The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Vietnam

Vietnam is a gorgeous country that has had a tragic history. Those who plan to take a vacation here will find many wonderful places to visit including Ha Long Bay. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi is another popular place to explore. The ancient town of Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Cu Chi Tunnels, and the My Son Hindu Sanctuary are just a few of the other places you might want to experience.

Renting a vehicle in Vietnam

You will need to be at least 18 years old to drive in Vietnam. The rental car companies may have their own rules regarding the minimum age to actually rent one of the vehicles, and young drivers may face a surcharge. When you rent the vehicle, make sure that you get insurance. Also, get the emergency contact number for the agency in the event that you need to call them for any reason.

Road conditions and safety

The country of Vietnam has more than 180,000 km of roads, and unfortunately, many of those roads are in very bad shape. A large number of the roads are dirt, and even where there are paved roads, there may be cracks and breaks in the pavement, as well as potholes. During the rainy season, a number of the roads in the north are inaccessible. The highways in the southern part of the country are in better shape.

The seatbelts are mandatory in the front seat of the vehicle, but not in the backseat. Very few people in the country use child restraints when traveling with children, so they are not readily available. If you are going to be vacationing with the kids, you will want to speak with the rental agencies ahead of time to see if they have car seats.

The drivers in Vietnam tend not to pay much attention to the basic traffic laws, such as stopping at stop signs and lights. They may run them, and they might take turns without signaling. In addition, they often go well above the speed limit. Driving has the potential to be dangerous, so you need to make sure you are always driving defensively.

The speed limits

The speed limits in Vietnam are generally posted, but on some of the smaller and rural roads, they may not be. The following are the typical speed limits in the country for different types of roadways.

  • In Towns and Residential Areas – 50 km/h
  • Nonresidential Areas – 80 km/h
  • Highways – Follow the posted speed limits


There are only a handful of toll roads in the country. Before you travel, you should always check the current tolls. The main toll roads are the following.

  • Ho Chi Minch City – Trung Luong Expressway
  • Dau Giay – Phan Thiet Expressway

Even though the driving in Vietnam can be difficult and dangerous, if you are a defensive driver and you pay attention to what the other drivers are doing, you should be okay. The rental is great for helping you get to some of those out of the way destinations that you want to visit.

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