21 Feb Driving (Il)legally in Vietnam
There’s one thing I definitely won’t miss when we leave Vietnam: the traffic. There’s no way I’m brave enough to drive through these hectic streets myself but Andrew tackles them daily and he has plenty of terrifying stories to show for it. Just the other day we were driving innocently over a crossroad when we almost collided with a crazy Vietnamese man who was speeding through a red light – did he even slow down when he saw us? No, Andrew had to give way to him! It often feels like the Wild West on the roads out here.
If you’re heading to Vietnam then you’ll probably need an invitation letter for your Visa On Arrival, we recommend Vietnam Visa as they provide a professional, efficient and transparent service.
How to Drive Legally in Vietnam
Even more terrifyingly, when renewing our travel insurance a few weeks ago we discovered we weren’t even insured to ride our motorbike because we didn’t have a Vietnamese licence – oops. Yes, I know this all sounds crazy by Western standards but actually, it’s common to ride without a licence here. It’s a well-known fact that the Vietnamese traffic police rarely stop Tays (foreigners) and our language centre recommended hiring a bike with no mention of having a licence; most of the other teachers do the same because the process of getting one is so long-winded and expensive.
Still, we decided it was pretty pointless to pay out for travel insurance which didn’t cover the most dangerous thing we do every day so we figured out a solution. In Vietnam you don’t need a licence to drive a 50cc bike, so we traded in our more powerful 125cc model for a Little Cub which means we’re now driving legally and are insured. This doesn’t make driving here any more sane, but having insurance, moving slowly and wearing sturdy helmets gives us some peace of mind.
Our American Road Trip
After two years of travelling through Asia it will certainly be a relief to hang up our helmets and head back to the relatively calm British roads in the summer. We’re also looking forward to our American road-trip this autumn; our flights to and from New York are booked and we’ve got a two-month hire car reserved so that we can follow the spectacular fall foliage through New England.
If our experience of driving in Hanoi has taught us anything, it’s that we need to thoroughly research driving regulations and insurance options before we get to America. With that in mind we’ll be researching insurance and renewing our International Driving Licences in the coming months.
Spoiler alert: we’re tentatively concocting a new travel plan for next year that involves buying a car and driving through Europe to find teaching work in Spain – what do you think, good idea?