When considering a motorbike tour in Vietnam, it’s extremely hard to imagine what essentials you need to pack. It’s even harder when you’ve never visited the country before! Tempted travelers arrive from all over the world to experience traveling Vietnam by motorbike. Some are very experienced drivers and others have never been on a motorbike before. Much like me, full of questions about what to pack, I ended up drastically overpacking. Something you really don’t want to do when you already have very limited space.
10 Essentials for a Long-Distance Motorbike Tour in Vietnam
1. A Trusty Motorbike Helmet
Let’s face it, your brain isn’t something you really want to leave behind on your first motorbike tour in Vietnam. Accidents happen, a lot. Not surprisingly, they often happen to travelers who’ve just arrived in a new country and driven a bike for the first time.
Don’t let this put you off, however. It’s easy to be sensible and safe here; you just need to know-how. A small accident is often inevitable and can be seen as a necessary reminder of how dangerous being on a bike can be.
A good helmet can be a lifesaver…literally. We have high-quality motorbike helmets at our shop if you cant travel with one from your country. Pop in anytime.
2. A Solid Motorbike Tour Route
Google Maps is an excellent tool and one that’s saved us during a motorbike journey in Vietnam many times. Before you set out on your day’s travel, it’s always a good idea to double-check the route you’ll be taking.
Before relying on Google Maps to get you to your destination safely, there are a couple of things you should always remember. Firstly, bear in mind that the shortest or quickest route is not always your best option.
- Some of the roads mapped in Vietnam are either rough, partly destroyed or non-existent. This can prove to be a real issue when you’re forced to turn back 2 hours into your journey.
- Secondly, petrol stations are not always listed online. Meaning it can be pretty easy to find yourself without gas and without a solution for miles.
These things considered, it’s always worth talking to someone who knows the route before you leave. As a pair of idiots fumbling through life in Vietnam, we always make an effort to discuss our planned adventures with our rental company.
At Rent A bike, the team is always on hand to help you out with all of your route planning. With a wealth of experience to share, they will ensure that you don’t find yourself up shit creek without a paddle.
Rent A bike has also teamed up with Nomads RTW to give you 10% off their ebook, Vietnam by Motorbike. This extensive ebook is filled with some of the most countries’ most sought after destinations. Giving you advice on where to stay, routes to take and vital information about traveling Vietnam by motorbike!
It’s no lie that it rains in Vietnam, and it rains a lot!
Depending on your location and the time of year, you’re likely to be faced with one of the countries’ epic downpours at some point. Trust me, you don’t want to be caught short.
Nobody enjoys wearing a wet pair of pants.
- Waterproofs are available all over Vietnam, especially in the city. The locals tend to wear oversized ponchos that cover you and the bike. They’re pretty handy!
- Also, you can buy waterproof trousers and a waterproof jacket from around 150,000VND ($7). You might look like a fisherman, but at least you’re dry.
- A waterproof for your backpack is also a good idea. I like to make sure all my clothes are also inside a plastic bag inside my backpack. This way they’re sure to stay bone dry!
Check out our extra information on how to deal with the wet roads of Vietnam. We have learned our lessons the hard way.
Don’t worry; it doesn’t always rain when you’re on a motorbike tour in Vietnam. You will often find yourself blessed with glorious blue skies.
It’s important to pack a strong sunscreen to protect yourself from those damaging rays. Sunscreen can be found in Vietnam, just be wary as some can have a whitening agent in.
The roads in Vietnam can become very dusty, particularly in the summer. If you don’t wear a pair of glasses, you can often find yourself feeling as though you’ve got sand in your eye. Also, insects tend to enjoy a swim in your eye and it can be the most irritating thing.
It’s a good idea to wear a pair of glasses for as little as 50,000VND ($2) just to save your sight. Eye drops are also a good idea to clear your eye out when you find yourself tearing up on the side of the road.
6. Mosquito Repellent/DEET
As the summer evenings roll in, mosquitos are very much at large. It’s important to do everything in your power to avoid getting bitten. If your motorbike journey takes you to somewhere rural, then mosquitos can be a real annoyance.
- Mosquitos tend to love the outdoors as much as we do and this can be a real problem. Itching a bite whilst trying to handle a motorbike can be a challenge to say the least.
- Repellent is available but not every shop has some. I suggest bringing some before you arrive. If you do manage to find some in Vietnam (usually at the pharmacies and Vinmarts), stock up!
- If by chance you do find yourself with 10 bites (I’ve been there), it’s a good idea to have some antihistamines on hand. They soothe the itching and help reduce the swelling.
7. A Trusty Pollution Mask
Similar to your brain, your lungs aren’t something you want to be damaging on a motorbike tour in Vietnam.
Driving through cities and busy towns can be seriously harmful to your lungs. If you ride a bike through Hanoi for just 20 minutes on a hot day you’ll know what I mean. Not only can you see it in the air, but you can also literally feel it in your throat.
Pollution masks can be cheap or expensive. It’s a good idea to buy one from a reputable store or brand. Depending on the brand and style of mask they can range from 120,000VND ($5) to 900,000VND ($38).
8. Portable Battery Pack
It’s extremely important to have a working phone during your motorbike journey. Not only for maps but to get in touch with the outside world in the event of an emergency. When you’re on a long drive, it’s easy to forget how long you’ve been using your phone for. Sadly the battery often won’t last the length of your journey.
A battery pack will ensure that you’re not left sitting at the top of the mountain with a flat tire and no help in sight. Just remember to charge it before you leave!
You’ve heard the phrase water everywhere but not a drop to drink?
Make sure you’ve always got access to water whilst you’re on your journey. Some stretches of road can be long and desolate. Don’t find yourself in 35-degree midday heat without a drop to drink.
Plan in regular stops to pick up resources such as water, food, and coffee.
10. A Second Stash of Cash
You might be wondering what on earth does that mean. Well, you’d be right to think that, but in Vietnam, a second stash can save you a lot of cash!
The police in Vietnam have a tendency to pull bikes over for no reason what so ever and demand 5,000,000VND. Or even more, if there’s a holiday like TET coming up.
Often they will claim you are doing over the speed limit or you are in the wrong lane (you most probably aren’t). They will ask you to empty your purse/wallet and your pockets and cough up whatever cash you have on you.
This is where the second stash comes in. Only carry a small amount of cash for food and petrol in your pocket. Around 300,000VND should do it.
Hide the rest in a second wallet or secret pocket where the police aren’t likely to check. It’s already saved me around $200!
A simple but effective trick!
Are You Now Prepared?
The 10 above essentials are a great way for you to prepare for a long-distance motorbike tour in Vietnam. All things considered, you just need to give it a bash. You can prepare yourself in every way possible, but you never really know what you might encounter. Vietnam is a huge country with a diverse culture and stunning natural beauty.
If it’s a new country, a new culture and a new way of traveling, embrace it! I promise you won’t regret it.