent a scooter.

We always had to provide our passport when renting the scooter. Plan to pay in cash, not credit card. You may need to leave some collateral for the scooter (the only place that required this was in Ho Chi Minh City, where we could choose to leave a passport or $100 as a guarantee of sorts).

Note: Oftentimes when people will say “bike” when they are talking about scooters.

What Do You Need to Rent a Scooter in Vietnam?

We were able to rent a scooter with just our passport – we didn’t need an international driver’s license.

However, everyone did want to see our passport.

Technically, you must have a Vietnamese license to rent a scooter in Vietnam. However, no one checks this and it is a law that is pretty much ignored. Note that if you get into a scooter accident, though, your home insurance will likely not cover you, and even travel insurance will not cover a scooter accident if you are not carrying a Vietnamese license, so you are accepting some risk.

About the Scooters in Vietnam

Generally, people are driving moped-type scooters. Rarely did we see anyone on a true motorcycle.

Scooters are automatic transmission and can easily fit 2 people on them. We had a scooter while we were in college, so we have experience with driving motorbikes, but truly, it’s not hard, and you really don’t need prior experience to do it. It’s literally just a “turn the throttle and go” type of situation.

You must wear a helmet when renting and driving a scooter in Vietnam. This is non-negotiable and everyone does it.

Pedestrians Crossing the Street or Walking Along the Road

One fun (read: insanely crazy) part of visiting Vietnam, whether you drive a scooter or not, is the way that pedestrians and vehicles interact. Pedestrians literally just step out into oncoming traffic and then vehicles and pedestrians just weave their way around each other.

Even though it looks insane, and feels terrifying the first time you do it, somehow it all seems to work out and pedestrians apparently aren’t mowed down by vehicles every day. 🤷🏻‍♀️

So, when you’re a motorbike-driver, you’ll need to pay attention to these pedestrians, knowing that they will just cross the street when they’re ready and you need to flow around them.

Driving a Motorbike in Vietnam’s Big Cities

While traffic lights aren’t super common, Saigon had them the most. Also, note the big load on the scooter in front of us. Scooters will often carry significant cargo around town.

Scootering in Ho Chi Minh City was an experience – in fact, some of our family who have traveled to Vietnam previously thought we were a little crazy for actually doing it. We found it to be an exhilarating way to experience the city, especially since several places we wanted to visit were not within walking distance.

There is a TON of scooter traffic in the bigger cities of Vietnam. When there is a red light, all the scooters work their way in between the cars to the very front of the line, and then lead the pack out when the light turns green. Turn signals are not a thing – you just merge and turn.

There’s definitely a sense of “everyone just goes”, and you just kind of work your way around each other, without having specific rules about merging and taking turns.

If you need to merge over quickly and in a more direct way, you can signal by sticking your hand down and out and at an angle from your body.

If you’re coming up on another scooter, pedestrian, or car and you are going to pass them, do a quick little honk or double honk. This is a courtesy to let other people know that you’re approaching, and everyone does it in Vietnam. (Honking is really the soundtrack of Vietnamese cities!)

While the only big city we scootered in was Ho Chi Minh City, I will say that the scooter traffic in Hanoi is even more crazy, particularly in the Old Quarter. There are almost no stoplights or stop signs in the Old Quarter, and practically every intersection is un-regulated.

Scooters literally just enter the intersections from all directions at the same time, and they literally just beep and weave their way through. It was really wild to watch, and if you’re scootering in Vietnam, be prepared to just enter intersections with other people and work your way around. Although, not busses. Busses don’t stop for anyone.

If this feels a little too crazy for you, then I’d recommend either scootering in the countryside, or going on a scooter tour in the big cities. Click here to jump to my scooter tour recommendations!

Driving a Scooter in Vietnam’s Countryside

Scootering in the countryside (e.g. in Ninh Binh or Sapa or outside of Hoi An), is incredibly more laidback than scootering in the city. There is waaaaaaaaayyyyy less traffic, and even in the towns, there aren’t hoards of scooters.

If you want to try scootering in Vietnam but are a little nervous about the logistics of navigating the heavy traffic, scootering in the countryside is a great place to start. In fact, our first time scootering around Vietnam was in these country areas, and it was helpful to ease into the experience.

Read More: How to Take a Day Trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh and Everything You Need to Know about Trekking in Sapa

Parking Your Motorbike

You’ll need to figure out parking when renting a scooter in Vietnam

Whether you’re driving in the city or in the countryside of Ninh Binh, you will need to pay for parking when arriving at different locations. (Although, interestingly, we did not have to pay for parking in Sapa).

You’ll notice in the cities that there are scooters parked on the sidewalks everywhere. Sometimes the scooters take up practically the entire sidewalk, requiring you to walk on the street!

In Ho Chi Minh City, we paid for parking at every spot we stopped, whether it was at a temple or pagoda, a restaurant, or near a market.

Practically anywhere we wanted to stop, there was a parking attendant around who runs their mini sidewalk “parking lot” and watches over the scooters.

