Foreigners flock to learn to drive Motorbikes in Saigon

The following article has been translated from Vietnamese in to English which appeared in the VN News Express on the 22 September 2010.

For foreigners living and working in HCM City, they prefer to travel by motorbike than automobile because of the traffic jams and cost of diving in a taxi.

The Vietnamese motorcycle testing centre at Tan Phu, Ho Chi Minh City took in hundreds of applicants on the 19th of September 2010, including many Foreigners. They do the tests for their motorbike Licence with the local Vietnamese. Most Foreigners who obtain a drivers Licence are exempt from the exam of the Motorcycle theory test in Vietnamese.

Robert Winfield from Britain with his wife to be in 3 weeks, are eager to do their Motorcycle Licence test. He told VN “When I planned my travel, I chose Vietnam because I could do my Motorcycle licence test and have the best transport that will save me time and money”

Winfield said, with his wife agreeing, we arrived in Vietnam for an exciting adventure with many new experiences. Winfield’s wife is a teacher working in District 2, HCMC, but he is an engineer. Both said that travelling by taxi is too expensive and inconvenient. Motorcycle is still the most popular form of transport so they are arranging a time to go for their exam.

Winfield said “The test practice run figure 8 is a little bit difficult but if I practiced many times I will pass”

Image: A Foreign candidate is doing practice runs around the exam centre. Doing figure 8 loops on his motorcycle at the test site in Tan Phu. Photo: Vu Le

Renneth Williams, an airline employee, also attended examinations for his motorcycle license. Also British, said he likes the feeling of riding on the streets of Saigon by motorcycle because he can always be on the move, save time, rather than sitting in traffic waiting for a taxi or by car during peak hours.

Kim then said, as he was pointing at his wife in the examination yard, that he spent a long time waiting for buses, and taxi users don’t know which roads are springing up around town. So, he and his wife decided on the motorcycle as a means of going to work and to move through the city.

Kim shared more, traveling by motorcycle is convenient but dangerous, because the Vietnamese ride their own way.  Kim learned to drive a motorcycle but he is always concentrating and driving very carefully.” Anyway, I still believe riding a motorcycle on the streets of Saigon is more exciting, because cars and taxis are slow and very difficult to get around town” he said.

Image: Female applicant from the U.S. is doing the test examination of the figure eight loop. Photo: Vu Le

Kim revealed, he and his wife have been learning Vietnamese at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Ho Chi Minh City for the past 6 months. With his new Vietnamese qualifications, he can now communicate with friends and some neighbours. However, both spouses must obtain a U.S. drivers license to be free of theory exam in Vietnamese.

The supervisor for the test centre said “If you have a foreign driver’s licence you don’t have to do the theory test, just the practical riding test. However in some cases you may have to do the theory and practical test”

“The amazing thing is that they still pass the theory part in Vietnamese when many local people fail theory” the supervisor said.

Foreign registration numbers for motorcycle license exams are increasing. Before the exam took place, most driving motorized two-wheelers are automatically sent to the center for exercises like ring of eight, line, and winding road.

“Perhaps because there is no pressure to do a theory test, most people pass the practical examination easily” the examiners commented.

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Leave A Reply (4 comments So Far)

  1. Evie Valentina
    3 years ago

    I just dare to on back of motorbike, saigon is always crowded trafic flow. But many experiences from motorbike too. If have a chance to come back, I will try to ride it. Here my blog to show my trip in Saigon

    • Paul Simos
      3 years ago

      Hi Evie,

      Thanks for sharing. It looks very scary as you see all the bikes around town on the roads but with the right info and training it can be a very enjoyable and safe experience. Let us know when you return:)

  2. Akex
    2 years ago

    This isn’t a good idea. For a armature rider from a Western country where they can possibly barely drive in coming to vietnam and learning how to ride a motorcycle is a death trap. No wonder so many foreigners get into accidents.

    Danang or outside of hcm would provide for a safer place to learn but not hcm. Vietnamese people can learn there since they have been riding bikes with parents all their lives. Whereas many foreigners don’t even know what a motorcycle rear break is…

    • Paul Simos
      2 years ago

      It would be great if there were more riding schools available to teach visitors to Vietnam the best and safest way to ride. The reason you have to apply for a motor bike licence is that you will have a practical test to make sure you are able to handle a motorbike before you start riding on the roads of Vietnam.