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  #1  
Old 4 Aug 2010
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Vietnam: police cracking down on tourists riding illegally and confiscating bikes

I was reading in a french forum that the police in SaPa was cracking down on bikes hired by travellers and seizing the bikes, about 2 weeks ago. It is illegal for no residents to ride in Vietnam (without a vietnamese licence) but so far the police was turning a blind eye.
Any one has more up to date info on what is really happening? We will be heading there in 4 weeks time and have arranged to hire 2 bikes!
http://voyageforum.com/v.f?post=3534292;session=7330097df5463b68f1d50c1eb a26cd23;
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  #2  
Old 5 Aug 2010
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I don't have my international licence in front of me right now but I'm pretty sure that it is valid in Vietnam.

I certainly had no problem riding in Ho Chi Minh City 2 years back and nor did the thousands of other tourists hiring bikes. Whatever the case, it doesn't stop the hundreds of bike hire vendors/ hotels renting a bike - they simply hold your passport as security but do check your licence first.
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  #3  
Old 6 Aug 2010
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INFO from Embassy

Interesting post-
Out of curiosity, I telephoned the Vietnamese Embassy (12 Victoria Road, London W8 5RD 020 7937 1912) this morning.

They advise the following:

Any foreigner wishing to drive in Vietnam must (and this is now mandatory) apply and obtain a Temporary Driving Licence from the Vietnamese Authorities.

They recommend that you enquire as to the office's location on arrival at the airport.

If your licence is accepted, a Temporary one will be issued, printed in both English and Vietnamese to satisfy the police that you are allowed to drive in their country.
The validity of this permit is linked up to the maximum validity of your visa's duration.
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Old 6 Aug 2010
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Vietnam

Hello Maria and others,

I rode my 600 Tenere in Vietnam in 2001 and I had quite some trouble with the police. The police was very unfriendly and demanded lots of money. My license was not valid for Vietnam and they wanted to confiscate my bike (which I imported without custom documents).

After three hours with the police I just took my documents and rode away ... they could not follow a 600 Tenere, but they tried.

Than I did not stop for the police anymore, and I also did not stop at the road toll gates. After a month I left Vietnam, and I will never return. I did not like the people.

They won the war against the French, they won the war against the Americans and now they are fighting the war for the tourist dollar and they are also winning this.

My advise: if you ride in Vietnam stay away from the police.

Greetings

Mika
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  #5  
Old 6 Aug 2010
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Thank you all guys for your replies.

Mika shame you had such bad experience. I went to vietnam about 8 years ago (not on bikes) and I loved the place. Hwo on earth di dyou amnaged to get in with a 600cc? I thought only little bikes are allowed overthere and no foreigner' bikes in any case.

Bertrand, thanks for your post. Very good point you made and thanks for contacting the embassy. I will check that and keep everyone posted once I get there in a month time.

However if asking for a driving licence takes weeks I won't bother!
Shame they do not seem to accept the International driving licence. I believe it is also translated in vietnamese.


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Old 6 Aug 2010
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It is possible that there is a linear cause-and-effect relationship between tourists importing bikes illegally and refusing to stop for police or tolls in 2001 and greater difficulties for one and all in 2010....but of course that's just idle speculation.

In Guyana I had to get a local driving permit, despite carrying an International License. It took two hours in the mid-day heat, which I found very irritating at the time but in the scheme of things was not a big deal. The necessary document turned out to be a one-off, laboriously typewritten scrap of paper (literally--a full blank sheet was folded and torn roughly in half to save paper) in a "To Whom it May Concern" format. Maybe Vietnam will be similar.

Mark
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  #7  
Old 7 Aug 2010
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I got this email from John Berry that he asked me to post:
QUOTE:
comments = Would like to add a reply to your query re bikes being confiscated in Vietnam, however, unable to do so because of security restrications on my work computers. Would you please add this reply to your thread on the HUBB.

I have just returned from 3 weeks in southern Vietnam (down in the delta around Rach Gia) and was advised by the in-laws to not ride motorbikes as the police were cracking down on licences and confiscating motorbikes if you did not have a valid Vietnamese licence. I did see traffic police (the light brown/fawn uniform highway guys) stopping motorcyclists and confiscating motorbikes.

Westerners were riding motorbikes in HCM and on Phu Quoc Island.
END OF QUOTE

thanks John for this.
I will phone the embassy next week and will try to find out what the procedure is. If it is a matter of getting my licence translated in a piece of A4 paper like Markhaf, and can be done on the day, may as well do it.
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  #8  
Old 7 Aug 2010
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@ farqhuar:

the license says so, the vietnamese say different. ALso the german foreign affairs websites states the vietnamese do not accept the international license, therefore it is illegal

I talked to Expats while I was in Hanoi as I consideres getting the temporary license and everyone said it's a ****ed up process with loads of bribing and time necessary, it's easier of you get a real one than that one they said. So I didn't even boher, also cause nobody cared.

