Updated: Oct 31, 2019
That is the question and we hear a lot of debate and opinion around the answer. Here are some facts and a pricing structure to help you make an informed decision
The most common argument against spending the money and taking the time to become legal on the roads here is that the police don't seem to care about it. In a roadside stop situation a small fine (200 - 500k) is usually enough to get you on your way so I understand where that rationale comes from. The police can charge 700k for this as the correct fine and confiscate the bike if they so desire. They don't normally do this with polite foreigners who agree to pay the fine except in an accident situation but if they do 1.9M is the usual fee to get it back. The police in this situation is NOT where your risk lies as an unlicensed rider.
The POLICE attitude changes very quickly in an accident situation. If you are not licenced and involved in an accident you are automatically in the wrong regardless of the circumstances.
If there is just property damage then a fee at least equal to repairing that damage will be charged. The major RISK riding here unlicensed however is in the situation that someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of the accident. The accident is your fault regardless of how IN THE RIGHT you are or think you are! You are responsible for compensation to the family in the death situation and for the rehabilitation of any injured party. Given that most riders don't wear anything much in the way of protective riding apparel or even a decent helmet injuries are common even at low speeds. In these situations your bike will be compounded and your passport can be held until compensation has been made to the satisfaction of the police and other parties involved.
Another thing to check is your health insurance. Its more than likely that riding illegally will void your cover and your injuries also may be at your own expense.
Most people put this off as they feel it is a lengthy and costly process but it really isn't. These are the options available at the time of this update.
You have a photo licence with bike endorsement in your home county. No need to take any tests. Just have a Vietnamese licence endorsed. With a translator to help costs 800K VND. You can do this yourself also even cheaper but can be difficult with the language barrier.
You only have a car licence in your home country. This is now a three part process over around four weeks. Firstly a medical examination which isn't particularly thorough. Then you licence is translated to a Vietnamese car licence with any endorsements you had included. Note: This license will expire with your visa or TRC but just 135k to have it stamped for your next tenure here. Then you take a simple practical test only to get your separate A1 up to 175cc bike license which is lifetime irrespective of your continuance of the car license or not.. Cost for the entire process is 6M VND.
A2 open motorcycle licence if no licence elsewhere is no longer an option straight up. Once you have the lifetime A1 though there will be an avenue to the open licence but there may be a time on the A1 required for this but at the time of this update no indication of that has been given. The practical for the A2 is on a full manual Honda CB 250 supplied.
Contact Trevor Long 0906849000 at Saigon Motorcycles by text message or via our website if you would like to pursue any of these licence options. Need full name, email address and phone contact in the first instance and we can send further details.
Cheap insurance and great peace of mind.