As travelers, we are often constrained by ridiculous overnight bus schedules and, unless we have unlimited time, generally end up confined to cities and sights that are already inundated with tourists.
For those of us who want to experience a unique and different side of an already unique and different country, there is one option that presents itself as an incredible way to make your way around. Plan a trip to Vietnam and traverse the length of the country, north to south or the other way around…by motorcycle!
While there is a little bit of added risk in taking a motorcycle around a country you are unfamiliar with, there are also a few very huge plus points that make it worth working for. Here are five of them!
- See the sights up close
For a small-sized country, Vietnam has some of the most beautiful places in the world. As you make your way along the coastline on the well-paved AH1 highway, you will be treated to natural scenery that is mind-blowingly beautiful.
In the span of a single day of motorcycling, you can ride through steep mountain passes, then drop down to sea level and cruise alongside isolated, pristine beaches. Add on another hundred kilometers, and you’ll be in the middle of a jungle, surrounded by lush greenery – so remember to pack mosquito repellent!
- Meet amazing Vietnamese people
For those of you hesitant to rent or buy a motorbike here because you’re worried about breaking down and not having a mechanic nearby – stop fretting. You will 100% break down, especially if you buy one of the used Honda Wins that have made their way up and down the coastline tens of times already.
The great news is that almost all folks on the road in Vietnam have basic bike knowledge and there is never an auto shop more than a kilometer or two away!
Some of the most amazing interactions and conversations you will have with folks in this amazing country will be when you are broken down on the side of the road and all of a sudden, three Vietnamese men come up, usher you off your bike, whip out a hammer and wrench and quickly patch up your sagging chain.
All too often you will find yourself following those kind folks back to a roadside café for a beer and a chat!
- Rack up some great travel stories for friends back home
As your make your way along the coast of Vietnam by motorbike, you’ll run into all kinds of unplanned (and probably unplannable) situations. From mistakenly ordering duck-fetus soup (instead of chicken soup) to meeting a kind Vietnamese man in a remote fishing village and being invited to join him and his entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins, children and grandparents included) for a feast prepared in your honor.
- Be free to go where you want, when you want
Vietnam is an incredibly diverse and unique country. You never know when you’ll want to spend just a few more days in one town, or ride into the mountains where there are no public buses to check out some natural springs that you can take a refreshing dip in.
- The awesome tan lines make for great bar banter
No joke, there is no better story-starter in a bar than some funky looking tan lines and that is exactly what you’ll have after spending weeks cruising around in the hot Vietnamese sun!
A Quick Note On Security
If you have decided to take my advice and grab a motorcycle in one of Vietnam’s main cities (Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City), then make sure you are taking all of the proper safety precautions!
Buy robust adventurer’s travel insurance and make sure you have all of the proper motorcycle safety gear and that it is up to Western standards. That means you’ll want to have motorcycle boots, a padded jacket, and a full-face helmet.
For those of you planning on taking your adventuring to the next level and checking out the country’s plentiful off-roading opportunities through the mountains and jungles, consider slapping some dual sport tires on your motorcycle for added stability, braking and traction on some of the more dicey surfaces you’ll encounter.