Road Trips

Pat Joynt of Saigon Scooter Centre has been in Vietnam for 15 years restoring classic bikes, importing and producing parts. Here he answers your questions


Dear Pat,


I’m about to go on a road trip on my Yamaha Nouvo. Just in case it breaks down or there are mechanical glitches, can you recommend stuff I should take with me so I have no problems?

The good thing about making any Vietnam road trip is that you’ve never got far to go before you can find a local mechanic. This means that you need to carry way less parts than in most other countries when you’re making a road trip.

You can’t go wrong, however, by carrying a few basics including a small comprehensive toolkit with a spark plug spanner and a new plug, screwdrivers, adjustable spanner, small socket set, a pair of pliers and some gearbox oil. At least with these if your plug dies, or you need to clean the carburetter, check the filter or top up the oil, you’re covered. These are basics that you can expect to encounter on a Vietnam jaunt due to bad petrol and dirty road conditions.

Also keep an eye on your oil level once a week — there is a dipstick on the right side of the engine above the exhaust, this is also the filler plug which is marked with a minimum and maximum level mark.

Depending on which model you have, also bring with you either a spare inner tube or a tubeless puncture repair kit. Nothing worse than pushing a bike with a flat for an hour in the midday heat!



Dear Pat,

A Viet Kieu friend says that Viet Kieu are allowed to bring one car or motorbike they own into Vietnam without paying taxes. I’m Australian but not of Vietnamese descent. Am I allowed to do this or is this a privilege reserved for overseas Vietnamese?

The law with this is constantly changing. However at the moment there is a one-time offer for Viet Kieu only who are relocating back to Vietnam on a permanent basis. There were loopholes a few years ago whereby foreigners could import vehicles if they were imported in the name of their foreign-owned company, but this also stopped. For a foreigner living here who wants to import privately, this is not possible. The only exception to the rule is for those with diplomatic status.



Dear Pat,

I have a budget of about VND40 million. For the price, what is the best bike to buy that’s currently available on the market? I presently have a Honda Wave and I only use it to travel around the city. I’m not looking for anything to go off-road or do long distance travel. But I do want something that drives well, doesn’t guzzle too much gas and looks nice.

I personally like the new Honda Airblade. We’ve recently just purchased 10 of these for our rental bikes and the price on the road is VND39.5 million. The new 2013 model has been revamped and looks way better than last year’s design, and they come with a 20,000km or two-year warranty — but with any new Honda you can expect probably not to even need it. I’ve bought these new in the past and with only basic and regular maintenance we’ve got bikes in stock that have clocked up more than 50,000km without any major problems. These are rental bikes that are making constant Saigon to Hanoi trips.

Another good feature of this model is that they’re fully auto, they have a bulletproof four-stroke, 125cc motor, electric starter, good suspension and hydraulic disc kits. Perfect for around town and good for highway driving and touring. And being a 125cc, they’re not fuel guzzlers.



If you have any questions for Pat, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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