Vietnam Driving Guide 2021

Vietnam is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.

Updated Apr 9, 2021·9min read
Driving Guide


Vietnam is one of the Southeast Asian countries that is worth a visit as it’s known for its ancient history, religious and cultural sites, breath-taking natural landscapes, and diverse culture. This country has a lot of must-sees architectural buildings and geological riches that vary from north to south, so you should not miss the splendor of this country. It’s definitely worth a go and must be included in your travel list.

Vietnam is the home for the 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites, pagodas, temples, and ancient towns. To explore this land of opportunities, be sure to have the convenience of driving around all the places you wish to go to. To travel to places that are not easily accessible by other forms of transit, it’s better if you are driving in Vietnam on an international license. Having an International Driving Permit (IDP) valid in Vietnam allows you to rent a car and explore this country’s wonders.


Vietnam is a crossroads of multiple traditions, cultures, and civilizations as it shares borders with three countries: China to the North, and Cambodia and Laos to the West. Given its central location, it’s no wonder why Vietnam is a melting pot of beautiful sceneries, different cultures, and diverse people.

Vietnam's Current Travel Restrictions

On February 1, the Vietnamese government officially declared COVID-19 as an epidemic. The government took strict measures and protocols to contain the virus. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Vietnam imposed several travel restrictions for those people who wish to enter the country. To those who are planning to visit Vietnam, here is the list of the latest travel restrictions put in place:

  • As of March 22, Vietnam has suspended the entry of foreigners until further notice. But officials, diplomats, foreign investors, experts, skilled workers, and those who are involved in the important projects declared by the government are exempted from this measure
  • Vietnam and Japan lifted mandatory quarantine for short-term visits for officials and businessmen on November 1. However, strict health protocols must be followed.
  • Flights and other border crossings to mainland China is suspended

Vietnam’s Current Border Status and Updates

  • Vietnam’s borders are still close to foreign nationals due to the pandemic, with only few exceptions as already mentioned. If you are planning your travel and business trip abroad, here is the list of countries that have open, limited, and closed borders. Check it out here:
  • Vietnam has resumed domestic transportation including airport and business operations such as schools and centers.

Entry Requirements of Vietnam

  • For the entry requirement to Vietnam, you must have a passport and a visa. Your passport must be valid for more than 6 months beyond your planned stay in the country. You will be denied entry if you don’t have these 2 legal requirements
  • As of September 1, Vietnamese authorities charge a quarantine fee to anyone who wants to enter Vietnam and wants to stay in government facilities. Foreign nationals are required to pay at least VND 120,000 or the US $5 per day. They are required to pay for their medical treatment, however, the government will cover the medical treatment of Vietnamese nationals affected by the pandemic.
  • Anyone who wants to enter Vietnam will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival
  • All travelers who want to go to Vietnam are required to submit a health declaration upon arrival. Passengers may submit it online or fill out a declaration found on airport premises.
  • Negative COVID-19 test is required for entry in Vietnam

Visa Requirements of Vietnam

  • You can apply for a visa either in person, online, mail, or email. You can apply in person at the Embassy of Vietnam. It is open from Monday to Friday, except for Holidays. You can also apply by mail to the Embassy.
  • The standard processing time for a visa in Vietnam is 3 business days.
  • Be sure that you have a visa that matches your purpose of your travel. You must obtain a work permit before applying for a visa if you plan to work in Vietnam. In order to check your visa categories, you can visit Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website
  • United States passport holders can apply for a single entry visa online. The E-visa is valid for 30 days and is good for tourism purposes.

Health Protocols in Vietnam

  • Upon arrival at Vietnam’s airport, travelers will be assessed. Those who have shown symptoms of the virus will be immediately transferred to the designated health facilities for isolation.
  • The health screening procedures take place in airports and all ports of entry to the country. The government announce the 79 laboratories capable for conducting COVID-19 tests
  • Vietnames government continues to advise people to wear face masks and follow the strict social distancing requirements
  • Any individuals who have symptoms of the COVID-19 virus or those who may have been exposed to the someone who has the virus should call Vietnam’s health hotline: 19009095. You may press 1 for English

General Information About Vietnam

What Are the Demographics of Vietnam?

Vietnam is the world’s 65th largest country in terms of land area that is approximately 329,241 sq km. Currently, its population reached 97.6 million, which ranks 15th as the most populated country in the world and the 8th populated country in Asia. It has 54 ethnic groups all over the country which is arguably the most diverse country when it comes to ethnicity.

What Is the Government of Vietnam?

Vietnam, officially known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is a socialist country under the Vietnam Communist Party leadership. It has a fairly authoritarian government as no other political parties are allowed. The Communist Party is the one that has control over the country. Vietnam is currently headed by President Nguyen Phu Trong.

What is Vietnam’s History?