We paid anywhere from 4000 dong (17 cents USD) to 15,000 dong (60 cents USD) for parking.

Scootering When It Starts Raining

After a rainstorm in Ho Chi Minh City

As a tropical country, Vietnam can often be rainy. And when it’s raining, people are still out on their scooters!

Most people in Vietnam have these really awesome, extra long ponchos that they can drape over the front and back of the scooter, protecting them from the rain. In the picture above, notice the guy on the left of the picture wearing a green helmet and a blue and white poncho – you can see how this extra long poncho works.

Ask about where the poncho is located when you rent the scooter, as they are usually included – you never know when you might need one.


I would highly recommend that you have a solid way to navigate and good access to maps as you’re motorbiking around Vietnam. For this, I recommend two different options:

The first is to download offline maps. This is super easy, takes just a couple of minutes, and gives you access to maps, navigation, and your location even if you have zero cell service or data.

Read Next: How to Download Offline Google Maps

The second option is to have good international data so you can access your maps if they aren’t downloaded. I highly recommend buying an e-sim card from Airalo to get very fast and very cheap data throughout the world. It’s extremely helpful when you’re in a foreign country to be able to access maps, apps, and the internet as needed when traveling to new places.

Since Matthew and I were together on the scooter, we usually had the person in back have their phone out periodically to check our location on maps and give directions. Try to keep your phone in front of your body so it’s not easily snatched. Unfortunately drive-by thefts of phones are somewhat common in Vietnam.

We also had these wrist lanyards attached to our phones so that we didn’t inadvertently drop the phone. It just helped us feel more secure.

Gas Stations

Normally when you rent a car, the gas can is full when you pick it up and you’re asked to bring it back at full.

When renting a scooter in Vietnam, sometimes the gas can wasn’t all the way full and we had to find a gas station pretty quickly. Other times it was full, and we did need to return it full. Either way, we had to get gas a couple times, and you almost certainly will too.

It’s not too difficult to find gas stations in the cities and you should be able to find something near you just by searching for “gas stations” in maps.

The gas stations themselves are a bit different than what you would encounter in the US or western Europe. There are usually a couple of gas pumps, but they are operated by a gas attendant – you do not pump your own gas. There’s not usually an obvious line to get your gas pumped, all the scooters just gather around the pumps and wait for a turn.

Plan to pay the attendant in cash and for it to be between 50,000 and 100,000 dong to fill the motorbike tank.

Love the Idea of Scootering in Vietnam, but Not Sure If You Want to Drive Yourself?

Scooter tours are a great way to have the thrilling experience of scootering in Vietnam without actually, you know, doing the scootering yourself.

You can book a scooter tour as a group, where you are driving but someone is leading you, or you can book a more one-on-one experience, where you’re on the back of a scooter and your guide/driver takes you around to the sites of the city.   

Here are several scooter tours that we would recommend:


This Full Day Small Group Scooter Tour takes you around to the villages and viewpoints around Sapa, accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide. You’ll learn about the culture of the region while riding through the countryside on your own scooter.


This Half Day Motorbike Tour takes you around to many of the top attractions in Hanoi, to some lesser known spots, and to meet and chat with some locals. This small group tour ends with a stop at a restaurant and for the popular egg coffee.

This Private Motorbike Tour in Hanoi is a great option for anyone who wants to ride a scooter, but not necessarily drive a scooter. You’ll get on your scooter with an experienced driver and guide, who will take you around Hanoi, pointing out interesting attractions and information, and making a few stops to see sites and sample local food.

Ho Chi Minh City:

Ho Chi Minh Private Food + Scooter Tour: This private tour is just you and your group, who will each ride on the back of a scooter driven by a local guide. You’ll pass by some of Ho Chi Minh City’s top attractions, and then visit some of its lesser known spots and restaurants, stopping to sample the cuisine. This motorbike food tour is customizable to your food preferences.

City Highlights and Hidden Gems Scooter Tour: On this motorbike tour, you’ll ride as a passenger with a tour guide who will also drive the scooter around the city, stopping at the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh, and also introducing you to some of the lesser known spots in the city.

Hoi An:

Private Countryside and Villages Tour By Motorbike: This tour is a great option if you’re in a group where some people want to be a passenger and some people want to drive their own scooter – you can do either on this tour! You’ll leave from Hoi An and discover several small villages in the Vietnamese countryside, seeing how the villagers live and work, and making a stop for lunch.

Renting a Scooter in Vietnam: The Wrap Up

We loved renting and driving a scooter in Vietnam – it was exciting and exhilarating and we totally felt like one of the locals.

I would recommend it to anyone who feels like they can handle a motorbike in the countryside (which most adults should be able to handle, even as a beginner).

I would recommend it to any adult who feels comfortable with driving a scooter and feels confident about navigating traffic in the big cities. But, not on your first day; you should take at least a day to really observe and understand how the traffic works.

And if you decide you don’t feel comfortable driving a scooter yourself, then I’d definitely recommend doing a scooter tour!

Have fun with this integral part of Vietnamese culture!

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