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Motorbikes of Hanoi, Vietnam

By on September 7, 2015 in Vietnam

The one thing that you cannot fail to notice whilst wandering around Hanoi is the staggering number of motorbikes on the road.

Everywhere you go in Hanoi there seems to be motorbikes. They are outside every shop, every store, and on every street corner. Crossing the road is a real hazard as a motorbike seem to come at you from every and all directions.

The people in Hanoi seem to have a very casual and laid-back use of motorbikes. They use them for getting around town. They use them for moving goods.

It is quite a common sight to see mothers with young children on motorbikes, fathers with children, and sometimes even whole families.

motorbikes of hanoi


The motorbikes may be small and nippy, and get the locals of Hanoi around town, but there are so many of them that parking is actually a challenge. You will readily come across large “motorbike car parks” by the side of the road and on pieces of waste ground.

motorbikes of hanoi

Motorbike ‘carpark’ in Hanoi

There is, however, a new motorbike on the streets of Hanoi. This new motorbike is more deadly to the pedestrian than the traditional petrol driven motorbike – it is the electric bike. With a petrol driven motorbike you can hear it coming, that steady putt putt putt putt sound. However, with the electric motorbike, there is no sound. It is on top of you, as you try to cross the road before you know it

Electric motorbikes of hanoi

Electric motorbike – these things are deadly as you can’t hear them coming!

In fact, in Hanoi I was struck by the lack of cars. Everyone seemed to have a motorbike

motorbikes of hanoi

Motorbikes of Hanoi – where are the cars?

Some motorbike riders in Hanoi don’t take safety very seriously, that is, they won’t even wear a crash helmet. However, other riders will wear a helmet and a garment that fully covers the face and the hands. This garment is not to give protection in a crash, but it is to keep the sun off the rider.

motorbikes of hanoi

The Hanoi Motorbikes great cover-up

How some people managed to drive their motorbikes is beyond me…

motorbikes of hanoi

It’s not just people that are moved on motorbikes!

Crossing the road with all these motorbikes around can be a real challenge. And my advice is to just “go for it”. That is, spot a possible gap in the traffic (don’t wait for a big gap because one will never appear!) and then just start crossing the road. You will still need to keep your eyes (and ears) open for motorbikes, but you will find that most of them will swerve around you. Be careful!

motorbikes of hanoi

motorbikes of hanoi

The motorbikes in Hanoi that I had the most trouble with, as I said above, where the electric ones. They were so quiet.

motorbikes of hanoi

An electric motorbike on the road

A family out on a motorbike…

motorbikes of hanoi


motorbikes of hanoi

motorbikes of hanoi

motorbikes of hanoi

So, if you’re in Hanoi watch out for the motorbikes of Hanoi. They are omnipresent, and always on the go. Crossing the road can be a challenge, but if you keep your wits about you, it is not impossible.

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
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