the rentabike guide
Parking a Motorbike Safely in Vietnam
The first and most important thing to to remember about parking is that in Hanoi motorbikes are extremely easy to steal. They can be gone in the blink of an eye: steering locks can be forced by leverage and wheel locks can simply be bent away. Here’s how to keep your bike safe when you’re parking it in Vietnam.
Parking Your Bike at Home
At home you should try to keep your bike away from prying eyes, behind a securely locked gate and, ideally, a fence that’s tall and has something sharp on the top. The lock on your gate should be of good quality and so should the part of the gate or fence that you are locking your bike to.
It isn’t unheard of for thieves to leave a padlock intact and cut the gate around the lock, and we’ve even heard of thieves lifting bikes over gates more than two metres high! We suggest keeping your bike inside the house, in a locked garage or behind the house out of sight rather than in a front courtyard where it can easily be seen and stolen.
Parking Your Bike in a Bike Park
In Vietnamese the words Trong Xe written on a scrap of card indicate that a certain area is being used as a bike park. You’ll have seen many of these around and in general they are safe and relatively hassle free places to store a bike for a few hours. We wouldn’t recommend storing a bike at one overnight but also feel that if you’re familiar with the guard or have a close connection to him in some way that it could be an option. If you decide to use a bike park, here are a couple of things to bear in mind:
- Get a ticket and do not lose that ticket. Check that either the plate number is written on the ticket or the ticket number is chalked onto the bike
- If you lose the ticket there could be a fine and it will be difficult to get the bike without the registration documents, which you do not hold. Call us to help you in this situation. There are times when leaving a copy of a passport and a letter to say you take full responsibility can persuade a guard to let you take the bike but these are rare. You will normally need to contact us to get the bike for you and it can be troublesome. Don’t lose the ticket!
- Find out how long you can keep your bike in the bike park. Often these places will be forced by the police to shut at midnight. If you have not collected your bike by then it will be impounded by the police who will then possibly only release it to the staff at the bike park, even though it is OUR bike, so that they can claim payment for inconvenience. This again makes it difficult to get the bike quickly and causes frustration for everyone.
- As a rough guide you can expect to pay between 3,000 to 10,000VND for a short stay but this will differ depending on location, time of day, public holidays etc. We cannot advise on overnight charges as we won’t leave a bike overnight. It goes without saying that you should endeavor to find out how each different place works before leaving a bike there.
Parking Your Bike in an Apartment Block
A mix of the above advice applies to parking in your apartment. There could be an additional procedure of registering the bike with the guards but this is usually simple and your landlord should do this for you, really. Again, find out how things work first before leaving your bike there.
Parking Your Bike on the Street
If you are going to leave the bike outside a shop, then check that it is ok for you to do so. The owner/staff will often let you know very quickly if you have put your bike in the wrong place and tell you where to put it. Do take their advice as they spend a lot of time in that location and know exactly what is best for all concerned.
If you park illegally it is likely that the police will impound your bike. This means we will need to find the local police station that has the bike, show them the bike’s registration documents, ask if they are going to fine you, pay the fine (which is in a different office as police do not accept payment of fines) and, lastly, return to the police station and ask for the bike back. It is long-winded and tiresome. Please park in the correct place. Never cause a fuss or raise your voice at the police as that will cause a lot of difficulty and no one will appreciate it. Get angry with yourself on the way home.
If you leave the bike outside a bar or restaurant that you’re visiting then tell them so and they will usually show you where to park or have someone park your bike for you. Then if there is any problem the owner/manager should take care of it. However, there are more and more dodgy bars that are opening late at night and, in our opinion, your bike is not safe at these. We have had cases where we feel the staff at the bar know exactly where a missing bike is but will not let us know. If you’re going to be staying out late you’re best off taking a taxi or a xe om: pay 50,000VND and you won’t be risking losing a bike or, worse, having an accident due to drink driving!
Leaving the bike on the street and not in a bike park is only really an option if you are going to be somewhere for a very short time. In that case it is best to use the steering lock and the front wheel lock whilst you are not with the bike. Check that you have the keys beforehand.
Do not leave the bike with anyone other than a bike park attendant who gives you a ticket and with whom you see other (Vietnamese) people leaving their bikes with. If you leave your bike with a random stranger (yes, it has happened!) you will at best get the petrol stolen. Parts could be exchanged and the bike could be left for the police to pick up or, at worst, be stolen and sold off as parts. It sounds obvious as do some of the other snippets here but these things do happen. Stay safe out there!