Must I already know how to ride a motorcycle?
No, it is not mandatory. Many travelers drive a motorcycle for the first time in South East Asia. They are very easy to take in hand and the person to whom you buy it will teach you willingly to drive and shift gears. However, if it is the first time you drive a motorcycle, be very careful on the road, especially in big cities.
If possible, avoid driving in a location with heavy traffic or rush hour traffic. If you want to put all the chances on your side to avoid having an accident, you can pass your motorcycle license at home, before leaving.
Safety on the road
Do not hide it, driving a motorcycle in Southeast Asia is dangerous. The traffic can be dense, the code of the road is little respected, the roads are sometimes in very bad state and are slippery when they are wet or dusty.
In Laos and Cambodia, there are not many people and people drive quite quietly. In Vietnam, however, you will face a real swarm of scooters. They tumble from everywhere in the big cities.
The road along the coast of Vietnam is also very busy. Apart from the Hue – Danang section which offers beautiful scenery, it is better to take the road that passes inside the country. The traffic is much quieter there.
Here are some tips to minimize the risk of accidents:
- Choose a good helmet and always drive with it, even if it’s hot.
- Do not leave part of your body apparent. Wear a jacket, pants and closed shoes.
- Do not put your bag too far in the back of your luggage rack, it will unbalance your bike. It must be between the saddle and the luggage rack.
- Do not drive too fast and pay attention to the road constantly.
- Never drive at night.
- Take breaks regularly.
- Do not drive when you are too tired and / or drunk.
- Always drive as far to the right as you can from the road, as the vehicles in front of you have an unfortunate tendency to bite on your side of the road.
- On descents, especially on wet, sandy or dusty roads, downshift to use your engine brake.
- Do not brake too sharply, especially with your front brake.
- Follow the rule of “the biggest vehicle wins”. Act as if cars and trucks always take precedence over you.
- When a vehicle is doubling in front of you, it will sometimes be necessary to deport you on the roadside. Decelerate to avoid slipping.
- You will often see motorcycles or scooters driving against the meaning. Be vigilant and obviously do not do like them.
- The locals have the unspoken rule of dealing only with what is going on in front of them. Again, do not look like them and look around.
- Do not hesitate to use your horn to warn of your approach, indicate that you double, etc. In South East Asia, the use of the horn is an integral part of the driving style and often replaces the use of mirrors.
- Really slow down when approaching speed bumps (groups of five or ten transverse white lines). They can be very slippery.
- Pay particular attention to debris on the road, potholes and stray animals.