If time spent whizzing past beautiful landmarks on a bus full of strangers fills you with fear, then look no further.
Travelling on a motorbike is the perfect way to see the real Vietnam and you won’t miss a thing. Whether you wind up in the architecturally exquisite old capital of Saigon, or the peaceful village of Ninh Binh, there will always be a number of friendly locals, waiting to offer you a seat on the back of their motor. Although the bustling roads of Vietnam might seem daunting at first, don’t be worried, it’s safe, as these folks are seasoned pros (check out Hoi An Motorbike Adventures, Vietnam’s only 100% legal internationally licensed motorbike company). Even if it’s just for a day trip, the locals will be the first to tell you that travelling by bike really is the only way to see ‘Nam.
Here are seven luxuries you can expect to benefit from if you explore Vietnam on bike:
1. Unrivalled Freedom
Something caught your eye at the side of the road? You have the freedom to stop whenever and wherever you please, the ultimate luxury as a tourist. Stop to visit those caves, waterfalls and ruins that don’t feature on the typical tourist routes and maps. You can create your own itinerary or ask your driver to show you the local sites, either way, you are the boss and it’s freedom you can’t clone.
No more waiting around for the stragglers of the group who are too busy taking selfies to notice that everyone is impatiently waiting on the bus. Whether you’re gazing upon the Mekong River, exploring the Marble Mountains or taking a dip at Elephant Springs, with no time constraints you can spend those precious extra minutes taking in the extraordinary scenery.
2. Get off the beaten track
When travelling on bike, you can reach intricately positioned places that cars and other larger vehicles simply can’t. Enjoy your time in the more secluded and tourist-free areas by travelling to a hillside village, driving through a rainforest, or taking the beaten up shortcut to a far-flung hot spring. Drivers have been known to weave their way cross-country towards areas of the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) where tourists can still find remnants of the battles fought on the very ground on which they’re standing. With bullets still sporadically strewn across the vast expanses of ground at the DMZ, you’ll have a truly unforgettable and moving experience – one you don’t have to share with anyone else. That’s luxury.
3. Relax and let your driver do the hard work
No more thinking about where to go next and how to get there, your driver has this covered. One of the great things about being on the back of a bike in Vietnam is that you are able to sit back and completely relax. Have your rock star moment and feel the wind blowing through your hair as you drift towards that knockout sunset far in the distance. The roads that hug the beaches of Hoi An are perfect for this and make for some exceptional sunset photography opportunities.
4. Travel over the Hai Van Pass
This scenic hillside road once divided two civilisations and it’s easy to see why things might have gotten a little heated between them. It’s beautiful beyond belief. As you wind your way along the hairpin bends towards the top of the pass, the view becomes more sensational with every turn. The pass is home to an old gun tower, a strong reminder of the area’s fierce military past. It stands tall, juxtaposing with the beauty of the white sand beaches and gloriously blue sea that glows below. It’s a peaceful route that is rarely used by anything other than bikes, as a tunnel now exists beneath. This makes the setting perfect, as you can enjoy unspoilt views, surrounded by nobody and nothing but natural beauty. If you are looking for an easy, relaxing day trip, this is ideal. Hire a driver in Hue and travel south over the pass to the vibrant Hoi An/Danang, or vice versa.
5. Appreciate the luxury
Spending your days travelling and exploring can be tiring for both the body and mind, so now you have the perfect excuse to indulge yourself in a little luxury at the end of the day. Book yourself into a luxury hotel and pamper yourself, after all, you might be a little saddle sore. Just remember that travelling by bike doesn’t equal backpacking, stay classy!
6. Use the knowledge of the locals
Travelling with a local guide means they have the know-how on where to go, what’s good to eat, where’s an utter tourist trap and how you can best utilise your time in Vietnam. Your guide will enthral you with moving accounts of war, gripping stories of Vietnam’s fascinating history and will not hold back on regaling in some of their own incredible personal experiences. Vietnam is a country that has developed astonishingly quickly in recent years and these are the people that have been here through it all. Their take on modern day Vietnam will provide you with an informative and unique personalised experience to remember.
7. Experience the Vietnamese ‘bike break down’
Break down, it’s the most memorable experience you can have. Okay this isn’t a luxury, but getting a puncture in Vietnam acts as the perfect excuse to experience the true, rustic side of the country and to meet some of its people, which is a great luxury in itself. Help your guide to push your now flawed bike along a desolate, dusty Vietnamese road in the rain, before being ushered into a Vietnamese family’s house. It won’t be long before you find yourself sat on a small red plastic chair, (common throughout Vietnam), sipping on Vietnamese green tea as you participate in a nodding competition with your hosts in an attempt to break the language barrier. They’ll be as intrigued about you as you are about them! This experience is priceless. Don’t let the prospect of a potential break down put you off. Every other house doubles up as a repair shop, meaning you’re never too far away from a friendly, helpful face who will repair your puncture in a matter of minutes and send you on your way. Embrace it!
Image Credits: But For The Sky