For expats, the Vietnamese traffic will very likely be a no-no in the beginning. Even if you consider yourself to be a good driver you may be better off hiring one. Around 30 deaths per day in Vietnamese traffic make it one of the worst countries for road deaths in the world.
If you decide to take the risk, remember that Vietnam does not accept international driver’s licenses. To convert your existing license you have to contact the Office of Traffic & Public Works. If you have an existing license in another country you need:
- a copy of your passport
- a copy of your visa (visa must be valid for more than three months)
- a copy of your existing driver’s license
- 8 photos
- the filled in application form
- VND 70,000 (~ €3) as an administration fee
After successfully applying you will have to take a driving test.
The most important road is probably the highway that goes all the way from the Chinese border to the very south of Vietnam, also connecting Hanoi and HCMC. Rude and careless driving, as well as steady overtaking require undivided attention. Taking a car is sometimes the only option to reach the hidden treasures of the country but driving can be exhausting and dangerous. Moreover the streets in rural areas are bad and very often not even paved. So maybe in the end, renting a car with a driver is the best decision even though it is more expensive.