Driving in Vietnam by yourself could be an adventurous decision but make sure that you are aware of the local laws and regulations. Read this guide for the basic Vietnamese laws before driving in Vietnam.
The sections below are referenced from the Vietnam Government’s Portal from Chapter 3 of Circular No. 12/2017/TT-BGTVT of the Ministry of Transportation on Training, Testing and Granting Drivers’ License.
What Licenses do You Need to Drive in Vietnam?
You will either need to have an International Driving Permit or a Vietnam Driver’s License to drive in Vietnam legally. The below information will let you know how to use or apply for them.
International Driving Permit (IDP)
In Vietnam, to use International Driving Permit issued by countries who signed the Vienna 1968 Convention on Road Traffic you will need to bring your national driver’s license issued by your country. Notice that:
• Your national driver’s license and IDP must not be expired
• You can only drive the class which your national driver’s license allows you to drive
For example, if your national driver’s license is for a car, you can use it to drive a car only; you cannot use it to drive any other vehicles that require a license to drive in Vietnam.
Please see the list of countries that signed the Vienna 1968 Convention on Road Traffic here.
Vietnam Driver’s License
To convert your home country license to a Vietnam driver’s license, you will need:
• A valid passport with a 3-month Vietnam Visa
• A form requesting a driver’s license issuance
In Ho Chi Minh City, the form can be obtained at the Driver’s License Registration Office or Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transportation (addresses below)
• A certified copy of your national driver’s license
• A Vietnamese translated version of your national driver’s license that is issued by Authorized Organization
• A certified copy of your passport (photo page and visa page)
• Three 3×4 cm ID size photos (the photo will be taken at the place of submission)
• A fee of VND 135,000 per license
All documents must be submitted to the authorities for a driver’s license registration at the Driver’s License Registration Office or Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transportation. You must present your passport and driver’s license when submitting all the documents. It will take about seven working days to proceed with your completed application.
Information about Driver’s License Registration Office
-252 Ly Chinh Thang Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
-Weekdays: 7 AM to 4 PM
Information about Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transportation
-63 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
-Weekdays: 7 AM to 4 PM
You should also go to your country’s Embassy and Consulate for more support.
Notes: In Vietnam, the licenses for motorcycle/motorbike/scooter (2-wheels) and car (4-wheels) are two different licenses – Class A1 (engine size between 50cc and 175cc) and Class A2 (engine size over 175cc) for the motorbike, and Class B1 for the car.
Road Safety in Vietnam
- Using the honk and honking is common in Vietnam and expect to hear a lot of it in the busy traffic.
- Passive-aggressive driving in Vietnam is an art that you will need to master to drive efficiently and safely in Vietnam.
- Drive slowly in the urban area and take extra precautions when going on highways to keep yourself safe. Minor crashes are expected in the jammed urban streets, but serious crashes are more likely to happen on the big roads.
- Driving or renting a motorbike without a valid license (Valid IDP or valid Vietnamese Driving License for expats living in Vietnam for more than 3 months) may go unnoticed. However, you will have to accept the risk and that you have no legal rights to claim insurance if you went into trouble.
Read more on How to Get a Vietnamese Motorcycle License
Fuels and Parking in Vietnam
The pricing is approximately VND 20,000/liter of unleaded gasoline. You do not fill your fuel in Vietnam. The attendants will fill your tank for you. Simply tell them how much or how many liters you want to fill.
The motorbikes can be parked on some pavements; you should follow the staff’s instructions of where to park (they usually wear a blue or green uniform). There are a few open parking lots for cars and big vehicles in Vietnam. You can park them in big buildings with basements. The fees for a day of parking are VND 5,000 – VND 10,000/motorbike and VND 10,000 – VND 50,000/car. The overnight charge will be higher, around VND 10,000/motorbike/day and VND 60,000/car/day.
Read more on Fuel and Gasoline Prices in Vietnam
Insurance for Driving in Vietnam
It is recommended that you have personal liability insurance before you attempt to ride on your own in Vietnam. And again, make sure you can legally drive on the roads in Vietnam, otherwise, your insurance is automatically invalid.
Get a quote for your travel insurance
|Interested in discovering Vietnam on the back of a motorbike driven by local professional guides? Check out our highly-rated featured Ho Chi Minh City tours!|
Basic Traffic Laws and Regulations
- In Vietnam, the traffic is on the right side of the road. Faster vehicles drive on the left outer lanes, but they pull over and park on the right on the road. Slower traffic like motorbikes and bicycles yield to cars and drive in the slower lanes on the right side of traffic.
- The maximum speed in urban areas is set at 60 kph.
- Standard cars in Vietnam have the steering wheel on the left side of the car.
- Besides the law and regulation, you should always watch out for pedestrians trying to cross at unmarked crossings. Read more on Vietnamese Street Crossings.
- You must always wear a helmet when getting on a motorbike. Using a standard-safety-tested helmet is strongly recommended and fasten the helmet strap properly and tightly.
- On a motorbike, there should only be two adults: the driver and the passenger, except for special cases that are stated by Law, such as transporting someone to the emergency room.
- Legal documents to always bring when driving in Vietnam are license, motorbike/vehicle registration card (blue card), and the insurance paper of the vehicle. If you fail to show these documents when stopped by the police (dressed in yellow or green uniform) or run into an accident, you will either have to pay a fine or have your motorbike and licenses confiscated, and you will also have less power in mediation. In many cases, a little “coffee money” to the police can be helpful to smooth the process.
A vehicle in Vietnam will always come with a blue registration card and insurance for that vehicle
Read more on motorbike riding tips in Vietnam
Car for Hires/Private Transfers
Cars for hire in Vietnam often come with a driver for tourists. You don’t get to drive on your own.
For the 4-seater car: The rental fee is approximately VND 1,700,000/8 hours, depending on the city and distance traveled.
For a 7-seater van: The rental fee is approximately VND 2,000,000/8 hours, depending on the city and distance traveled.
The rental prices above are for references only, and most rentals will exclude tolls, parking fees, and tour guiding fees. A bad driver can ruin your trip. Before you decide to hire a car in Vietnam, consider the following:
-How much English do they speak?
-Ensure that the itinerary and routes are discussed beforehand to avoid surplus charges and waiting times
-Avoid tourist-trap shops and restaurants
If it is not worth the trouble, to be safe, book your experience through a reliable Vietnam tour operator.
To rent a 2-wheeler, you will need to leave your passport as collateral with the rental agency or at your hotel.
If you wish to drive a motorbike, you will need to have a Vietnamese driver’s license or your national driver’s license plus an International Driving Permit before you can legally drive in Vietnam. Never leave your bike unattended when you park.
Emergency Contacts in Vietnam
• Traffic police in Ho Chi Minh: 0693 187 521
• Police department: 113
• Fire department: 114
• Ambulance: 115
Vietnam Travel Information: read more on how to obtain a SIM card and mobile data usages in Vietnam
Summary of Driving in Vietnam
Driving a vehicle in Vietnam and trying out different types of transportations could be a memorable experience; however, it is important to do so safely and legally. When driving in Vietnam, you should be aware of the local laws, such as how to prepare the appropriate driving license for 2 wheels or 4 wheels, and the dos and don’ts before renting a vehicle. Have fun and safe travels!