Vietnam has a long history of war. For over 2,000 years, it was dominated by China. Then, it was colonized by France in 1883 and fought the war of independence over eight years until Vietnam declared independence in 1945. After the war, North and South Vietnam were united.

In the past, the government directly controlled Vietnam’s economy which resulted in limited foreign trade. But economic reforms under the “Doi Moi” policy in 1986 resulted in economic growth and expansion. Now, Vietnam’s economy is rapidly growing and rising due to industrialization and urbanization, making it one of the emerging markets in Southeast Asia.

What Are the Languages They Speak?

Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam but English comes as the second favored language. If you’re worried about how hard it is to go around many places without knowing the Vietnamese language, do not fret. Many people in tourist and business districts understand English. Vietnam welcomes millions of visitors each year and the majority of them are not Vietnamese at all.

What Is the Current State of Vietnam’s Tourism?

At the beginning of 2020, Vietnam witnessed an increasing growth in both domestic and international travelers. It was up by 33% compared to the same period of the previous year. However, the numbers quickly went down as the government needed to implement lockdown and social distancing measures due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But now, Vietnam is slowly reopening its country to tourists as it successfully controlled the spread of the virus.

Why Is It Worth Traveling to Vietnam?

Vietnam is a country of diversity where there are beautifully remote beaches, a landscape of flora and fauna, and cultural and religious sites that will bring you to different eras and times. Whether you’re looking for a place to simply rest and relax, or to delve into history and culture, this is a place worth traveling to. But in the light of the recent global health crisis and pandemic, there are travel restrictions imposed by the government.

International Driver’s Permit in Vietnam

Have you already planned your vacation in Vietnam? There are many must-sees destinations in Vietnam such as Ho Chi Minh, which is the commercial center of the country, and also Hanoi which is the capital of Vietnam. You can best explore all these historic landmarks, towns, villages, and cultural sites if you can go and drive to these places for fun and adventure. Just make sure you have your International Driver’s Permit (IDP).

Driving in Vietnam on an international license is one of the ways to truly enjoy what the country has to offer. Plan your destination and be sure to know the driving rules. Be sure that before you begin your journey, you already have your international driver’s license to drive your car. The application for an IDP can be online for your convenience. Here’s a guide to help you in making your travel much easier.

What Is an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

International Driving Permit (IDP) is an official document that validates your driving license internationally. It is a valuable and legal document that identifies that you are a legally licensed driver. In short, having IDP means that the Vietnamese government agrees to accept your local driving license. It is useful especially when you are in a foreign country and you want to rent a car or motorbike.

Can I Use An International Driving License in Vietnam?

Yes, but it depends on the country where you are from. Foreign visitors can use an IDP if their home country is one of the signatories 1968 Convention on Road Traffic on IDPs. If you have a 1968 IDP, then you can purchase an insurance policy that covers you when driving a car or motorbike. Just don’t forget to bring your local driving license with you. And congratulations, you are a legal driver in Vietnam!

Sixty-seven countries are signatories of the 1968 Convention. Some of the countries are not signatories of the 1968 Convention but abide by the 1949 Geneva Convention such as Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Canada, USA, and the UK. These mean that those citizens under these countries cannot drive in Vietnam even with IDP

How to Get an International Driving License in Vietnam?

There is no such thing as an International Driver’s License, so if there is a company that claims to help you drive in Vietnam on an International License, this might be false. The official name for it is an International Driving Permit (IDP). If you ask about how you can get an international driving permit to drive in Vietnam in both digital and print, you may apply from the International Driver’s Association.

When you purchase your IDP from their website, you can easily get it within 24 hours if you live in the US or within 30 days if you live overseas. As for the digital copy, you may get your IDP in as quick as 2 hours. However, you may have it in 20 minutes if you add another $30 to your payment.

Is My Local Driver’s License Valid in Vietnam?

Your local driver’s license is not valid in Vietnam. You need to translate and convert your local driver’s license into a local Vietnamese driver’s license. You can obtain an equivalent driver’s license in Vietnam by getting IDP.

Does An International Driver’s Permit Replace Your Local Driver’s License?

The answer is no. Your IDP never substitutes your local driving license. Your home country license remains valid in your home country. IDP is just a translation and verification that you are a legally-licensed driver and that you are permitted to drive in any place in Vietnam.

Do I Need An International Driver's License in Vietnam?

It is illegal to drive around Vietnam without an international driver’s license. IDP is the internationally recognized translation of your driving license. It proves that you hold a valid driver’s license in your home country. You must have an international driver’s license to legally drive around the places in Vietnam. Just make sure that you have your local license when you are driving so that you will not encounter any problems in your stay.

Who Can Apply For an IDP?

You also must be at least 18 years old and you must have a valid local driving license to apply for IDP. Anyone of legal age who wants to drive a vehicle with an engine capacity of 50cc or larger can apply for IDP. So before getting an IDP, make sure that you already secure your local driver’s license.

