… This is a guest post by Laura Knight of Motormanner …
Vietnam is a mix of old and new (as is much of Southeast Asia these days). You can travel to almost any part of the country, even random, ramshackle garages that sell petrol out of water bottles, and find perfect, high speed Wi-Fi. But those same garages may have no plumbing.
You can easily find yourself in one of the cities along the coast and check into a boutique hotel, complete with a huge, egg-shaped granite bathtub and an infinity pool for just 30 USD, but then look outside at the motorcycle taxi-drivers making a dollar or two per hour of driving crazy streets in the hot sun.
Vietnam has been my favorite country to visit… which probably has a lot to do with my decision to buy a used motorcycle in Hanoi and ride it down to Ho Chi Minh.
After getting up close and personal with Vietnam and the Vietnamese for nearly 3 months, I have just three recommendations of places that you absolutely cannot miss…this is by NO means a complete list, if I had enough space, I would probably list every single city I visited. But these are some of the more unique and culturally relevant places you can hit on a road trip through the country.
Go to Vietnam. Buy a motorcycle. Eat all of the wonderful food, meet all of the amazing people, and experience some of the most beautiful places in the world firsthand.
Motorcycle Dos and Don’ts
Before you start considering the places you’ll stop, take a minute and make sure you are taking all the proper safety precautions.
The last thing you want is to end up in hospital for something that quality motorcycle safety gear (motorcycle boots, an ISO certified helmet, and padded clothing) could easily prevent.
Places you CANNOT miss on a motorcycle road trip in Vietnam…
Hoi An has already become a hub for expats and backpackers. It is a few days ride from Hanoi and the perfect place to indulge your taste for some delicious food as well as luxurious hotels.
Take your time in Hoi An and experience the unique architecture that is a mix of Japanese and French.
Da Lat, a city in the central highlands of Vietnam, is a day of exhilarating riding from Nha Trang, a Russian tourist hotspot on the central coast of the country.
Take your time on the hairpin turns and stop frequently to experience the panoramic views along the way!
Phu Quoc Island
A quick ferry ride from the mainland is the island paradise of Phu Quoc. This island, which housed tens of thousands of prisoners during the decades-long war between Vietnam and America, now hosts tourists looking to escape from the noise and stress of Ho Chi Minh City.
Phu Quoc is still very much a work in progress, with new hotels going up month by month, so get over there and enjoy the beautiful beaches and kind island folks while the island is still tranquil and hasn’t turned into a backpacker haven like nearby Cambodian island, Koh Rong.
While on Phu Quoc, see if you can rent yourself a mountain bike and check out some of the jungle trails (or create your own!). After spending all day everyday on a motorcycle, it’ll be nice to experience the cycling benefits and getting in a bit of exercise along with spectacular views.
Roll with the punches
The most memorable experiences I had in Vietnam were ones that I could never have planned for. If you’re on a motorbike, rest assured that there will be breakdowns. There will be days when you ride in the rain for so long that you start to resemble a giant, grouchy prune.
There will be days when you are on a highway alone and lost, with huge trucks whizzing by in the pitch black.
Nobody will speak English, but somehow you will end up in a café with the kindest folks who give you hot coffee and point meaningfully to the left and show you a Google-Translated sentence, “the city you want is 40km to the left, ride safe”.
Enjoy the crazy moments!
It was never long before a handy group of Vietnamese folks moseyed up after the crisis of the day, ushered me off my bike, tinkered with the spark plug and sent me on my way with a functioning bike in about 15 minutes…enough time to drink some Vietnamese coffee, sweetened with condensed milk which makes it taste like a liquid brownie. Yum!
This has been a guest post by Laura Knight. A motorcycle rider for the past ten years Laura is turning her passion for travelling by motorbike into Motormanner.com a blog with articles about motorcycle traveling, gear reviews and helpful tips.
If you’re heading on a road trip in a car you may want to find out how to keep your personal mobile phone data safe in a rental car and a handy tip for telling what side of your car your fuel tank is on.