Guidance from one of the longest, long-term expats I’ve met:
‘Assume everyone on the road is trying to kill you.’
Want the possibility of being skinned alive? Go shirtless on your bike. Wanna go home with skin? Cover up. Simple as that.
During the sunset rush hour, traffic is at its worst. Buses often come and go around this time and taxis are bustling back and forth to get as many trips to the beaches as possible. Few are looking out for your safety. Keep your eyes open and drive defensively, because you can assume that no one else will.
Vietnam has one of the highest road accident rates in the world. Most expats have had an accident. Some have been seriously hurt. ‘It’s just a matter of time’ says every expat when referring to themselves and motorbike accidents.
Get out the way; if a taxi or truck is hurtling towards you on the wrong side of the road – move! They won’t slow down or try to avoid you, prepare to be pushed into the gutter.
Check your brakes regularly; not too hard, not too soft. There is an emergency stop to be executed around every turn here, be prepared to stop suddenly and get going again just as quickly!
Trucks and buses are God. They own the road. They can be in the middle of the road, off the road, on your side of the road or coming on to the road. Wherever they are: always give way to these big guys because they will not give way to you.
Cars rule the roads but only when trucks and buses aren’t around.
Motorbikes are crafty little minxes that do everything in their power to make you have an accident. Beware of your motorbike. Just when you thought it was safe to accelerate on an empty road, a helmet, chair or some other flying debris will hit you. If not, a pot-hole camouflaged as bitumen will upend you into the sky and straight into intensive care. Your bike will recover (just look at the clapped out vehicles in town) but you may not.
Electric bikes are fun but highly hazardous. These little buggers with their silence and speed are recipes for disaster – though I’ve never seen one in a collision. Maybe that’s because everyone avoids the silent type.
Bicycles are the equivalent of India’s untouchables. They are the lowest form of life on the road. Because, let’s face it: in a country where the horn is king, a ringy-bell doesn’t quite cut it.
Go carefully on these sad little excuses for transport and wear a helmet. And, if you want to get your own back on the big guys of the road, watch out for the 11am school kids who ride three and four abreast. They’ll show you how it’s done. They are Vietnam’s answer to passive aggression and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d like to drive into those cute giggling little buggers and mow them all down.
On road rage. It doesn’t exist here. Sometimes you’ll see it but not much. The tolerance of people puts us all to shame.
Crossing the road is easy. Step into the traffic. Start rotating your head 360 degrees and don’t stop. Move slowly. Never step back, never rush forward and if you just can’t muster the courage to take it on at all, grab the arm of the nearest 70-year-old Vietnamese – whether they want to come or not, stuff them – they’re living proof of people who know how to cross the road.
Special note on ‘the horn’ – the horn has a very specific purpose in Vietnam, it means: ‘stay put’. Yes, the Vietnamese love using it and I do too, now – but the horn is not a sign of anger. It simply means a maniac is behind you and as long as you hold your nerve and stay calm they won’t hit you. Swerve or get out of the way and this maniac will more than likely send you flying.
RULES OF THE ROAD in summary:
Rule Number 1: DO NOT DRIVE FAST.
Rule Number 2: DO NOT DRIVE FAST!
Rule Number 3: REMEMBER THE FIRST TWO RULES.
Hoi An is a small and very walkable town, but if you need a ride, fear not, because transportation is hugely affordable. Bicycles are often free with your hotel stay, but can also be rented for about 25,000vnd/day. Motorbikes are available for about 100,000vnd/ day or 1,000,000/ month. Taxis will get you anywhere you need to go in the town for about 50,000vnd or to the beach for 70,000vnd.
Cost to fill up your tank:
To fill your tank costs around 60 – 80,000vnd; depending on your bike and the amount of travel you do it will last you close to a week.
Taxis are ideal from getting from point A to point B around Hoi An’s Old Town or to the beach. However, if you find yourself wanting to go beyond the city’s limits, we recommend hiring a car. Whether you’d like a lift to the airport in Da Nang or a tour to Marble Mountain a car for hire will be cheaper than any taxi and most likely your hotel’s prices.
If you’re feeling brave, you may wish to rent a motorbike. Make sure you know the rules of the road before you set out, and remember, go slow! And if you can’t be bothered with the rules of the road, read them anyway if you like to laugh!
You do not need a license to hire a motor bike but, if you have an accident and do not have a legal motorbike license, health insurers will not pay up. Check the fine print and read our entry on bike licenses. It is the law that you wear a helmet and madness if you do not.