How To Get An International Driver’s License in Vietnam?

The IDP application is simple and straightforward. If you wanted to apply for an IDP, just visit the International Drivers Association’s application page and choose an IDP package that is fit for you. The following requirements are needed to process your application:

  • Valid Government Issued Driver’s License
  • Passport-size picture
  • Passport Copy (if needed)
  • IDP Fee - VND135,000 ($6)

The good news is that you can get your international driving permit valid in Vietnam in just a matter of hours after the application. The primary strength of an IDP is that it is translated to more than 10 languages so it has a greater advantage.

When Can I Apply For an IDP?

There is no limitation as to when you can apply for an IDP but you must remember that you can apply for an IDP if you intend to stay in Vietnam for less than 3 months or 90 days. The process now is hassle-free because the Vietnamese government already launches its online application so you do not need to go to the government offices to secure an IDP. You just need to download and complete the application form to get an IDP.

Who Needs an IDP?

If you want to go to Vietnam and explore all the beautiful places in the country, then you must secure your IDP for hassle-free travel. Your IDP will enable you to legally and safely travel to different places in Vietnam. You will not be questioned by authorities if you have an IDP.

When Will I Use IDP?

You will need an IDP when you travel to Vietnam. IDP’s primary function is to allow law enforcement authorities to validate your local driver’s license and to read your license in their language. You need it to avoid problems with authorities. As long as you have an IDP and proper documentation, it is legal to drive as a tourist in Vietnam.

How Long Is the IDP Valid?

In the amended 1968 Convention on Road Traffic, IDP should be valid for only three years or less. The validity of the IDP can be valid for 1, 2, or 3 years, depending on the application price you choose. So the validity depends on what application package you wanted to have.

If you are planning to go to Vietnam again in the next 3 years, then the IDP application package that is fit for you is the one that is valid for 3 years from the date of issuance. However, if you just plan to go to Vietnam for just 90 days or less, then it is a practical choice to just pick the IDP that is valid for 1 year only. You can choose depending on your purpose and the length of your stay in Vietnam.

Is It Better to Get An IDP Than a Vietnamese Driving License?

If a foreign visitor does not have a local driving license but wishes to have a license that allows driving of a vehicle in Vietnam, the procedure is much more complicated. There are many documents required and applicants need to take theory and practical tests. It is better to have a local driving license and then translate it into a Vietnamese driving license through IDP. It is easier to have an IDP especially if you’ll stay in Vietnam for 90 days or less.

Renting A Car in Vietnam

Vietnam is a long and narrow country full of great landmarks. If you’re interested to see the colonial town, old temples, and Buddhist pagodas, it’s great to rent a car for convenience. Renting a car is a good way to explore the areas in Vietnam especially those places that are only accessible through group tours or those places that are inaccessible by public transport. Driving in Vietnam is a quicker and easier option than the overcrowded train service.

You’ll find car rental in Vietnam since many car rental agencies are located in commercial districts and populist tourist areas. But of course, you need to have an international driver’s license in Vietnam first before you can rent a car.

How to Rent A Car?

If you already have your international driver’s license and your passport, then you can already rent a car in Vietnam. Normally, the car agencies will ask for your IDP and local passport. The agencies keep a copy of your licenses for reference. If you have already chosen your car and car company, you need to sign a contract. Some agencies may require you to pay the deposit first. After that, you’re good to go.

Where to Rent A Car?

If you’re planning on a road trip and get to as many places as possible, there are many options for car rental, and most of the car rental companies are located in busy and large cities such as Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Da Nang, or Hai Phong. There are many popular car rental locations in Vietnam

Here are some of the car rental companies:

  • Avis
  • Dolla
  • Hertz
  • Hanoi Journey
  • VN Rent-A-Car
  • Vietnamdrive

What Documents Are Needed to Rent A Car?

To avoid unnecessary delays, you should bring your important documents with you. To rent a car, the required documents are just your passport and your IDP.

The documents that are needed to apply for or to convert your existing local license are as follow:

  • A copy of your passport
  • A copy of your local driver's license with a notarized and translated version
  • 3 passport size photographs
  • Completed application form
  • Processing fee of approximately VND 100,000

You will show these documents to the car rental agency and after you have already chosen the car of your type, you can sign the document and complete the payment.

What Are the Age Requirements?

To be qualified to rent a car in Vietnam, you need to be at least 21 years old and you already have your local driving license for a minimum of one year. You must present your International Driver’s Permit which must be presented alongside your local driver’s license.

What Vehicle Types Can You Rent?

There are different types of vehicles that you can rent depending on your purpose and your budget. You can choose from a variety of vehicle types that suits well with your solo trip, small group tour, family vacations, and even group travel.

