Packing, Tips & Costs – North Vietnam Motorbike Trip

Smiling Women on Van Long Boat, vietnam motorbike trip

After 2 months and 4000 km on a North Vietnam Motorbike Trip, we’ve put together the ultimate packing list, travel tips, and costs to help you plan your trip.

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8 BEST Hotels in North Vietnam

North Vietnam has many amazing places to visit, each with its best places to stay. Here are some handpicked recommendations.

  • Ha Giang: Connect with adventurous travelers at the Lotus Hostel

Packing for a Vietnam Motorbike Trip

Girls with Flowers, Ha Giang Loop, Vietnam

First of all, North Vietnam has 4 different seasons combined with rainy and dry seasons. So make sure to consider this when planning your trip and most importantly when packing for your trip. 

Don’t forget to check the weather, as depending on when you visit, it can be very cold, hot, wet, or dry. It’s best to always be prepared for unexpected rain, especially when traveling with a motorbike.

We recommend a 30-40 liter backpack, which can be strapped to the motorcycle with bungee ropes (these should be provided by the rental place for free). You can keep your valuables in a small backpack.

Motorbike trips are all about packing light, but here are some essentials and useful things you should consider to bring.


  • Sufficient cash for the journey
  • Contact details (motorbike rental & accommodation)
  • Local SIM card or Airalo E-SIM
  • First-aid kit


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WARM CLOTHES: If you’re in Hanoi during winter, consider purchasing “North Face” clothing before traveling to the northern regions.


  • Full-body rain poncho
  • Shoe rain covers (very cheap to buy in Vietnam)
  • Gloves
  • Helmets with a visor that fits well (incl. in motorbike rental)
  • Rack and bungee ropes for strapping your backpack (incl. in motorbike rental)
  • Phone holder and charging port (incl. in motorbike rental)

Tips for a Vietnam Motorbike Trip

Curvy Road, Meo Vac, Ha Giang Loop, Vietnam


  • Don’t speed while driving; stay attentive to the road and other drivers.
  • Locals use the horn to let you know they are overtaking you.
  • In Vietnam, the roads are for everyone: bikes, cars, trucks, children, people, and animals.
  • Riding a motorbike for a long time can be exhausting, so plan enough breaks to rest.
  • Be cautious about where you stop for pictures; some places can be dangerous.
  • Purchase the right insurance (motorbike accidents covered) for the trip. Better safe than sorry!


  • In North Vietnam, the rainy season stretches from May to September. 
  • The weather changes very fast in North Vietnam, so be prepared for unexpected rain (not only in the rainy season) and check the weather forecast every morning.
  • Consider staying an extra day in the same area if it’s raining. It’s not worth the added risk, as it’s certainly not enjoyable.
  • Use a rain poncho or rain cover to fully protect your backpack from rain and dirt while strapped onto your rack.


  • Some rentals want to keep passports when hiring a bike. This is very common in Southeast Asia. Make sure to have a picture of your passport with you, as you will need this to check in most accommodations.
  • When buying gas, choose larger stations for the best prices.
  • Fill up your gas tank every day before continuing to drive just to be safe. You never know when you will find yourself in a remote area.
  • You can leave part of your luggage at your accommodation or at the motorbike rental place. Whichever you trust more. This usually doesn’t cost anything, especially if you’re going to stay in that accommodation again once you’re back.
  • Having flat tires is completely normal and will cost you between 70-150k VND (≈ 3-6€). You’ll find mechanics in Vietnam called “Xe May” everywhere.
  • Ask if you can park your bike inside the accommodation overnight. This is something common in Vietnam, especially if you rent a more expensive bike. Don’t forget to lock it anyway and everywhere. 
  • You can ask the rental shops if they can install a phone mount, especially if you’re driving solo. This is something that should be included in the price, so check it in advance. 
  • If you don’t have a motorbike driver’s license and just want to drive around in the city, you can rent a 50cc, as it doesn’t require a license.


