If we have to name one unforgettable specialty of Ho Chi Minh, formerly and endearingly known as Saigon, it will be motorbikes! Millions of motorcycles of all shapes and sizes flocking to the street every day have created such a unique cultural aspect of this enigmatic and charming city. That is to say, don’t miss the chance to hop on a motorbike when you’re visiting Saigon. However, there are a few precautions on riding motorbikes in Saigon that you might want to keep in mind before that.
Let’s face it, although Vietnam, in general, is a somewhat safe country; it doesn’t mean that the streets in Vietnam, and particularly in Saigon, are not intimidating. The enormous number of vehicles inexorably speeding ahead makes mastering the art of crossing the street a daunting challenge already. Therefore, you may want to join a Private Motorbike Tour prior to riding the motorbikes in Saigon yourself. Not only can you have a professionally trained local tour guide to show you the hidden gems of the city, but you can also learn a few basic lessons of riding motorbikes in Saigon.
Becoming a passenger before riding the vehicles will provide you some useful tips
The good news is riding motorbikes that are up to 50cc in Vietnam does not require a license, and this type of scooter is much easier and safer to control. The only downside is that it cannot take you on a long distance, so making a road trip outside or even around the city is out of the question.
On the other hand, riding motorbikes in Saigon requires a valid license. You can have your license from home transferred to a Vietnamese one, which will take around a month and some paperwork. It is true that a lot of tourists can get away with riding motorbikes in Saigon with no license, but you may run the risk of running into the local police, and the travel insurance will not be valid should there be accidents happening.
You’ll need valid license to ride motorbikes in Saigon
Obtaining a motorbike is only half the challenge of riding motorbikes in Saigon. There are some key notes that you would not want to forget to stay safe on the road.
Always wear a helmet. The street can get a bit too hectic, and you’ll never know what is going to happen, so SAFETY is undoubtedly and invariably FIRST! Besides, it is also against the laws if you’re not wearing a helmet when riding motorbikes in Saigon.
Never not wearing a helmet when you’re on the street
Wear a face mask. It is not so hard to see that the majority of people on the street have not just one, but sometimes more than two layers of face masks. Wearing face masks is not merely a fashion trend but practically a protection from the hellishly hot weather, exhaust fumes and all kinds of dust in the city.
Blend in with the locals and wear a face mask
Look out for thieves. Never use your phone while riding motorbikes in Saigon. Not only is it dangerous but also a perfect chance to have your phones snatched off by thieves. Additionally, be mindful of where you leave your motorbikes as well as helmets and never forget to lock your motorcycles.
There will be traffic jams. Saigon is bustling metropolitan so you can expect quite a large number of commuters on the street. However, the street quality is not very impressive which explains the congestions, especially during rush hours. On top of that, you might go through tiny streets and alleys that re just packed with food vendors and market stalls, which maybe not the best experience when riding motorbikes in Saigon.
The street vendors may pose a challenge for riding motorbikes in Saigon
Beware of the weather. The weather in Saigon can be a bit unpredictable with unexpected rains and showers. Therefore, besides the face masks and other sun-protective accessories, always carry a poncho with you in case of the gloomy weather.
Get a travel insurance plan because it is always better to be safe than sorry
Admittedly, the road in Saigon might be quite scary, especially for first-timers in Ho Chi Minh. Nonetheless, once you are able to partake in the fun, it is the most thrilling and authentic way to get in touch with the local life.
© Written by Kim Hoang for itourvn.com