  • Car / Sedan - This is the best choice if you’re looking for an affordable rate and great fuel economy. It is usually chosen for most of the tourist travels since the seat is up to 5 passengers. You can stow your luggage and still be at ease and comfortable during your journey from places to places
  • SUV - If you’re looking for an ultimate outdoor adventure, then consider renting an SUV. This stylish vehicle, spacious interior, and smooth drivability of the SUV suit your next adventure. SUV can take you to steep hills and it is safe even with inclement weather. You can pick an SUV that can accommodate 7 to 8 passengers.
  • Van - Is a sedan too small for your group travel and the seven-passenger space is not enough for you and your luggage? Then this twelve or fifteen-passenger van is perfect for you. You can travel without feeling too packed for the day.

How Much Is the Cost to Rent A Car in Vietnam?

The cost of renting a car depends on the type of car, model, brand, seating capacity, and the number of days you’ll be renting the car. There are many options you can choose depending on your budget and purpose but the most prevalent type is the car/sedan. On average, rental cars cost $205 per day. You must pay the fee in cash along with the initial deposit. Also, remember that car rental fees go higher when you rent during weekends.

How Does Car Rental Insurance Apply?

If you are driving a tourist car, the car company is the one who organizes the insurance. Many car rental companies will make you sign a contract agreement depending on the kind of insurance you wanted to have. Car insurance is essential especially when you are new to the place. It will help you secure your life and your travel budget in case any unfortunate events happen in your journey.

How Much Is the Car Insurance Fee?

The insurance fee depends on the scope of coverage and the insurance benefits you avail when you rent a car. The minimum premium insurance fee that covers the loss of life, bodily injury, or property damage for a car with up to 9 seats must not be less than VND 5,000,000/vehicle/year. The maximum amount payable by the insurer in respect for the loss of life, bodily injury, or property damage is VND100,000,000/person/accident.

Is the Insurance Already Included When You Rent A Car?

The car rental companies organize the insurance that comes along with renting a car. Travel insurance is important especially when you go to another country. It is a way to be secure and to be out of the risk when an accident happens. It will be much more costly when serious injuries and accidents happen along your journey.

Although foreign visitors are allowed to rent a car in Vietnam, most of the car rental agencies also give you an option to rent a car with a driver already Also, anyone that is considering cross-border travel using a rental car is not allowed. However, you may cross neighboring countries like Laos and Cambodia if you are renting a car with a driver.

Why Do You Need Car Insurance?

All motorized vehicles in Vietnam must be insured. The civil liability insurance policy is one of the requirements under Vietnam’s law. Uninsured drivers may be fined and their cars may be confiscated. Car insurance is important to support you in case of losses and accidents occur. Just make sure that your local driving license and IDP are valid so that you are qualified for the insurance you get.

What Are the Tips For Renting A Car in Vietnam?

The first thing that you need to ensure is the quality of the car that you wanted to rent. It is best if you rent a car from the top car rental companies in Vietnam. Checking the car condition is essential to avoid accidents and unnecessary delays.

If you don’t feel confident in driving in Vietnam, you can always choose the option of renting a car with a driver already. Hiring a chauffeur is a wise option too since the local drivers are more familiar with the places and the destinations you wish to go to. It is much faster and convenient too.

Many car rentals offer well-maintained and new cars at very affordable prices. Renting a car gives you the chance and freedom to choose all the places you want to go to and in your own designated time. You have all the flexibility and convenience of going into the places you haven’t seen yet. It is not time-consuming and allows you to make stops before you go to another place. Enjoy safe driving in Vietnam on an international license.

The Driving Rules and Road Rules in Vietnam

In general, major roads and highways are well-paved and maintained. However, road safety is not one of the strong points of Vietnam. Many inter-city road networks are dangerous. Head-on collisions are also common on main roads. It is best to be aware of the road conditions, and the driving and road rules in Vietnam. Be mindful of how different your home country rules from the rules in Vietnam.

What Are the Notable Vietnamese Traffic Laws?

  • No tolerance for drunk driving in Vietnam

Vietnam is very strict in enforcing laws related to drunk driving because over 40% of the road accidents throughout 2019 constitute drunk driving in Vietnam. In the recently passed law on Preventing Alcohol Harmful Effects, a person who is caught driving with the influence of alcohol and with a concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood or breath will face fines of $258-345 and $1,292-$1,723 USD. The driver’s license may also be suspended for up to 2 years.

  • Prohibition of using phones and earphones while driving

You cannot use your cellphone while driving. If you are caught, you’ll face VND 600,000 - 800,000. Meanwhile, if you are caught using earphones while driving, you’ll face 1 to 2 million VND (about $45-90) and your driving license will be suspended in 1-3 months.

  • No horns at night

In Vietnam, you are not allowed to use your honk between 10 pm to 5 am. There might be people who just like to honk just for fun or for no reason at all but honk has a special purpose in Vietnam and that means to stay put. A honk is a tool for communication. Honking, blowing the hoot, and using driving lamps are prohibited under Vietnam’s law in that given time frame.

