Highlight: Hanoi - Mai Chau - Hoa Lu - Ninh Binh - Hai Phong - Cat Ba - Ha Long Bay. Boating
Motorbiking in Vietnam
Motorbiking in Vietnam, the land of hidden charm and mysteries is one of the most adventurous tours. There are some organizations like GREEN TRAIL TOURS which offers all-inclusive motorbike (motorcycle) tours package. It includes off-road adventures on 4x4, with trekking and kayaking an extension. These tours are often categorized as specialty, adventure or extreme travel. Vietnam is a frontier destination and a ride on an old school Soviet motorbike through its rugged mountains is an unparalleled adventure.
Some of the accessories that you must have with you before embarking on the Motorbiking in Vietnam are gloves, helmet, saddle bags and equipments like riding jacket and pants, rain gear and Belarusian Minsks.
The destinations of interest in Vietnam that you can include in your list while embarking on a motor biking tour in Vietnam are Hanoi, Saigon, Cao Bang, Ba Be Lake, Ban Gioc Waterfalls, Mau Son Mountain, Halong Bay, Cat Ba island, Sapa, Bac Ha, Ha Giang, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Quan Ba, Khau Vai, Lung Phin, Luc Yen, Vu Linh, Tam Duong, Phong Tho, Lai Chau, Sin Ho, Than Uyen, Nghia Lo, Muong Te, Dien Bien Phu, Tuan Giao, Son La, Phu Yen, Mai Chau, Xuan Nha, Hang Kia, Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Kon Tum, Dac Lac, Can Tho, Vinh Long, Long Xuyen, Chau Doc and more. These destinations cover Vietnam from Northeast, Central North, Northwest to Central Vietnam, Central Highlands and end in Mekong Delta. Vietnam is a long country with over 3,000 km coastline and the motor bikers need at least one month to tour all Vietnam.
While choosing a motor bike before going for the motor biking in Vietnam, be careful as many roads are in poor condition and you really need a strong bike with high clearance. The Honda Baja proves to be 'top notch' for this type of excursion.
Discover the enormous mountains populated by hill tribe communities living as they have for centuries. Skirt gorges, chasms and cliff faces, cruise high mountain passes, enter remote weekly markets and discover hidden terraced valleys and isolated communities while you tour Vietnam by motorbike.
Go to Vietnam. It will be a whole new way of experiencing the splendors of the country and getting a thrill out of it too. Motor biking in Vietnam is a popular adventure sport as well as a recreational means, well indulged in by both the locals and the foreigners.
About Motor Biking In Vietnam
Motor biking in Vietnam will take you through an entire gamut of luscious landscapes: rugged, mountainous terrain, dense woods, lush and tranquil valleys and past vibrant markets, towns and villages. The Vietnam motor bike tours will not be taxing on your strength either for there are biking routes of varied difficulty levels to suit your capabilities.
In your Vietnam motor biking trips, be sure to head up the northern highlands of the country. This part of Vietnam boasts of some spectacular mountain scenery made up of narrow, rocky passes, deep ravines, towering peaks and beautiful cascades that plunge down from the cliffs. You can warm up for your north Vietnam motor biking journey with a stint on the comparatively gentle valley roads of Mai Chau.
Northern Vietnam hides away many beautiful lakes amidst its depths and the roads to them are a tad difficult, if not impossible to tackle. But all the more incentive for the thrill-seeking biker to give a serious thought to some adventure holidays in Vietnam.
Take the road less traveled to northern Vietnam. Adventure in Vietnam herein takes the form of the biking routes from Hanoi to Mai Chau, Mai Chau to the Cuc Phuong National Park or from Mai Chau to Son La and from here to Lai Chau.
When you are motor biking in Vietnam, you can also drive out for Lang Son from Hanoi. There are isolated mountainous stretches along Cao Bang where you can enjoy the solitude along with the scenery while zipping on the rocky roads. Take the road to Ba Be Lake from Cao Bang, and enjoy a little caving and trekking stint here. After all, it’s Vietnam. Adventure is here to be found at virtually every nook and cranny.
The options for adventure and recreation in Vietnam come aplenty. Motor biking in Vietnam is just one of them, all set to give you the ride of your lives as you take in the enchanting beauty of the Vietnam landscape.
