Thursday, May 17, 2012

So you think you can ride in Vietnam?



When I landed in Hanoi, Vietnam, motorcycles immediately stole my attention. Motorcycles in Vietnam are everywhere and they are used to do just about everything. Streets in Vietnam are like rivers, but instead of water, motorcycles flow in continuous streams of traffic.

You think you could ride like this?

Though I wasn’t able to ride any motorbikes while visiting Vietnam, nearly all my most interesting memories of the country (like single motorbikes transporting as many boxes as a normal pick-up truck) have to do with motorbikes!

I thought to myself how cool it would be to travel through Vietnam on a motorcycle. For me it would be the flexibility of being able to stop at will, or being able to go to a completely off-the-beat destination in the country. I remember riding in a bus from Hanoi to Halong Bay. During the ride I peeked out the window and saw countless little local Vietnamese restaurants that appeared to be serving amazing unique food – and if I had been on my own motorcycle I could have stopped and enjoyed it.

I was amazed by the motorcycle traffic in Hanoi!

After reading the guide to motorbiking in Vietnam, I realized that touring Vietnam on a motorcycle isn’t quite as easy as just jumping on a bike and heading out – there are a few things to think about and organize in order to ensure your journey is a success.

Choosing a Motorcycle: Great tips on finding a motorcycle that best suits your interests and how to go about fully checking it over (condition of the bike) before committing to purchase it.

Riding Tips and Suggestions: Not only does the guide provide useful tips on how to ride like the Vietnamese (using your horn, focusing forward, accelerating on traffic gaps), it’s also packed with valuable tips on what gear to take and what to wear.

Licensing, Permits, Registration, Insurance (both yourself and bike): No, this stuff is not the most interesting, but it really is the most important information you need to think about when organizing a motorcycle trip in Vietnam
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Where to Go: When you’re past the logistics of riding a motorcycle, it’s time to figure out a rough itinerary of where you want to go. Sure you can drive around aimlessly, but since you’ll probably be on a tourist visa, you’ll want to have some sort of rough plan. The guide suggests a few amazing rides and routes that you may want to add to your travel itinerary.

Resources Section: From useful Vietnamese language phrases to a motorcycle specific packing checklist, the resources section is really useful. The guide really made me think through a lot of things I would have never thought of (and that are really important).
For instance, I never would have known to keep my motorcycle gas tank always 1/2 full or more to avoid clogging the gas filter.



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