Hanoi - Post Report Question and Answers

What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Mazda and other Japanese or Korean manufacturers dominate here. Mid-sized SUVs are popular and there are plenty of dealerships. If you are planning to spend the majority of your time in the city a car is not necessary. Parking is tedious and challenging. Trips outside of the city can be arranged with a driver, if you are so inclined. - Aug 2021

A car would be handy to have freedom to leave the city, but unless you are with an embassy, they are cost-prohibitive. A new little hatchback will cost more than US$20,000 for instance. And the hassles of ownership, traffic, and so on are probably not worth it - stick with Grab. - Dec 2019

A smaller vehicle recommended since roads are narrow and lots of motor bikes on the road. There are dearlerships for Nissan, Toyota, Honda, and Kia. - Jul 2019

Most families have small SUVs or minivans. In theory smaller is better as not much space in the city is allotted to parking, but you can make do with anything. If you have a car, you will likely hire a driver (I'd say 20% drive themselves). If you drive, you need patience and tough skin. - Apr 2018

You can have a fine experience without a car in Hanoi -- we didn't have one. But I regret not bringing a car because we missed out on day or weekend trips to parks, cultural landmarks, and other attractions outside of the city. I recommend bringing a small SUV -- while parking is difficult in Hanoi, having an SUV will help outside of the city and on Hanoi's sometimes bumpy streets. Any one of the "usual" brands (Toyota, Honda, Ford) should be fine. Some colleagues had motorcyles and loved it -- it's a great country for motorbike touring. I bought a local scooter and got a local license, which I found to be an incredibly fun and liberating way to travel around the city. After all it's what the locals do! But, traffic is crazy and takes getting used to. If you have a car, you may want to consider hiring a driver. - Dec 2017

Hardly anyone brings a car to post because there is NO parking anywhere in all of Hanoi. Those who have brought a POV typically have an infant and want it for the car seat. But then you have to hire a full time driver at US$350 a month to drive your car (too dangerous to drive here) and to stay with your car when there is no parking. - May 2016

We brought a minivan and have no problems. (Yes, we brought a minivan to Hanoi...) I'm very glad we brought a car - trying to drag kids in and out of cabs is a major hassle and there is absolutely NO WAY I would take my kids on a motorbike. People have all kinds of cars here and I haven't heard of anyone having problems. - Aug 2015

I haven't seen expat Americans feel the need to purchase a car. Many do bring them from a previous transfer and drive slowly. Cabs are absurdly available, so why bother? - Mar 2015

Probably only 1/3 of employees have them and those are the ones with kids. Smaller is better. Toyotas are the most popular and easily serviced. - Aug 2014

Most people do not bring a car here because of the crazy traffic, potholes, and driving habits. I found that having a car allowed us to go out of town on the week-ends, to the countryside, which is beautiful and doesn’t have the same crazy traffic (but you still have to be really careful). We have 2 bicycles that we use regularly on the trails, or we go for a walk. It gives us a breather. If you stick to Hanoi, any car will do, the smaller, the better for lack of parking space (there are none) and traffic. If you plan to go around, then a high clearance vehicle really makes the difference, whether you’re going to stick on the main roads, or venture on the smaller ones (dirt roads). - Dec 2011

A small car (or no car) would be fine here. Some choose to buy scooters because it's easier to get around, park etc. We have a larger vehicle and are not unhappy we brought it because the streets are being torn up alot. Parking is not always easy though. - Aug 2011

Don't bring a car. The embassy apartments have very limited parking. Also, it's very difficult to drive here, because of the traffic and narrow streets. And even when you get where you are going, there is no parking. - May 2010

Vietnamese mechanics are great. They can keep anything running for a modest sum. You see a lot of Japanese and Korean cars on the roads, so that would be a good choice. - Dec 2009

We thought we would need a 4x4 SUV, but we were wrong. Still, it's nice to sit above the crowded, mostly-motorcycle, traffic. - Feb 2009

Roads in downtown Hanoi are small and better suited for a smaller cars. However, road quality even in Hanoi is poor and most people prefer SUV's due to large potholes or poorly maintained roads. Popular models are Landcruisers and locally made Ford's SUV's. Again due to the boom in expats there is a waiting list for new Landcruisers. The second hand car market is currently limited as the number of cars in Vietnam is just starting to grow. Small 125 cc engine motor scooters are the preferred method trasport for most Vietnamese as well as a few adventurous expats. Traffic is utter chaos and few traffic laws are obeyed even though there are limited attempts at enforcement. Expect your car to be involved in an accident and that scooters with scrap you doors, fenders, and mirrors as they inch by in the congestion. So would recommend against bringing a new car. One U.S Embassy officer brought a new Ford Mustang and his apartment garage decided to paint the ceiling without telling anyone dripping paint on the shiny new sports car. Not to worry as the workman used gasoline and steelwool brushes to remove the spilled paint. In an effort curb traffic congestion, the Vietnamese government has placed high tariffs on car imports as well as a high sales tax which is now at 80%.These fees are waved for diplomats. Mirrors ornaments, lights, and other exterior components must taken to a local shop to be modified and bolted to the car as thieves frequently steal them. We had two hub caps stolen and one officer had both sideview mirrors taken. Gas tanks must be secured as thieves will siphon gas if the car is left out over night. Car theft is rare and carjackings unheard of. Parking is also a problem, as there is little to no designated parking in downtown Hanoi. This is another reason expats frequently employ drivers who will drive the car to a side street to wait and watch the car while their employers are dining or shopping. Car repair and maintainence is reasonable and reliable. - Sep 2008

You really do not need a car here. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive. You can also hire them all day long to run you around or even out of town. Buses are crowded and the RSO does not recommend using them. There is train service to one mountain resort. - May 2008

Subscribe to our newsletter

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More