Itinerary in brief Day 1: Hanoi - Mai Chau. ~160 km, ~6 h.Day 2: Mai Chau. ~50 km, ~2 h.
Day 3: Mai Chau - Hoa Lu. ~180 km, ~8 h.
Day 4: Hoa Lu - Ninh Binh - Hai Phong - Cat Ba. ~165 km, ~6 h.
Day 5: Cat Ba - Ha Long Bay. Boating.
Day 6: Cat Ba - Ha Long - Bai Chay - Hanoi. ~165 km, ~5 h.
Day 1: Hanoi - Mai Chau. ~160 km, ~6 h.
Once out of the Red River Delta, which brims with traditional farming activity, we pass through limestone monoliths and into foothills populated by Muong people. We head straight at the main range before breaching a high and beautiful forested pass, which descends into the hidden valley of Mai Chau where we spend the night with friends in a traditional Thai stilt house.
The valley of Mai Chau lies between two rivers: the Da River and the Ma River, which make it very fertile and rich in varied landscapes, medium mountains, forest, lake, rivers, and infinitude of small footpaths, which offer many possibilities of trek. In the valley of Mai Chau and its buttresses are Muong, White Thai, H'mong (in the height), and the Dao who we meet at the markets or in their villages during trekking, boating or while driving.
Day 2: Mai Chau. ~50 km, ~2 h.
Excursion by boat on the lake of Black river. Very calm and wild. Go up to the village of Man people. Mini trek to the waterfall. Picnic meal. Come back to Mai Chau to have diner and sleep in the stilt-house of Thai people.
The other option is boating along Ma River. We drive for about 45 minutes to take the boat (all day). Picnic meal. Come back to Mai Chau to have diner and sleep in the stilt-house of Thai people.
Day 3: Mai Chau - Hoa Lu. ~180 km, ~8 h.
Beautiful landscape. Bumpy road but very quiet and peaceful. We bypass the scenic Perfume Pagoda and spend the night in 2-star Van Xuan Inter-hotel Complex.
Time permitting, we propose a short ride to Hoa Lu to visit the temples of Dinh and Le King, and then hike up Yen Ngua mountain where we could get a panoramic view of the whole region.
Day 4: Hoa Lu - Ninh Binh - Hai Phong - Cat Ba. ~165 km, ~6 h.
The road between Ninh Binh and Hai Phong is under construction and early departure is recommended. We meet the ferry to Cat Ba at 1.30 pm from Binh station and arrive in Cat Ba at 4 pm. We propose to promenade along the coast and then take a sampan to have dinner with seafood at a floating restaurant for dinner.
Day 5: Cat Ba - Ha Long Bay. Boating.
Breakfast at the hotel. The guide and the captain of the boat will go to market to buy food; you can go with them if you find it interesting. Boating starts at 10 am. Lunch with seafood on boat. Fishing and swimming. Visit local people in the floating village of Van Gia. Boating to Monkey Island. Dinner and sleep overnight on boat.
Cat Ba is the far end of Halong Bay. Cat Ba still live from the resource that the sea offer. The tourism is developed and of high quality. The Cat Ba Bay is a condensed of Halong Bay, its labyrinth of limestone so dense that it is difficult to imagine we are on the sea.
We created this itinerary - the floating village Van Gia. They are our personal friends and the relation with them is intimate, even knowing that some companies now also pass through there.
Last but not least, Monkey Island (Cat Dua Islet) was totally ignored by mass tourism when we propose to stop there. It has got nothing special beside the fact that there is nobody except monkeys and one family who takes care of their security.
Day 6: Cat Ba - Ha Long - Bai Chay - Hanoi. ~165 km, ~5 h.
Cruise through myriads of limestone to Halong Bay where labyrinth of limestone so dense that it is difficult to imagine we are on the sea. We arrive at Hai Ninh restaurant to have lunch before riding back to Hanoi. We estimate that you will arrive in Hanoi around 6 pm.
TOUR PRICE: This is a sample itinerary so the cost really depends on your hotel choice, number of people in your group and time of travel. Please contact us to customize this itinerary and price to meet your needs and budget.
