How to ride a motorcycle in Saigon and live to tell the story


Ho Chi Minh City

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 06/12/2023, 06:15

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In Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, there are approximately 5 million motorcycles for the 10 million inhabitants. All these consist of small scooters. These scooters always seem to be in all parts of the city at all the hours of the day. A probable reason for the popularity of scooters in Saigon is the convenience they offer to the residents.

A scooter is much cheaper to own and maintain than a car, in addition to this, a scooter can effectively facilitate a quick trip around the city. The popularity of scooters in Saigon has been the main contributing factor to the crazy traffic in the city. As an expat or tourist, you may find yourself having a motorcycle at your disposal to help you with the quick travels in the city. To ride a motorcycle in Saigon and live to tell the story, you have to develop a thick skin towards the other road users. In Saigon, traffic etiquette is in the past, it’s all about struggle, fighting for that tiny gap in the traffic for you to squeeze in and stay ahead of the pack in order to beat the rush.

When riding a motorcycle in Saigon, it is imperative to know the high risk areas in the city. Locations such as the Thu Duc District have abnormally high accident rates. Therefore, as a road user, you have to exercise a lot of caution, especially in the area around the stretch from the Thu Duc Intersection to the High Technology Park. The presence of many container trucks is often attributed to this elevated number of accidents. Another location where you have to exercise a lot of caution as a motorcycle rider is the area from the 621 Junction, all the way to the Vung Tau Intersection. This stretch is very narrow and also has a high number of container trucks speeding along it.

To escape from areas with high intensity of traffic accidents such as Thu Duc district, Tan Binh district…, there is a workable solution for you. You can find your accommodations in other districts such as district 2, district 3,…which are safe to ride a motorbike. When living in these districts you will not have to ride your motorbike in a long journey because all utilities such as schools, supermarkets, hospitals are built near your living area. For example if you rent an apartment in Thao Dien ward, district 2, you do not need to go far to buy food because there are up to three big supermarkets which can serve you all the time: An Phu supermarket, Big C supermarket and Metro supermarket. Just with 5 to 10 minutes riding a motorbike you can reach to your destination so it is not worth worrying about traffic jam or accidents.

Another solution that can work is that you can use public transportation such as buses to get to your places instead of riding a motorbike because it is not far from district 2 to the center of Ho Chi Minh City.

It is true that riding a motorbike in a short journey will help you avoid accidents but no one can predict their future. Therefore, though you live in a safe area, you still need to be careful. It is important to be on the lookout for the road users who disregard traffic rules, is some instances; some road users will often use the wrong side of the road so as to get to their destinations quickly and to escape traffic snarl ups. Ensure that you do not fall a victim to a head on collision with such road users.

In Saigon, your insurance policy may not cover you if you do not possess a local driver’s license. Without insurance cover, you may be left to foot the costs arising from your hospitalisation or the hospitalisation or the other victim and the necessary repairs out of your pocket. It is also a serious traffic offence to operate a motorised vehicle in Saigon without a valid driver’s license. For this reason, you may have to apply for one as soon as you set foot in the city if you intend to drive or ride a motorised vehicle. Bag snatchers are also a common phenomenon, be sure to firmly tuck your bag on your sides, these bag thieves operate even in the traffic. Your security also applies to that of your motorcycle, leaving it with the keys in is a no-no.