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5 Motorbike Riding Tips for First-time Passengers

Riding in Vietnam’s chaotic traffic can seem terrifying, especially for first-timers. The locals appear to be experts at navigating the traffic that comes honking from all different directions. Although it seems scary, you should not be entirely paranoid as the locals drive these motorbikes daily – it is their way of life.

i Tour Vietnam offers featured city tours on motorbikes on motorbikes with the goals of bringing the real Vietnam to travelers. Riding on the motorbike requires a bit of an adventurous spirit, and travelers will need to sacrifice the comfort of touring inside an air-conditioned vehicle; in exchange, they get to be fully immersed in the city’s traffic and see things from different perspectives.

The speed limit for the motorbikes (scooters) in Ho Chi Minh City is 40 kph, but due to the heavy traffic, most motorbikes are only able to go 30 kph.

Riding on the bikes can be good fun and experience, and if you are a first-time passenger, here are 5 tips that might help you be more at ease with riding:

1) Ride with a local – let a local do the driving and navigating the traffic. It is not recommended to rent your bikes and tackle the city’s traffic yourself.

2) Wear appropriate attire – for women; it is not advisable to wear skirts, dresses, or high heels. Comfortable footwear such as running shoes or flip flops are excellent. The locals protect themselves with masks and long-sleeves shirts to lessen the chance of a sunburn and prevent themselves from breathing in the polluted air.

3) Do not bring loose jewelry or valuables that could be easily snatched – safety is important. With that in mind at all times, it is not recommended to wear expensive jewelry while riding around, doing so is just plain asking for the thieves to snatch it out of your procession and jeopardize your safety. While snapping some pictures while being on the back of the bike might seem like the thing to do to capture the moment, but expensive devices such as mobile phones or cameras should not be used during the ride to avoid them being snatched.

4) Keep your entire body in proximity with the bike – arms and legs should not be sticking out in the chaotic traffic as other drivers could accidentally scrap them. For your arms, they should be holding onto the back of the bike (most motorbikes have back handles on them) during the ride, and for your feet, they should be placed onto the foot-pedals and not hanging on the sides of the motorbike while being driven.

5) Use a standard safety-tested helmet – while local laws require the use of a helmet for the bike ride, the type of helmet and their durability are not strictly enforced. For your personal safety, you should always choose a reputable and reliable company who takes extra measure to provide the standard safety-tested helmets, whether it be open-faced or close-faced helmets. Don’t just put any plastic on your head just to avoid getting a fine from the local authorities.

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Linh is a native of Saigon. In her spare time, she likes to travel and takes pictures of the locals' lifestyle. She currently lives with her family and a cat named Hannah.

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