Renting a car can be a good way to explore areas of Vietnam like the Central and Northern Highlands, which are otherwise often only accessible through a tour group. Driving from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City in the south is also a popular route that takes in much of the coast and that often is a quicker option than the slow and often overcrowded train service.
Although foreign drivers are now officially allowed to rent a car in Vietnam, most car hire agencies (including international ones like Avis and Hertz) will only offer cars with chauffeurs. Given driving conditions across the country, this may be preferable for many travelers, but be mindful that you might be expected to make a few small extra payments, such as tips or a daily lunch for the driver.
There are no laws on the use of child car seats in Vietnam, and many rental agencies are not able to provide them. It is worth checking in advance to find out if they are available, but if not, you might wish to consider bringing your own travel car seat from home. Note that seatbelts are mandatory in the driver seat and front passenger seat.
Anyone considering cross-border travel with a rental car in Vietnam should be aware that this is not usually allowed if you’re the one driving the car. Renting a car with a driver, however, may allow you to travel across borders into neighboring countries like Cambodia and Laos; be sure to check with the agency in advice. Stricter rules usually apply for Vietnam’s northern neighbor, China.
Standard rental cars in Vietnam are around 25% cheaper than other car types, on average
FAQs about renting a car in Vietnam
Standard (Toyota Fortuner or similar) is the most frequently booked rental car type in Vietnam.
Major cities are extremely congested during rush hours and feature a substantial number of scooters, while rural roads can be in bad conditions and are subject to landslides or potholes, especially during the rainy season. Dangerous driving is an extreme hazard, meaning that drivers should be very experienced to rent a car in Vietnam.
It is possible to rent a car in Vietnam with an International Driver’s Permit (IDP), which must be presented alongside a domestic driver’s license and passport. In theory, the driver should be at least 21 years of age and have held his or her domestic license for a minimum of one year. Anyone who intends to rent a car in Vietnam for a long period of time may wish to consider getting a temporary local driver’s license, which involves a bureaucratic process taking around a week.
Fueling opportunities are frequent in Vietnam, with options ranging from regular petrol stations to small roadside stalls selling fuel from plastic bottles. It is advised to always fuel up at a proper petrol station with pumps where possible, as vendors sometimes try to water down the fuel. Expect to pay around VND 21,500 (USD 0.90) for a liter of petrol and 18,000 VND (0.75 USD) for a liter of diesel, which is equivalent to VND 81,270 (3.40 USD) for a gallon of petrol and 2.83 USD for a gallon of diesel.
The official speed limits in Vietnam can vary across the country, so it is important to always keep an eye out for signs. As a general rule, drivers should stick to 30-40 km/h (19-25 mph) in urban areas and 40-60 km/h (25-37 mph) on rural roads.
The rates displayed include all taxes and fees for car rentals for the class listed and were found by KAYAK users in the last 24 hours. Offers are subject to change and may not be available on all car rentals listed or dates of travel. Some car rental providers charge additional fees for other services (GPS, infant car seats, etc.). Please check the car rental providers' sites.