Guest post by @the2thattravel
Vietnam is notorious amongst travelers as an adventure-lovers haven, and buying a motorbike to explore this stunning country has been one of our favourite experiences while traveling so far.
With tons of information out there, and over 45 million registered motorbikes in Vietnam, here’s our guide for everything you need to know to easily buy your own bike in Vietnam.
- Where to buy a bike in Vietnam?
- What bike do I buy?
- How much will I spend?
- Selling a bike in Vietnam
- How much time do I need to sell a bike?
- Where do I sell my bike?
- How much will I get for my bike?
- Our top 5 tips
- Things to keep in mind
Where to buy a bike in Vietnam?
Depending on the route you want to take and where you want to explore, there are a lot of different options for buying a bike in Vietnam. Most travelers start in the south (Ho Chi Minh) and drive north (Hanoi) or vice versa, but there are plenty of motorbike shops in Central Vietnam (Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue) as well.
We bought our bikes in Hanoi, and ended up selling them in Central Vietnam (Da Nang & Hoi An).
You can buy motorbikes from local shops/resellers, or buy from an expat or fellow traveler.
At first, we went to a few motorbike shops in Hanoi (Style Motorbike, Tigit Motorbikes, and Phung Motorbike are 3 that we know and recommend) but in the end, we ended up buying them from expats in Hanoi because it was cheaper and we got more for our money.
For us, this was the better option. However, one of the best things about buying a bike from one of these shops in Vietnam is that they offer customer support during your travels so if you break down or need a mechanic anywhere, you can always call them for help.
What bike do I buy in Vietnam?
With all the millions registered bikes around the country, your options for buying a bike in Vietnam are truly endless. There are automatic, semi-automatic, and manual motorbikes.
Charlie purchased a manual and Christine got an automatic, but semi-automatic bikes are the most popular and easiest to re-sell. If you are buying an automatic, we recommend at least a 125cc if you plan on exploring the mountains and more rugged roads.
The most popular brands are Yamaha, Suzuki, and Honda. Charlie bought a Lifan bike, which was an awesome bike but it gave us some trouble when re-selling it because it was a “Chinese bike” so be wary of this if you’re buying anything similar.
How much will I spend?
The greatest thing about buying a bike in Vietnam is how affordable it really is. You can find bikes for anywhere from US$200 to over US$2,000. Personally, we bought Christine’s Yamaha bike for $200, and bought Charlie’s 2019 Lifan new for $800.
No matter your budget, you’ll be able to find something.
Just be careful of the quality if you are buying a cheaper bike in Vietnam, and make sure to ask when it was last looked at by a mechanic, when the oil was last changed, and how well the brakes are working. Be honest with them, and tell them that you’re planning on driving across the country, and hopefully they give you a more realistic idea of whether or not the particular bike is capable.
Most shops will put a bike rack on the back of your bike for you, to attach your bags. They should (or can if you ask them) attach a phone holder which is perfect to follow directions.
Whenever you buy a bike in Vietnam, always ask for a bike rack on the back of your bike, to attach your bags.
On the go: Filling your tank costs between 60,000-100,000 Vietnamese dong (about US$2.50 – $4.50). You will probably fill up at least once/twice a day if you’re driving long distances. Oil changes or flat tires are ridiculously cheap, they run you about US$1-2!
Police stops: Although it never happened to us, we have heard some stories from other travelers/bike shop owners about being stopped by police and having to pay bribes. We recommend keeping smaller notes in your pocket or wallet while you’re driving, and larger bills in your luggage in case it happens to you.
Selling a bike in Vietnam
At the end of your journey, it’s time to sell the bike that you’ve probably become way too attached to, like us. The first step to sell a bike in Vietnam is to join Facebook Market Groups:
- Vietnam Motorbike Market
- Hanoi Motorbike Sales
- Vietnam Motorbike Market (2)
- Backpacker Motorbike Market
- Vietnam Motorbike for Sale or Rent
- Vietnam Backpacker Motorbike Market
Here you can post an ad to sell your bike.
Attach photos, a brief description, the asking price (add at least 10-15% higher than what you want, because people will always negotiate) and a bit about your journey. Be honest about the condition, and any accidents – fellow travelers will appreciate this.