  • You can find good working wifi in all accommodations, restaurants, and cafes.
  • Use Google Maps and their pins to save all the locations you want to visit, from viewpoints to restaurants and hotels. Use different colors to categorize them. We use pink for attractions, yellow for food, and green for accommodations.
  • You’ll need a GPS every day. Download offline maps on both Google Maps and for independent driving and just in case your connection fails.
  • The locals don’t speak much English, so we recommend either having an offline translation app or learning some key sentences.
  • A SIM card will make things easier. For example, for navigation, or in case of questions or problems, you’ll be able to contact your bike rental and guesthouse. Additionally, you can check reviews and prices of restaurants and accommodations online and you have an online translator.
  • Motorcycles are not permitted on the highways/ expressways in Vietnam. To find the best route, remember to select the “avoid tolls and motorways” option in Google Maps.


  • You’ll have to pay everything in cash, including accommodations. We like to bring enough cash with us when coming from big cities like Hanoi, and if we need more, we always get it as soon as possible. Nothing worse than realizing you only have a few notes left and no plan where to get the cash. 
  • There are ATMs in bigger cities like Yen Bin, Ha Giang, Cao Bang, and Cat Ba.
  • Vietnam is a very cheap destination; check out the costs you can expect in Vietnam.

Costs for a Vietnam Motorbike Trip

boat transport of tradition womens in tam coc

Vietnam is one of the cheapest countries in the world, even compared to other Southeast Asian countries.

1 euro = 26k VND


  • Visum: 25 USD (≈ 23€)
  • Viettel local SIM card: 350k for 1 month (≈ 13.3€)
  • Bus to Hanoi: 45k (≈ 1.7€)
  • Rain poncho: 10k (≈ 0.4€)


  • Most local dishes: 30-70k (≈ 1.1-2.6€)
  • Com rang (fried rice): 40k (≈ 1.5€)
  • Bahn mi (baguette sandwich): 25k (≈ 0.95€)
  • Pho bo (noodle soup with beef): 40k (≈ 1.5€)
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LOCAL FOOD: Vietnamese cuisine is both delicious and budget-friendly. It’s important to note that restaurant options in North Vietnam are very basic.


  • Big water bottle: 10k (≈ 0.4€)
  • European machine coffee: 45k (≈ 1.7€)
  • Traditional Vietnamese coffee: 30k (≈ 1.1€)
  • Fresh fruit juice: 30k (≈ 1.1€)
  • Lemonade at Mixue: 20k (≈ 0.8€)


  • Starting from 200k (≈ 7.6€) per night for a private double room


  • Motorbike for city driving: starting from 100k (≈ 3.8€)
  • Motorbike for touring Vietnam, (the longer, the cheaper)
    • semi-automatic 9-11€ per day
    • automatic scooter 7-9€ per day
    • manual motorbike 15-19€ per day
  • Fuel: 26k (≈ 1€) per liter 
  • Parking: 10k (≈ 0.4€)
  • Ferry to Cat Ba for 1 motorbike and 2 people: 57k (≈ 2.2€)


  • Thac Ba Lake Boat trip: 50k (≈ 1.9€)
  • Mu Cang Chai Rice Terraces Viewpoint: 30k (≈ 1.1€)
  • Ha Giang Loop Tour: starting from 200€
  • Ban Gioc Waterfall: 30-50K (≈ 1.1- 1.9€)
  • Sun umbrella and sunbeds in Cat Ba: 100k (≈ 3.8€)
  • Renting a kayak: 200k (≈ 7.6€) for 1-2 h
  • Cat Ba National Park: 80k (≈ 3€)
  • Cat Ba Boat Tour: starting from 900k (≈ 34€)


We hope this guide helps you organize your North Vietnam Motorbike Trip and are happy to answer your questions and hear about your experiences in the comments.

rent a Motorbike in Rental, Cat Ba, Niki & Timo

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