TRAVEL INSURANCE VIETNAM
Is travel insurance for Vietnam important to take out?
Yes. There are public, private and international hospitals in Central Vietnam. The public hospitals can be challenging. Hospital rooms are crowded, beds are without linen and overall patient care is at a minimum. The private/international hospitals are better and doctors usually speak English. However, in the event of an emergency you would want to get back home as soon as possible. With this in mind, we advise you include ’emergency evacuation’ in your insurance cover. Sure, you are most likely not going to need it – but if you did and weren’t covered, you could be facing a big, fat, astronomical debt that could have you in a state of remorse (not to mention poverty) for the rest of your rather sad, and possibly ruined life.
Travel Insurance Companies
There are many companies that offer travel insurance. These ones have been recommended. Hoi An Now has no affiliate deal with any of these companies and information has been provided by other tourists and long-term expats.
What To Look Out For
Check the Product Disclosure Statement (not all companies insure you for the same thing).
Check that your policy covers an emergency evacuation in the event of serious injury.
If your insurance company says you are covered to ride a motorbike, in many instances you are not!
Motorbike Insurance - Are You Covered?
Police in Vietnam don’t normally check licenses. If you are stopped, paying a small ‘fine’ will normally do the trick.
Wearing a helmet is compulsory but judging by the types of helmets worn, sticking a saucepan on your head would probably suffice.
The only time it will matter whether you are properly insured to drive a motorbike or not will be in the case of an accident claim. As Vietnam has a frighteningly high percentage of motorbike accidents we urge you to think long and hard about taking the risk.
I Don't Want to Take Risks! How Do I get a Motorbike License in Vietnam?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but… ! Getting a valid driving license in Vietnam has just become a lot more difficult for tourists and foreigners. From mid-2016 the law changed. So – if you come in to the country on a tourist visa it is impossible to have a Vietnamese motorbike license. You need a business visa, a work permit and/or a residence card of three months’ duration or more. Then – if you hold the right visa and have a bike license or car licence from your home country – you can convert the equivalent license in Vietnam.
Are there other ways I can get a Motorbike License in Vietnam?
INTERNATIONAL DRIVER'S LICENSE (IDL) / INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT (IDP)
From August 1st 2016 the International Drivers License (IDL) became recognized in Vietnam – but only for certain countries. Those countries where the IDL is recognized were signatories to the 1968 Convention International Driving License (IDL).
If your country was a signatory to this convention you can purchase an insurance policy that covers you for riding in Vietnam. You will need to take your home country driving license with motorbike endorsement to the transport authorities to obtain it.
Australia, USA and Canada are not signatories to the 1968 Convention therefore, citizens of those countries are NOT able to drive in Vietnam with their IDPs. However, the UK has just been recognised.
HOW TO GET A VIETNAMESE MOTORBIKE LICENSE
Straight Conversion from Home License to Vietnamese License
If you hold a car or motorbike license from your home country (and hold a business visa, a work permit and/or a residence card of three months duration or more) you can obtain the equivalent driver’s license in Vietnam. In short, it is a straight-forward conversion.
Have a Valid Driver’s License from Home Country but not a Motorbike License
If you hold a valid driver’s license from your own country (and are on the correct visa) you can gain a Vietnamese motorbike license by passing a practical motorbike driving test. For tourists on short holidays however, this is a ridiculous notion. To pass the test you need to book – often several weeks in advance and you need to practice for it. For further information on what is involved in the practical motorbike test and how to sit for it, see Motorbike and Car Licenses in Vietnam.
Do not have any driver’s license
If this is you, you will need to pass both theory and driving tests to operate a motorcycle. You will need to be fluent in Vietnamese as the theory test is in Vietnamese and you are not allowed a translator. Good luck!
DRIVE A 50CC MOTORBIKE / SCOOTER
Vietnam does not require you to hold a license to drive a 50cc motorbike (scooter). However, you should check if your home country does. Whilst you may be legal in Vietnam you may not be legal (policy wise) in your home country.
