Would you like to see the country of Vietnam like most locals do? Do you want to see the mountains, valleys, and rice paddies on your own terms without restriction on when you can stop or not? Then motorbiking Vietnam might be the adventure you need!
The Adventurous Beard Through Vietnam
Recently I convinced a group of friends to fly into Ho Chi Minh City, buy some scooters and motorbikes, and motorbike Vietnam with me. This trip is by far one of the most stressful, dangerous, and gutsy things I’ve ever done. Within the next few posts, I’m going to try to give you every upside and downside (literally) that a trip like this is likely to throw at you.
Before you can start thinking about if this stunning and gorgeous adventure is for you, you need to seriously consider if you are skilled enough on a motorbike or scooter to make it the entire trip. If you are a novice, are you willing to take a few courses and get your motorbike driver’s license in your home country?
If you are not willing to do this, you probably should not be taking on this adventure. The roads of Ho Chi Minh are not for the faint of heart, let alone a novice that has never been on a bike before.
My friends and I were not willing to do this, which immediately led to countless problems within the very first day. I will be coming out with an eBook soon about that first week on the road.
There is a ton of resources online on how to go about getting a motorbike. I will also have guides that I will post often. Take the time to research everything you can find on this subject. You are going to need as much information as you can get your hands on.
The more you prepare for your trip, the better you will be. In fact, adopt the Boy Scout motto for riding motorbikes through Vietnam, “Be Prepared”.
Do NOT skimp on your protective gear. I was trying to keep a list of how many people I saw walking into hostels with bandages from a motorbiking accident.
I lost count of injured backpackers after 25.
A surprising amount of people think they can get away with slippers, t-shirts, and shorts on a month long motorbiking trip.
Be smart. Get yourself a good helmet, long pants, riding gloves, and a jacket that gives you some kind of protection.
By the way, you are not likely to find good protective gear in Southeast Asia. A full protective helmet is a rarity.
The only law that will be guarantee that you get pulled over for is not wearing a helmet. Vietnam is extremely strict on this policy and if you are motorbiking Vietnam, make sure you do not break this road rule.
Besides, wearing a helmet when motorbiking Vietnam is a no-brainer. Even so, that doesn’t mean everyone wears a GOOD helmet. In fact, the locals call most helmets you can get “soup bowls”.
I’ve witnessed what happens when someone crashes with a bad helmet and it is terrifying. Do not be that guy.
Use Google Maps Trip Planner
Using Google Maps Trip Planner helps you exponentially while on the road. You can easily pull up your custom map any time.
All you have to do is:
- Open Google Maps
- Click the menu (the three-lined bar in the upper left hand corner)
- Click on your places
- There will be four tabs. Click on the last one, Maps.
- At the bottom, click create map.
The map from Vietnam Coracle is a good starting point and will help you get the hang of your trip planner.
Here is a link to that:
He gives you five separate options for different routes. I did a chopped up route of version one and version two.
In all honesty, you will not know if motorbiking through Vietnam is for you until you have bought the bike in Vietnam. Riding your motorbike through the streets of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City will give you an indication within the first twenty minutes. If you have serious reservations about the whole adventure, just sell the bike for what you just paid for it and just take the bus/train.
If you do end up motorbiking Vietnam, I can guarantee you will have an unforgettable experience. I can also guarantee that seeing Vietnam through a visor of a helmet is infinitely better than sleeping your way through the country on a bus.
Have you had an experience with motorbiking in Southeast Asia? I would love to hear about it! Comment with your experience down below.