Vietnam is most likely not one of the nations that springs to mind when you think of someone who is “obsessed with motorbikes.” Sure, all of the leather jackets are produced in the USA, Mexico, and whatever region of Europe, but Vietnam?
Vietnam actually ranks second globally in terms of “Motorbikes Per Capita,” with an astounding 86% of households owning a motorcycle. Over 45 million motorcycles are in use in a nation of 90 million people. That suggests that around half of the population of the nation owns one, with the other half most likely occupying the passenger seat. In terms of overall motorbike purchases, only three nations are above Vietnam, and two of them have populations greater than one billion, namely China and India.
Let’s now examine what motorcycling in Vietnam is like and some of the things that make it unique from practically every other nation.
A problematic side effect of 45 million motorcycles in a 90 million person nation is 45 million motorcycles in a 90 million person nation. Cities are completely dominated by motorbike traffic; parts of the city streets in Saigon and Hanoi resemble scenes from a Mad Max movie.
The photo up top is simply of traffic at a typical junction; it has nothing to do with any form of event or motorcycle rally. There are so many motorcycles on the main highways that they are practically inaccessible to anyone else. Due to the heavy traffic and the inherent dangers it poses, Vietnamese motorbikes have developed their own, unofficial set of driving regulations, which include:
- Don’t hit stuff.
- See entry #1.
Beyond that, it frequently seems like anything is possible. Turning around abruptly on a one-way street? Someone stopping in the middle of a busy street to mend a break? Conflict with a food cart blocking several lanes of traffic? When you get on a motorcycle in Saigon, you may see all of these things within a block of one another.
Face masks have long been an essential piece of clothing for motorbike riders due to the amount of dust and exhaust fumes that you can inhale within a few minutes at a busy crossroads. From there, motorcycle fashion either puts function below attractiveness or vice versa. Drivers with more money and style could choose green military-type coats. Smarter drivers will choose to locate all sources of exhaust, sunlight, and dust before entirely blocking them out with thick clothing.
Look at this rider, please.
… and remind yourself that no matter how odd it might look, they’re likely the most comfortable person on the road.
Although motorbikes are common in Vietnam, the market for high-end versions is small. Since larger-capacity motorcycles are often very unusual, most riders travel in relatively small cars.
Honda is without a doubt the most well-known brand in Vietnam, and each year, the percentage of tiny Honda motorcycles in the market increases. Old Soviet Minsk bikes, however, are a choice for those seeking more excitement and savings. It goes without saying that on top of some Soviet Union engineering with pretty nebulous concepts about what braking involves, already stressful roads become even more interesting.
One aspect of motorcycles there that is even more common than bike models is their capacity to carry enormous amounts.
When operating a motorcycle in Vietnam, you must contend with merchandise that would fill an entire storefront weaving through the roads all around you. Travel bloggers have taken pictures of anything tied to motorcycles, including toilets, blocks, entire families, and cattle. And kitchen sinks, of course.
You can tell that riding in Vietnam is not for the timid. Vietnam has emerged as a top choice for motorbike aficionados despite (or maybe because of) the intensity. The entire length of the nation is covered by several paths and tours that allow visitors to fully appreciate the distinctive culture of the tropical nation while riding a motorcycle. This means that Vietnam might be worth considering if you’re searching for a holiday spot that can provide you with plenty of stories and satisfy your passion of motorbikes.