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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm trying to plan a trip to Vietnam leaving towards the end of November. I've always wanted to go there and have heard touring on a bike is unbelievable. I'm thinking a minimum of 10 days but could really stay as long as I want and extend the trip.
I found a place which rents bikes (~$20-50 per day) out of Saigon although there's places in Hanoi where I could start my journey as well. Places I went to see, so far, are Hanoi, Phong Nha, Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Saigon.
Any of you guys done a similar trip?
 

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Unless you are an old hand at international motorcycle travel, I would advise you to look into doing this with a tour group. Is there an outfit like Moto Carribe operating in Southeast Asia?
 

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Unless you are an old hand at international motorcycle travel, I would advise you to look into doing this with a tour group. Is there an outfit like Moto Carribe operating in Southeast Asia?
What logic/knowledge is this statement based on? Have you recently been to Vietnam and had trouble while you were there?

If the OP has some bike wrenching skills and is willing to put a bit of time into learning some key phrases in Vietnamese before leaving I think it would be a great trip. Far easier than a trip with border crossings, multiple languages, etc. The concensus on ADV/HUBB is that part of Asia is pretty stable right now and a lot safer than most of Central Ameica or the carribean right now.
 

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What logic/knowledge is this statement based on?
It is called common sense.

The OP posted nothing about his experience traveling by motorcycle, his mechanical competence, his fluency in Vietnamese, or any support he would have for his trip. My assumption is: none; none; none; and none.

Traveling a long distance by motorcycle alone is great. Doing it in a foreign country is fantastic. Doing both, for the first time, where you don't know the language, and where you will be SOL if anything goes wrong, is a bit foolhardy. I'm not saying don't do it; I'm saying for a first-timer, it might be better to go with someone with some experience.
 

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Do other areas in the world have 1 million unexploded land mines?
Hint: they're not on well-traveled roadways.


I have only ridden a scooter around one Vietnamese town, but I did take a 2 week bus tour from Hanoi to Saigon and have a general idea what traveling via motorcycle would be like. Traffic laws essentially don't exist. Might makes right. Trucks and buses will pass you with 1cm of buffer, often going the opposite direction. There is lots of rain. Everyone wears plastic ponchos. In major cities, scooter traffic is very dense and like a swarm of bees. It's every scooter rider for himself.

I think it would be a fun way to see the country, but like doing anything risky in a foreign land (which is still largely 3rd world by medical standards) you'd be in a bad situation if you needed high-level trauma care services.
 

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I've read about some guys' experiences travelling in Vietnam and it sounds amazing. There are language barriers, but the people generally are pretty friendly and you're able to get by on some key phrases in Vietnamese, broken English, and sign language.

From what I recall, it's actually better to just buy a beater bike, tour around on that, and then sell it again when you're ready to go home. The reason for buying vs. renting had something to do with getting properly licensed, and the hoops you had to jump through. Though, IIRC (it's been a while), it wasn't illegal to ride your own motorcycle without the license.

There apparently are plenty of guys that facilitate bike transactions for just this kind of thing. Like dealing with any kind of salesman, you have to keep your wits about you--Westerners do have relatively deep pockets after all and we're easy marks. I think one guy said he got his bike for about $500, and it was a little beater 250 cc.

From what I understand, Vietnam is a pretty friendly place to go, and as such has a good sized ex-pat/international tourist population, so it shouldn't be too hard to find some people to help point you in the right direction.

If you've got the money and the time, I say do it. Be sure to take pictures and tell us about it.
 

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You can do anything if you're adventurous./brave/foolhardy/innovative enough. Like this guy who decided, essentially on a whim and with nothing resembling actual planning, to ride from Sydney, Australia to London on a beat-up Honda 110:

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=460631

As far as Vietnam-specific info... Look up the Top Gear episode where they decided to ride from one end of Vietnam to the other on inexpensive bikes bought in-country. Yeah, they had a camera crew and no doubt a few support vehicles, but it'll give you a decent idea of what you might run up against.
 

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Top Gear did it. One of my favorite episode "specials".

I cant find the full episode, but here's a clip:

It says "part 1" but this really starts about 10 mins into the actual episode...
 

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It is called common sense.

The OP posted nothing about his experience traveling by motorcycle, his mechanical competence, his fluency in Vietnamese, or any support he would have for his trip. My assumption is: none; none; none; and none.

Traveling a long distance by motorcycle alone is great. Doing it in a foreign country is fantastic. Doing both, for the first time, where you don't know the language, and where you will be SOL if anything goes wrong, is a bit foolhardy. I'm not saying don't do it; I'm saying for a first-timer, it might be better to go with someone with some experience.
I'm going to guess that you have never been on a trip like this; just because it's outside of your comfort level doesn't mean that it's as scary or dangerous as you may think it is. It does take some common sense and planning (as I mentioned in my first post when I mentioned mechanical skills and a bit of language) but it can be done without being a suicide mission.

