Monday, July 23 2018


New motorbike rental rules for foreigners drive debate

Update: September, 13/2013 - 10:00

Next Week

During a meeting organised this week, the National Assembly Standing Committee discussed a draft Law on exit, entry and residency of foreigners in Viet Nam.

The draft law proposes that foreigners entering Viet Nam to work be required to have a work permit upon their arrival in the country, except for special cases allowed by the Government.

It is meant to replace the existing Ordinance on exit, entry and residency of foreigners, which allows them to change their entry purposes after entering Viet Nam.

As a result, a large number of foreigners have actually entered Viet Nam as tourists and then change their registered purposes in order to reside and work in the country. Some have even reportedly been involved in illegal labour activities or crimes.

The draft Law is intended to prevent foreigners from working against their entry purposes and affecting the country's security and social order.

What do you think of the draft Law? Are you for or against it? Do you think that this regulation would be enforceable, if made effective?

Do you think foreigners would be discouraged to work in Viet Nam because of the regulation? How would it affect foreign workforce in Viet Nam and employers with high demands for foreign workers?

Please reply by email to:, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 79 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, September 19, 2013. — VNS

Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers what they thought about the ban on local travel agencies letting foreign visitors hire motorbikes without Vietnamese driving licences. Here are some of the responses:

Michael Lorton, American, San Francisco

Motorcycling is certainly the best way to see Viet Nam, but Viet Nam certainly does not want to end up like Thailand, where the bodies of drunken Australian boys and the wrecks of their scooters clog the roads of the Gulf islands.

The obvious compromise is to require both an International Driver's Permit, which shows that the rider is qualified to operate a motorcycle in his home country, and proper insurance, which guarantees that any damage the motorcycle does to other vehicles will be paid for and if necessary, the remains of the rider will be repatriated.

Pair that up with vigorous enforcement and stiff fines and you will get enthusiastic, but cautious, travellers and safe highways.

Robert Fox, New Zealander, a frequent visitor

For most travellers coming to Viet Nam as tourist, even for as long as three months they will be unable to procure a driving licence.

It would be beneficial to all concerned if there was a simple procedure where for a small sum of money a visitor could show their own licence issued in their own country and receive a temporary Viet Nam one.

In order to ride a motorcycle in Viet Nam they should have to show a motorcycle license from their country, so this eliminates any discrimination. This would benefit Viet Nam with extra revenue and save money for the tourist to be instead spent on their travels.

My friend and I have travelled parts of this country by bicycle with no problems and enjoyed it very much but we both agree because of the size of your country, in order to see much more we would need to use a motorbike.

I am sure there are many people like us, who do not like and will not take bus tours, but will happily tour Viet Nam by themselves if the regulations make it easy for them to do so.

Nick Veltre, American, Ha Noi

Crackdown is a word used entirely too much in Viet Nam. "Fixing the broken laws" is a phrase used not enough. Making laws easy to comply with is not a forte of the Vietnamese legislature.

In most countries, the "International Driver's License" for which one shows a home country licence and pays a few dollars is accepted as a legal driving document when travelling. Viet Nam did not sign that treaty. So our "International Driver's Licenses" are good all over the world, except Viet Nam.

For those of us who have lived here longer—we would like drivers licences too. But you can only take the written test in Vietnamese.

In California, for example, if a Vietnamese person wants to get a driver's license—they can take the test in Vietnamese. In fact, to get a California drivers license, you can also take the test in Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Punjabi, Russian and Spanish.

How hard could this be? Sign the International Driver's license treaty. Allow long-term residents to take the drivers test in at least English. Our country is polite to your countrymen. We help Vietnamese visitors to our country follow our laws. We want to follow your laws. Let us take the driving test in English. We do it for you.

Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi

I attended many first aid courses working in the oil industry. I would not trust most ‘graduates' to help me in an emergency. The same applies for anyone holding a motorcycle license.

You have to be a little crazy or semi-suicidal to ride a bike in Asia. I think it is a good, first, baby step for the Vietnamese government to require foreigners to have a driver's license to rent a bike. What about insurance? Does the bike shop supply a proper helmet? Is the bike properly serviced?

There is a big difference between having a licence and having competence. Confidence and credentials will only get you so far.

I ride bikes in Canada, the US, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. Each place is equally dangerous. Black ice, speeding sports cars, sand and mud, driving on the left and rats scurrying across roads are all equally dangerous. That is one example per country. There are many more.

Son Linh, Vietnamese, Ha Noi

In recent times the image of foreign tourists driving motor bikes here has become increasingly common. However, many of them do not have an appropriate driving licence for Viet Nam and many are driving these bikes for the first time in their lives.

They are mostly ignored by traffic police due to the language barrier or, more importantly, because foreigners have unofficial special rights as part of our policies promoting tourism.

It is a fact that the disorder on Vietnamese roads will only worsen if unskilled drivers are allowed to rent bikes for travelling. It is dangerous for them and other people as well. Therefore, I think the crackdown is an effective preventative solution for these problems.

For both encouraging tourism and ensuring safety, bikes should only be given to foreign visitors who have sufficient licensing, including their national or international licence.

Anyone else who wants to discover the country's landscapes by bikes had better enjoy them from the back seats of vehicles operated by skilled drivers, who can even act as native travel guides supported by travel agencies.

I am confident that foreign visitors will understand the good sense of this crackdown. There is no need for them to feel sided against as this is just a measure to increase safety for everyone. — VNS


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