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How Many Motorcycles in Ho Chi Minh City?

How many motorcycles in Ho Chi Minh City? Apparently there are over two million scooters, mopeds and motorcycles teeming through the streets (and on the pavements) of Vietnam’s largest City, and they are an attraction in their own right.


Totally mesmerizing to watch, they buzz about their business, inches apart; streaming down avenues, weaving, wending, intertwining their way across town and performing hair’s breadth manoeuvres at every cross-road. 

Young women wearing peaked helmets sit straight-backed at the traffic lights. Families ride pillion – four up plus baby.  A wardrobe passes by.  The blasting of horns and the screech of brakes is constant, the air is fume-filled and the traffic relentless. But it’s fascinating.

Ho Chi Minh City Motorcycles
Ho Chi Minh City Motorcycles

As captivating as it is to watch if you want to see some of the city you’re going to have to step into this moving chaos and cross a road or two – not least because there’s not always room on the pavements for pedestrians. That’s where the scooters park.

Saigon Scooter
Saigon Scooter
Saigon Motorcycle
Saigon Motorcycle

How to cross the road in Saigon and Ho Chi Minh City

There is a technique to crossing the road and I’ve got to admit the first time I did it was terrifying; but if we’d waited for a break in the traffic we’d have waited all day. 

So when you’ve mustered the courage, pick your moment and step off the pavement and cross at a slow, steady pace until you reach the other side. Remember to breathe. 

Motorcyclists will try to negotiate pedestrians and they’ll pace themselves to avoid you; as long as you don’t step backwards, stop or make any unexpected movements. 

Always look both ways – even in a one-way street the traffic travels in both directions.  If you’re lucky enough to find some traffic lights don’t cross at the last-minute – the scooters will hit the gas about five seconds before the lights change to green. 

Pedestrian crossings? We didn’t find anywhere that the traffic actually stopped.

Crossing the Street HCMC
Crossing the Street HCMC

Finally, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – we had a mini tour of the city to experience the traffic from the streets – riding pillion or Xe Om as it’s known locally.  

Here’s my You Tube clip – I’m not an expert at filming footage from the back of a bike but it’ll give you an idea and the grin on our friend Bobby’s face is priceless…

More Vietnam posts…

Peter Goudge

Friday 1st of October 2021

Thank you for your article. Since your article was posted, the number of motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City has reached a staggering 8 million (plus). Arguably, the most important message here is - be careful when you cross the road.

ly nguyen

Wednesday 27th of June 2018

2017 about 13 million resident are living in sai gon and 7,6 million motorcycles


Saturday 2nd of April 2022

@ly nguyen, In my opinion, people in Vietnam should follow the motorcycle sharing concept. Instead of buying a new motorcycle, they should share. Motorcycle sharing idea is going on in the Philippines since 2016. Most people who don't use their motorcycles rent out and make extra income. This way local people can get some income

Visited the Philippines before covid and traveled all over the Philippines just by renting motorcycles from local people. Fond local start-up Book2wheel where I could find people near me who were renting out their motorbikes.

I should say people should give a try sharing scooters instead of owning one.

April Nelson

Saturday 21st of May 2016

your article is very interesting to read.

Suzanne Jones

Sunday 22nd of May 2016

Thanks April :)


Friday 8th of January 2016

Looking for a great rooftop bar in Saigon? Thanks

Suzanne Jones

Friday 8th of January 2016

Both Saigon Saigon in the Caravelle and the rooftop bar at the Rex have great bars and fabulous views. Cheers!

Hoi An - A Little Piece of Heaven | The Travelbunny

Saturday 15th of August 2015

[…] have to share with the occasional herd of cows.From Hoi An we headed south to the city of scooters, Ho Chi Minh City – or Saigon, as it’s still called by many, to see in the New Year Saigon […]

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