We act responsibility by contributing to local communities, ensuring we work with reliable suppliers and paying our staff and guides a fair wage, so that you, the traveler, can sit back and enjoy your holiday in the knowledge that you have booked through a well established, professional, reputable and responsible tour operator. For more information about us please click here.
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- Motorcycle(s), all fuel;
- Tour guide/Translator;
- Standard hotel and/or homestay (sleeping bags, mosquito nets, sheets, pillows...are provided);
- Third party motorbike insurance;
- All food;
- All entrance fees, permits, tickets, boat trips, ferries, bamboo rafts, etc;
- Green Trail Tours provides support. We are with you along the way;
- Vietnamese tea and rice wine.
- Personal expenses, personal medical insurance;
- Drinks other than tea and local rice wine;
- Motorbiking protective pants, jacket, gloves, helmet, rain gear and other safety equipment at favourable rental rate;
- Train or flight tickets;
- Breakfast on the departure day and dinner on the return day;
- Accommodation in Hanoi;
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What type of clothing should I bring?
Please note that Vietnam is a developing country and size selection and/or quality products are real issues. Local products are cheap but almost just one size for all or the quality is poor. Here are some suggestions:
- Clothing: helmet, rain gloves, wellington boots (rubber boots for rainy season from April to September), summer gloves, balaclava, t-shirt, socks & underwear, long sleeved shirt, turtleneck shirt, extra jeans, light jacket, leather chaps, zip-lock bags, riding boots, bandannas, sunglasses and goggles.
- Personal items: basic toiletries, emergency cash, sunscreen and earplugs.
- Emergency items: first aid kit, emergency contact number, list medical conditions, list medications, flashlight, chargers and duct tape.
- Miscellaneous: small towel, bath towel, trash bags, bungee cords, camera and cargo net.
I drive a large displacement motorbike back home and am afraid that the Honda 160cc or Honda trail bike 125cc will not be up to the task. Can't we drive anything larger?
Vietnamese traffic laws prohibited the use of motorbikes larger than 175cc until May 2007 after Vietnam was allowed into WTO. It will take sometime to have big bikes imported into Vietnam, but it's likely that nobody rents out these bikes as import tax is 90% and VAT is 10% (a bike costs twice as much as in your country!). The Honda 160cc or Honda 125cc will not break the sound barrier but the Honda will easily carry two people down all of Vietnam's roads. They are light, balanced and fun to ride. As of early 2008, we offered upgrade to Honda Baja XR or Degree 250cc or TLR 200cc. Click to find out bike options.
Can you arrange accommodation for us in Hanoi?
We can make reservations for you at any hotel in Hanoi and also organise a car to pick you up from the airport. Commonly we recommend people to stay at a particular hotel in the heart of Hanoi's Old Quarter. The central location makes it easy to get around the city and the hotel offers comfortable and spacious rooms in the US$15-30 per night price range. They also provide safe storage for baggage during the duration of the motorbike or offroad tour. More details here.
Do you carry everything on the bike, or would I leave some of my luggage at "base" until returning?
We provide you with spacious saddle bags which can carry a large amount of belongings. It's also possible to strap a further bag or rucksack onto the bike's back rack if required. Any other luggage may be left safely in storage at your hotel waiting for return.
I hear the traffic is crazy in Vietnam. Is it safe?
Traffic in Hanoi is chaotic to the uninitiated driver. For this reason we always use the easiest roads (even if they are longer) to get out of town. We can also arrange for riders to be dropped off at the city limits by taxi. Once out in the countryside, the level of traffic drops off remarkably and on some roads it is possible to not pass a single vehicle for the whole day. That said, it must be emphasized that the conditions here are demanding and extremely defensive driving is imperative. All riders must be very careful and be fully aware that the purpose of the trip is not to ride performance bikes hard into the bends, but rather to trundle along nice and slow and enjoy the sites and sounds. Once a ride is confirmed, we will send you an extensive document covering all aspects of driver safety particular to the conditions found in Vietnam. This document and constant support from your guide will make your ride as safe as possible.
What do I do and expect when I have an accident?
Vietnam can be a very strange country regarding how the accident is solved, just as the way people ride. The bigger usually pay i.e car drivers pay motorcyclists, motorcyclists pay cyclists... However, if you have an accident, first you have to talk with the other party (via our guide) to find out who has to pay and how much. If you don't agree with each other, then we call the police and they will do their job (usually takes time) and you have to stay in Vietnam until they have the official report. Vietnamese people usually expect you to pay, even if you are right. Don't be surprised and stay calm as our guide will help you to solve the situation.
