Riding in Vietnam is not for the feint of heart. It has the second highest rate of traffic fatalities in the world and is the second most dangerous place on earth for motorcyclists, just after India. There are approximately 40 traffic fatalities per day in the country. The way people ride in Vietnam is very different from yours : no rules! To ensure an authentic taste, make sure to ignore any Traffic Rules you know. This should help to achieve a fine balance between two-wheeled fun, fine roads, beautiful landscapes and complete and utter chaos.
1. Do and dont
2. What to bring
3. Group Size
1. DO AND DONT
These following rules are practical and informal:
– The traffic looks very crazy at first, but it’s not that bad. It’s like a river and when you are in it you have to flow. First rule is no rules.
– Larger vehicles have right of way. Avoid anything bigger than you and slow down.
– Use signal and the most important thing is the horn. People don’t care about the noise of horns.
– Use both brakes at the same time with more back brake as if you apply more front brake it slips
– Our guides were born and grow up in Vietnam, so they understand Vietnamese traffic. Follow the guide, ride behind him for safety.
– Speed limit in Vietnam is very low (30-80km/h). Don’t break the speed limit.
– Don’t ride on one wheel (free wheelie).
– Animals are everywhere in the country or mountain roads. Dogs and chickens are the most then come water buffaloes, cows, pigs and horses…If you kill a dog or a chicken, don’t stop, cry and feel sorry, it’s not your fault. Slow down and don’t hit water buffaloes, cows, pigs and horses, simply they are too big!
– Do not drink and drive.
– Be careful with spilt oil from trucks and buses at curves on the mountain roads, extremely slippery and we have had at least four small accidents related to this matter.
– Your guide leads the group and he gives you hand/body language if there are big pot holes, trucks, blind curves or any danger. He can see you in the mirrors and if you want to stop use the signal or simply pull off but be careful with riders behind you. If you got lost, just stop and wait for someone to find you or call us.
– If the police stop you (this rarely happens), your guide will not come back. He will wait for you, out of sight up the road. Just keep talking English or whatever you want and they’ll soon give up and let you go in less than five minutes.
– If a bike is technically broken, we will replace with the same type of bike or the next available model.
2. WHAT TO BRING:
You don’t need to bring everything with you on the trip, pack essential things in a small bag (medium size, max 10kg) and put it on the back of the bike.
Here are items we suggest for motorcycle touring:
– Clothing: rain gloves, Wellington boots (rubber boots for rainy season from April to September), summer gloves, balaclava, T-shirts, socks & underwear, long sleeved shirts, turtleneck shirts, extra jeans, a light jacket, leather chaps, zip-lock bags, riding boots, bandannas, sunglasses, goggles, and contact lens solution.
– Personal items: basic toiletries, emergency cash, sunscreen and earplugs.
– Emergency items: a first aid kit, emergency contact number, list medical conditions, list medications, a flashlight, chargers and a duct tape.
– Miscellaneous: a small towel, a bath towel, trash bags, camera and cargo net…and probably some gifts for children.
3. GROUP SIZE
The maximum group size for rides in the north is from 5 to 8 people per group (limited to 6 motorcycles), riders or pillion passengers. This will enhance your experience and ensure a high degree of personal attention. Rides down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, however, can accommodate much larger groups because we use a support vehicle at your request (extra fees applied). Small groups enable us to trek into remote areas with minimal intrusion to the local cultures. Riding in a large convoy with all the inherent complications and delays is just not our way.
The best group size is from three to four riders, not too many and not too little. More people means more fun but too big a group means less information the guide can provide as he needs to take care of your safety. Our largest group ever was 12 riders but we divided into two groups and two guides came on the trip.
- You should bring your own riding gear if you have due to size and quality matters. If you don’t have any or don’t want to carry them, you can get free from us. A typical set includes a helmet, a pair of fingerless gloves and protection knee and elbow pads.
- The prices quoted are based on double, twins or triple sharing room and there will be single supplement charge. The amount depends on which trip you take and we will advise the cost if you request a single.
- You need to bring spare money to pay for drinks. A 1.5l bottle of water or a can of beer costs between 10,000 to 20,000 VN Dongs (0.5-1$US). Drinks in home stays usually cost more than in restaurants but your money will be contributed directly into local communities and we believe you accept this.
- First-aid kit is very important and you should carry this with you on the ride and throughout your travel. We can’t buy a quality kit in Vietnam.
- GPS works in Vietnam, please check with your dealer about necessary software and/or updates. Broadband Internet connection is available almost everywhere and you can find a public Internet cafe easily. The cost for using broadband Internet is quite cheap (1$US = 4-5 hours). Many hotels offer free Wifi. Electricity is also available nationwide but there can be a shortage in summer and power-cut is common between May and August (luckily, not normally at night!).
- For North Vietnam where most of our rides take place, the best time is usually from September to January (cool and dry). From February to April is normally cold and wet. May to August is hot and Indian summer is in June, July and August.