Vietnam has recently become one of the best countries for holiday motorbike touring. The country’s exotic scenes, exciting touring routes, friendly locals, and adventurous food experiences have prompted many to experience Vietnam away from scheduled bus tours and tourist groups and opt for offroad motorbike rental in the country.
With crowded and tight streets, bad roads, and heavy stand-still traffic, motorcycles are among the best form of transport for anyone visiting or living in Vietnam. Due to their low cost and high reliability, tourists and expats alike prefer buying or renting motorcycles over other options. Someone visiting Vietnam may want to look into getting one for themselves since motorcycles provide excellent value for money whether one intends to stay for a couple of weeks or a couple of months.
Offroad motorbikes Available for Rent and Sale in Vietnam
Motorcycles are ubiquitous in Vietnam. Anyone who would want to rent or buy one wouldn’t have trouble finding a rental company or a dealership. Given that, there are dealerships and motorcycles models like the infamous Honda Win, that one may want to be weary of when in search.
The four most common available offroad worthy motorbike rental and sale in Vietnam are the Honda XR 150L, the Kawasaki KLX 150, the Honda CRF150L, and its bigger brother, the CRF250L.
The XR and the KLX are most similar with four-stroke, single-cylinder, air-cooled engines. Both of these bikes are on and off-road-ready, easy to maintain, and are more than capable of taking on the challenges of the Vietnamese countryside.
These two bikes would be a joy to ride for any experienced adventure rider since they can go wherever a rider may want to take them. They are more than capable of getting any rider to their desired destination. Experienced riders will have a blast with them but beginner riders or riders with little experience need not worry. These bikes are light and low and can easily be managed by shorter or less experienced riders.
The CRF250L needs no introduction as it is a well-known dirt bike all over the world. It has also proven many times over to be a go-anywhere bike. The CRF250L is praised for its reliability, simplicity, and eagerness to take on whatever type of road it’s ridden on. The CRF150L is just as capable, just as off-road ready, and just as reliable. With a smaller engine, a lighter frame, and a cheaper price.
Why a Motorcycle?
The question really should be ‘Why not?’ Motorcycles are a near-perfect match for people who want a reliable, practical, and fun form of transport. Moreover, there are a few other reasons why renting or buying a motorcycle is a good investment during a stay in Vietnam.
• Motorcycles are Cheap – Most rental companies in Vietnam have a range of about around $20-$50/day depending on the engine size. Optionally, you can rent motorcycles by the month for around $250-$500, which differs from company to company. Optionally, you can buy a brand new motorcycle. For comparison, a brand new XR 250 would be around $2000.
• Vietnam’s Traffic is Dense and Slow – Motorcycles in Vietnam may be small but they are quick and agile especially in dense and heavy city traffic. No one wants to be stuck between cars all day. The XR 150 and the KLX 150 are not only extremely light. They are also nimble enough for cutting through traffic jams and slow crawling cars.
• The Streets are Tight – Streets in Vietnam are crowded with vehicles, shops, and people. Not only that, some roads are small and narrow. On a motorcycle, you’d be able to sneak into small alleys and ride past cars. Bikes like the CRF250L, with its lightweight nature, can help you out of trouble when needed. Also, anybody who’s been to any large city can attest that parking can be a nightmare. You would have less worry with a small motorcycle.
• Freedom – Riding an off-road motorcycle is all about the freedom to go anywhere the bike or your skills can take you. When vacationing in a beautiful country like Vietnam, the freedom to go anywhere you could possibly want and to be able to ride everywhere is, for many, worth the price.
A $500 monthly rental may sound expensive. Some dealerships might even offer you a brand new motorcycle for around $300. However, you may want to steer clear of those. $300 for a brand new motorcycle may sound like it’s too good to be true because it is. These aren’t motorcycles. They’re basically toys that break down every other month, and sometimes, every other week!
Do you think that a motorcycle would be perfect to explore Vietnam but don’t want to go through all the trouble of doubling back to the place where you rented it from? There are one-way rental companies like Flamingo Travels that have offers you may want to look into. These motorbike rentals are similar to regular rentals except you don’t have to return the bike. You simply drop it off a company office’s branch in your location, convenient!
Small Bikes are Enough?
People may notice that most bikes for rent and sale in Vietnam have disappointingly small engines. Heavy taxation is to blame for the scarcity of large-displacement bikes in Vietnam. This is also the reason why a huge chunk of the locals are on scooters and mopeds.
Theses bikes may be small, but they’re nowhere near disappointing. The bikes are low on power but the weight balances out the equation. These bikes are lightweight and the power they make is more than enough for an average-sized adult touring through Vietnam.
Speed won’t be a huge factor when riding through Vietnam because city driving is slow. Open roads may sound like a good place to open up the throttle. However, there are animals, potholes, broken roads, and a lot more you should keep an eye for. Sometimes riding easy and slow is the best way to go. Slow is safe, and safe means you can have more fun exploring the beautiful country.
What some rental companies may not tell you is that these small bikes don’t fare so well when ridden with a pillion or with a large amount of luggage. Though the bikes can be ridden with a pillion and luggage, it’s not recommended. Both stopping and accelerating power would be highly affected along with handling and stability. This could result in the rider having less confidence. These bikes perform best with a solo rider and light luggage.
