I recently completed this tour and thoroughly enjoyed it. As a first time visitor to Vietnam, I was a little bit apprehensive about the city traffic, but once I’d chosen an appropriate sized bike for my 187cm frame (Honda 250c trail bike) I quickly adapted to the conventions that get you from one side of a roundabout to the other – look everywhere except behind, keep moving no matter how slowly, use your horn frequently, and give way to bigger vehicles!
Our local ride leader was very knowledgeable and quick to stop & point out items of interest along the way. The support van carried all of our baggage and “refreshments” for the trip as well as our resident mechanic & his bags of tools. The bikes were checked & maintained every day and were appropriate for the mountainous roads of varying condition.
The mountain scenery was stunning and we stopped regularly to just take in the views. In farming areas, we had to watch out for livestock on the road as animals (water buffalo, goats, pigs, etc) frequently grazed on the side of the road and in villages the dogs were happy to sleep on the road! Chickens were definitely free-range!
The food was great and plentiful and always fresh. A highlight for me was munching on steamed corn-on-the-cob harvested from a nearby field at roadside market on a ridge overlooking a beautiful valley in bright 25 degrees sunshine with a group of friends – it doesn’t get any better than that!
The tour organisers were attentive to our needs and very organised. A certain amount of flexibility is required in North Vietnam as the weather and road conditions can change quickly. One of the roads on our planned tour was closed due to an avalanche and this required rejigging the route and associated accommodation. One of the home stays was not suitable for one member of our party who developed a medical condition and alternative accommodation was organised without fuss – no problems for our organisers!
I would recommend Goexploretheworld and their Vietnamese tour operators, Wide Eyed Tours, to anyone interested in visiting Vietnam. When I go back to tour the other areas of that country on a motorbike, my first call will be to Meghann Roberts!
Just returned in November from the most fantastic trip ever. We originally booked just for the Northern Vietnam Motorcycle Trip, but then decided to add on extras–a few days in Saigon (Ho Chi Min) and a couple of days to unwind in Ha Long Bay. Nothing was too much trouble for Meghann and her team. Staying in central Saigon was a real bonus, everything was walking distance–the location was perfect. We went on several organised tours to Cu Chi Tunnels, Long Tan Cross etc., even a kindergarten sponsored by Australian Vets. However it was the motorcycling we went for–and what a trip we had!
We collected our bikes on the second day in Hanoi and ventured out on the local roads to acclimatise ourselves…this in itself was an adventure, getting used to the chaotic traffic and the virtually non-existent road rules! What a bonus to retreat to our hotel that night for a well deserved drink, and of course our welcome dinner!
After collecting our bikes the next day, somewhere away from the chaos we started our real adventure. Unless you actually go there, and experience things you can’t possibly understand how beautiful this country is. The winding roads had the most magnificent scenery around every corner, never knowing what was coming up next–be it water buffalo, pigs, ducks or dogs on the road was an added “bonus”.
Being a pillion, I was very lucky to be able to take lots of photos on the move, because if we had stopped for every picture opportunity we would never have arrived on time anywhere.
Every day was so different, the challenging roads, the stunning scenery, fantastic lunches and dinners (with beer and coffee) on arrival. Everything was pre-arranged, and we didn’t have to think of a thing, we stayed at some extraordinary hotels/homestays/guesthouses. The only problem was that the beds got harder as we ventured North and West, maybe a self-inflating mattress next time, or more rice wine before bed?
Due to unforeseen weather and road conditions the plans/itinerary had to be altered on a few occasions but this was always done with a minimum of fuss and entirely with our safety coming as the top prioity.
We did have the occasional problem–a couple of “offs”, twisted bikes, bruised egos etc, but again this was dealt with by the team very professionally. People going on this type of trip must leave their expectations at home, and “go with the flow” and in doing so they will have a trip of a lifetime. As any biker knows, on a ride anything can and will go wrong, but these are the things you look at afterwards and realise that is why the trip was special!
Two nights being spoilt at Halong Bay was the perfect ending to this unforgettable trip, and once my 64 year old ribs heal, we will be back in a heartbeat to experience more of this amazing country and its beautiful, gentle people. Biggest decision, Central or South?? or maybe both—-help Meghann!!