Expenses for a Motorbike Road Trip in Vietnam

Last updated April 2016 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

INTRODUCTION | EXPENSES GUIDE | RELATED POSTS

I receive lots of emails from readers wanting to know how much a motorbike road trip through Vietnam will cost. Below, I’ve put together a list of necessary expenses and worked out what an average daily budget might be while on the road in Vietnam. These costs are based on hundreds of road trips that I’ve taken – both solo and in a group – over many years of motorbiking in Vietnam. Of course, to a certain extent, expenses for a motorbike road trip in Vietnam will depend on how much you want to spend. In general, I have assumed that most travellers on motorbike rides in Vietnam fall into the budget to mid-range category, and are willing to stay in local guesthouses and eat local food. I have estimated the following prices accordingly, so you can relax and stay within your budget.

Vietnam motorbike road trip expensesRelax and stay within budget on your Vietnam road trip

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GUIDE TO DAILY EXPENSES:


Below I’ve outlined all basic daily expenses for a motorbike road trip, followed by an estimated total daily budget. Click an item from the contents to read more about it:

CONTENTS:


MOTORBIKE RENTAL: $10 per day

One of the biggest expenses will be your motorbike. For this, there are two options: rent or buy. Without going into details about the pros and cons of renting vs buying (that’s for another post), in general your motorbike will cost you around $10 a day.

RentIf you choose to rent your motorbike, you should do so from a reputable company: Rent a Bike Vietnam and Flamingo Travel are both professional, efficient and reliable rental services, and they can usually arrange pick-up and drop-off in particular locations around the country. Rental costs per day will depend on what kind of motorbike you want. But, for the most common motorbikes – standard automatics or semi-automatics – the cost will be around 200,000vnđ (around $10) per day. If you’re renting for a week or more you should be able to negotiate a discount.

BuyYou can buy a used motorbike, such as a Honda Win, for as little as $200, but you will have to spend money on maintenance before and, most probably, during your trip, which, aside from being a nuisance, will increase the costs considerably. However, there is another way: Tigit Motorbikes offers various motorbikes, all in excellent condition, for around $1,000 – sounds expensive, but wait! Tigit will then guarantee buying back the motorbike at the end of your road trip for $750 depending on the motorbike and the duration of your trip. So, in many cases this works out at far less than $10 per day, and you can rest assured that your motorbike has been well-maintained, because it’s in Tigit’s interest to keep their motorbikes in good condition as they will be buying them back and using them again.   

Rent or buy a motorbike for your road trip in VietnamRent a standard motorbike for around $10 a day: it’ll take you anywhere you want to go

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ACCOMMODATION: $10 per day

Once you have your motorbike, your biggest daily expense while on the road will be accommodation.

GuesthousesUnless you’re sticking entirely to the beaten track, you will be spending most nights in nhà nghỉ (local guesthouses). These can be found all over the country – even in the remotest regions – and are usually great value for money: 200-350,000vnđ ($9-16) for a double or twin room makes them particularly good value for couples or two travelling companions. If you’re travelling alone and you bargain politely you should be able to get a room for 150,000vnđ ($7). For much more about nhà nghỉ read my guide to local guesthouses here.

CampingOne way to significantly reduce the cost of accommodation is to camp. This is definitely an option on remote stretches of road, such as the Western Ho Chi Minh Road, or where there are designated campsites, such as the Ocean Road. However, it does mean taking more equipment on the back of your motorbike and, if you’re camping in the ‘wild’, you should be very careful when choosing a site to pitch your tent. For more on camping in Vietnam take a look at my camping guides archive here.

Search all kinds of Accommodation in Vietnam:

Camping on a Vietnam road tripCamping can cut costs on a motorbike road trip in Vietnam

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FUEL: $2-3 per day

How much you spend on gas will depend on the distances you intend to cover each day, and on the type of motorbike you’re riding. A long day on the road in Vietnam is around 300km; a short day is around 100km. Of course there will be days when you will be static and this will offset the average daily cost for gas. Most standard motorbikes have a 3-4 litre tank which will take you around 100-200km, depending on the condition of the motorbike and the terrain you’re covering. At the time of writing (April 2016) gas prices were extremely low: At around 16,000vnđ per litre, a full tank only costs between 40-60,000vnđ ($2-3). On average – over your entire road trip, taking into account the days that you will be static – you will probably only use one tank of gas per day.

