HCMC Dining Guide

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How to Drive Like a Local

Is being a Westerner in Vietnam getting you down? Worried that your skin color and laughable Vietnamese will forever leave you labeled as an outsider? One area where us foreigners can claw back some equality is on the roads of our new home. Follow these 13 simple steps as you drive around on your motorbike, and in no time locals will be asking YOU for directions! And then look confused when they see your face.

1 - Never yield for anyone. I don't care if it's a toddler crawling across the street, a pregnant woman waddling down the side of the road, or an ambulance rushing someone with arterial blood spurting from their neck to the hospital, NEVER. YIELD. You are the most important person on the road, and you stop for no one. Never forget that!

2 - On a related note, your horn is more useful than your brakes. Never slow down when you can honk instead, and only start to apply the brakes when you are actually about to crash into someone.

3 - When it comes to turning, never appear to know where you are going until you are actually there. For example, if you need to turn left at an upcoming intersection, stay all the way on the right edge of the road, and simply dive across every lane once you are perpendicular with your turn. This will surely anger everyone that is going straight, but remember, they don't matter.

4 - In regards to the timers that indicate how many more seconds are left on a green, yellow, or red light: you are free to go, or begin honking at the people blocking your way, once your red light timer hits 3 seconds. You are also free to continue through an intersection within 3-4 seconds of a yellow turning red.

5 - If, for some odd reason, you decide to use your turn signals, be sure to use the left one when you are turning right, and the right when you turn left. A third option is to simply always leave one on.

6 - Honk as much as you want, even if there is no reason to. At least one honk every 20 seconds is a recommended minimum, and don't wimp out by giving the horn button one delicate flick - hold that sucker down, or mash it repeatedly!

7 - When you enter a traffic circle, ignore the fact that it is a circle and go straight for the middle, causing a massive traffic jam in the meantime. These road features should be treated like they are just another four-way, 90-degree intersection.

8 - Act like flowing water: always find the most direct route. If this means going the wrong direction down a one-way street, driving on the sidewalk, or pulling illogical U-turns, so be it.

9 - No phone call can go unanswered, so if your phone goes off don't hesitate to pull it out of your pocket, bring it to your ear, and jabber away while leaving one hand to do the driving. A safer option is to jam your phone into the lip of your helmet, just above your ear. This is an ingenious hands-free device that is much cheaper than Bluetooth.

10 - On quiet or small streets, traffic lights are merely a suggestion. Use your better judgment to decide whether you need to stop or not.

11 - The road is your personal oyster, so if you need to stop in the middle of the road to ask directions, adjust your helmet, or pick your nose, go ahead!

12- Nothing that happens behind you is your fault, so don't fret over swerving in front of people or slamming on the brakes (after you've honked 15 times, of course!) without looking behind you. If a person happens to bump into you after one of these actions, angrily glare at them. Rear-view mirrors are there only for show. Actually, go ahead and just rip them off your bike. Right now.

13 - If some moron in a car misjudged his light and the traffic in front of him coming down the street that intersects with yours and ends up stuck in the middle, blocking your way, patiently wait through your green, and once the car moves, go ahead and proceed through the intersection, even though your light will now be red. Hey, you got screwed out of a green, you've gotta make up for it somehow!

Now get out there and drive like you were born here! Have fun!


  1. This sounds identical to China in every way, except that where I live in China, it is 95% cars and not motorcycles.

  2. That sounds even more dangerous!

  3. Dead on! Sometimes I feel like you're narrating my life.

    But you forgot one.
    14 - Get outta the way, pedestrian. That's no sidewalk. It's an auxiliary turning lane.

  4. Ha, glad to hear some of my posts are connecting!