What Are the General Standards of Driving?

It is important to follow the driving rules to lessen the risk of accidents or any other unfortunate events. As a general rule, road users shall comply with indications of road signal systems and shall comply with the instructions of the person directing the traffic. The road signal systems include traffic light signals, road signs and markings, barriers, and even the instruction of the traffic enforcer.

What Are the Instructions Given by the Traffic Enforcer?

  • When the traffic enforcer raised an arm upright, then it means that the road users approaching from any direction must stop
  • If the traffic enforcer outstretched his arms horizontally, then it is a sign that drivers in front of or behind the traffic enforcers must stop while drivers on the right and left of the person directing traffic may proceed
  • If the right arm of the traffic enforcer is outstretched to the front, then it means that the driver behind and on the right of the person directing traffic must stop but those who are in front of the person directing traffic may turn right. Those drivers on the left of the traffic enforcer may proceed in all directions

What Are the Road Signs?

Vietnam’s traffic road signs are divided into 5 groups namely: prohibitive signs, danger warning signs, mandatory signs, direction signs, and additional panels. Prohibitive signs indicate prohibitions while danger warning signs warn dangerous circumstances likely to occur. Instructions that must be obeyed are the mandatory signs while the traffic directions are included in the direction signs. Additional panels include other relevant information.

What Does Each Traffic Signal Indicate?

Your home country’s traffic signal may indicate a different meaning from what Vietnam follows. There are some countries which proceed when the red light is on. But in Vietnam, the green light means to proceed. A red light means stop while the amber light means stop behind the stop line.

What Is the Speed Limit In Vietnam?

Drivers must comply with the regulations on the speed limit in Vietnam that is 40-60 km/h (25-37 mph) on rural roads and 30-40 km/h (19-25 mph) in urban areas. It is prohibited to go driving in range in Vietnam with a speed beyond this prescribed limit. Two vehicles should also keep at a safe distance from each other. At the pedestrian crossing, drivers must slow down and give way to the people crossing the road.

In Vietnam, Driving in a range beyond the speed limit will cost you 200k-500k for overspeeding depending on your negotiation skills. Always bear in mind the speed limit in Vietnam to avoid paying a higher fine.

Is Seatbelt Mandatory in Vietnam?

To protect the people and to promote a culture of road safety, the use of seatbelt while driving is mandatory to prevent any accident. Vietnam’s Law on Road Traffic requires drivers sitting in the front seat to wear safety belts. Also, under Government’s Decree 46/2016, it is mandatory for passengers in the back seats of a car to put on their seat belts. Violators will be imposed a fine of VND 100,000-200,000.

What Is the Law on Overtaking in Vietnam?

If you need to overtake another vehicle, the driver must need to honk first or give a signal using light before making an overtake. The driver must only overtake another vehicle if there is no oncoming vehicle in the road section that is intended for the overtaking. The driver must do the overtaking on the left side of the road. Overtaking is prohibited when there is only a single lane of vehicular traffic or if the driver is at the intersection of the road.

What Is the Right of Way in Vietnam?

One basic rule in the road survival hierarchy in most of the countries in Asia is that the bigger your vehicle is, the more priority you get. The right of way is dependent on the size of the vehicle. Who is the king of the road and who has the right of way? The order of the right of way of vehicles is from trucks, buses, vans, cars, motorbikes, scooters, bicycles, and lastly, the pedestrian. But don’t assume that having a larger vehicle will grant you more favor.

Driving a scooter or motorbike in Vietnam is possible for tourists. Provided that foreigners in Vietnam are carrying an International Driving License or Permit, they can drive around the country. This means that even a UK driving license in Vietnam is valid, as long as there is a presence of an IDP along with a valid native driver’s license.

What Is the Rule About Parking?

You cannot just leave your car unattended even if the streets are too crowded or narrowed. What you need to do is to park it in the guarded lots, driveways, or sidewalks. Some of the commercial cities in Vietnam like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh have underground and elevated garages in which you can park your car.

What Side of the Road Will You Drive in Vietnam?

You shall be wary of the driving lanes as road users and rivers in Vietnam shall drive on the right-hand side of the road. The driving directions of all road users should always be on the right side.

What Is the Legal Driving Age in Vietnam?

Legal age is the age where people have full legal rights and they can already take full responsibility for their actions. The legal age for driving in Vietnam is 18 years old. You must be 18 years old to obtain a driving license and drive your car. However, as per Vietnam’s Traffic Law, it is legal to drive motorbikes under 50cc when you are 16 years old. Many students are using motorbikes to go to school.

It is important to be mindful of Vietnam’s law on road and traffic to keep you safe and away from any accidents. These driving rules will help you communicate effectively with other road users so that everybody can maintain peace and order and reduce road accidents. Neglecting driving rules are dangerous and it can lead to damage to property, bodily injury, and even the loss of your own life.

