Breaking news: Vietnam issues e-visa for all countries Read more »
Plan a trip Transportation

Rental Vehicles

On this page:

Before embarking on a road trip adventure in Vietnam, you’ll want to make sure you understand the country’s vehicle rental regulations and processes. Renting a vehicle in Vietnam as a foreign traveler does come with some additional steps, but many expats and visitors find it worth the effort to gain more independence and flexibility in their travels.

With some advance planning and the right knowledge, you can avoid surprises and ensure a smooth experience renting a vehicle during your time in Vietnam.

This guide provides an overview of the current regulations around foreign drivers and renting vehicles in Vietnam, tips for finding a reputable rental company, recommendations for vehicle types based on your itinerary, advice on driving in Vietnam, and more.

Car or bike? Choose the right vehicle

Consider bike rental if:

  • You travel alone or as a couple.

  • You want to save on fees.

  • You have to go to certain areas that cars cannot reach.

  • You don't have a car driving license.

Consider car rental if:

  • You travel with family (and small children).

  • You want to avoid rain, sunlight, and pollution.

  • You prioritize safety.

  • You prefer chauffeured rental service.

WARNING: Renting a bike (for foreigners) is very easy in Vietnam. Some shops don't even ask for your license. Please note that what they are doing is illegal. You MUST have a license to ride any vehicle over 50cc in Vietnam. If you ride a bike without a valid license, you risk getting fined by the police, and you may not be covered in case of a traffic accident. There is a lot of danger in Vietnam's traffic, and riding without a license and experience is extremely reckless.

How to get a license to ride/drive in Vietnam?

To ride/drive a vehicle in Vietnam you must have:

  • An IDP (International Driving Permit) issued by a country that signed the 1968 convention.

  • An official driver's license from your home country.

If you plan to stay in Vietnam for a long period, consider getting a Vietnamese license. To convert your driving licence into a temporary Vietnamese driver’s licence, you’ll need to hold a valid Vietnamese residence permit of at least three month’s validity.

Choosing Between Self-Drive and Chauffeured Car Rentals

When renting a car in Vietnam, you have two options: self-drive rentals where you drive yourself, or chauffeured rentals with a driver. Consider the following factors to determine which choice is right for you:

Self-Drive Rentals

If you want flexibility and independence, renting a car you drive yourself may appeal to you. However, there are regulations to keep in mind:

  • You need to have valid licenses/permits (see above).

  • Traffic in Vietnam's major cities can be chaotic. Only confident drivers experienced with driving in developing countries should self-drive.

  • You are responsible for any traffic violations or accidents that occur. Insurance is highly recommended.

Chauffeured Rentals

For convenience and safety, consider renting a car with a driver. This alleviates the challenges of navigating an unfamiliar place and following the local driving customs.

  • The rental company will handle the necessary permits and insurance for their drivers and vehicles. You just need to provide your destination details.

  • You can relax and enjoy the ride without worrying about getting lost or into an accident. The drivers are experienced professionals familiar with the locations and roads.

  • Chauffeured rentals may cost slightly more, but you gain peace of mind and the freedom to take in the scenery along the journey.

Whether you choose to self-drive or be chauffeured, renting a vehicle allows you to travel at your own pace on your own schedule.

Additional Fees

Several extra charges may apply when renting a car in Vietnam beyond the base rental rate:

  • Insurance: Purchasing additional insurance when renting a car in Vietnam is highly recommended due to the high accident rates.

  • Driver: If you do not feel comfortable driving in Vietnam, you can hire a car with a driver. Fees for a driver typically range from $20 to $50 per day.

  • Fuel: Cars are rented out with a full tank of gas and must be returned full. Fuel is not included in the rental rate and you will have to pay to refill the tank before returning the vehicle.

  • Traffic violations: You are responsible for paying any traffic fines incurred during the rental period, including those issued after the vehicle has been returned. Traffic cameras actively monitor violations across Vietnam, so obey all rules of the road to avoid additional penalties.

  • Child safety seats: If traveling with small children, keep in mind that car seats may not be provided and will require an additional fee to rent, if available. It is best to inquire about availability and fees for child safety seats in advance.


Make sure you have a valid license when you rent a bike

Vietnam's Traffic Conditions: Know Before You Go

Chaotic Traffic and Congestion

Vietnam's road infrastructure and traffic conditions can be challenging for those not accustomed to them. Traffic in major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is notoriously chaotic, with scooters, bicycles, cars, and pedestrians all navigating the roads at once. Congestion is common, especially during rush hour, and traffic jams can bring vehicles to a standstill for long periods.

Unfamiliar Driving Habits

Driving habits in Vietnam may seem erratic and disorderly to foreigners. Scooters frequently weave in and out of traffic and lanes are not always clearly defined. It is common for multiple vehicles to occupy the same lane at once. Drivers do not always follow the rules of the road or traffic signals as strictly as in some other countries. Defensive driving and patience are important. Always drive cautiously and be alert for vehicles making sudden maneuvers.

Additional Challenges

Some other challenges to be aware of include:

  1. Poor road conditions - Roads are not always well-maintained, especially in rural areas. Potholes, erosion, and flooding can pose hazards.

  2. Night driving - Driving at night can be particularly difficult and dangerous due to poor lighting and visibility. Only drive at night if absolutely necessary.

  3. Pollution - Traffic pollution in major cities can be severe, especially from vehicle emissions. This can reduce visibility and may affect those with respiratory issues.

  4. Unmarked hazards - Watch out for unmarked obstacles, construction zones, stray animals, and pedestrians crossing the road unexpectedly.

By familiarizing yourself with these traffic conditions and challenges in advance, you can prepare properly and drive more safely on Vietnam's roads. Exercise maximum caution, follow the advice of local drivers when possible, and never assume that other vehicles will follow the rules of the road.