While renting a motorbike often consists of getting a second-hand machine from a small store, there are plenty of reliable and professional shops to pick from, especially in Hanoi. And when traveling out onto the open roads, you’re going to want a dependable machine to make sure you reach your final destination.
Without doing ample research, you could end up with a fake motorcycle or one that should have been scrapped years ago. So to make the entire process easier, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about renting a motorbike in Hanoi. From selecting the right bike to the most trustworthy companies, we will aid you in making the best possible decision for you.
We will cover:
- How to choose a good rental company
- Picking the right motorbike
- Recommended rental shops
What to Look for in a Rental Shop
The Old Quarter in Hanoi is peppered with shops, cafés, and hotels offering motorbikes for rent. Although it’s possible to have a great experience with one of these outfits, it’s wise to choose a specialist. To discern whether a company has your best interest at heart, here are a few things to keep in mind.
TIP: Don’t be tempted by the bargain-basement prices available in hotels or back street rental shops. You get what you pay for!
- Bike Condition: A poorly maintained bike can ruin a trip and potentially be dangerous.
- Safety Gear: At a minimum, they should provide a quality helmet and offer additional gear, if needed.
- Reputation: Check for online reviews and websites. Companies that have a reputation to protect know it’s worth treating you well.
- Bike Insurance & Documents: They should provide evidence of the bike’s insurance and give you a copy of the bike documents (Blue Card) to carry with you.
- On-the-ground knowledge: A good rental company will be able to advise you on your route, accommodation, and any insider info on the places you’re visiting.
- Emergencies: A professional, reliable company will have procedures in place for emergencies. Ideally, they will be able to represent you to third parties over the phone. Ask them what would happen in the event of an accident.
Additionally, there are a couple of key items that you should bring along to ensure a safe trip, which is why we created an essential Vietnam motorbike packing list for your convenience.
Choosing a Bike
Bikes in Vietnam are small compared to what we’re used to in western countries with the average engine size ranging between 125cc and 150cc. But don’t let the small sizes fool you, on Vietnamese roads, 50mph feels like 100mph, so 150cc is almost always enough. But, if you have your heart set on a bigger bike, you’re still in luck.
While uncommon, the rental companies listed below do stock enduro, touring, and dual-sport options up to 500cc. But before hitting the road, make sure you know how to safely ride a motorbike in Vietnam, as the pace of traffic is probably unlike anything you’ve experienced.
Automatic vs. Manual vs. Semi-Automatic
Similarly to cars, this refers to whether you control changing the gears or the bike does it for you. Automatics do all the work, while manuals rely on you to shift gear and balance the clutch. A semi-automatic relies on you to select the gears, but it will operate the clutch for you.
Which one is best for you will depend on your skill level, confidence, priorities, and where you’ll be riding. If it’s your first time, you should probably opt for an automatic to make your trip easier, otherwise, the choice is yours!
- Honda Airblade 110cc: Legendary Honda reliability, easy to handle, and fun to ride!
- Honda Cub 50cc: The Cub is a motorbiking icon. This modern reincarnation is blessed with smooth retro styling and heaps of character. You can’t help but love it! But, being equipped with a microscopic 50cc engine, it’s definitely limited to use in the city.
- Honda XR150 150cc: The perfect all-around bike! Whether you’re planning to traverse rough trails, flowing highways, mountain passes, this bike can do it all. And, best of all, it’s still small and light enough for anyone to get to grips with.
- Royal Enfield Himalayan 400cc: A little less small and light, this quirky adventure bike boasts distinctive styling and all-terrain capabilities. If you’re in the market for an upgrade from the Honda XR, this is your machine!
- Honda Future 125cc: You’ll see the Blade 110cc semi-auto everywhere, but this is its big brother. More power, more comfort, more of everything. If you want a semi-auto, the Future is the way to go.
Beware of Fakes!
Another reason to choose a trustworthy shop is that there are plenty of counterfeit versions of well-known bikes. They look nearly identical to the real thing, but are far lower quality and will be slow, uncomfortable, and unreliable. The issue is, that is often difficult to differentiate between the real thing and a fake. Going somewhere with a stellar reputation is the best way to avoid these copies.
Recommended Rental Companies
Sifting through websites to compare different rental shops can take forever so we have listed three companies that will ensure that you’re in capable hands. While they can’t offer the cheapest prices on the market, as is common with many of the smaller locations, it’s absolutely worth shelling out a few extra dollars for safety and security.
What’s more, renting for prolonged periods can earn you some steep discounts, so enquire about their weekly and monthly rates.
In business since 2006, Off-Road Vietnam knows a thing or two about bikes. They only deal in Hondas, and contrary to what their name suggests, they have a wide range of both on and off-road bikes. It should be mentioned that they don’t offer one-way rentals, so you’ll have to return the bike to the same Hanoi office.
But if you’re planning a trip up into Vietnam’s northern territories by taking the Ha Giang Loop, then Off-Road Vietnam could be the perfect fit. Their shop is located in a small alleyway in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, and while it isn’t the easiest to find, google maps will get you there!
RentABikeVN is a long-standing player with a reputation for reliability and quality. They have carved out a niche with the ex-pat community but also do plenty of business with tourists. They have offices in Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh, so if you aren’t returning to Hanoi, you can simply drop it off at one of these locations.
One of the best-known names in the business, Tigit specializes in long-distance rentals. If you aren’t planning to return to Hanoi, you can drop the bike off at their offices in Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang, or Da Lat. They have a fleet of over 300 bikes, ranging from small scooters to full-size motorcycles, including some serious off-road machines!
They also have connections at the Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha dealerships nationwide, so you shouldn’t ever be far from mechanical help. Tigit is located a 45-minute walk, or a 10-minute taxi ride, from Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
With three trustworthy options, there are plenty of motorbike rentals for you in Hanoi. Regardless if you’re renting for a day, week, or an entire month, these companies will ensure that you have the best experience possible. And if you’re still debating between buying or renting a motorbike in Vietnam, we can help you decide which choice is right for you.
Now it’s time to choose your machine, saddle up, and hit the roads!