Forget the bus or the subway (if it ever even finishes), the best way to travel around Vietnam is by motorbike. They’re economical, fast, and most importantly, the most fun. With this guide to buying a motorbike in Vietnam, we’ll cover everything you’ll need for making this big purchase:
- Which bikes should you buy?
- What do I need to drive a motorbike in Vietnam?
- Where should you buy from?
Have some knowledge before shopping around. Not all motorbikes are equal, they will vary massively in their fuel consumption, comfort, and handling. The cheapest bikes will get you from A to B, but possibly not much farther beyond that, so be careful before diving into the purchase.
Which bikes should you buy?
The standard motorbike of choice for the Vietnamese is the Honda Wave. It’s a 110cc semi-automatic, so you’ll have to change gears yourself, which can take some time getting used to if you’re new to driving.
There’s good reason for this bike’s success in Vietnam. Not only is it relatively affordable, but it’s also one of the most reliable bikes available. Not only that, but when you do need to service it, you’ll be in luck no matter where you are.
Yamaha also makes a nice alternative called the Sirius. It’s also a 110cc semi-automatic, and has a strong reputation among the locals as well.
These bikes cost about 18-25 million VND brand new (800 USD – 1100 USD), though can often be bought for around 8-12 million VND second hand.
If your budget allows, expensive bikes like the Honda Airblade (automatic) will act as reliable steeds throughout the years to come. These come in 110cc – 125cc variants, but either models will be powerful enough for your daily commute.
Which bikes should you avoid?
Backpackers usually choose between two models, usually the incredibly cheap Yamaha Nouvo series of bikes, or the infamous ‘Honda’ Win.
The basic Nouvos (Nouvo 1, 2, 3 and 4) are the bike of choice for many expats for one reason:
However, you’ll end up paying for the bike in other ways, like replacement parts, regular servicing, extra fuel and back pain (the suspension is almost nonexistent!)
If you’re here long term, consider investing in something safer and reliable.
Getting an unfair price or paying for a bike that requires constant attention is never fun, so making sure you visit the right dealers is important.
Another bike to avoid is the Honda Win. These are often chinese copies of the original Honda Win (which would be worth thousands of dollars). These come under different names, with the most popular one being Detech.
They’re a popular choice for riders on a budget. People use them to travel across the country, but they’re usually unreliable which leads to unplanned servicing.
Where Should you buy from?
Buying a Motorbike in Vietnam from Local Dealers
Bui Vien has a number of different dealers. If you’re wanting to take a chance, there are some relatively affordable options here. Be ready to haggle though, the initial prices will almost certainly be higher than its market value.
Try not to purchase the motorbike solely on looks alone. The Honda Win (Detech) is an admirable bike when bought brand new, but the ones here have most likely been frankensteined with cheap Chinese parts. Backpackers may have put them through a rigorous course through the country which could have left them better suited to the scrapyard than your local commute.
Phan Đăng Lưu, Phú Nhuận, in Binh Thanh district, has a street with many garages for you to visit. There are plenty of high quality motorbikes for sale, but it might be best if you head there with a Vietnamese speaking friend.
While the prices of these bikes will be reasonable, your ability to communicate with them will be limited. You also don’t want to be receiving foreigner prices, but from my experience the owners here won’t charge much of a premium.
Trusted Premium Dealers
The extra premium we pay for going with a trusted name is often worth it. Buying a motorbike Saigon has plenty of dealers who have helped expats make well-informed choices.
Address: Sarimi Condo, B1-B2 Towers, B2-00.01 Sarimi Building, Ward, Nguyễn Cơ Thạch, An Lợi Đông, Quận 2, Hồ Chí Minh 777777
Established with the express interest of providing motorbikes to well-seasoned bikers, Tigit offers a fleet of bikes for either rent or purchase. The prices on these bikes will be substantially higher than the ones found at the average local dealer, but each bike comes with a warranty and has been serviced by an authorized mechanic.
I bought my Honda Airblade (2010, 110cc) from here and have never looked back. It cost a reasonable 10.5 million VND. There was an oil leak in the second month, and they took care of it for free.
They also sell more recent bikes in case you’re looking for
Facebook Groups and Marketplace
Facebook hosts a number of group pages that are dedicated to selling in HCMC. Take a look at ‘An Phu neighbours,’ ‘Saigon Goods Market’ or ‘Buy and Sell in HCMC’ since they already have active communities.
The marketplace on Facebook is also a great place to see a wide selection of motrobikes, though the vast majority will be sold by the Vietnamese. So be prepared for some confusing google translation conversations before you get what you need.
Have a Vietnamese pal to help you out? Take a look at Chotot, this Vietnamese buying and selling site is incredibly popular with the locals. The prices tend to be lower than the ones you’ll find on FB groups, so you’ll be able to find a few cheap options as long as you’ve got a personal translator/local handy.