Types of Road
Understand the different types of roads in Vietnam...
Vietnam has six classes of roads. These include national motorways, provincial roads, district roads, rural or hamlet roads, urban streets and special roads for government officials.
The national motorways may have one or two lanes of same-directional traffic. In urban areas, there may be as many as three lanes. Lanes are often not divided and there is frequent cross-traffic. Motorcycles drive on the far right or on the shoulder of the road, while slower vehicles drive in the right lane and faster vehicles take the centre. Common hazards include road damage, cross-traffic, pedestrians, animals, slow-moving or stopped vehicles, and debris.
Highway 1 is the federal motorway that runs the length of the country, connecting Ho Chi Minh City with Hanoi. Some sections of this motorway are just two lanes, other sections are four lanes, with lorries, buses, motorbikes, bicycles, animals, pedestrians and push carts all sharing the road.
Rural roads may be surfaced, gravel or dirt two-way streets. The lanes may be very narrow and lack adequate shoulders. Road hazards abound, and drivers must be alert to pedestrians, carts, livestock and other unexpected occurrences. Some rural roads are not intended for the use of vehicles larger than a motorcycle. In this case, the driver of a car will need to park on a larger road.
Urban streets may have one or more lanes and may be two-way or one-way roads. Crossroads do not always have stop signs or traffic lights, and even when they do, they are commonly ignored. Drivers must be alert for cross-traffic. Although driving the wrong way on roads is not permitted, it is common practice.
There are a few roads, mainly near military and government installations, that are reserved for military and government officials. Members of the public are not permitted access on these roads. Prominent signs in both Vietnamese and English are displayed.
There are a few dual carriageways in Vietnam. Most of them are located in and around Hanoi. Costs vary for each carriageway, although most toll booths collect around VND 10,000 from automobile drivers and a slightly higher amount from vans seating more than 10 passengers, lorries and buses. Motorcycles are exempt from paying a toll on most roads. Other than road tolls on dual carriageways, there are few toll roads in Vietnam.