Kick-Start Your Adventure at Hanoi’s Best Motorbike Rental Shops
Motorbike shops in downtown Hanoi | © Takatoshi Kurikawa / Alamy Stock Photo
Whether you’re just passing through Vietnam or – having become addicted to banh mi and beer that’s cheaper than water – are planning to settle there, the best way to experience the country is on two wheels. To kick-start your journey toward the intoxicating freedom of the open road, experienced rider Harry Menear guides you through Hanoi’s best motorcycle rental shops.
Motorbiking around Vietnam is utterly fabulous, exhilarating and a necessity if you want to get a proper sense of the country off the beaten trail. Luckily, you don’t have to buy a bike. You don’t need to end up hopelessly lost in the mountains, miles from your hotel, or lying upside down in a ditch making eye contact with an angry water buffalo after your brakes failed. Again.
Moped drivers on the Lan Ong intersection, Hanoi © imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
There are thousands of motorbike rental shops up and down Vietnam, with some companies having branches in all the major cities. You can pick up a bike in Hoi An, ride it to Da Nang, drop it off and hit the nearest bar. Rental can take all the pain out of the unmissable experience, leaving you with all the best bits.
Motorbikes and scooters for rent in Hanoi’s Old Quarter © sammy / Alamy Stock Photo
Whether you’re looking to ride the length of the country or spend a few days trundling around Hanoi, there’s a motorbike for you. So grab your helmet, aviators and leather jacket and read on, road warrior; here are the eight best motorbike rental shops in Hanoi.
Most motorbike rental shops in Hanoi specialise in rentals to backpackers and travellers making the trip from north to south, or around the Ha Giang Loop
is a little different. Founded by Danny – who came to Vietnam more than 20 years ago – and his wife, Thu, RentABike has found a niche for itself offering long-term rentals to expats living in the city. Their whole operation is geared toward long-term reliability, from the bikes they rent to the swathe of local contacts they can put you in touch with. For puttering around the city, they offer a range of automatic and semi-automatic Yamaha and Honda scooters in the 100cc-135cc range, with the cheapest going for $7 (£5.42) per day. However, their long-term rentals range from $40 to $85 (£31 to £66) per month if you’re planning on staying in and around Hanoi (they also have branches in Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City). If you’re just touring, or planning a longer trip between cities, their rates are a little steeper ($10 to $35 [£7.74 to £27] per day). This is definitely the shop for you if you’re planning a longer stay in Hanoi.
Quan's Motorbike & Bicycle Rentals
If you’d rather go down a more local route, then Mr Quan’s
in the Old Quarter is the place for you. Scooter rentals will run you $5 (£3.87) per day, and you can rent a bigger bike for around $45 (£38.40) per month if you’re planning to do some serious touring. Mr Quan speaks impeccable English and has a reputation as a really funny guy. More importantly, however, he’s prompt to respond to any distress calls and will get a replacement bike to you as soon as he can.
There are plenty of places in Hanoi to rent a reliable, safe automatic or semi-automatic scooter at a fair price. If it’s your first time riding, or you want something a little more low maintenance for the intense stop-start traffic in the city, then a reasonably priced scooter is probably for you. If you know what you want, and want it cheap from a Vietnamese-owned business with a pretty jazzy website, then Phung Motorbike
is for you. This place really embodies the spirit of laissez-faire backpacking, at $6 (£4.64) per day for a 120cc Lifan or Detech Win. Along with Sufat, these are the best knock-off Honda Wins you can buy; an immaculate one is actually something of a collector’s item in Vietnam. Phung’s is a perfect sweet spot between value and reputability.
Hanoi Easy Rider
For the more mature speed demons and responsible maniacs, Easy Rider
is the only real option. First and foremost, it is a tour company, offering some of the best trips from Hanoi out to places like Ninh Binh
(maybe one of the most beautiful rural locales in Vietnam), as well as day trips around the city. Easy Rider isn’t cheap. At $135 (£104) per day, their tours are on the high end of the price scale. Appropriately, one of their slogans is “Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage.” For those with courageous wallets though, Easy Rider is a great option. Their riders are some of the most experienced in the country, and the cost includes the bike rental, a helmet, knee pads, waterproof gear, fuel, road tolls, visiting tickets, local English-speaking tour guides and local food and accommodation in a good hotel, so it’s definitely good value. If you’re not looking to base your whole trip around motorbike riding, then a three-day jaunt with the folks at Easy Rider is a great way to get the experience without sacrificing your creature comforts.
It’s hard to find a motorcycle shop in Hanoi with more bona fides. Flamingo Travel
has been operating in the city since 1998, making it one of the oldest operations in the country. Specialising in top-of-the-line dirt and touring bikes from the leading Japanese brands, Flamingo Travel is the perfect shop for those who want to make the epic journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City
(or vice versa) in style. It has a branch at both ends of the country and specialises in one-way rentals. The entry-level rental is the Kawasaki KLX 150cc, which is perfect for a daytime ride ($30 [£23] per day) and the range goes all the way up to the monstrous 650cc Honda XR ($55 [£43] per day). Flamingo’s prices are high, but their bikes are well maintained, as is the safety gear that comes with a rental. They also offer guided tours, an airport shuttle service, hotel rentals and a selection of used bikes for sale.
Hiep Motorbike Rental
neighbourhood is worth a visit in and of itself. Located just over the main road that runs around the edge of Hanoi, it’s the quickest way to take a step out of the Old Quarter and into an older, more local Hanoi. If that’s not to your fancy, Hiep sets itself apart by offering to deliver a bike to your hotel free of charge. It’s a great service for a hassle-free day ride. It offers a range of scooters and lower-powered bikes aimed at backpackers from $179 (£139) per month, with an option to drop the bike off in Saigon at the end of your trip. Where Hiep really shines, however, is its used bike dealership. You can pick up a Win of dubious origin for as little as $270 (£209), which includes a service check and the delightful company of Mr Hiep himself.
Hanoi Motorbike Rental
Striking a great balance between reliability and price, Hanoi Motorbike Rental
is part of the larger Offroad Vietnam group, which specialises in dirt bike tours and serious off-roading. Founded in 2006, Hanoi Motorbike Rental is one of the oldest operations in the city, and has a website that just brims with honest advice. Hanoi Motorbike Rental exclusively offers genuine Honda bikes and scooters at very reasonable prices ($15 [£11.60] per day for a 125cc Honda from 2014). If you’re renting long-term and want the most reliable experience you can get, these folks are your first port of call.
The other half of Hanoi Motorbike Rental, Offroad Vietnam
is the place to go if city life just isn’t to your taste. If you want to get out into Vietnam, then their guided and semi-guided off-road tours are for you. Offroad Vietnam offers more than 150 itineraries that take you all around the countryside. It promises that, “with us, you venture many places less travelled, less visited, unspoiled and not yet mentioned in guide books”. Fully guided tours start at $214 (£166) per person per day but are cheaper the more people are in your group and include bikes, fuel, a guide (who’s also a qualified mechanic), entry tickets to local attractions, food and as much green tea as you can drink.