Driving Etiquette in Vietnam

A good and responsible driver follows rules governing safety in driving. Practicing road and driving etiquette to lessen the rate of being involved in accidents and any delays. Practicing this etiquette will help you reach your destination safely. Driving in Vietnam can be fun and also stressful especially in traffic jams or rude encounters with other drivers.

Along the way, you may encounter different situations that may trigger a dangerous encounter but you should maintain a cool head in facing these things. There might be other circumstances that may happen to you along your journey but be mindful of the things you should do when you encounter those situations.

What Will You Do When the Police Stop You?

Assuming that there is no accident and no injuries that happen and you are not involved with any irregularities, it should not be a big deal when the police stop you. There’s nothing to be afraid of especially if you abide by the laws. Just stay calm, turn off your engine, and be courteous to the police officer. Always bring your legal documents to have some form of identification with you that you can communicate effectively with the police officer. You must also remember that traffic policemen are obliged by law to salute you when they stop you.

But if the police stop you because you violate the law, stay put and stay calm. Also remember that if you fail to show your legal documents, the police officer may either confiscate your license or you need to pay a fine. Usually, the fines are paid on the spot to the police officer issuing the citation. If you are required to pay, don’t forget to ask for the receipt. But if you have no idea what law you violated, kindly ask the police officer.

What Will You Do When You Are Involved in An Accident?

Vietnam’s law when traffic accidents occur is that the individuals directly involved with the accident shall immediately stop the vehicles and give first aid to the victims. People involved in an accident should remain on the scene until the police arrive. People present in the place have the responsibilities to protect the scene and give immediate medical care to the injured. Immediately report to the nearest police office and provide true information about the accident.

In case of emergency, please contact the following hotlines in Vietnam:

  • Police Department - 113
  • Fire Department - 114
  • Ambulance - 115
  • Traffic Police in Ho Chi Minh - 0693 187 521

When Will You Only Use Honks?

In Vietnam, honks are toll to communicate with other drivers. It must be used correctly to convey the right message to other drivers. You must use your horns when rounding blind curves to alert others. A quick beep of the horn is a sign of courtesy which indicates that you are about to pass, approaching behind, or nearby another car. Three beeps of the horn are a sign of urgency and it’s a way of telling people to stay put.

What If A Car Breaks Down?

There might be instances that the car you rented is not in its well-maintained quality and the car just breaks down out of nowhere. When this happens, move your car to the side of the road and make sure that it is not blocking any driving lanes. After that, ask for help from a reputable mechanic to check the car. There are mechanics in most of the blocks in the city. Car rental companies should be the ones to shoulder the cost of the repair.

Who Should You Call When There Are Road Emergencies?

No car or motoring organization assists and help in case of emergency, but the police emergency number is 113. You can tell the police what is the nature of your problem and emergency. If you just rent a car, it is best to contact the car agency for help to have an immediate response.

What To Do If You Run Out of Gas?

If driving in Vietnam is new to you and you must know where the gasoline station is located. In Vietnam, you do not fill your tank, the attendants will do that for your car. Just simply tell them how many liters you want to fill your tank. The price of unleaded gasoline is approximately VND 20,000 per liter.

What If You Ask for Driving Directions?

If you are new to Vietnam and it’s your first time visiting the country, it is always useful to know some phrases to ask for directions. Being in an unknown city might be scary especially if you do not speak the language of the people in Vietnam, but knowing some phrases to ask for directions will help you find your right way to the beautiful places you wish to go.

What If There Are Checkpoints?

Policemen stand guard in different checkpoints in the city. Do not fear if you are being stopped at a checkpoint. The policemen are just doing their duties to ensure the safety and security of all the people passing from places to places.

There will be many situations along your driving journey in Vietnam that might be new to you. Just always remember to be aware of different scenarios that might happen to you but be calm and always be courteous to the people you are talking to. You’ll not get in trouble if you drive safely and follow the road and driving rules.

Driving Situations and Conditions in Vietnam

Driving your car means convenience and flexibility as you can go anywhere you like. But before renting a car, you may wonder about the road conditions and traffic situations after all. In general, road conditions in Vietnam are poor. Vietnam is notorious for road accidents since it frequently occurs. Roads users do not follow traffic laws most of the time. The transport sector is investing in securing road traffic safety in the country.

What Are the Road Conditions in Vietnam?

The main transportation route for cars is the highway and the main road. The majority of Vietnam’s roads are well-paved and maintained. You can expect that major highways are well-paved but typhoons and seasonal flooding may create potholes issues in the road.

Massive roundabouts are the norm in Vietnam when it comes to navigating different places in the cities. Most of the time, the lanes are not observed and motorbikes are jammed near the roundabout. It is a must to be cautious when you are approaching the roundabout and be mindful of the right of way in which larger vehicles are given more priority in the road.

