A complete packing list for a motorbike trip, and where to buy gear in Vietnam
Packing for a Vietnam
By: Justin Del Boulter | Updated on 18/1/2020
In this post I give a complete packing list for a motorbike trip in Vietnam, as well as give insights on what can be bought in vietnam, what the prices are like, and where to buy the items.
Also, I wrote this post with 2 types of travelers in mind:
- The multi country backpacker, where a motorbike trip in vietnam is one part of a larger journey. And,
- The Motorcycle enthusiast who knows how to pack for a motorcycle trip, but isn’t sure what to bring from home, or what can be bought in Vietnam.
Here’s a little table of contents to get the ball rolling.
A few things to consider before packing for Vietnam
Before you start packing I suggest you decide which route you’re going to ride, and look into the weather conditions. Once you know where you want to go and when, consider these points when packing:
- You will be exposed to the elements for extended periods of time. You may encounter bright sun, pouring rain, cold winds, road dust etc.
- Some items you can get for cheap in Vietnam, saving you the trouble of packing a heavy bag through the airport.
- Dressing in layers is most efficient.
- Clothes dryers are very uncommon in Vietnam. Synthetic clothes hang dry faster than organic materials.
- Vietnamese people are considerably smaller in stature than western people. If you are particularly tall or wide, you might want to consider bringing hard to fit items like shoes, pants, shirts etc. Also, if you have large hands, you might want to bring some riding gloves.
Clothing & Layers
- Long sleeve synthetic undershirt/s
- Short sleeve synthetic T shirts – can be found at nearly every market for cheap
- Synthetic long underwear – best to bring some from home. You may be able to find some at camping stores, but they won’t be much cheaper than at home.
- 1 or 2 pairs of warm long socks – Thick hiking socks aren’t common in Vietnam, but you can find them at camping stores
- 2 pairs of short socks – can be found for cheap
- 2 pairs of Synthetic Antimicrobial Underwear – bring some from home. Long days with a sweaty ass can lead to some serious monkey butt.
- Sturdy, but lightweight waterproof boots with ankle support – a good pair of boots will double as riding shoes in all weather, hiking shoes and walking shoes. Unless you plan to do some hardcore riding, probably leave riding boots at home.
- Windbreaker that doubles as a rain jacket – oftentimes a t-shirt and a windbreaker is enough for a comfortable ride. You can find plenty of North Face knockoffs in markets.
- Lightweight rain pants – riding with swamp ass is not fun! You can find cheap options in Vietnam, as low as $1usd for plastic convenience store buys.
- Swim shorts – a quality pair will cost nearly the same as they would at home. More local dudes where jammers. But there are plenty of cute swimwear options for the ladies.
- Scarf – They are super handy and versatile. They can be found for cheap in nearly every market. Scarfs are nice for protection from the sun, reducing wind noise under the helmet, and keeping the neck warm.
- Power Bank – keep your phone charged during those long days on the road. You can find low cost chinese ones throughout the country. This is one of the most important tools in my kit.
- Small daypack for walking around at sites
- Medications – If you have any special daily medications you will want to arrange bringing them in advanced. However, most basic medicine can be found over the counter, like Antibiotics.
- Cash to pay for your visa at the airport, USD or VND
- Your passport photos
- Visa approval letter (if applicable)
- Photocopies of your identification.
- Earplugs – Vietnam can be a loud place early in the mornings. The country is under rapid growth, with construction everywhere. Also, the Vietnamese wake and get to work very early.
- A large scarf (I told ya) or shawl to cover shoulder for unexpected temple visits
Vietnam Power Outlets
Vietnam uses type A, C, F and G. However, the most common is type A and C. Many accommodations will have type A, or some kind of Frankenstein’s monster of a power strip that includes type A, C and G. Type F plugs are pretty uncommon.
Motorbike Safety Gear
Most safety equipment can be had for cheap in Vietnam. Often times, when buying a bike from another traveler you will also receive their hand-me downs. When packing, you will mostly want to consider your size. Anyone over 190cm (6’3) may have a difficult time finding their size for some items. However, there are motorbike sales and rental companies that are prepared for your business, and you might be able to find larger sizes there. Below I reference some websites of local companies. You can get an Idea of sizes and prices there.
Safety for newbie riders: A common phrase is “dress for the slide, not the ride”. Another common phrase is ATGATT, “All the gear, all the time”. The more gear you have the better, and always where your gear. Safety gear is the last place you want save money and skimp on. Vietnam has lots of cheap, decent quality safety gear.
