From an outsiders perspective, a Vietnamese road has little rules. Traffic in Vietnam is hairy; a tangled and endless streamed mess of motorbikes (video here), an occasional man-drawn cart, some cars and trucks and more motorbikes. crossways do and don’t exist in Vietnam, and pedestrian lights… seldom. This raises a quick “danger” signal to the western traveler.
Fear not, there’s a method to the madness of these streets…
Road rules of a Vietnamese street:
Firstly, the Vietnamese are virtuosos of the two-wheeled mule and highly skilled motorists, able to handle hoards of traffic, chaotic congestion, soggy weather circumstances and a bike heaped with furniture and cornucopia, ranging from dresser bureaus to a mountain of crates, carrying live chickens! Motorists drive at an easy pace, are experts at the art of balancing big loads and are artful dodgers (this latter skill will be key to affirming your trust).
Secondly, if a vehicle wants to pass another, they signal by honking their horn. Car and truck horns bellow out long and deep “wah wah wah…” echoes; whereas, bike horns raise short, staccato-like pitches, which cry out with an annoying “meep!”
How to cross a street in Vietnam?
Getting down to the nitty-gritty, how do you cross a street in Vietnam?
If you doubt my advice or think I’m joking, just watch the locals do it!
The Vietnamese Driving Rule (seems to be):
What you can see, you can easily avert. Therefore, the pedestrian rule? Walk slowly , cautiously and let the motorists see you well in advance. Don’t go sprinting out into the street or jump out of blind spots. Remember, dare to play a game of Frogger and you may end up as roadkill for someone’s day! Motorists won’t stop the flow of traffic unless there’s a stop light, but if they can see you in advance, they’ll break slow to drive around you. Here’s a video clip of me crossing a busy street in Vietnam.