Unlike in most countries, when you hire a car in Hanoi (Vietnam), you’ll commonly get a driver along with it! Understandably, this can take a bit of getting used to, especially if it’s your first trip to Hanoi and you’ve never experienced it before. Here’s what you need to know.
Why Hire a Car with Driver?
Why not simply hire a car and drive yourself? Or take the train or fly? Or take a tour? Hiring a car and driver is ideal for independent travelers who want flexibility and control over their itineraries, and ease of travel. You’ll be able to stop at places that interest you and not have to worry about how to get around.
Train and plane travel is useful for covering long distances with nothing much to see in between. However, if you’re planning on exploring various destinations in the north of Vietnam such as Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, Mai Chau valley, Pu Luong, Sapa, Ha Giang, Cao Bang Ban – Gioc waterfall, Ba Be lake, Mu Cang Chai rice terraced fields then hire a car in Hanoi and driver makes the most sense.
How Much Does it Cost?
The price will depend on the type of car and whether or not your driver speaks English (these drivers typically cost a bit more). The charge is per kilometer (distance), and you’ll always have to pay a minimum per day (usually 150 or 200 kilometers) no matter what distance is traveled. The rates for each type of car do vary by company, and by state and city, although the following is a general estimate:
- Small Car/ sedan — Typically an air-conditioned Toyata Vios, Kia, Hyundai starting from about 6k VND per kilometer. These cars comfortably fit two passengers but can fit three
- Medium Car/SUV — Typically a Toyota Innova SUV, Fortuner, Kia Sedona, starting from 8k VND per kilometer. These cars comfortably fit four passengers but can fit six.
- Large Car — Typically a Fordtransit, starting from 12k VND per kilometer. These unique vehicles are like mini van and can fit up to 10 passengers. Larger ones are possible.
The rates are for travel from destination to destination. They usually include fuel. Parking, and a daily allowance for the driver’s food and accommodations (300k-500k VND per day), may be extra. Rates for hiring for sightseeing within a city are less.
Where to Hire a Car and Driver From?
Any tour company in Vietnam will be able to arrange a car and driver for you, as well will most hotels. However, if anything goes wrong (such as the car breaking down or misunderstandings), you’ll want the business to be responsible for it and not the driver. Rates from hotels will also be more expensive. Hence, it’s best to book through a reputable company.
Be sure to do plenty of research and make comparisons to decide on what suits you best. Decent independent drivers with their own vehicles do exist. You’ll need to have the right contacts to find them though.
Where Does the Driver Eat and Sleep?
Drivers are provided with a daily allowance by their employers to cover the cost of their food and accommodations. Some hotels offer separate accommodations specifically for drivers.
Foreign tourists who are used to equality often feel that their drivers should dine with them, especially during lunch if they’re on the road. This is not the norm in Vietnam though. Drivers have their preferred places to eat, and they may not be comfortable joining you for social reasons (Vietnam is very hierarchy-oriented). It doesn’t hurt to ask though. Just don’t be surprised if they are reluctant to accept the invitation.
Tipping the Driver
Is it necessary and how much? Your driver will definitely expect a tip. Depending on how happy you are with his services, 100k to 200k VND per day is reasonable.
What to Keep in Mind while traveling by road in Vietnam
The condition of the roads in Vietnam is variable and can be very poor in some mountain places. It may take you longer to reach your destination than expected, so do take this into consideration when planning your itinerary and allow plenty of time. Don’t always believe the travel times shown by Google Maps! especially remote Northern Vietnam regions
Roads that are in poor condition tend to be bumpy and the lack of decent suspension in older cars will be very noticeable. In addition, most people prefer to choose an air-conditioned car as roads can be dusty and the weather hot.
The car will need to return to its starting destination (at your expense), so do take this into account when planning your trip and budget. For example hire a car with driver from Hanoi airport to Ninh Binh and back to city
The drivers don’t act as guides. They will take care of your itinerary, get you to each destination, and answer general questions. They won’t accompany you inside monuments and attractions though.
Other Things to Expect as Hire a Car and Driver
All most drivers do not speak English as their job in Vietnam however English speaking driver are also available in any stages
Driver often offer where to stop and have break in a shop or restaurant that recommended on the go if you do not like it, be sure to decline without problem