Also everyone (and I mean expats and locals) will tell you to not stop for the police as they just try to rip you of, cause if they really want something serious they'll get you. If they just wave, let em wave or even better, wave back. I met a couple of people who stopped and where then fined for speeding they hadn't done or an indicator not working or some bullcrap. A dutch couple had to pay for speeding and the photo that was shown to them, which magically was printed without a printer, on the side of the road, without even a camera, was years old and showed a car speeding, they were riding bikes. But the 3 policemen just took the keys of them and made them pay. So this not stopping thing is for real - don't stop.

But if it's true and they are starting to crack down on that, I hope they improve their system or accept international licences.

But as I guess they wont, it'll be a shame, it was such a great country to drive.
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Old 18 Aug 2010
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The international driving license is NOT valid in Vietnam.

Sad to hear this news. I was there last year riding for nearly 3 months and had not a single problem with the police. Usually they wouldn't bother of us tourist, not even look at us. Crossing borders (out to and back from Laos) they were very friendly and helpfull.
In Rach Gia/Phu Quoc they would sure let tourists ride bikes. A lot of new bikes there for rent and BIG plans to make the island a "new Phuket" (so try to visit it as long as it stays as it is now... they were working to change the face of the island allready last year... good for the business, bad for the non-deckchair/golf tourist).

Mika, my experience was completely different to yours. Vietnamese are some of the nicest people I've met. Off ocurse they're trying to make money. Who's not?
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Last edited by vander; 18 Aug 2010 at 15:08.
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  #10  
Old 19 Aug 2010
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The guys from BBC Top Gear did a motorcycle trip a few years ago in Vietnam. On arrival they took the test. It basically consisted of riding around a car park.
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  #11  
Old 22 Aug 2010
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I've lived in Vietnam for the past 2 years, currently drive a 400 cc bike and only have an international license. Here is what I know. Yes you are supposed to have a local A2 license for any motorbike over 175cc and an A1 license for anythng under 175cc. An A1 apparently is easy to get, however, plan to go with a number of copies of things like your passport, drivers license, visa and work permit (if you have one). An A2 is also (by law) supposed to be exchanged for a valid foreign license. However, I hear that it isn't so easy in practice, unless you have a local with 'contacts' and are willing to grease the wheels.
As for going with international licence. I've been driving extensively and carry my international license with about $20 USD inside. I have never had to use it. Apparently, the crack downs are limited to the cities and anything is negotiable in Vietnam. Outside of the cities I have had the police come out to the road dozens of times, and once they realize they are looking at a foreigner on a big motorcycle, they suddenly find something else to do. I have had them wave me over once and I pretended that I didn't see them and kept going. By the time I went by they seemed to have agreed that it was a good idea I keep going.
Bottom line, thing are not simple or clear here. But I know a lot of people and I don't know anyone who has ever had their bike confiscated. I do no many people who had to make contributions to the local police charity, but those were always a lot less than you would pay for a speeding fine in most other countries. No big deal.
If you have any questions, send me a message, happy to give my two cents.
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  #12  
Old 23 Aug 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogdog View Post
I've lived in Vietnam for the past 2 years, currently drive a 400 cc bike and only have an international license. Here is what I know. Yes you are supposed to have a local A2 license for any motorbike over 175cc and an A1 license for anythng under 175cc. An A1 apparently is easy to get, however, plan to go with a number of copies of things like your passport, drivers license, visa and work permit (if you have one). An A2 is also (by law) supposed to be exchanged for a valid foreign license. However, I hear that it isn't so easy in practice, unless you have a local with 'contacts' and are willing to grease the wheels.
As for going with international licence. I've been driving extensively and carry my international license with about $20 USD inside. I have never had to use it. Apparently, the crack downs are limited to the cities and anything is negotiable in Vietnam. Outside of the cities I have had the police come out to the road dozens of times, and once they realize they are looking at a foreigner on a big motorcycle, they suddenly find something else to do. I have had them wave me over once and I pretended that I didn't see them and kept going. By the time I went by they seemed to have agreed that it was a good idea I keep going.
Bottom line, thing are not simple or clear here. But I know a lot of people and I don't know anyone who has ever had their bike confiscated. I do no many people who had to make contributions to the local police charity, but those were always a lot less than you would pay for a speeding fine in most other countries. No big deal.
If you have any questions, send me a message, happy to give my two cents.