Buying gas on the road in VietnamBuying gas at an ‘unofficial’ filling station in the Central Highlands

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FOOD & DRINK: $6-9 per day

When it comes to food – and especially drink – how much you spend is down to you. Eat local street food for all your meals (which in itself is a great experience) and you could pay as little as 20,000vnđ (under $1) per meal. If you are eating locally, a large, hearty breakfast or lunch accompanied by a coffee or a soft drink should never really be more than 50,000vnđ ($2) per person. Dinner can be just as cheap but, after a long day in the saddle, most travellers feel the need for a few ice cold beers and a relative banquet. This will probably double the cost: 100,000vnđ per person will get you a feast, including alcohol. When you’re riding along the coast, it’d be a shame to miss out on the seafood, but this too can cost a little more. Based on a bowl of noodles and a coffee for breakfast, a soft drink and a rice-based meal for lunch, and a large dinner with beers, 140-200,000vnđ ($6-9) per day should cover it. When riding in isolated areas of the country, most meals will be at quán cơm phở (local rice and noodle joints) which you can read more about here.

Typical meal on the road in VietnamTypical $2 meal on the road in Vietnam

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ADDITIONAL COSTS: $1-5 per day

Allow a few dollars per day for extra costs. These might include entrance tickets for attractions, sites, museums; minor motorbike repairs, such as a flat tyre; roadside snacks like a packet of biscuits; and lots of water to keep you hydrated. Also, leave room for some ‘luxuries’: a sunset cocktail at a smart beach bar, or a western meal in a big city after days of eating rice in the mountains.

Vietnam road trip luxuriesA few luxuries on a road trip are hard to resist

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AVERAGE TOTAL DAILY COST: $25-35 per day

Bear in mind that the calculations below include the cost of your motorbike, which, in reality, will be paid as a lump sum at the start of your trip: either when you pick up your motorbike from the rental company, or when you buy your motorbike. The following estimates are per person, per motorbike, per day: travelling two on a motorbike or travelling in a small group will significantly reduce the average daily cost, because you will be sharing the expenses for room, food and gas. If you’re on a really tight budget you can probably manage to shave off 100,000vnđ ($5) from The Ascetic:

  • The Ascetic: $25 (550,000vnđ)
  • The Flashpacker: $35 (800,000vnđ)

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RELATED POSTS:

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Selected Resources for Travellers & Expats:  What's this?

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73 Responses to Expenses for a Motorbike Road Trip in Vietnam

  1. Julius says:

    Fantastic blog. Super helpful. Thank you very much for sharing.

    Quick question: you suggested about 3-4 days for the golden loop. What locations would you add if you can extend that loop to a total of 6 days?

    Thanks a lot

  2. chiang says:

    Hi Tom!
    Im thinking of going on a motorbike roadtrip from Hanoi to HCM.
    May i ask if you have international drivers license during your trip?
    if yes, how?

    Thank you!

  3. Jonai says:

    hello Tom, I can’t say how thankful I am that your website exists! I booked a flight to Hanoi this december and i plan to do the ff consecutively:
    Cat Ba- Halong
    Sapa / Fansipan
    Extreme North Loop
    NorthEast Loop

    However, since I wil go to Hanoi by night train, Im not sure how I could rent a bike that I can use moving forward to the loops. You mentioned that Flamingo and Rentabike can deliver to wherever in the country? Have you had any experience of this please? Thanks and I’m hopeful to get a response. :)

  4. Nick says:

    Hi Tom,
    Im heading to Vietnam for 5 weeks at the end of September to film a solo motorcycle adventure documentary. I was planning on leaving from Hanoi and venturing through Cambodia and Laos while heading south to HCM. Do you think that I will have enough time to see these other countries or is 5 weeks only enough to explore Vietnam?
    Thanks for any help.

