The sentence was imposed on Ho Duy Truc after the court found he nearly severed the hand of a woman in one attack, Tuoi Tre News reported Wednesday.
Seven accomplices received jail terms ranging from six months to 20 years.
During sentencing, a panel of judges said the group had "terrified the public." Truc, 20, received the death penalty because of his "dangerous and inhumane acts."
Members of the group were captured after Truc and three others attempted to steal a scooter from a 29-year-old woman as she drove over a bridge in Ho Chi Minh City in November 2012. Truc hit the woman's wrist with his machete, leaving her hand barely attached to her arm.
Passengers heard the woman's cries and rushed to help her, prompting the attackers to flee.
Truc and the three men were arrested shortly afterward at a hotel. The other members of the gang were arrested later.
McPhee, Cokas 'working on their marriage' after affair
Astronomers offer more expansive view of universe