Motorbike rentals in Vietnam have come a long way in recent years and when venturing out onto Saigon’s open roads, you’re going to want a trustworthy machine to get you around. While there are still plenty of second-hand shops where you can snag a motorcycle for a few days, there are a few highly professional and reliable rental companies, especially in Ho Chi Minh City.
To make the entire process a little easier, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about renting a motorbike in HCMC. From picking the right bike to selecting a good company, we will assist you in making a confident choice.
We will cover:
- How to choose a good rental company
- Choosing the right motorbike
- Recommended rental companies
Choosing a Good Rental Company
Tourist life in Ho Chi Minh City revolves around District 1. The streets here are a colorful melee of backpacker joints, high-end hotels, and shops for every breed of tourist, including dozens of bike rental outfits. When picking a company, there are a few key things to keeps in mind.
- Reputation: Check for high-quality websites and plenty of customer reviews.
- Bike Condition: Proper maintenance is essential so that you can count on your machine!
- Safety Gear: They should always provide a good quality helmet and often have other gear available.
- Insurance & Documents: Insist on seeing evidence of insurance and get a copy of the bike’s ownership document, called the Blue Card.
- Local Advice: Operators who take their job seriously will provide helpful information such as places to stay, up-to-the-minute local information, and routes to take.
- Emergencies: A good company knows that things don’t always go as planned and they’ll have a procedure to deal with different situations. In the unlikely event of an accident, they should be able to represent you over the phone to the local authorities and negotiate on your behalf. Ask them about their procedure for dealing with emergencies
Furthermore, there are a couple of items you should bring along to ensure a safe trip, which is why we created an essential Vietnam motorbike packing list.
The Right Bike for You
If you’re accustomed to riding back home, it might be a surprise to discover how small most bikes are in Vietnam. While they might seem tiny by western standards, being that engines are typically 125cc-150cc, their lightweight body makes them perfect for the close-quarters traffic and tight roads. Plus, the low average road speeds mean that you’ll rarely miss the extra power.
Regardless, there is still a range of bike sizes to choose from as well as different transmission types depending on your experience on a bike.
TIP: Don’t be tempted by the bargain-basement prices available in hotels or back street rental shops. You get what you pay for!
Automatic vs. Manual vs. Semi-Automatic
If you’re new to bikes, you’ll need to decide whether you’d like an automatic, a semi-automatic, or a manual transmission.
Much like cars, automatics will shift the gears for you, so you can just twist the throttle and go. Manuals are the opposite, requiring you to engage the gears and balance the clutch. Semi-automatics are a middle ground where you’re in charge of shifting gears, but there isn’t a clutch to operate.
Your level of riding ability, your priorities, and the type of roads you’re planning to ride on will determine which one is best for you.
TIP: Before you jump on your bike, make sure you know how to drive a motorbike safely in Vietnam.
- Honda Airblade 110cc: Modern, well-made, and fun to ride.
- Honda Cub 50cc: A bonafide legend. Its funky retro styling is guaranteed to win your heart, but don’t expect its tiny 50cc engine to pack a punch! Strictly limited to city use.
- Honda XR150 150cc: Possibly the perfect bike for Vietnam. It can switch between rough trails and smooth highways all day long. It boasts a comfortable saddle, plush suspension, and has the right power-to-weight ratio for Vietnamese roads.
- Royal Enfield Himalayan 400cc: A new addition to the scene, this one is guaranteed to turn heads! A retro-styled, all-terrain adventure bike, this characterful steed is a solid step-up from the Honda XR.
- Honda Future 125cc: A step up from the ubiquitous Blade 110cc. The Future is all that most travelers will ever need.
Beware of Fakes!
In Vietnam, fake versions of well-known bikes are everywhere. A copy may look like a genuine Honda or Yamaha, but it’s a long way from the real deal. Comfort, safety, power, and braking will all be compromised. Additionally, spotting a fake can be tricky, so renting through a company with a strong reputation can help you avoid getting a knockoff.
Recommended Rental Companies
Finding a dependable rental company can require hours of research and time. To simplify the process, we’ve compiled a list of the best companies in Ho Chi Minh City that are at the top of their game.
None of these companies can offer the lowest rental rates, but you really do get what you pay for! Small shops are around 30% cheaper, but they will rarely provide the quality and support you get with an established company. Moreover, the specialist firms’ daily rates will be heavily discounted if you rent for a whole week or a month, so their prices are still very affordable.
Tigit is one of the country’s slickest operations and specializes in long-distance rentals. If you’re traveling between cities, you can collect your bike in HCMC and drop it off at their offices in Hanoi, Da Nang, or Da Lat. Their fleet ranges 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 one-hour walk, or a 15-minute taxi ride, from District 1.
Run by an Australian-Vietnamese team, Saigon Motorcycles have two shops in HCMC. Both stores are a 15-minute cab ride from District 1. The primary store is located in Thao Dien, District 2.
They stock a wide range of the most popular Yamahas and Hondas, and, if you’re a keen biker in the market for something a little different, they also have larger KTMs and BMWs for hire.
These are some of the most exclusive bikes in Vietnam and will undoubtedly make you the top dog on the road!
Style has offices in Hoi An, Hue, and Hanoi and is located on the southern edge of HCMC’s District 1. They run a similar system to Tigit, enabling you to start in HCMC and drop the bike off at the other end. Unlike Saigon and Tigit, though, they also offer the famous Honda Win! It isn’t the best bike in the world, but its charms have earned it a cult following among travelers in Vietnam.
Style Motorbikes also keeps their fleet well maintained, which mitigates the Honda Win’s reliability problems. If you’d like to experience the legend and join the backpacker crowds on their Wins, Style Motorbikes is the place for you.
RentABikeVN has been renting bikes to tourists since 2006 and has an excellent reputation. They stock a broad inventory of Hondas, including the head-turning FTR230 scrambler. RentABikeVN has offices in Hanoi, Da Nang, and right outside of District 1 in Saigon for one-way rentals.
No matter what you’re looking for, there are plenty of motorbike options for you in Ho Chi Minh City. Regardless if you’re renting for a day or an entire week, these companies can help you make the best of your trip. And if you’re still debating between buying or renting a motorbike in Vietnam, we can help you figure out which option is the best for you.
Now it’s time to pack your bags and hit Vietnam’s roads for your next adventure!