If you are looking to rent a 50cc scooter in Hoi An we recommend you contact The Help – Expat Services. This organization run by French National, Cyril Quynhon, prides itself in keeping their bikes maintained to the highest level so they are completely safe. As many tourists have found when they rent motorbikes in Hoi An many of them are not roadworthy. Often brakes, lights or indicators don’t work properly which makes them quite dangerous to ride. So The Help is a good option not just to circumvent the insurance problem but also to ensure the bike you rent is safe to ride.
For those not keen on any type of motorbike, consider an E Bike (electric bike). The Help’s E bike’s look like motorbikes but feel much more like a fun toy to ride. Prices are as follows:
50cc motorbike @ $US5 per day (insurance extra); E bike @ $US4 per day (insurance extra)
Minimum 3 days rental required
Neither bikes are super fast but they will take you do Da Nang and back and are great for riding around Hoi An.
Further details, refer below:
Facebook | The Help – Expat Services
Email | email@example.com
Telephone | +84 (0) 90 587 28 69 (Cyril)
So, just to be clear: if I come to Vietnam on a 3 week tourist visa and come from Australia there’s no way I can legally drive in Vietnam?
Even though our country is not on the IDP list, my insurance company says I am covered to drive motorbikes because I hold a motorbike license from Australia.
Great! Get them to put it in writing and also to put in the clause that you do not hold a valid IDP and are not legally able to drive in Vietnam in terms of the country’s requirements. Insurance companies will say all sorts of things but getting them to pay up in the event of an accident will be the test.
While you’re at it, check out the fine print for going pillion on a bike (if you intend to do this). Does the driver need to have a valid Vietnamese motorbike license in order for you to claim in the event of an accident? Many Vietnamese don’t have valid motorbike licenses.
But it makes no sense. All I’ve ever heard about is tourists driving motorbikes in Vietnam. Are you saying most of them are not insured?
Yes. We are hoping this law will change soon.
I am from Australia and I don’t seem to be on the IDP eligibility list but I have a motor bike license from Australia.
It doesn’t matter, you are not legal to drive in Vietnam no matter if you have a motorbike license from back home and have been driving for years.
I am from the UK and people have assured me I am NOT on the IDP list but it says I am!
The UK government signed an agreement in September 2018 with Vietnam which allows the IDP to be recognised. Prior to that it was not.
International Drivers Permit (IDP)
Within Vietnam both the government and police still have no idea what is going on and most police ‘on the ground’ wouldn’t have a clue what an IDP is. This is mainly due to Vietnam only recently becoming a signatory of countries who recognise the International Drivers Permit (IDP).
So I guess I will just go pillion instead
Sure, but make sure the driver has a valid driver’s license otherwise your insurance company will not pay in the event of an accident.
So What Can I do?
If you’re a short-term tourist AND want to ride a scooter in Vietnam AND be covered by travel insurance, generally the only way out is to ride a bike with a capacity under 50cc. The other option is an e-bike (electric motorbike/ bicycle). But, while you may be legal under Vietnamese law your own country may have different requirements. For instance, some states in Australia require you to hold a motorbike license for e-bikes. Check the fine print on your insurance policy.
I’m an expert motorbike driver, I will be okay
And you probably will be. You just won’t be insured if you are not holding a legal license. Remember also, Vietnam’s roads are very different to driving in a Western country.
To start, hardly anyone obeys the rules because they don’t know them and the police don’t enforce them.
Next people just don’t look where they are going. It is usual for someone to come skidding into your path from a laneway. They haven’t checked because they mostly don’t. Vietnam drivers are very skilled. They have been on a motorbike since they were a baby (as you will have noticed). They can avoid a collision but can you? And, if the motorbike drivers don’t get you then flying debris out of nowhere might. Also, be aware of the holes in the road that can upend you and send you into intensive care. See Road Rules.
You can drive (whether you hold a motorbike license from back home or not)
The police won’t stop you and if they do, a small fine will see it through
If you are not on the eligibility list for an IDP then you are not legally able to drive. If your insurance company will write you a letter to state they will insure you anyway – great!
If you want to be sure you can claim in the event of an accident and decide to go pillion, make sure your driver has a driver’s license.
Hundreds of tourists drive motorbikes in Vietnam without incident
Many tourists die in Vietnam from motorbike accidents
Go Slow! Expect the Unexpected! Read Hoi An Now’s Road Rules.