Known as a bustling, contemporary city, Saigon does not fail to amaze visitors with how crowded it is. With an estimated population of 8.3 million people, it is home to 7.4 million motorbikes. And as the motorbike is the most popular means of transportation in the country, it is hard to walk along a street without seeing one. First introduced in Vietnam in the 1960s, the motorbike gradually became a part of our culture. For example, a scooter is a precious gift that Vietnamese parents would give to their children when they pass the national university entrance exam.
If you wish to experience this local experience of riding on a motorbike, or maybe you are the kind of person who enjoys doing things off-the-beaten-path and exciting trips, traveling in Saigon on motorbikes will be a special and memorable choice.
With that being said, there is a big difference in renting to drive a motorbike on your own and taking a guided motorbike tour where a licensed driver drives you. To help you decide whether you should try it, here are some aspects that can help you make up your mind.
One of the main concerns about driving in Saigon is whether if it is safe to be on a motorbike, Vespa, or scooter. We cannot emphasize the importance of safety enough throughout the numerous travel guides published on our site. If you are not sure and confident in tackling the city’s traffic on your own, but still wish to travel in Saigon on a motorbike for safety precautions, please take a guided tour where you sit on the back of the bike and get driven by a licensed driver.
Another important aspect you should consider is taking out insurance as an extra means for security. Even when you join tours in Vietnam, seek reputable tour companies and tour agencies that provide insurance coverage for reasonable medical expenses resulting from bodily injury.
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Saigon has tropical weather with only two distinct seasons in a year: rainy and dry. The rainy season is from April to October, and the dry season is from November to March.
We expect daily short showers to come and go during the rainy season. For locals, they always have folded raincoats stored away in the small compartments of their motorbikes, ready to be draped over their bodies and motorbikes when needed. If you wish to drive in Saigon during the rainy season, be sure to have a raincoat handy. And we recommend wearing a closed-face helmet or at least using one with a clear visor to avoid rain splashing in your face and hindering your visibility.
If you do sign up for professionally guided Saigon tours on a motorbike, the tour companies provide raincoats. As for taking tours with our team, if there is a slight rain, we will carry on the tour and provide you with raincoats. If there is heavy rain, we will give you the option to wait out the rain or return to your hotel and give you a refund for the remaining un-toured hours. If we deem the weather unsafe, we will always cancel our tours and give you a full refund.
Check out our private motorbike tours with professional local guides
Expedient to Explore Vietnamese Cuisine
Traveling on motorbikes in Saigon definitely allows you to navigate the city’s traffic much more quickly. If you are a foodie, you must not waste precious time getting stuck in traffic in a taxi, but you should zip through alleys where the delicious food stalls are hidden.
One of the most effective ways to understand a country’s culture and know more about locals is through its cuisine. Saigon people are proud that this city has dishes from all over the country. No matter what you want to try tasting, Saigon has it all. The city is lively from dawn to dusk so as long as you can handle Vietnamese food, you do not have to worry about being hungry since someone is always selling something to eat.
Here we have some luxury restaurants, hundreds of food stalls, and countless hawkers to provide you with exhaustive experience about our food culture, of which street food is a trademark. There is a saying that goes, “You get what you pay for”. However, you can find delectable Vietnamese cuisines at good prices in Saigon.
Hundreds of Vietnamese dishes available in Saigon
Surprisingly, an unforgettable meal might not come from an incredibly luxurious restaurant but a small mobile food cart. Traveling in Saigon on motorbikes makes it easier to find your favorite Vietnamese dish than other means of transport. Whenever a food stall, even on the sidewalk, catches your attention, stop by and enjoy it immediately.
Food vendors might not speak English at all, but they are willing to use every word they know to serve you and show their hospitality, and your love for the food is also their happiness. If you can go with a local, it helps to solve the communication problem.
Proactive in Managing Time for Your Travel
An advantage of traveling in Saigon on motorbikes is that you can freely travel on all of the streets in the city while some streets ban cars and taxis. You might need to walk instead. While big vehicles like buses or cars can get stuck longer in traffic jams, it is not a concern on a motorbike, especially when you have a driver who knows about Saigon streets well.
It takes you less time to move from place to place, so you can stay longer where you like or visit more destinations and save time. Also, public buses are packed or overflowing at rush hours, and most of them stop running after 8 PM. As Saigon is developing, things are not in order compared to developed countries, so it might take a while to figure out the flow of things.
Traffic in Saigon can be crowded during rush hours
Go Further and Spend Less
Saigon has 24 districts and many places to explore
Saigon is an interesting city that undoubtedly has many places waiting for you to discover. A car is a good option to travel between places, but a motorbike is a more economical option to get around within the city. Some locations in Saigon are unreachable by large vehicles, not to mention finding parking. Some alleys in Saigon here are just wide enough for one motorbike to go through at a time. Find a local tour guide to get detailed instructions and descriptions of our city, and you will learn a lot just by sitting on the back of a motorbike.
Number of Travelers in Your Family or Group
If you travel in bigger groups, it might be better to pack everyone into a taxi or minibus. And if you are traveling with an infant, we definitely don’t recommend traveling in Saigon on motorbikes.
Experiences You Can Hardly Get Elsewhere
Saigon is one of the most crowded cities in Vietnam, so riding a motorbike here can be an adventurous experience for newcomers. For your safety and fulfilling experience, we recommend you book a guided motorbike tour instead of driving alone. A local driver would set you free from worry about the crazy traffic and also introduce some hidden gems of the city to you. If you would like to drive on your own, we recommend you try this in cities like Nha Trang, Mui Ne, or Phu Quoc instead of the overwhelmingly crowded Saigon.
A street vendor on Saigon’s streets
Traveling in Saigon on motorbikes, you can closely observe Saigon residents’ activities and see things from the locals’ perspectives. As part of Saigon’s hidden gems, many food stalls are found between alleyways, which can only be accessible by motorbikes and on foot. If you traveled by car or taxi, you’d likely miss spotting out these spots.
Summary of Should I Travel in Saigon on a Motorbike?
Traveling in Saigon on motorbikes is convenient, with numerous museums, pagodas, sightseeing, and various dishes to explore. Read through our suggested itineraries and advice for motorbike tours to make proper preparation for your trip. Be aware of some scams and annoyances you may face so you can thoroughly enjoy your time in Saigon.
As always, i Tour Vietnam offers highly-rated motorbike guided tours, from day tours to night tours that give you an overview of Saigon to Saigon’s other side, introducing lesser-known areas of this city. For food lovers, sign up for i Love Food tour or i Really Love Food tour for alternative options to travel in Saigon on a motorbike.
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