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Vietnam Highlands - 5 day trip

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by gsxrjames, Jan 15, 2011.

  1. I'm half asleep, waiting at danang airport...but I've got 10 minutes till boarding and free wifi so I'll start this now.
    My girlfriend and I just spent 5days riding a 125cc single cylinder honda cruiser through the Vietnamese highlands. We started in Dalat and made our way to Hoi an with an 'easy rider' guide named Chung. We've got stacks of pics and video so I'll do a proper journal when We get home in 2weeks. Boarding now so I'll update soon.


    I'm back :) so here goes...

    On our last trip we went along the coast; Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Nha Trang, and Hoi Chi Minh but we regretted not seeing the central highlands area.

    I also wanted to do a bike trip but we were on a tight schedule and ran out of time. This time we decided we’d do a short ride through the centre and visit our favourite place (Hoi An) before heading to Cambodia.

    From Hoi Chi Minh we flew to Da Lat, a mid sized city in south central Vietnam. It’s a pretty cool, French inspired place without the craziness of Hanoi of Hoi Chi Minh. We had no accommodation booked and no plan other than to head north. The ‘Easy Rider’ organisation is pretty big here so there’s no need to plan ahead. We had coffee with a guide and planned a trip for the next morning.

    That afternoon our guide Chung showed us Da lat and assessed my riding ability. I think usual policy is for tourists to ride automatic scooters but he let me take his bike which was nice. Most bikes there are Honda 125cc singles and various Chinese copies. The legal maximum capacity in Vietnam is 200cc, and really you wouldn’t want anything more. Highway speed limit for bikes and scooters is 60kms. It sounds slow but feels very quick.

    Some of the roads are in pretty good condition but they are all unpredictable. There are huge pot holes, buffalo, logs, worksites etc on the road and zero warning. Some of the bumpy ‘kangaroo roads’ as Chung called them are just rocks and sand and have been destroyed by trucks and buses. My girlfriend couldn’t take many pics of these, you really need to hold on to stay on. :eek:

    Over the five days we rode aprox 900kms.
    Here is a rough map of where we rode


    And here come the pics!!!
    We've got 500+ but I'll just put up some of my favourite bike related ones

    This is a typical self sufficient village. Dirt roads, unenclosed live stock and very poor. There were a few concrete houses that apparently cost around $10,000US to build and 10years to save for.

    I think this was taken on the first day heading out of Da Lat. There are lots of small twisty roads that wind through rice and flower farms.

    This is a very high quality road. Every few minutes we’d have to weave through farmers walking their cattle and buffalo. Rice farms either side and jungle in the distance. Interesting stuff.

    A very rough ‘kangaroo road.’ You can understand why 900kms takes 5days. It is fun though. On these roads trucks enjoy overtaking each other around tight corners leaving you with very little room. Just choose the smoothest path and stay the hell out of their way.

    This is a sheet metal bridge that we had to cross to enter a national park. What the pic doesn’t show is the giant hole in the far left corner. Probably a foot wide and two long.[​IMG]

    This was taken from a shack we stoped at during the rain. The guide didn’t personally know the people who lived there but they showed us around whilst they were preparing (killing) a hog for a wedding the following day.


    Another small town pic
  2. Hey GSXRJames. That sounds awesome! I went to Vietnam in November and I loved it. I only did riding in HCMC and Hanoi. Can't wait to see the pictures!
  3. i've love to go to Vietnam to ride...

    but i'd be a bit scared of the people and crowds.. having fair skin i'd stand out like a sore thumb... :/
  4. You and the thousands of tourists
  5. The cities are fun but its a totally different experience. Dodging buses and buffalo, riding in clouds in the jungle :) great stuff.
    You do stand out in the smaller villages but its nothing to worry about. The kids run along side you yelling 'elloelloelloello' and give hi5's and the adults are generally very humble and proud that your interested in their lifestyle.

    Just got in to Siem Reap which is a whole other kettle of fish...
  6. I'm heading to Vietnam with a group in a couple of weeks for a motorcycle tour from Hanoi to Saigon (no guide).

    Would love to see some pics and hear some experiences of riding in Vietnam!
  7. I. Am. So. Jealous. How long are you taking doing it? You wont need a guide. I spoke to a guy who was being charged $150 per person to do a 10 day ride with the blokes who took the Top Gear team out. I told him he was getting ripped off black and blue. That's nearly 3 million dong per person per day. I am so jealous!

    I agree James, riding in the cities is fun, but it took me a while to get the gist of the 'only look ahead, and go with the flow' concept, but it does seem to work! I even bought myself a Vietnam "helmet" as a souvineer.
  8. I've heard magnificent reports on Vietnam, in terms of riding adventures, food, sightseeing etc. Definitely on my list of 'to do' things - have been to Ho Chi Minh, well...as far as the airport (many times).

    gsxrjames - sounds like a fantastic time was had ! My Asian riding adventures has seen me hiring big cruisers in Thailand (Koh Samui) & Malaysia (Penang). Almost got killed in both locations from locals...AND tourists ('Westerners') riding around like maniacs ! LOL
    Vietnam will one day be the next Asian ride location. Thanks for the info and look fwd to your full report :)
  9. We have budgeted about 16 days to complete the ride with a couple of rest days so should be plenty of time to enjoy the trip. Cost around $700-800 for hire of the bikes for the full trip, and being able to pick them up at one end and drop them at the other.

    I just had an accident on my bike about 90 minutes ago so I'm hoping there wont be any problem injuries left over in two weeks (I already badly sprained my ankle!).

    It's all happening...
  10. gongrider you'll have a great time. You should be ok without a guide if you've done your homework and have detailed maps. Be very carefull not to cross into Cambodia or Laos by mistake. A guide definetly makes life easier though. English isn't common in the smaller villages, will prevent being over charged and show you places you wont find by yourself. Also I rode over some glass and had a flat, so they double as a mechanic. It's not that much dearer, $70 a day got me a bike, english speaking guide, a nice hotel and entry fees (national parks)... so it'll probably end up cheaper. I'll have a computer and more time on the 28th if you want more info, or email my man Chung, chungtour@yahoo.com
  11. Thanks for the info James. We did a fair bit of weighing up between having a guide and not. In the end we decided to go without so we can visit our choice of places and be free to stick around if we like one of the towns. The mechanic part is a good point though. It's going to be an adventure for sure!

    Can't wait to see these pics of your ride, although the 28th is the day before we fly out!
  12. The machines, Chung and I

    The next few pics are my favourite. Taken during the last two days, we’re truly in the jungle, near the Laos border. Great roads and scenery. Only a motard would have made it better.






    It's a bit wet...
  13. Awesome pictures there. Bring back some good memories. I first learnt to ride on a construction site in the outskirts of HCMC when work sent me there in '09, before tackling inner Saigon. After that, Dalat and Cat Ba island (on Ha Long Bay) were just relaxing.
  14. A few clips if you interested. Pretty crapy quality.

    Riding up a dirt road to an old American war airstrip.
    Its now used for drying vegitables.

    This was filmed by our guide. you might need to rotate your head a few times :D

    Riding through the mountains
  15. Thats awesome mate. I went to Vietnam in 2007/2008 with family, and I have to say it is one of the best countries I've been to. Love the food, love the scenery, love the culture.

    I've been wanting to do something like that for quite a while. Perhaps a longer stay, and potentially going through Cambodia and Laos (but I've heard that can be quite hard to do).

    Did you consider buying a bike there? I've heard that people tend to buy the 125cc Minsk for a few hundred bucks and sell it after they've completed their trip.