What Are the Road Situations in Vietnam?

The standard of roads in Vietnam may vary from places to places, but generally, the roads are not well-maintained, except for the national highways. There are potholes in roads due to frequent flooding. Traffic jams are usually heavy during working hours and peak hours on the weekend.

What Is the Road Traffic in Vietnam?

Road traffic is chaotic and intense in Vietnam, especially when you are in the business and commercial districts and even places for tourists. Traffic accidents occur frequently and fatal injuries occur daily. Traffic-related injuries are the leading cause of death, severe injury, and emergencies. On average, at least 30 people die every day due to transport-related accidents.

What Are the Main Contributing Factors to Drunk Driving Crashes?

Drunk driving in Vietnam is prohibited. You will be penalized once the authority found out that you had an alcohol intake before driving a car. Police statistics indicate that drinking alcohol is one of the contributing factors for motor and other vehicle crashes. There are many efforts by the government to strengthen the drinking and drive prevention activities. There are educational programs on road safety including driving in Vietnam to prevent these accidents.

What Are the Frequent Vehicle Accidents in Vietnam?

Traffic accidents remain the number one cause of fatalities in Vietnam even though the government already initiated programs and initiatives to make local and national roads safer. Other causes of fatalities are due to inadequate law enforcement, poor driving skills, traffic congestions, and poor road and street conditions.

What Are the Common Vehicles Used in Vietnam?

Motorcycles are the most common vehicle used in Vietnam, being the world’s second-largest motorcycle ownership after Taiwan. Four-wheel-vehicle comes next as the common vehicle used in driving in Vietnam on an international license. Many countries use mph as a unit of measure for the speed limit, however, Vietnam is using km/h.

Is Driving in Vietnam Safe?

Vietnamese are not safe drivers. They do not often obey road and driving rules with little regard for traffic lights and signs. The road and driving rules in Vietnam are only followed when there is an authority or police officer in sight. You might be shocked by how Vietnamese are not law-abiding citizens, but of course, with the stricter implementation of the laws and more government initiatives, there might be changes in Vietnamese behavior.

What are the latest statistics on road accidents?

In a 2019 report by Vietnam Traffic Department, it has reported 9,820 traffic accidents, leaving 4,467 people killed, 2,794 people severely injured, and 4,676 others slightly injured. The number of traffic accidents dropped by 5.1 percent compared to the statistics in 2018. As said by the department, they are installing surveillance cameras in Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam’s capital Hanoi to ease traffic jams and accidents.

What Are the Global Statistics on Road Accidents in Vietnam?

Vietnam and Thailand are the only two countries in Southeast Asia that have a “very high” road deaths based on the number of fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants per year. This is based on the study released by International SOS in 2019. According to the 2018 statistics report from the World Health Organization (WHO), road death rates in Thailand reached 32.4 percent per 100,000 inhabitants.

Vietnam is a safe destination, but there are high risks to road safety. To be safe all the time, drivers must follow all road and driving rules. Drivers should exercise extreme caution to not be involved with any traffic and road-related accidents. Emergency roadside help is available nationwide. Just don’t forget these numbers you need to dial in case of emergency and drivers are advised to take precaution and care especially in road situations.

Things to Do in Vietnam

Vietnam is a country that is rich and full of history, culture, and experience. You can pick a variety of things you will do since Vietnam has a lot of things to offer. You may visit different cultural heritages; you may take your food fantasy in Vietnam and find the most delicious delicacies at a budget-friendly price; you may explore caves and dunes; you may take a trip to the beautiful architecture and historical ruins. You may explore different things

Can I Drive As A Tourist in Vietnam?

Foreigners are permitted to drive in Vietnam, just make sure you have an International Driving License (IDP) with you. IDP must be accompanied by your local driving license so that you can legally drive in Vietnam even as a tourist. Vietnam’s law indicated that a driver must have a driver’s license and must be 18 years old to be permitted to drive in every place in Vietnam. As long as you have proper and legal documentation, you’re good to go.

Driving without a license in Vietnam is a law that is both applicable to both tourists and locals. If you come upon an accident and you don’t carry a driving license with you, your health insurance will not foot your bills.

Can I Apply As A Driver in Vietnam?

You can get a Vietnam driving license as long as you submitted the required documents to the local Department of Transportations. Just be sure to check what local department you need to get in touch with because rules vary in different cities in Vietnam. The new law in 2020 indicates that to get a Vietnamese driver’s license, you need to have a minimum visa duration of 3 months.

Can Tourists Work As A Travel Guide in Vietnam?

Tourists look for an authentic experience and you may get that with the help of a good tourist guide. A good tour guide can help your vacation be more memorable and your experience more fun. Tour guides will be the one to you the beauty and value of the heritage and history of Vietnam. You can work as a freelance tour guide in Vietnam but you need to secure contracts with authorized travel agencies and join the Vietnam Association of Tour Guides.