RogDog thanks for this clarification. It is reassuring. I am hoping for a trouble free holiday!

The rental agency told me not to bother with trying to get a temp licence (as advised by the embassy). So I won't bother! Just get the bikes in Hanoi and leave town.
Cheers,
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  #13  
Old 8 Aug 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogdog View Post
I've lived in Vietnam for the past 2 years, currently drive a 400 cc bike and only have an international license. Here is what I know. Yes you are supposed to have a local A2 license for any motorbike over 175cc and an A1 license for anythng under 175cc. An A1 apparently is easy to get, however, plan to go with a number of copies of things like your passport, drivers license, visa and work permit (if you have one). An A2 is also (by law) supposed to be exchanged for a valid foreign license. However, I hear that it isn't so easy in practice, unless you have a local with 'contacts' and are willing to grease the wheels.
As for going with international licence. I've been driving extensively and carry my international license with about $20 USD inside. I have never had to use it. Apparently, the crack downs are limited to the cities and anything is negotiable in Vietnam. Outside of the cities I have had the police come out to the road dozens of times, and once they realize they are looking at a foreigner on a big motorcycle, they suddenly find something else to do. I have had them wave me over once and I pretended that I didn't see them and kept going. By the time I went by they seemed to have agreed that it was a good idea I keep going.
Bottom line, thing are not simple or clear here. But I know a lot of people and I don't know anyone who has ever had their bike confiscated. I do no many people who had to make contributions to the local police charity, but those were always a lot less than you would pay for a speeding fine in most other countries. No big deal.
If you have any questions, send me a message, happy to give my two cents.
Hi Rogdog,

I have been in VN for 2.5 yrs now but have been living in Hanoi. Have just moved to HCMC and also have a 400cc bike with me. I have been riding very comfortably in Hanoi without much of an issue.

However, I have heard that police is much more strict. Please share your thoughts as I can see that you also ride a big bike here.

Would also like to have some introduction to people who have big bikes and who go on rides. Used to go riding almost every weekend, but due to lack of contacts have not been able to connect with any riders here.

Let me know if we can meet sometime for a drink and if you would like to ride on any weekend.

My e-mail id is - chaudharyk@gmail.com

Cheers.
KC
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  #14  
Old 8 Aug 2011
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"They don't like us"

Quote:
Originally Posted by vander View Post

Mika, my experience was completely different to yours. Vietnamese are some of the nicest people I've met. Off ocurse they're trying to make money. Who's not?
Lucky you, I am happy you met such wonderful people, but try to go to Iran and you will never come back then, those are really nice blocks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mika View Post
Hello Maria and others,

They won the war against the French, they won the war against the Americans and now they are fighting the war for the tourist dollar and they are also winning this.

My advise: if you ride in Vietnam stay away from the police.

Greetings

Mika
Long term residents will have a more balanced opinion, but as a visitor and as a Brit resident in Thailand summarized it: "they don't like us". I absolutely agree. I have lots of patience, but in the end you just cannot stand their attitude and sometimes explode(=scammers). Someone also said "India lacking the charm". (To us, the more south you go, the worse it gets).

Just a tiny advice: do not EVER pay your accomodation without a receipt. Pay the first night (in case there is any hidden cost, no matter how much you asked). Then keep it and apply that for the next nights. I heard many cases of people paying, then another guy says "no, you didn't", call his colleague on the phone and he says "no, never paid". Don't bother calling the police, they do not give a s*it for us foreign enemies.

Sorry to say that, sounds really bad, we wanted to love Vietnam, some places are beautiful and they suffered a lot, but Viets are way to harsh. People had warned us. I say: go to Burma, we definitely got our rented scooters confiscated in Mandalay, but beautiful in all senses.

PS: We rode scooters with a Belgian guy on a Minsk in Hue with no worries, but I remember -please, correct me if I am wrong- that he told us it is actually illegal to own them if you are not a resident, but police did not bother at the time.
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Old 20 Aug 2011
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Hi guys, i've been riding the north of vietnam from the 23rd july to the 8th of august, than i pass to laos. I bought a minsk in Hanoi and i drove to the coast (haipong and cat ba) than up north all the way up to Ban Gioc, Ha Giang region then i took the north west loop passing trough bac ha, lao cai, sapa till tray trang (dien bien phu border with laos). I never had problem with police, i saw many of them, especially on the way from hanoi to haipong but i never got stopped... maybe was just luck.... anyway this was my experience!
if you have some news please post it.. i'm re-entering in vietnam from cambodia around 5th of september.. i hope they wont make me problem for the driver licence!

Sil
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