The traffic can be a nightmare for visitors to Viet Nam for the first time. Believe it or not, there are transport rules but people don’t seem really interested in following them. Chances are, you will see people cross the street anytime they want instead of walking all the way to the zebra-crossing.
For those who come to Vietnam for the first time, the incredible volume of motorbikes on the road, added by car and non-name vehicle maybe intimidating. The traffic is worst during the rush hour when everyone is attempting to get to work or get home quickly. Some people ride their motorbikes on the pavement rather than waiting in the a traffic jam. The people walking are just as likely to get hit on the pavement as they are crossing the roads at such times. Road users become very impatient, constantly using their horns when there’s obviously nowhere to go, even shouting at others to get out of the way. You have to be quite aggressive or you get nowhere.
Crossing over the jam is actually not that bad. You will just have to do it. The magic is that no-one will ever run into you. The relatively small size of the vehicle, the unobstructed view and especially the riders’ experience in managing around the city mean that they will take caution in the road, at least to avoid crashing into any walking-by passengers.
Of course it is advised you respect the traffic law and consequently set the example for others, do not feel scared crossing the road. Continue walking past while looking left and right at times. You can also raise your hand lower than your shoulders to signal to vehicles that you are crossing.
How To Cross the Street in Vietnam?
It is illegal in Vietnam to drive without a licence. An Interational Driving Permit is acceptable. Make sure it is endorsed for motorbikes.
To legally drive in VN you are legally required to carry:
1. An IDP or VN licence
Police most of the time will not bother you, but from time to time they have a blitz and will suddenly start stopping EVERY foreigner driving a bike and checking for the above documents.
A Brief Guide to Riding a Motorbike
* Don’t look both ways. In fact, it’s better if you don’t look at all, lest you lose your nerve. It’s also a mistake to focus on the oncoming traffic. If you make eye contact with other road users, you automatically forfeit the right of way.
* Don’t hesitate. Waiting for a lull in traffic is hopeless, so if you want to get across, just go. And when you’re in the middle of the street, don’t stop: Traffic will immediately adjust to you as a stationary obstacle, and you could be stuck for a while.
* Don’t run! If anything is going to get you killed in Vietnam, it’s attempting to run across the street. Take it slow, walk in a straight line, keep a steady pace, and traffic will flow smoothly around you.
You can wait for an old lady to cross and then shadow her. Watch out for motorcycles on the sidewalk too – a common occurrence when road traffic is heavy!
Click here to see how Vietnamese cross the street