Motorcycle, Ho Chi Minh City
Wherever you go in Vietnam, you’ll find all the roads full of motorbikes. It’s for all ages!
Riding in tandem is allowed in the country. My friends and I were shocked when we saw a family in 1 motorbike! This is usually the order how a family rides in a motorbike- father driving, 2 kids and the mother. Well, I guess it’s okay since they are all petite; the motorbike can bear them. Sometimes, you’ll even see a pregnant woman driving!!! Maybe I'm not just used to it, but I like how they do their own thing.
Motorbikes are the major transportation in Vietnam. You can only count a few cars or vans in the highway.
Xe om (motorbike taxis, and pronounced ‘‘see ohm’’).
Xe om refer to the motorbike taxis that are available on most street corners. They are usually men and even women nowadays that are sitting on or near their motorbikes which are parked on the street corner as advertisement of their availability. They are usually watching for customers so it is easy to get their attention with a little hand wave. "Om" means to hug and you may do this if it makes you feel safer but you will probably surprise the driver if you do. Negotiate fare in advance: rides within 2 - 3 km should be about VND8,000. They have the advantage of being able to enter all streets off limits to cyclos as well as many of the narrow alleys cars cannot access. They are sometimes called "Honda om" because of the ubiquitous Honda wave motorbikes and some offer a city tour around saigon as low as 100,000 VND for a half day tour.
they are available everywhere!
when I don't have my motorbike I will take xe om. However I always negotiate price beforehand.
Rarely they will take you some round about route then demand more money but better just to pay beforehand. Seems like 2011 the minimum is 20,000 vnd. Maybe if going completely across town 50,000
will be more expensive during Tet.
Note: some people say the price per ten thousand sounds like "chup" ex. 20,000 sounds like "hai chup"
1 mot, 2 hai, 3 ba, 4 bon, etc
They can be found at most major intersections. They will see you coming and raise their hand like a "hiel hitler" thing kind of
yes you can drive motorbike but you need a 3 month visa to be able to get a license. if you don't have a license, police can seize your motorbike.
In sai gon you can just pay off police but do it discreetly. International driver's license is not recognized by Viet Nam however you can use it to conceal a neatly folded 100 or 200 thousand VND banknote. Act like you're giving the guy your license and discreetly let him see the cash.
Just stay out of the car lanes, dont do anything stupid like go the wrong way up a one way street etc.
If you rent motorbike be sure you have the paperwork or the cell number of whomever rented it to you.
Don't lose your parking ticket stub.
Stay in the proper gear. Most VNese alway lug it in top gear so they are always behind the power curve so you'll have an advantage
Follow an old guy driving a cub or beat up dream
if you've never driven here before, take a xe om around and see how he drives.
Scooters of all kind of are most popular here as all over East Asia. With the crowded big cities it is also most convenience. Please note that lately Vietnam added the law for compulsory helmet and all require to wear one while riding.
There are lots of regular taxis in Saigon, and when it is raining, it may be a good choice, but when the weather allows it, hiring a taxi-bike is the best option, as they are fast, safe, and not too expensive; well, sometimes, it happens they do not take you where you expect, but that’s life, and the funny side of this way of getting around! And on the bike, if you have a fast reacting camera, you can even take funny pics!
So, I used taxi-bikes several times and always enjoyed it; you have to negotiate price, of course, but if you do not know the distance to the destination, it may take some time. . . . prices vary from 10.000 to 40.000 VND in the city.
On the first picture) you see that one of my drivers was a fashionable lady, with coloured nails; on a bike, you can observe the traffic from the back (picture 2), and at a street crossing, you also have time to take pictures, like picture 3.
Of course, you have to wear a helmet! Most bikers have a spare helmet, and they will adapt it to your head size; for those who are scared of lice or just dandruff, remember Vietnamese are very clean people, wash several times a day if possible, and their hair is very clean; no risk!
This is a nation that lives in the saddle. It eats, sleeps, holds neighbourly conversations (at 70kph, with just a few centimeters separating interlocutors as they buzz down the street), reads newspapers, carries washing machines, transports pigs, chickens and ducks, and works on laptops, all on motorbikes. If you see a pile of furniture tottering down the street, that'll be someone moving house on their motorbike. Crossing the road in Ho Chi Minh City requires faith. Step out and let the stream eddy miraculously around you, and be sure not to panic halfway across and change direction. That could be fatal.