For those who think that these capable small bikes still aren’t up to the challenge, they could check out dealerships for bikes with bigger engines. Sadly, these bigger motorcycles are not usually found in most rental companies and are mostly for sale. Bikes like the Royal Enfield Himalayan 400, the Kawasaki Versys 300, the KTM 1050 Adventure and 1290 Super Adventure are some of the ones available in the country. Check out MotorVina’s selection for reference.
Stepping up to these bigger bikes would giver riders more power in the mid-range for better touring and city driving. Not only that, these bikes also provide better stability, better suspension, and more weight capacity for luggage and pillion riders.
What do you need to be able to ride a bike in Vietnam?
A valid motorcycle license would be needed to be able to ride in Vietnam. An international license would be the most foolproof but some may find a bit of difficulty acquiring this in Vietnam.
For small displacement bikes like the CRF and XR, a European A1 license should be more than enough to cover for license requirements. On the other hand, the bigger bikes like the Versys or the KTMs may need an A2 license. To read more about licensing requirements for Vietnam, give this article a read.
Off-road riding and adventuring touring in Vietnam would require specific gear and equipment. Riders will need a helmet (this is required by law), a riding jacket, riding pants, gloves, and boots. To know more about all the different types of gear and their uses, check this article out: Trip Preparation: Motorbike Gear.
Want to know what gear choices you have in Vietnam? Check out the available gear in Vietnam here.
Offroad Motorbike Rental in Vietnam – Problems you might encounter
Because motorcycles are a dime a dozen in Vietnam, cheap mechanic shops are also everywhere and can be found even in remote parts of the countries. Though these mechanic services aren’t exactly the best that money can buy, they are more than enough for basic and simple motorcycle issues and maintenance tasks like changing oil, cleaning chains, and repairing flat tires.
Parts availability is also something to consider when renting or buying a motorbike in Vietnam. There’s a huge number of parallel or gray import bikes or bikes that are not local to Vietnam. However, they import them into the country via cross-border trade with nearby nations. This means that the parts for these bikes may be a little hard to come by when on the road.
Most suggest to just buy the most common parts they need replacement from the renting company or dealership and carry them with you. Sure, some rental companies offer replacement bikes in case of breakdowns. This usually means a whole day might become a waste waiting for the replacement bike. It would be better to save time and be able to take care of the problem once it arises.
Offroad Motorbike Rental in Vietnam – Things to Look Out
Parallel imports were mentioned earlier and this is one thing that some who wants to rent or buy a motorcycle in Vietnam should look into. Vietnam imposes a large amount of tax on imported products. So a large number of motorcycle models in the country are manufactured locally. These locally manufactured bikes are cheap and are usually automatics and semi-automatics, not the best for off-road.
Parallel import bikes or Gray import bikes are widespread in Vietnam. The two cheaper 150cc dirt bikes mentioned in this article which most rental companies utilize are actually parallel import bikes. These are extremely risky for whoever wants to own or rent one. Furthermore, because parallel imports are not originally part of the local market, there’d be a huge gap in spare and maintenance parts so some repairs might be more expensive than they have to be.
Due to the illegal nature of these motorcycles, they may lack the proper papers and therefore miss out on guarantees and warranties issued by manufacturers. You may be able to save a lot of money upfront when renting or buying these types of bikes but they may soon burn a huge hole in your wallet. Companies that use offroad motorbike rental in Vietnam that don’t have proper licenses pose a risk to your safety and legality.
Some of the risks include:
- Getting penalized by local authorities and losing money,
- Not getting covered by your insurance company in the unfortunate event of an accident or injury,
- Getting the bike impounded and owing the renting company, and
- In some cases, the company holds on to your passport.
Offroad Motorbike Rental in Vietnam – Buy or Rent
Now how should you decide whether you’d want an offroad motorbike rental or buy one in Vietnam? That would depend on your needs. Are you in Vietnam to explore the whole country? Or will you just be staying in one place? Will you be there for a week or two? Or a whole year?
If you’re staying in the country for only a few weeks or a couple of months, then renting a CRF 250, XR 150, or KLX 150 would be practical. These bikes are incredibly reliable, they’ll get you to wherever you want to go, and they’re cheap to rent.
If intending to stay longer, buying a brand new motorcycle would be a better choice. Due to the high reliability of these dirt bikes, you can even purchase one-second hand but that would mean you’d have to carefully navigate through sly dealerships and scammers.
Buy any one of these bikes from a reputable dealership and you wouldn’t have big worries about them breaking down. You might, however, have a bit of trouble having to resell them when you have to leave.
These motorcycles are among the best choices when riding in Vietnam but due to the fact that the XR 150 and the KLX 150 are both parallel import bikes, the risks do exist.
What Onyabike Adventures has in its Arsenal
Currently, Onyabike Adventures offers the Royal Enfield Himalayan as its flagship bike up for tours. Later in 2019, the Honda CRF250L would be joining Onyabike’s fleet. The Royal Enfield Himalayan has a 411cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder engine that makes 24.5 horsepower.
Both the Himalayan and the CRF provide better suspension and handling capabilities and therefore provide overall better comfort and riding dynamics. They also provide higher power in the midrange so you won’t have to keep wringing the throttle, unlike the smaller 150’s. Lastly, though still not recommended, riding with a pillion would be much better on these bigger bikes.
The Himalayan, much like the CRF 250, has been tried and tested and for many is among the top of its class and is the reason why Onyabike Adventures chose it to be the flagship tour bike. This motorcycle has long been the top choices of adventure riders and tourers alike.