Vietnam is an up-and-coming adventure riding destination and we here at Onyabike Adventures want to share the fantastic roads and experiences available in this country. We want to make sure everyone gets the information they need to do so.
We’ve had some questions from some ladies who love to ride motorcycles. So we put together a handy guide for female adventure riders. Read on to find out more.
Is Vietnam Safe for Women?
In general, Vietnam is a very safe country. According to some statistics, it’s the 43rd safest country in the world. Although many westerners here would comfortably argue they feel safer here than at home.
Westerners, including female travellers, usually get a warm welcome and are accepted throughout the country. Crime against travellers is quite low across the country, especially violent crime. Stories of physical altercations between foreigners and locals are rare.
Pickpocketing does exist as it does everywhere in the world. However, it’s far more common in urban centers like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang. It’s best to avoid wearing flashy jewelry or carrying expensive handbags late at night or in an area with numerous bars.
Additionally, phone snatching is not uncommon in larger cities, so it’s best to avoid walking down the street with your phone in your hand. Motorbike-driving thieves can come and go very quickly. If you need to use your phone, step over to the sidewalk away from traffic.
Female travellers should take note that, outside of major urban centers, Vietnamese women tend to dress conservatively. Dressing provocatively or showing too much skin can attract unwanted attention from men and women alike.
Bikinis are a common sight on the beach for both locals and westerners and would cause no fuss at all, though topless bathing would be highly inadvisable. If you plan to stay on the beach after sundown, it’s best to be in a group or stay in well-lit areas. There’s little to no police presence on most beaches, especially at night.
Similarly, women who visit nightlife areas by themselves expose themselves to risk. If you go with friends or travel companions, risks are significantly mitigated.
What About Travel Safety in Vietnam?
Vietnam is a country built for motorcycle travel. The telling signs are everywhere: essentially, every Vietnamese adult owns a motorbike. Mechanics can be found in every corner of the country, as can fuel facilities. In the off chance, you’re feeling unsafe, there’s usually a coffee shop every few hundred meters. You can stop there and recalibrate.
Vietnamese people are generally very friendly. They are willing to help on the road in case of bike trouble or accidents. There’s a strong sense of community spirit and it’s not uncommon for a large group of people to pitch in helping to get someone back on the road or to safety. Should locals approach you after an accident if you simply look like you need help, bear in mind that the vast majority of the time they earnestly want to help.
Female adventure riders may take note of the fact, in Vietnam women run the majority of hotels, coffee shops, and restaurants. Many owners of these facilities speak some English. Most commonly in urban areas, so these are often good places to look for help if you need it. Additionally, wireless phone service across the country usually has very good coverage. This is even in remote areas should you need to make a call.
When you’re riding, do not neglect the road and weather conditions. Recall that they may be significantly different than they are at home or in other countries. For example, the sun in Vietnam is very intense all year but especially in the summer. Local women cover up head to toe during the daytime with famous ‘ninja’ outfits. Take note from them and recall to apply sunscreen regularly. Sunburns earned on the road can be nasty and may not be quickly felt due to wind cooling the skin.
Similarly, recall that hydration is crucial to health. It’s easy to lose a lot of water to sweat here, especially on the road when the wind evaporates it. While anyone under 100 kg should drink between 3-5 liters of water per day here. Consider adding another 2 liters per day while you’re riding to prevent dehydration. It’s also a good idea to carry rehydration tablets or packets to add to your water bottle or Camelbak.
Finally, consider that road travel here does not move as quickly as it does in many other countries. In Vietnam, 250k on the road is a long day. We here at Onyabike Adventures avoid night riding altogether for safety reasons. This is because of Vietnam’s proximity to the equator, nights are uniformly long throughout the year, roughly 12 hours.
If you’re riding with us, you’ll always be able to communicate with your guide. Also with the group through the intercom located in your helmet. Should you need any assistance, the guide is there to help you.
Women Friendly Motorcycle Options
Onyabike Adventures’ flagship motorcycle is the Royal Enfield Himalayan, a great all-rounder bike for Vietnam. Built for on- and off-road travel, with suspension and rider positioning designed for long journeys, and a 400cc engine that is more than enough for Vietnam. The Himalayan is all a rider needs here.
Female adventure riders may be pleased to note that the Himalayan is relatively light especially when compared to other adventure bikes. It weighs in at 191 kilograms (420 pounds), making it manageable for people of any size. For example, our friend Linh at Royal Enfield Saigon stands 163 cm (5’4) high. She says her Himalayan is a breeze to maneuver, even at stoplights and in heavy traffic.
Because of its versatility and not-overkill engine, the Himalayan is a great beginner bike. Those who have yet to take the plunge into the deep end of the adventure riding world will find this bike quite suitable to their abilities. Conversely, riders with lots of experience will appreciate how well-tailored the Himalayan is to Vietnam’s road conditions and terrain.
Women’s Motorcycle Gear in Vietnam?
The vast majority of women in Vietnam ride motorbikes every day, but most of it is done in everyday clothes. This is because long-distance, pleasure riding is the exception to the rule of motorbike driving in Vietnam, not a lot of adventure gear is available in women’s sizes.
Onyabike Adventures strongly advises all riders to wear full riding equipment. Mostly when doing long trips in Vietnam even for female adventure riders. This means a full-face helmet, riding pants, a riding jacket, gloves, and boots not only will this gear help prevent injury in the event of a fall it’ll also make your ride more comfortable.
Adventure gear is readily available in men’s sizes, but wearing such gear may present some issues for female riders. First and foremost, the gear may not fit correctly. This could lead to discomfort, extra wind resistance, and potential safety problems in the event of a crash. Second, gear made for men may look bulky and awkward on a female frame. Third, men’s gear is often heavier and may lead to fatigue in the long run.
BMW Vietnam does have some gear available for women. Gears that are available are thermal underwear and pants, unfortunately, they do not offer jackets, gloves, or other necessities. In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietfullface offers high-quality helmets in various sizes.
Before you leave home, consider checking out Alpinestars women’s collection. If you want high-quality riding gear you can bring to Vietnam or wherever else you may go.
What To Bring on the Road?
Besides the aforementioned riding gear, consider that if you’re travelling with us you’ll be able to carry 15 kg on the rack. You can add another 7 kg in your tank bag. Besides clothes and other essentials, there are some things you may want to consider bringing.
A Camelbak can be a great way to stay hydrated on the road. Instead of having to pull over to sip some water, you can have a drink anytime. This helps stay hydrated which, as mentioned above, is critical anywhere but especially here. In addition to helping you stay hydrated, using a Camelbak avoids single-use plastics. Not all parts of Vietnam have adequate garbage disposal services. We like to do whatever we can to minimize our environmental impact.
A Note on Restrooms in Vietnam
Not all restrooms are made the same. Some may be fully equipped with toilet paper, bum gun, and a sink with running water and soap. On the other hand, some may resemble little more than a hole in the ground with no running water except a tap above a bucket, no toilet paper, and no soap.
Riders in general, and especially women riders should certainly bring hygienic products like toilet paper, soap, and hand sanitizer with them, as these products won’t be available at all restrooms.
Where to find the best restroom may be tricky, but there are some signs to look out for. Large gas stations usually have decent toilets that are moderately clean. Similarly, large road-side restaurants with lots of tables are usually a safe bet for restrooms. This is because these establishments are frequent pit stop destinations for road-weary travellers.
Fun for Everyone
Great roads, great adventures, and great people all make a Vietnam motorbike adventure special. Come join us! If you have any questions for us please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.