Also, throw in your helmet, bungee cords, and any other accessories that you bought for free to appeal to more buyers.
How much time do I need to sell my bike?
If you’re selling your bike in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, a week in advance is enough time, because the demand there is much higher.
If you plan on selling it in Central Vietnam, we would recommend selling 2 weeks before your anticipated departure.
From our personal experience, Christine’s bike was sold 2 days after we posted about it on Facebook, and Charlie’s took about a week. If you’re wary about selling it, you can always post on Facebook 2-3 weeks before your final destination city, and then let any interested people know when you’ll be arriving.
Where do I sell my bike?
The first choice would be Facebook Marketplace. You’re going to get the most money from other travelers/expats, the community is really big, and demand is always there.
Post as many ads in as many different groups as possible.
The second choice would be making flyers to advertise in local hostels. You could also stop by and ask the workers there if they know anyone that is looking for a motorbike, and if you could advertise there. Word of mouth spreads fast.
The last choice would be to sell to a motorbike shop/mechanic. You’re pretty much guaranteed to sell your bike here, but for 50-60% of what you paid for it.
How much will I get for my bike?
Expect to get 50-80% of what you bought the bike for, depending on condition and where you end up selling it. If you’ve had a few crashes, you’ll obviously get less money. Make sure to clean it up and have it looking in top condition.
Our Top 5 Tips:
- Download maps.me and/or Google Maps (with downloaded Offline maps) so you always have access to the route you want to take. Also, buy a SIM card. Don’t be those “We only use WiFi” travellers, because, in remote areas, you won’t find it.
- Plan your route the day before and figure out where you’re going to stop. The longest that we ever drove was six hours in one day with a stop for coffee and lunch. Definitely take breaks along the way because being alert and driving on the bike is more tiresome and stressful than you would think.
- Invest in your journey. I.e. buy a plastic cover or case for your phone (it will get really dirty and dusty while driving). consider buying a cheap ‘riding jacket’ (there’s tons of them, like fake North-face jackets sold everywhere in Vietnam) because you will be cold on the bike in the mountains, and you will also get incredibly dirty and dusty. With a cheap jacket, you can get rid of it when your adventures are over. Invest in a good helmet, preferably full-faced for the dust/bugs (to save some money, buy them from Lazada – Vietnamese equivalent of Amazon) and bungee cables for all your bags.
- Buy a bike lock for $6/7. It will keep your mind at ease, and although we had no trouble with anyone trying to steal our bikes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Take photos of your bike along your journey that you can use when trying to re-sell it at the end of your trip.
Things to keep in mind:
- When you first buy your motorbike, you will be given a ‘blue card’, which is essentially your registration. It’s also best to have an international driving license, although it’s never asked for in Vietnam as they are very relaxed about this.
Christine drove her bike for 8 weeks without ever needing to show one. However, if you plan on keeping your bike and driving to Thailand, they are very strict about International Drivers Licenses and charge fines of about 500,000baht+/time (US$15) you get stopped.
- Honking is super common amongst Vietnamese drivers. They’re not being rude, it’s basically their way of saying “hey, I’m here – don’t hit me”. After some time, you’ll catch on and be doing the same thing.
- When traveling by motorbike, you have to be ready to go with the flow.
- There’s no set time tables, and most of the time things won’t go according to plan. We’ve seen it all, from flat tires to the bike not starting, unexpected rainstorms, and probably the worst: crashes. In these periods, it’s better to plan short term or day by day. Things will go wrong, the best thing to do is be prepared.
Now you’re ready to buy your own motorbike in Vietnam –
let the adventure begin.
We are Charlie and Christine, a British boy and American girl who fell in love in Bali 4 years ago. Travel addicts from two different countries (with strict visa situations!), we were forced to work abroad so we could be together in the same country.
After getting our TEFL certificate, we taught English together in the Middle East. Now, the teaching days are over and we’re traveling the world full-time.
Currently exploring Southeast Asia, we’re slowly making our way around the world, one country at a time.
To see more of our adventures, check out our Instagram: @the2thattravel
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