Guided Motorcycle Tours and Motorbike Adventure Touring in Northern Thailand

The Facts

Vietnam and its People

page-image-vietnam-1Vietnam is a fascinating wonderful country steeped in history, and much of this has occurred in our lifetime. What we know as the “Vietnam War” in the 1960s and 1970s is referred by the locals as the “American War”. Such is the different perspective that nations have. Prior to this war, Vietnam was invaded and occupied by the French from 1859 to 1954, and as a result, the food and architecture has a wonderful French / Asian influence.

The country is an “S” shape, about the length of New Zealand at 1600 km, but in one long finger of land. At the centre, the nation is only 50km wide, but mostly it is around 200 km wide. To the North is China, east is the South China Sea, and to the west, the land follows the borders of Laos and Cambodia. Hanoi, the capital, is towards the north of the country, whilst Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is in the South. At the centre of the country are the former historical capital Hue, and the colourful market town of Hoi An. Inland from the coast is the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which was the supply route used by the Viet Cong during the war.

Having expelled the Americans in 1975, Vietnam reverted to their communist regime and reunified the country under a single leadership. Today, whilst nominally communist, capitalism does appear to be alive and thriving, and even encouraged as the government are proactively working towards annual GDP growth rates of around 8%. Politically, Vietnam is relatively stable and embraces tourism as a major contributor to their economy.

The population of Vietnam is around 90 million across 54 ethnic groups. The Vietnamese are free to enjoy their own beliefs and religion. The infrastructure in Vietnam is varied and developing quickly. Whilst Westernisation is occurring slowly in some facets, it is roaring away in others such as manufacture of clothing and consumer goods.

Transportation varies from “Easy-riders” which are motorcyclists happy to take you anywhere on the back of their bike for a fare, traditional Chinese Junk boats, sampans for carrying trade on the Mekong river, through to modern buses and mini-vans.

Motorcycling in Vietnam

page-image-vietnam-2It should be stated that motorcycling in Vietnam is not a walk in the park, and not for the faint hearted! Firstly you ride on the right as in Europe or USA. The quality of roads is extremely variable, and can change in a heartbeat without any signs or warning. There are 29,000,000 motorcycles in Vietnam, all of which are under 125cc (except police who ride 250cc twins). The volume of traffic in built up areas can be intimidating, with every motorist banging on the horn,but the scenery is stunning, and the warmth of the people makes up for some of the challenges you endure.

We travel outside the rainy season which typically is between May and September over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The temperatures are in the range of 25-35 degrees Celsius, with humidity quite high as well.

It is rare to find a motorbike larger than 125 cc, but smaller bikes are fine, as the terrain and road conditions keep your speed below 70 kms per hour anyway. In fact the open road speed limit varies from 60-80 kph, so travelling 200kms in a day is an 8 hour challenge. So you will smile as you climb aboard your 125 cc “Honda Davidson”, kick the starter and head out into the traffic. For these reasons, as well as the challenge of finding support vans to accompany our riders down the length of Vietnam, it pays to travel light, but with sturdy protective clothing and wet weather gear to cover you during the inevitable showers.

It is great fun to have a pillion passenger riding on this trip, despite the bikes being so small.Most of the locals travel with their whole families on the one bike (I've seen up to 7 on a bike)! Be aware that we will encounter some challenging roads and you may choose to despatch your pillion into the support vehicle. Your concentration levels will need to be such that you look after yourself, but be aware of the extra pressure of having a pillion behind you. Despite this, if you want to bring a non-riding friend or partner who does not want to be pillion all the time, this can be accommodated as we will have a comfortable support van for your luggage and non-riding partners.

The Ride...

page-image-vietnam-3Because of the geographic nature of Vietnam, and our desire to give you the best overall experience, the tour is broken into 3 segments. We start in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the South, fly to Nha Trang and from here our ride takes us inland west and then north to join the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which was the Viet Cong's supply route during the war.

The roads we follow combine some regular sealed roads with lots of back country lanes and tracks best suited to our 100-125cc machines, rather than the Harleys, BMWs and Ducatis which many of us have at home.

Over the 8 days whilst riding the Ho Chi Minh Trail, we will be visiting villages off the beaten track, a former US army base, coffee and rubber plantations, elephant camp and National Park. At each town we stop, our guide will give us a local tour and introduce us to local foods and delicacies. We ride the Ho Chi Minh Trail for 6 days over mountains and valleys before arriving at the historical commercial port town of Hoi An, where we have a rest day.

Our next phase is to ride over the Hoi Van Pass before heading to Danang, which was the base of the movie “Good Morning Vietnam”, starring Robin Williams. This is where the biking part of our adventure finishes and we leave the bikes and climb aboard the Reunification Express train to travel overnight half way up the country to Hanoi. After a day in Hanoi we head to the UNESCO world heritage site of Halong Bay for a cruise and overnight stay among the 3000 islands in the South China Sea. Then we return to Hanoi for the final phase of the tour.

Price of $4,500 includes:

  • 15 Nights accommodation on a share twin basis
  • All Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and soft drink stops when on the motorcycle tour
  • Motorcycle hire, fuel, limited bike insurance (subject to excess) and all mechanical problems resolved
  • Flight & transfers from Saigon to Nha Trang
  • Train trip on the Reunification Express
  • Vietnamese boat tour in Halong Bay
  • Saigon tour and Cu Chi Tunnels Mini-bus trip
  • Kiwi Tour guide, local Vietnamese guide and mechanic
  • Ford Transit 16 seat minibus (or similar) with driver accompanying us on the bike trip
  • Return airfares from your base – Vietnam, and appropriate visas are not included



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