Under the amended Law of Tourism, foreign tour guides are required to have a college degree or higher in tour guiding and have a good command of the Vietnamese language. These are required for foreigners as they might not be politically, culturally, historically, and linguistically competent to discuss Vietnam’s history and culture or they might provide inaccurate information about Vietnam.

The Top Road Trip Destinations in Vietnam

Vietnam is the home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, breathtaking landscape, and intricate architectural buildings and ruins. Driving to these sites is a great way to learn about history, culture, and architecture in Vietnam.

What Are the Top Spots in Vietnam?

Vietnam’s long history is connected to the different places you must visit. There are many untouched rural places and paradise in this country that must be discovered and explored. Create a memorable and fun trip to the lakes, parks, temples, and all the beautiful sceneries that can be found in Vietnam. Here is how you make your ultimate Vietnam road trip and what are the places you must go to:

My Son Sanctuary in Quang Nam Province

This is one of the world’s precious sites due to its cultural value and historical significance. The complex comprises ruined and abandoned Hindu temples that were the place to worship God Shiva. This place houses the lost kingdom’s ruins that will bring you to the long history of the war in Vietnam. You’ll see surviving structures and architectures that date back to the 7th to 13th centuries.

Hoi An Ancient Town in Quang Nam Province

You can hit two birds in Quang Nam because another heritage site is located here. Hoi An is the home to 800 historic buildings that were preserved for many centuries. Its walled city is the home for one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. The intricate designs and architectures are very evident in the past that was highly influenced by Japan, French, and China. This is the place to go if you’re looking into history and ancient times. The townscape and architectural buildings have not changed in the place.

Hai Van Pass to Hue

Once you are already done with Hoi An, it’s time to go to Vietnam’s ancient capital city, Hue, that will take you to the highway. This 13-mile stretch of mountainous highway offers you one of the most breathtaking views as it borders the East Vietnam Sea. Your driving journey from Hoi An to Hue might take about half a day, but you can have a side trip to Buddhist Temple atop Marble Mountain in Da Nang.

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi Capital

You wouldn't have a place to visit in Vietnam’s capital? This is the must-see heritage site, architectural buildings, old palaces, and even ancient roads that were built many centuries ago. It has a cultural and historical significance because of the artifacts and relics that date back as early as the 6th century. It reflects the unique culture and remnant of life of people in the past living in the Red River Delta.

Trang An Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province

Do you want to see one of the wonders of nature? This is the place to go if you want to find beautiful landscapes, and of course, the flora and fauna that we must protect. It is located in the South of the Red River Delta and you can view the limestone peaks, cliffs, and valleys. There’s also pagodas, temples, and small villages that were the evidence of early human activities in the place.

Đồng Văn Karst Plateau Geopark in Ha Giang

Cruising down Heaven’s gate will lead you to Đồng Văn Karst Plateau Geopark, one of the UNESCO world heritage sites, characterized by milestone peaks and rocks. You can also drive down to the town of Đồng Văn to have a view of the captivating ancient buildings and see the ethnic minorities every week doing business in the fair market.

Ha Long Bay in Ha Long

Your northern region trip would not be completed if you can’t go to Ha Long Bay. It is known for its traditional floating villages, scenery, islands, caves, and the calm and serene seascape. You can also get a tour boat or stay on Cat Ba Island to have full experience of these beautiful bodies of water. This dramatic road trip finale will offer you thousands of limestone cliffs and the island’s highest peak which is an incredible lifetime experience.

Xuân Hương Lake in Dalat

If you head further to secret highland with countryside charm and seaside destination, it will allow you to hike and trek, and do different adventures. In the heart of Dalat. Xuân Hương Lake is located. This is the place for the flower festival held every year. You can find the central market full of fresh flowers, vegetables, and candied fruit. If you’re up for an adventure.

Tràm Chim National Park in Mekong Delta

Nature lovers will love this place full of flora and fauna and wildlife sanctuary. Being the lowest area of the Mekong River, there are a lot of swamps and crisscrossing canals that have already become the habitat of many animals and plants. The mesmerizing landscapes of Tram Chim National Park is a great place for relaxation and peace. It will bring you back to your sense of deeper self connecting to nature and the world.

Do you see how diverse and beautiful the top spots in Vietnam are? You can find everything here starting from cultural and religious sites, ancient buildings and ruins, to beautiful landscapes, even white beaches, and mountain ranges.

Look at the places you can go to if you rent a car and have the freedom to go to these places at your phase and time. It is really easy to rent a car to be able to do that. Just make sure you have an international driver’s license in Vietnam and your local driving license to be able to have a full experience ahead of you. I hope you enjoy your trip to Vietnam and this guide helped you in making your journey much more exciting, meaningful, and memorable. Until your next trip!


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