I hired a motorcycle taxi for the day (9 - 3pm) could have been longer, but I had seen enough.
I was taken to Notre Dame Cathedral, Post Office, Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Zoo & Botanical Gardens, City hall, Opera House, Jade Emperor Pagoda, Saigon river waterfront, Antiques street. There wasn't anything else that I wished to see. He stopped for me to take photos and told and pointed out different sights. I was very happy with what I saw. The bus city tour went to places that I didn't want to visit.
The price of the tour was 150,000dong, plus admission fees, these were small amounts.
Though it looks insane, once you try it you'll realize that motorcycles are the best way around town. For US$1 or 2 an hour, you have your own personal tour guide and translator who will take you to all of the major sights and even wait while you walk through museums or take photos. Our driver took us to some great restaurants outside of the tourist area.
I'm not sure if there is really any other smart way to travel...
I flew alone from Hue to Ho Chi Minh city one evening and since it was my first visit, I felt rather worried about my safety (a lone female) and the cost of taking a taxi. After standing for some minutes while taxi drivers kept on offering their expensive services to me, I decided to cross the road to the taxi stand directly opposite the domestic arrival hall. Motor bike drivers came up. One of them was a woman. Although I managed to bargain the price down to 60,000 Dong, I hesitated to go with the man driver. I used sign language to show him I was scared to go with him. Then the woman driver pointed to herself and I quickly agreed. Although the first driver tried to persuade me to go with him, I again showed him the sign for 'scared' and left with the woman driver. She could manipulate the bike easily despite carrying my big backpack (45 lit) in front. I had an interesting ride to the city and even better, travelled faster through the evening traffic and at a cheaper price. Since I often ride motor bikes in Malaysia, both as a driver and a passenger, I had no problem at all handling this ride.
You can easilty find many motorcyle drivers around the city to offer you a ride. Well, although the traffic control in Ho Chi Minh City is terrible (I believe it happens all around vietnam too), it's not a bad idea to travel by motorcycle while i find that they don't actually drive fast and it's the cheapest way to do so. However, make sure you have negotiated & agreed with the price before you take a ride. The standard fare is VND 10,000. Sometimes the driver may want to cheat you with VND 20,000, so becareful before you agree with the offer. It's better to get prepared for some VND 10,000 notes, sometimes when you pay them bigger note like VND 20,000 or more, don't expect they will return the balance or they may return less because they will tell you that they don't have small notes.
With millions of motocycles plying the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, there must be areas where they park their vehicles. Office workers will usually approach a motorcycle minder to "keep" their bikes and then, bring it out end the end of a work day. Tne bikes seem to come out from a couple of back alley.
Also, major shops such as Adidas allow bikers to park their bikes just at the entrance of the shop. There're even specially demarcated "parking lots" for these bike. You'll need to pay a small token for parking your bike.
If you're going solo, hop on the back of any of the guys with motorbikes waiting at stree corners. 20k Dongs will get you accross town. If 2 or more, take a taxi and the fare will come out about 40k Dongs total (same same but different). The ride on the bike is a lot more fun especially on a warmer day so you get a nice breeze as well. Personally, I've never had an incident regarding the safety while riding these "xe om."
getting around HCMC with a motorcycle is scary but fun! All you have to do is stand beside the road, waive a number 1 sign and wait for a few seconds. For sure, there will be a motorcycle to get you. Fair should not exceed D15,000.
If you do rent a bike in Saigon, and if you've never riden one I don't reccomend to learn here, remember a few tips here;
1. Traffic will come from all directions, no matter what side of the street your on
2. Red lights don't always mean stop here, so keep you eyes peeled when you go through a green one and don't try going through an orange one
3. Large truck often don't have brakes
4. Watch out for the boy racer coming towards you, he will likely swerve all over the place to impress mates or the poor girlfriend on the back.
5. Be careful when driving along side busses, especially mini busses, as vietnamese are notoriously car sick and a face full of vomit is not pleasant
6. I advise wearing one anywhere but on Highways you must where a helmet
7. As a foreigner in an accident it is more than likely, no matter what happened, you will be in the wrong. If it's not your fault get the hell out of there as quickly as you can. If you do stop make sure you remove your keys and put them in your pocket.
8. Puddles in the road often hide very deap holes, don't drive through them