Hire costs: 80 – 100,000vnd for a semi-automatic motorbike per day; around 130 – 150,000vnd for an automatic scooter
You can sometimes get a better deal if you rent for more than a couple of days especially from the independent agents in the streets listed below.
One More Warning!
- Rental bikes are frequently plain dangerous to ride: check your brakes, lights, indicators and tyres …
- Filling your petrol tank should cost approximately 80,000vnd (depending on the size of course). Always keep your eye on the meter and see the section on ‘Scams’.
Add : 95 Hung Vuong Street
Tel : 0982 692 552
Price: 100,000vnd/ per day; 1 million/ per month
“Great service, lovely lady” – Sarah, Hoi An Expat
Add : 82 Ton Duc Thang
Tel : 01284 840 489
Price: 80,000/per day; 1 million/ per month
Good English, new high quality bikes.
Add : 195 Ly Thuong Kiet Street.
Tel : 0973 654 151
Price: 80,000 per day; 1 million/ per month
“I rented bikes from these places. They’re good” – Dave Martin, Hoi An Expat
Add : 563 Hai Ba Trung
Tel : 0905 424 645
Price: 80,000/per day; 1 million/ per month
Renting Electric Bikes
Why cycle when you can zoom along without moving a muscle. The electric bike is a nifty option for those unsure of their motor cycling ability. It is easy to manage, easy to ride and, boy, are they fun. Not heavy like motor bikes, you can zoom anywhere with ease but make sure the battery is charged. They are hellish to ride if the battery is flat. Yes, they have pedals but if you don’t want ten minutes to equal 25 hours at the gym, make sure your battery is charged.
You can rent one from many of the hotels on Cua Dai Street for around 75,000vnd per day. Again, check lights, brakes, indicators, tyres …
Add: 566 Cua Dai St
Tel: 0235 3 862 542
Price: 70,000vnd per day
Minh Chinh, Hoi An
Add: 135 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoi An
Tel: 0905 037 595
Price: 50,000vnd per day
Add: 228 Le Thanh Tong Street, near Ba Le Market
Tel: 0987 334 677
Price: 50,000vnd per day
79 Thai Phien Street
0918 922 927
Price: 20,000vnd/ per day
617 Hai Ba Trung Street
0905 3917 138
Price: 20,000vnd/ per day
Renting Bicycles for Kids
201-203 Lý Thường Kiệt Street
0903 164 707
You can visit her house where she has many bikes for rent or you can call and she will deliver the bikes (depending on how far your hotel is)
Price: 20,000vnd to 30,000vnd/per day
The road rules in Vietnam are completely different to those in Western countries. The traffic in Hoi An is erratic and dangerous. We personally do not recommend that any child under 12 be allowed to ride on their own along the busy streets.
The best way to explore Hoi An is by bike. Do it yourself or through a tour!
The easiest way to get around Hoi An is to hire a bicycle, electric bike or motorbike and if you need to go further afield, check out our list of car hire services. In this section you’ll also find details on: bus services to Da Nang and the airport, taxis, xe oms (motorbike taxis), boats, cyclos even how much to fill up your motorbike tank. We’ll tell you where to buy bicycles, electric bikes, motorbikes and cars.
Taxis tend to be a safe bet with one of the two main companies: Mai Linh (green): +84 (0) 235 3914 914 and Faifoo (yellow): +84 (0) 235 3919 191. Finding one when you need one is not always easy, but they tend to hang out around the top of Le Loi St near the old town or across the river at An Hoi peninsular. Both companies use meters.
The English Speaking Taxi number for Tourists is: +84 (0) 235 3 929 929
All cyclos have number plates and are managed by the local police. A couple of years ago 50,000 VND per hour was standard, but these days drivers charge a lot more. A 15 minute trip from one part of the Old Town to another could cost as much as 100,000 VND. Negotiate!
XE OMS (motorbike taxis)
If going it alone isn’t your gig but you’d like to enjoy the adventure of life on a motorbike on the Vietnamese roads, try a Xe Om, or motorbike taxi. As Hoi An is a rather small town, you shouldn’t need to pay more than 25,000 VND for most short jaunts up the road, but from the Old Town to An Bang or Cua Dai beaches you should pay around 40,000 VND. Be aware that your safety is not always guaranteed on the back of these bikes so be sure to wear a helmet, try to avoid wiggling too much or distracting the driver, and do definitely voice your opinion if you feel the driver is going too fast or putting your life in danger. For your safest bet, look for the recognized Xe Oms in the collared pink shirts with numbers.
Important! Agree on the price before getting on.
Warning: Using Xe Oms during the day is very safe but a different breed arises after midnight.