  5. Pingback: Cestování na motorce – fakta, mýty, rady a tipy - Travel Bible

  6. Jessica says:

    Hi Tom!

    Love your site, its very helpful in planning my upcoming trip in the north! Wonder if you know if its possible to hire a guide together with the motorbike at one of the bikeshops you mentioned, and if so, how much does it cost? I’d like to ride pillion with the guide as I’m not a very good rider and the roads in the north seem pretty daunting..

    Thanks!

  7. S Kahn says:

    Hi mate,

    Really love your blog! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

    Quick question which i’d very grateful for if you could answer:
    -Roughly how long does it take to travel 100 km on the highways? I know this depends a lot on traffic and stuff but could you give me a rough guide?
    (If you want specifics: we’ll be setting off at 5:30 AM in the mornings, and we are all amateur bikers so won’t be driving too fast)

    I know that’s a stupid question to ask cos it varies so much but i’ve been looking at folks who take a whole day to travel 100-150 km. What do you think? I was hoping you could cover that in 5 hours!

  8. Chris says:

    Not sure if this is the best place to include this but I have seen some posts concerning tickets here. I am a few miles short of 3000 and have been stopped once and received a ticket. It was ata road block in Mui Ne. I showed my blue card and they asked for international drivers license which I did not have. They had an official looking fine sheet that showed that infraction was 800000 to 1200000. As I was looking through my money he said 500 okay, so I paid it and on my way

  9. Chris says:

    This is not totally related to finances but if you are considering a trip, my opinion is that a mask with a clear face guard is the way to go. It will help big time in rain and also keeps down wind fatigue, possibly a little city pollution although not sure on that last part… you can also open it up if you want the wind in your face at times.

  10. Jerry says:

    Hi Tom, Great post full of information and your price estimation will certainly help a lot.My friends and I are planning to have motorbike ride in Vietnam for next vacation.Can you please tell me which season or month it is most suitable to have motorbike trip and recommend me some place???

  11. Brian says:

    Am thinking of doing the Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City ride or the other way around. What months would be best weather-wise?

    Brian

  12. Jeremy Kemp says:

    Tom,

    Myself and four friends (from the States) are planning a three week motorbike trip from HCMC to Hanoi (roughly a la your itinerary). Having been to HCMC previously, I know how hellacious traffic is in Vietnamese cities. Do you have any recommendations for how to minimize risk while riding out of HCMC into the much safer countryside? Times of day, routes, etc.? We are using Rent-A-Bike and picking up the bikes from the Saigon train station on May 18. Our primary concern is maximizing safety while on the road!

    Further, we are all outdoors enthusiasts and are planning to camp out roughly two of every three nights on the trip as a way to save a bit of money and enjoy the terrain! Any advice on camping? Particularly nice spots you had along your route? Ways to not draw attention to ourselves? Logistical suggestions? We are planning on hammock camping!

    Sorry to inundate you! Your website has been a spectacular resource.

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

  13. Sean Reddington says:

    Great stuff Tom,
    I am moving to HCMC at the end of July. It would be great to meet up for a cold one. What district would you recommend for a Yankee to live in? One more is there a lot of people playing tennis? Thanks for all the information.

    Sean

  14. Charlie Saunders says:

    Hi, I am going motorbiking in Vietnam shortly, and I am still unsure whether to hire or buy a motorbike. I’ve heard stories of people hiring bikes, and getting charged ridiculous amounts of money by the hire companies for minimal damage (just a scratch), and I was wondering if this would be the case with the two companies you recommended?
    Also, another problem is that you can’t get personal liability insurance cover in the UK for motorbiking abroad, and so wouldn’t it be easier to buy insurance as part of hiring the bike, rather than buying a bike and then having to go and get insurance separately?
    I’m probably leaning to towards hiring rather than buying, but I just wanted to check these couple of things with you. Thanks so much!

  15. Don says:

    Tom do you know if a international lic. is now valid in Vietnam or not? I have found mixed information on line.

