It’s great to be able to drive yourself in Vietnam and go where you want, when you want. For extra comfort but also for a price, cars, Japanese 4x4s and Russian jeeps can be rented for long Journeys and…
It’s great to be able to drive yourself in Vietnam and go where you want, when you want. For extra comfort but also for a price, cars, Japanese 4x4s and Russian jeeps can be rented for long Journeys and to visit remote regions. But they usually come with a driver, and while he has the experience that you don’t of the local stresses and dangers, he is not always very co-operative. Some diplomats and other experts have obtained Vietnamese driving licenses and now drive their own cars, but cars, though fast on the increase, are really not the ideal forms of transport for Vietnam’s narrow roads and saturated city streets. Renting bicycles and motorbikes is cheap and easy and this service is now offered almost everywhere in Vietnam. However, DON’T take the risks involved lightly: the number of foreigners implicated in traffic accidents – from minor spills to major, horrific trauma – is proportionately high, and this is a country with a soaring accident rate. Why so? Because driving, roads, signs, lights and vehicle safety in general are a long way short of any kind of recognized standard.
DO check your travel or health insurance: while local medical care, particularly outside major centers, is rudimentary, foreign-run clinics in the cities are prohibitively expensive if you are forced to pay for them yourself. DO take the time, if possible, to rent a bicycle for a few days before you rent a motorbike. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with local conditions without quite as much speed, risk and hot metal being involved. DO check the brakes, lights and wheel bearings on any vehicle before you rent it. DO think carefully about the possible consequences of leaving your passport or credit card as a deposit for a motorbike. An imported Japanese machine is very expensive to replace if stolen or damaged beyond repair.
DO keep a sharp eye on your rented motorbike: a nice one is a very theft worthy item in Vietnam (rivaled only by mobile phones). And you wouldn’t be the first sucker to have a motorbike stolen from you by the same person who rented it to you, who then debits your credit card for a fat sum or sells you back your passport for a tidy profit…Although most travelers rank exotic infections as their number one fear, accidents are the single most important cause of death among travelers abroad, beating infection rate by 25 to 1. Furthermore, if you worry about the dangers of non-sterile syringes or sub-standard medical facilities, accident prevention is still the most effective way to reduce these risks as well.