Vietnam Driving Advice and Car Hire Info
When I set up DriverAbroad.com in 2012, Vietnam didn’t recognise the International Driving Permit and those wishing to drive here had to go through the laborious process of applying for a Vietnamese Licence. Thankfully, since March 2019, you can drive on the licence of most countries plus an IDP. Long term residents may still need a Vietnamese licence so I’ve left the information at the foot of the page. Bear in mind this was based on research from 2011 and 2012.
Roads in Vietnam have improved a lot in recent years though many roads away from urban areas are still unpaved and often in poor condition. The government is engaged with private companies in constructing a network of expressways to link major cities. Routes completed so far include the Hanoi-Lang Son Expressway which will connect to China’s G7211, the Hanoi–Haiphong Expressway and Hanoi-Lao Cai Expressway which is complete between Hanoi airport and the Chinese border. National Route 1A is the 2300km trans-Vietnam highway. The route begins Hữu Nghị Quan Border Gate near the China-Vietnam border and runs the length of the country connecting major cities including Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City, ending at Năm Căn township in Cà Mau Province.
To say the traffic in Vietnamese Cities is chaotic is an understatement. Roads are a seething mass of traffic, mainly motorbikes, with the occasional stranded pedestrian ducking and diving trying to avoid being hit. Motor bikes and cars seldom obey any rules of the road and it often seems amazing that only 30 people per day die on Vietnams roads. Hanoi is marginally more chaotic than HCMC. Driving in a City in Vietnam is likely to be one of the most challenging experiences a self drive traveller faces anywhere in the world. Once out of Cities, traffic is generally lighter but roads are in worse condition and the fact that traffic is lighter gives buses and lorries the opportunity to speed and overtake on blind bends and hills. Roads won’t have street lights and there are likely to be unlit vehicles and animals wandering in the road- you should avoid driving at night. Police are likely to stop foreigners driving cars since January 2020, any alcohol in the blood at all is an offence and rules around drink driving will be enforced rigorously.
It’s worth mentioning Vietnamese city roads in terms of handling them as a pedestrian as crossing the road here can be a challenge. If you stand and wait for a gap in the non stop traffic flow on a multi lane road, you’ll wait all day. You therefore have to steel yourself and attempt to cross. Look for a slight gap, and make it clear you intend to cross. Walk slowly at a steady pace – raising your hand helps to ensure you’re seen. The cars and motorbikes won’t stop, but they should slow down to let you cross their lane, or move round you. Keep going, with the same steady pace. Don’t ever stop or try to go back. Making sudden moves is likely to result in you being hit. Keep your eye on the traffic but only take evasive action if you’re sure a car (or more likely a bus) hasn’t seen you and is approaching too fast. Also watch locals to see how they cross the road. If you really daren’t proceed, ask one to help you across!
Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.
Vietnam Car Rental –
Avis and Hertz have branches in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi and seem to offer self drive. Sixt only seem to offers cars with a driver.
We currently have no local car rental partners in Vietnam. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on DriverAbroad.com please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on ADriverAbroad@Outlook.com.
Pre March 2019 Information on obtaining a Vietnamese driving licence-
You need a Vietnamese licence to rent the car. Theres a lot of contradictory info on the web on getting a Vietnamese licence.
However the following info seems correct –
Most foreigners who have a driver’s license issued in their home countries simply have to register for a license here,’says Lam Thanh Trung, vice-chief of the Agency for Granting Driving Licenses.
The agency processes over 100 licenses for foreigners every month,’ says Trung. ‘With the required documents, one can have their license registered within seven days.’ Now that statement has been greeted with some scepticism by Nam regulars on some internet forums. ‘More like seven weeks’ was one comment i got.
Who can get a driver’s license in Vietnam:
According to a 2006 mandate by the Ministry of Transportation, all foreigners can register for a license in Vietnam if they had a valid one issued to them in their home countries.
Each city or province’s Department of Transportation is in charge of granting driver’s licenses for foreigners with licenses issued in their home countries.
However, licenses are only granted to those who have valid travel visas for a period of at least three months in Vietnam (though the actual length of the visit does not have to be that long).
Many tourists make the mistake that it’s legal to drive here with an international driver’s licence. But they also have to register,’ Trung says. ‘The period for which a [registered] license remains valid is based on the expiry date of one’s original license from home,’
Standard driver’s licenses in Vietnam last for five years. Motorbike licenses, on the other hand, have no expiry date.’An important point to note, how-ever, is that the type of license issued in Vietnam will only be equivalent to the type granted in one’s home country. For instance, ‘A four-wheel driver’s license can-not be registered to ride a motorcycle,’ Trung stresses. Those who have a four-wheel license but want to ride a motorcycle will have to pass an exam on riding techniques, but won’t have to take a written exam on traffic laws.
To begin, a form requesting a license must be obtained (see below) and filled out by any one of the following: the Vietnamese Embassy, the Consulate General, the Representative Office of International Organization in Vietnam, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (I believe the Embassy of most countries will also help get a licence for their citizens)
WHAT’S REQUIRED: The following submissions are required for a foreigner to get a driver’s license in Vietnam:
A valid passport with 3 month Visa
1 petition (issued form) requesting driver’s license
1 copy (notarized duplicate) of original driver’s license
1 Vietnamese-translated copy (notarized duplicate) of driver’s license
1 copy (duplicate) of passport 3 passport-sized photos
Original copies of passport and driver’s license must be shown when submitting all documents
Forms to request a driver’s license can be obtained at the Agency for Granting Driver’s Licenses or sgtcc.hochiminhcity.gov.vn
In Ho Chi Minh City, all documents must be submitted to the authorities for driver’s license registration, located at: 252 Ly Chinh Thang Street, District 3, 8 Nguyen Anh Thu Street, District 12.
Open weekdays only.The fee is VND30,000 (US$2) for one license.
THE IMPORTANT PARTS: Only good for the same as your countries license, takes 7 days to get it and you have to get a 3 month visa.
There are also a few online resources available detailing how to get a licence whilst in the country such as the links below-
VIETNAMESE DRIVER’S LICENSE
So from the above it always seemed that you had to be in the country before you could apply for the licence. However, as of July 13 that may be changing. Mr Nguyen, who is the owner of http://vietnamesedrivinglicense.com/ has provided the following info on obtaining a VDL and the service he can provide –
AN KHANG – INTERNATIONAL DRIVING LICENSE
Office TPHCM : 85 – Điện Biên Phủ – Quận 1 – TP.HCM Office Hà Nội: 101- Láng Hạ – Đống Đa – Hà Nội
20 – Cộng Hòa -Quận Tân Bình – TP.HCM Office Huế : 23- Đường Hà Nội -TP Huế
968 – Đường 3 Tháng 2 – Quận 11- TP.HCM Office Cần Thơ : 17- Lê Lợi – Ninh kiều – Cần Thơ
Phone: 08.6680.7057__Fax: 0839101292 Hotline : 0983.247.057 – 0902.247.057