Honda dominates the Vietnamese market. From the classic Dream to the latest and speedy Winner, Honda has a long history of producing indestructible motorbikes. If you’re in the market for a dependable semi-auto, the Wave (any generation) is a great choice. For a good automatic, look for an Air Blade. They’re pricier than some of the other automatics on the market – the Yamaha Nouvo, for example – but you’re paying for peace of mind. Among backpackers, the Win is a very popular choice. You can find plenty of them in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for cheap.
In terms of market share, Yamaha and Honda basically own the market, accounting for as much as 90% of new sales. Their Nouvo model is the default choice for most renters looking for an automatic. You can get a used one for under $200USD, and most rental shops have them lined up wall to wall. Now, if you’re looking for a bit of a thrill, the Exciter might just be what you need. They’re not cheap – even when they’re used – but that’s because nobody that buys one ever wants to sell theirs. They’re just that fun. For those of you who’d prefer a beefier ride, the Yamaha 125 is popular motorbike, especially among many long-term expats. Those of you looking for an easy-to-drive scooter for within the city, try a Cuxi or a Classico.
With so many Honda and Yamaha rides on the market, Piaggio often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. They aren’t cheap, but you’re paying for quality and reliability. If you’re into classic scooters, then search for an older Vespa – good luck, though. There are clubs of enthusiasts who snatch any that come onto the market. But if you do find one, you’ll earn some serious street cred.
As far as automatics go, the Suzuki Hyatte is a fine choice. They’re a bit pricier than the more prevalent Nouvo, but they have a better reputation for staying out of the garage. If you’re in the market for something that’s quick and stylish, then check out the GSX models. They’re a fantastic balance of power and versatility, which makes them well suited for Vietnam’s more challenging roads.
Another brand that’s often overlooked by newcomers to Vietnam is Sym. The Attila is a solid mid-range automatic, and their 50 Elite is a wonderful scooter for city driving. And as the good people at Tigit have pointed out, the Excel model is a relatively unknown automatic ride with very satisfied drivers.