Vietnam is not the place for anyone to ride without gear, especially new riders. You don’t want to go home early looking like minced meat, or worse. Don’t be a fool and wear a bowl on your head like many newbies do. Get a full face helmet. I have seen plenty of backpackers with broken noses and hamburger faces. Not only will a full face protect your head and beautiful face from a fall, but one with a visor will keep dirt and bugs out of your eyes, and make the ride a bit quieter. A full face helmet is a much more enjoyable riding experience. Saving a few bucks on a helmet purchase is not a wise move. A fellow rider once said “You’re head is only worth the helmet you put it in”; get a solid full face helmet. A safety approved helmet can be purchased anywhere between $75usd and $200usd. Helmets get much more expensive than that, but your mostly paying for added luxuries, not added safety. Additionally, by a helmet that fits properly. A $2000 helmet gives little to no protection if it doesn’t fit properly.
Along with a helmet you will 100% want a pair of gloves. If you fall, your hands will likely be acting as a brake pad. If your hands and torn up, you can’t ride.
Safety Gear you should consider packing or buying in Vietnam:
- Helmet – A comfortable and reliable helmet may be difficult to find for those with a large cranium. Most vietnamese wear half helmets that offer no protection, or they don’t wear a helmet at all. You can find helmets of all types, fullface, off-road, flip up, modular, etc. However, high quality helmets typically aren’t cheaper in Vietnam then at home. If you are particular about how you protect your head (smart) and want a trustworthy helmet be ready to bring one from home or pay full price in Vietnam.
- Gloves – Can be found for cheap – bring your own if you have large hands
- Elbow pads – Can be found for cheap
- Knee pads – Can be found for cheap
- Riding pants – can be found for cheap, but may be unreliable
- Riding jackets – there are some decently priced ones around, but may be unreliable – if you have a large frame you might want to bring one from home.
Useful Motorbike Accessories
These Items aren’t necessary, but they do make the trip a whole hell of a lot more enjoyable.
- Handlebar pouch – Essentially a fanny pack that rests on your gas tank. It’s great for quick access to your phone, wallet, and powerbank. Can be found in a handful of shops.
- Phone holder – There are tons throughout the country. I suggest getting one that really holds your phone well. I once hit a pothole and my brand new phone bounced out of the holder, and flew into a rice field. It took me an hour to find it. If you buy a bike that already has one, check for cracks and sunrot.
- Saddle Bags – Great for lowering and shifting the weight of your luggage forward, on the bike. This creates better traction through corners, and frees up space on the seat. You can find throwover waterproof saddlebags, as well as hard rack trunks in Vietnam. I buy cheap MadFox saddle bags from the Fan Fan Camping Store.
Where to Buy Motorbike Safety Gear, Clothing and Accessories in Vietnam:
Websites for price and size references
Use these websites to compare prices and to get an idea of available products in Vietnam.
https://chrunix.com/ – I believe Chrunix is the parent company of Tigit Motorbikes. I assume you’ll find this gear in Tigit.
Tai Dat Pro-Biker – Tai Dat carries a wide selection of gear, at low prices. They are a good place to find products that you don’t need to trust for longevity. The few items I have purchased from them had some stitching problems that leads me to question their ability to hold up in a crash. However, by no means have I put these products through any sort of test. Overall, I’ve gotten great value out of the few products I’ve purchased.
Fan Fan Camping and Motorbike Gear
Fan Fan has a wide selection of outdoor gear and riding gear. Here you can find warm clothes, hiking gear, motorcycle helmets, and saddle bags. I bought my first set of Mad Fox saddle bags here. I got a lot of use out of them for ~$30usd.
Aside from their motorbikes, they have a decent selection of gear. You might even be able to find larger sizes here because they cater to the backpacker market. However, I suspect the prices are a bit higher than those that cater towards the locals.
Viet Fullface has everything you’d expect from a true motorcycle shop. They have quality gear, helmets, clothes, boots, and a small selection of helmet communicators. They carry legitimate products, as well as some low quality substitutes.
Tigit has a nice range of gear available at their shops. I did noticed that they carry XXL helmets, and some high quality gear. They are worth checking out.
Tai Dat Pro-Biker
They have a few locations in Ho Chi Minh City. The linked location has the larger selection of equipment. The downfall of this store is that the locations or a bit far from the city center.
The Russian Market
I haven’t found an equivalent in Hanoi, however this market is a great place to find dirt cheap cold weather clothing, and the oddball motorcycle clothing. They also carry sizes for russians. So you’ll have a better chance of finding larger sizes here.
The place is a huge maze, but it’s worth exploring if you’re having a hard time finding warm clothes, cheap boots, gloves etc. There’s a lady on the right side of the bottom floor that sells riding pants and jackets. She’s located in the alley of clothing to the right of the escalators.
Well, I hope that clears up any questions you may have had about packing for Vietnam. Please let me know if you if you have any questions! You can either contact me here, or through the Facebook group, or even instagram. Make sure to check out the social media pages and join the community to stay up to date on new topics and routes! Until next time, stay fancy.