To start off with, at any given intersection, there can easily be 50, 60, plus motor bikes crowded together, waiting to continue on. It is not uncommon to see a family of three or four people on the same motorbike.
|A family of 4 on one bike waiting at a crowded intersection|
This might sounds very scary to someone that has never seen anything like it. However, having driven here in Hanoi, I realized that this chaos actually works. In general, no one wants to be in an accident, so most drivers are very careful. On top of that, traffic in the city rarely goes any faster then 30 or 40 km/h (18mph to 25mph). Driving in Hanoi is one of the more interesting experiences I have ever had. And once you are in the traffic, you realize it is not that scary.
What really was scary was being in a car outside of the city. Two weeks ago, me and some friends went on a trip to an Island. We had to go to the port by Ha Long, a 5 hour drive from Hanoi. Most of the roads up to Ha Long were 2 lane highways that cut right through small villages and cities along the way.
|A Map of our route to Ha Long|
For the locals of these villaes, the road is a local one, and they dive along the road at the same slow pace as in Hanoi. But for those using the roads as a highway, they speed along at speeds up to 80 or so km/h (50mph plus). And of course people are weaving in out of traffic trying to avoid the slow drivers, not to mention the vehicles that are going the wrong way down the highway. Besides the speeds, another major difference between these roads and Hanoi is that most of the vehicles are not motorbikes, rather they are huge trucks and buses. I remember sitting in the front seat of our taxi when all the sudden a huge dump truck was heading right for us. And amazingly enough, I was the only one in the car that was scared. For everyone else, this is simply how people drive here.
So being on the roads of Vietnam is an experience in of itself. I hope I did a good job of explaining the organized chaos. You should really come and experience it for yourself. It is quite astonishing.
The Vietnamese are either the world'ss best drivers, or the worst. I have yet to figure out which.