This is still a grey area and no information on this page can be taken literally as factual advice – this is a guideline of the rules that we understand to be true about the International drivers license.
https://www.facebook.com/vnlicense – Getting a Vietnamese license locally.
International Drivers licenses are valid in Vietnam – UK source Gov website
Travel insurance for Australians – Motorbike insurance for Australians
Motorbike license for foreigners – Only useful to expats or people in Vietnam for longer than 3 months.
Please feel free to contact us and provide any other sources, advice or information.
To be legally driving a motorbike in Vietnam an international drivers license and a motorbike drivers license is required.
Having a drivers license and international drivers license will legally allow a foreigner to drive a motorbike 170cc or below. Moving up to the 250cc+ motorbikes requires an “A2” license which is not obtainable by a normal traveller.
Many travellers will not have a drivers license and are therefore driving illegally. This is fine within Vietnam as the police are a waste of time, they will not take a motorbike off a foreigner and without providing specifics; the process is usually quick and easy to deal with. Update since 2017 – the police in Mui Ne will take a motorbike off a foreigner!
Driving illegally invalidates any insurance a traveller may have from back home. Drive at your own risk!
Does insurance exist in Vietnam?
Insurance does not exist in Vietnam. Travellers should search insurance companies from home and check carefully that they cover riding a motorbike in Vietnam.
The motorbikes are not valuable enough to insure and crashes are always affordably fixable.
Note that insurance will not be valid without an international drivers license.
What happens in a serious crash?
Minor crashes are frequent in Vietnam but road speeds rarely exceed 60km/h meaning that serious crashes (if driving like a sensible human) are rare.
Following recommended routes keeps travellers off the highways and danger zones. Keep to the backstreet roads and the countryside pace of life also applies to the driving speeds!
City driving is chaotic but unbelievably slow!
In the case of a serious crash where either the traveller or a local is injured the village people will quickly surround the scene of the crash. The police will promptly show up and act as an on the spot investigator and judge who pays who what.
Please note that driving illegally is not recommended, and by default makes the foreigner in the wrong. The foreigner will lose any negotiations and have to pay damage compensation regardless of who caused the accident.
Playing by the rules and having the correct documentation massively helps in our negotiations with the police!
Note – The police have a reputation for being corrupt in Vietnam. On serious issues they are helpful and behave as professionals. In times of desperation the police are there to help you!