If you purchased an insurance policy, and if you request we will contact the insurance company and ask them for instructions. You will need to pay us all phone calls in this case.
I'm travelling alone, is it possible to join any existing groups?
Where possible we try to link individuals together as long as they are of similar driving experience. The more advance warning the better. Check out at Late Availability.
When is the best time to come to the north of Vietnam for a tour?
In the north there's no best time to ride. There are four distinct seasons, each with its own unique advantages. Summer runs from April to October, winter from November to March. Hottest months are June and August, coldest month is February. Expect the possibility of rain from April to August, while winter months are normally dry except when a winter storm settles in.
How long do we ride each day?
A difficult question as in most cases we ride from morning to the late afternoon. We try to get on the road early to make the most of the day and we enjoy lengthy stops throughout the day. On longer tours we can accommodate a rest day from the saddle. Our bikes all have extra padding in the seats. Expect at least five hours driving time per day.
What's the minimum time to complete a good ride?
In order to get into the mountains and out of the delta plains, whilst completing a good loop, we need a minimum of four days. At a bare minimum we can get onto some back roads and get a good taste of life on the road here in two days if you don't mind a long day in the saddle.
What's the best duration for a trip?
The perfect time frame to spend on the road would probably be eight or nine days, looking at a maximum of 12 days before the body starts to take the strain. However, for the indefatigable we can offer an 18-day trek of the entire northern region of Vietnam.
Where do the tours start from?
All tours start out from Hanoi between 8-9 am. Return to Hanoi is either by road or sometimes by overnight train in which case we send the motorbikes on the train. We usually come back in Hanoi between 2-6 pm.
Do you need a deposit?
We ask for a deposit of US$200 - US$500 in order to confirm to secure your booking(s). We will provide you with the necessary bank account details to transfer this deposit into once a ride has been agreed upon.
How do I pay you? Do you accept credit card payment?
Yes, we do accept credit card payment in our office. There is an extra bank charge of 3% (4% for American Express card holders). At certain times, we may apply surcharge as banks always offer low or very low rates comparing to black market rates. Deposit is made via a bank transfer or Western Union Cash Transfer. We ask that you transfer to our bank account a deposit and then final balance (cash is king in Vietnam) before the commencement of a ride. Unfortunately, PayPal applies very bad conditions to Vietnamese account holders and we don't like that.
What other expenses should we expect? How much cash do we need to take with us?
In terms of costs we cover everything except telephone calls, tips, souvenirs, alcoholic drink and personal medical insurance. As there are often some impressive minority crafts to be found in the markets or some more bizarre products of Chinese origin bank on US$150-200 extra.
How will I meet you in Hanoi?
We will arrange a pre-departure briefing session to introduce to you the route (with maps) and the minority peoples with whom we'll come into contact, provide you with all the equipment, and cover any other outstanding issues. Please print our office map here.
Is an international licence valid in Vietnam?
Despite some press reports to the contrary Vietnam does recognise the validity of international licences. Whilst some authorities in remote regions may not be able to comprehend a document written in a foreign language they go a long way in smoothing out any potential difficulties should an issue arise. They also take care of any licence requirements that you might have in your insurance polices.
How do I get an international licence?
International licences can be provided on the spot at the motoring authority in your country (e.g. The AA in the UK or the NRMA in Australia). Take your existing national licence and passport photo to their office and for a small fee they will provide a licence along the same lines as your existing licence, valid for one year.
I'm concerned about the footwear situation; thinking about leaving walking boots at home to lighten the load, what do you recommend?
It's essential to have strong footwear for the tour to protect your feet whilst driving. Trekking shoes or leather boots are perfect. No driving in open-toed shoes. It is possible to buy a pair of boots (including big sizes) in Hanoi for about US$15.
I'm filling out the Vietnam visa application and they ask for the name, address of my contact in Vietnam. What should I enter?
It's not actually necessary to enter anything in this field. If you wish you may write the details of any hotel in Hanoi. To save money and time, try our visa letter assistance service (you pay 45$US in total).