    Cheers

    Don

  16. Holly says:

    Hiya! Great info. My partner and I are heading to Vietnam next week and would love to get a bike. You see a lot more of the actual country this way we like to think. As we are only there for a month, we are thinking we might save ourselves the hassle and just rent a bike. We have our big bags, about 25kg total, plus us. Do you know of any rental companies that would have bikes to rent that would fit us both on and have a bag rack? Would be easier to buy and get a rack made, but time constraints! Thanks, Holly

  17. Rebekah says:

    Hi Tom! Super excited to bring my teen son to Vietnam. First trip there and first time choosing to road trip! I should think it wouldn’t be an issue to buy motorbikes on arrival but I’m wondering how the selling can be acheived before our departure flights?? Any thoughts? Any tips on what we shouldn’t miss in the Ho Chi Minh area before heading to Hanoi? We will need to loop back for our departure flight as well so perhaps a coastal path on the way there and inland on the way back? Thanks so much for all of your artcles and advice! It makes a first timers experience so much better :)

  18. Dorianne Sarrazin says:

    Hello Tom,

    I am planning to drive to hanoi from Mui Ne so I’m going to buy a bike in Mui Ne. Do you think an automatic is ok or should i buy a semi-automatic? I heard that to going to Da Lat the road are very up and down and it coast me more fuel with an automatic. But i never drive a semi-automatic before.
    Can you give me advice about what do think i should buy?

    Thank u very much :-)

  19. Calla says:

    Hi Tom,
    Thank a lot for your information. It’s so useful for me this time. I’m planing to travel from Ho Chi Minh to Ha Noi by motorbike on October. But It’s quite not easy for a girl . So I’m finding a partner who wants to travel like this to go together. However, not yet found. :) By the way, thanks again.

  20. Patricia says:

    Your blog is a find! I’ve already sent the link to 12 people who are going to vietnam this year. We are going to Vietnam for the month of November and were looking to kayak around Bai Tu Long Bay and Halong Bay but now are considering motorbiking your northern route and the falls. How hard to learn to ride a motorbike like the one in the photo. I’m a cyclist and the last time I had a dirtbike I was 15.

  21. Jyoti says:

    Hi Tom,

    What a lovely site you have built. I am planning a motorbike trip next week, as a pillion rider. Haven’t ridden in a while. Maybe I’ll ride next time.

    Your estimates are very helpful. Planning a ride slightly north of and around the Mekong Delta, starting in HCMH.

    Best regards,
    Jyoti

  22. Phuong Khuu says:

    Hi Tom, where did you buy your tent? Thanks^^

  23. James Matthews says:

    Hi Tom

    Me and 3 mates travel to Ho Chi Minh this Satruday, we are buying motorbikes and driving up to Hanoi.

    Do you have any recommendations on where to buy our Bikes in HCMC?

    Regards
    James

  24. Samuel Mather says:

    A legend indeed… Nice shots, too. Another great post from The Vietnam (C)oracle!

  25. Thao says:

    What a useful piece of information, Tom! When I did the motorbike trip with my friend Kevin last year, I had to send him a similar list of expenses prior to his arrival in Vietnam. From now on, if any of my foreign friends ask me for helping with this, I just simply share your post :).

  26. Alan Murray says:

    Hi Tom

    No mention of obtaining a Vietnamese driving licence.
    In Dalat recently they wouldn’t hire you a bike without one.
    Although you can get round this, if you have an accident and you haven’t a licence, any health/accident travel insurance won’t pay out.
    I heard of travelers who did get around it, had an accident and the police confiscated the bikes. VND3m to get each bike back!
    Thanks for another useful post.

    Cheers

    Alan

  27. Matt says:

    Hi Tom,
    Thankyou for your guides. You are a legend!
    I have been thinking about next (4th) trip to VN, and you have inspired me to bike it.
    See you on the road.
    Mot, hai, ba, YO!

  28. Huy Nguyen says:

    The ultimate comfort food for me in your photo.
    I would pay 10 times what you paid for it in the photo :)

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