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In November, myself and two friends will land in Ho Chi Minh, buy motorcycles, drive them to Hanoi over the course of 1.5 months, and sell the motorcycles in Hanoi before flying home. We are all US Citizens.

We are all young males and want to do the trip as efficiently as possible while still enjoying ourselves. We're not above dank hostels, but we aren't looking to camp so won't be bringing tents.

We want to carry as little as possible, because all our belongings will need to either be strapped to our bike or in a pack on our backs. Furthermore, while I don't wish to insult the beautiful country of Vietnam, I understand there is a relatively high possibility of our belongings vanishing due to burglary or outright mugging.

With this in mind, what does the community recommend we bring? Are there any backpacks recommended for this type of journey? So far I've compiled the below general list:

  • Motorcycle Helmet (will be on at all times on the bike)

  • Backpack large enough to fit all of the below

  • Boots / Running shoes (one pair will be on my feet)

  • Small chromebook (possibly unnecessary but would be nice to have in hostels, can be tethered for data)

  • 3 pairs boxers

  • 3 pairs socks

  • Jeans/shorts (one pair will be on me)

  • Gymshorts (pyjamas, swimwear)

  • 3 T-shirts

  • Leather jacket(sometimes on me depending on heat)

  • Small digital camera

  • Moto gloves (sometimes on me depending on heat)

  • Galaxy s3, unlocked (for navigation, tethering data when we can)

  • Passport

  • Prescription contacts and glasses

  • 2 credit cards, 50$ USD cash, 100$USD Worth of Vietnamese currency (to have day of landing)

    All of the above are what I plan to bring with me from the States. Things such as hygiene products, bug spray, sun screen and etc I plan to buy there.

Am I totally underestimating the difficulty of this journey? Is this too light weight? Should I considering bringing perhaps a nice shirt for any nightlife we encounter? Am I bringing more than necessary? Any items I should add considering the type of journey and the country? I like to carry a knife for utility (I'm not arrogant or stupid enough to attempt to defend myself with one), is that something I can do in Vietnam? I was told it is possible to withdraw currency from ATMs there, is this true? Is it advisable so that I'm not carrying too much cash in case I get mugged/burgled?

closed as primarily opinion-based by JoErNanO, CMaster, Willeke, drat, Karlson Oct 29 '15 at 2:44

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Suncreen in vnam reportedly often contains bleaching agents, so you may want to bring some with you. Also, you might want to see what the going rate is for a bribe to avoid penalties driving a motorcycle without the appropriate licenses, unless you plan to obtain such things... – CMaster Oct 28 '15 at 16:38
  • DIdn't realize that about sunscreen, thanks, I'll bring a bottle. I've been doing some minor reading and so far it seems you just need an int'l driver's license, or am I way off base? – Caleb Jay Oct 28 '15 at 16:45
  • That would be an International Drivers Permit, which is just a translation of your existing licenses, not a license in itself. I hadn't thought that Vietnam accepted most foreign licenses, but I could be wrong. – CMaster Oct 28 '15 at 16:47
  • Readin on the internet shows a lot of confusion (this seems to be pretty standard for Vietnamese law) but indicates that foreign licenses/IDP alone are most probably not legal. I think it might be a good question to ask seperatley actually, see if we can get a canonical answer with good sources. – CMaster Oct 28 '15 at 16:59
  • I'm afraid this question is unansweable on TSE because it is opinion-based: we all have different preferences when it comes to packing for travel. – JoErNanO Oct 28 '15 at 17:06
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November can be cold in the mountains of the north, so be prepared for cold nights if you are heading towards Sapa, BaBe and such.

Bringing and wearing full leathers is a good idea if you plan on getting big bikes and motoring on the major highways, Vietnamese drivers are a bit selfish and pushy.

Make sure your current driver's license has a motorcycle endorsement and make sure AAA notes that on your Int'l Drivers Permit.

Bringing something nicer to wear is always a good idea, as Asians put value in appearance. And while they won't kick you out for looking like an Hells Angel, they will appreciate your dressing "polite".

Bring more US cash and no Vietnamese Dong. You will get a better rate of exchange at the airport than in the USA. And having a few hundred US tucked away for emergencies is always good. Be sure all cash you bring is new style notes in good condition.

Bring a check card (Visa or MC debit card) to use in ATM for cash. Credit Cards will charge you interest from the moment you get the cash, debit cards simply deduct it from your account. Debit cards from most American banks carry the same protections against theft, fraud, etc as credit cards do. And if you are still really paranoid about card fraud, you can open a new checking account with check card, then through online banking move small quantities over from your main account as you need it.

Robberies do happen, but often due to stupidity on the travelers part, ie: leaving cash in your hostel room, getting a bit too drunk, flashing too much wealth in bars or markets. Common sense goes a long way, same as it does when visiting a major US city.

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