Vietnam Has Millions of People and Motorbikes
My first conversation in Saigon took place on the curb of my downtown hostel, the Saigon Inn, with an Australian guy I met moments after I stepped out of my Uber from the airport en route from Laos. It went like this:
He: “Want to buy my motorbike for $150 dollars? I’m leaving this afternoon.”
Me: “Thanks but I just need a ride to the war museum. Don’t need to buy a bike just yet.”
I ran into him in the elevator a little while later and he was excited because he’d just found a taker for $100 bucks and it was already off his hands. He’d been there two weeks. It was easier to just buy one than rent a bike for that long, he said. I would have considered it but was planning to be in Vietnam for less than two weeks, I told him. Besides, I already had flights lined up for my northbound Vietnam travel, though tons of people, including many of my friends, do make epic bike trips up the length of the scenic country, and several were on bike trips in Vietnam as we spoke.
Saigon the Motorbike Capital
Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, is the motorbike capital. Of what – – I’m not sure. Maybe Asia, maybe Vietnam. Possibly the world. All I know is that it’s a crazy, vibrant place filled with energy and things constantly moving in all directions, including 6 million motorbikes for the 10+ million population.
I’ve seen a lot of bikes but never this many at once, and at all times. I saw parents giving their uniformed kids rides to school on motorbikes, and many families of four on bikes, including babies! And people will haul anything you can think of on bikes, strapping them down with bungees, rope ties, even garden hoses, holding things like kitchen pots filled with food, dozens of fragile eggs cradled above groceries stacked between their legs, full size mattresses, random furniture, perky dogs and even sideways pigs. Some bikes are so piled up with stuff that they truly look like mobile homes that people may even live on.
UberMOTO is a Transport Option in Vietnam
Motorbikes are popular on Uber too. How does it work? When you order an Uber, a choice for UberMOTO pops up as a less costly alternative. The bikes arrive faster, and deliver you to places faster than a car would. Why? Because motorbikes can go down alleys, do creative u-turns and creep up to stoplights way ahead of backed up cars. How does it all work? Once you order an UberMOTO, your driver will arrive fairly quickly, hand you a passenger helmet which you put on, have you climb behind them on the motorbike, ask you to hold on, and you’re be on your way to your pre-arranged destination.
UberMOTO and motorbikes in general are hard to resist in Vietnam, even for those people who don’t expect to see themselves on one (like me). I was hesitant at first because one of my friends recently had a bike accident going over a pot hole in Thailand, so I had recent and first hand knowledge of bike injury and recovery. But I warmed up to the idea and ended up doing an exciting night food and skyline tour on a motorbike, and for price and convenience, I took UberMOTO often for short rides in the city. I believe the more time you spend in Vietnam the higher the chance you’ll find yourself on a motorbike!