Some people are far more comfortable traveling abroad than others, that is why they will go to another country and experience it, rather than go through a canned tour that only skims the surface. Different strokes for different folks...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the responses so far guys. I'll definitely admit that a trip like this is totally new to me. I've had a few unexpected things happen to me in life recently and just feel like I need an escape for a while.
I always plan everything I do really well, and research the hell out of anything I do. I would have a rough plan on which places I want to travel to, what accommodations there are, and where I could go if I didn't make it there like I planned.
I have looked at tours as well, and that option isn't off the table yet. I saw one tour company and if you go solo, it's only an extra $5 a day, so not an issue.
I'm definitely more of the adventurous type, so travelling to a foreign country by myself is nothing new and nothing I'm scared of. I really appreciate the link to that ADVrider site. Lots of good reports there and things to learn.
Thanks again, you guys rock:eek:ccasion14:
 

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Small world.

My g/f just got back from Vietnam. She had a scooter and traveled from Da Nang to Hue often. She said it's an amazing place, but you definitely don't want to be alone if you don't speak Vietnamese. (she's fluent)

I plan on going for about 3 months within the next few years and buying a bike there, my room and board are free, all I have to pay for is my passport/visa, and entertainment. :)

Keep in mind, it isn't as morally sound as Canada/US, so don't be surprised if you see things you wish you hadn't.
 

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Some people are far more comfortable traveling abroad than others, that is why they will go to another country and experience it, rather than go through a canned tour that only skims the surface. Different strokes for different folks...
I don't think that the type of motorcycle tour I am thinking of would necessarily detract from the "experience" of a moto trip through Vietnam.

The type of tour I'm thinking of is like what Moto Carribe does in the Caribbean. A small group on dual-sports, led by someone who knows the roads, the native language, the food, and the local customs. Plus a chase vehicle, in case things go wrong. Having that to draw on, as well as the collective experiences, skills, and camaraderie of the group, can enhance, rather than detract from, the experience. Among other things, it can allow you to maximize your travel time, and experience things that you otherwise might miss.

I am aware that you did a solo trip through parts of Latin America, which I greatly admire, but I'm willing to guess that your level of moto and general travel sophistication far outstrips the OP's. Also, for an American, I do not think that traveling solo through Central America is comparable to traveling solo through Vietnam.

As you say, though -- different strokes....
 

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Not done any long trips but years back I rented a Minsk 125 for the day in Northern Vietnam. (have ridden various two-wheeled creations in asia mostly on a one day basis) Although the day was fun the bike was a POS, badly maintained, no ignition - try bump starting down a busy track into the local market... So I would say be wary of what you're getting if going it alone.

Driving in parts of Asia goes by a whole different set of rules so be prepared for that. There's generally a hierarchy with buses and trucks at the top - everything else just gets out of their way.... (Don't even think of testing this rule!)

I'd say go for it. Just try and read up on as much as you can and ask around (as you're doing) for people who've had first hand experience. They'll be able to tell you how it really is, what the pitfalls may be and you can decide whether it's for you or not.

In my search for the aforementioned POS bike I came across these links that may be of some use/insight: Some dudes trip on a Minsk through vietnam, and These people do organised trips. I've no idea if they're good or bad just a couple of links I stumbled across.
 

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Here's my two cents. I haven't done it in Vietnam, but I did a two week solo motorcycle tour in Thailand. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I rented a honda 500 of some sort (naked street bike) and rode all over northern Thailand near the Chinese border. The roads were in surprisingly good shape, and most towns had a small mechanic shop that helped when I needed it. I spoke no Thai, but I did get good at mimicking sounds that the bike made and gesturing with my hands.

Would an organized trip been easier? Absolutely. But one of the draws of international travel is the sense of adventure, and those tour groups can take that away. I say buy a ticket, find somewhere to rent a bike, and go. You'll figure it out. You will see and experience a lot more on your own. There's nothing like screaming around a corner, just to find a water buffalo or elephant taking up both lanes.

And yes, get used to some defensive driving. You will get bumped in the cities, and buses/trucks will not yield under any conditions. There is lane splitting, but not just by motorcycles. Cars, buses, trucks, bikes, people on elephants, etc will fill every single space in the road, so you may have 7 cars wide on a 3 lane highway. Don't let that deter you - it's fun with the right frame of mind.

If you decide to do Thailand - you can rent your bikes here: http://www.chiangmai-motorcycle-rental.com/. Tony is a british ex-pat and can hook you up with some maps and all the good roads.

Good luck.
 
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