Motorbike Tours FAQ

Planning Your Tour

In a nutshell, better accommodation and better food. 

For the VIP tours, we stay in a better class of hotel and homestay and we tend to stay in more hotels than homestays. This means that you get a little extra comfort, which can make a tough tour less tough. This is of particular importance in the colder months when piping hot showers are preferred to draughty bathrooms. 

On a VIP tour, we take better food with us that allows the lunch options to be more interesting and varied. We also have more scope to feast in our accommodation and request larger than average portions. This can be needed when we have some long tough driving days ahead of us.

Up in the North, it is hard to say as each of the four seasons has distinct advantages and drawbacks. The Summer is usually around April to October and ranges from warm and wet to boiling hot with the occasional torrential downpour. This also leads to the risk of flooding and landslides. The Autumn, October to December will generally be dry and cool with the potential for cold fronts to descend creating cloudy drizzly days. Winter, January / February, will be relatively cold (10C) and colder at altitude (Ha Giang, Cao Bang), but often quite dry and clear. Spring, around February to April will often have mixed spells of warm and cold air with dry or drizzly days. 

Driving North/South or South/North means that you pass through a whole range of climatic regions (northern, central and southern) and it is very difficult to answer which is the best time. This is because the weather may be great to ride in one regions but not optimal in another. We suggest not passing through the central or southern regions in Summer as there can be a lot of storms and flooding.

You will see that we do not list tours less than 5 days on our site. This is because it takes a day to get out of Hanoi / Sai Gon and to get to the ‘countryside’. While this may be interesting and a culture shock for many, we don’t think it is what you came here for. You then have 3 days of pleasurable riding, which, in all honesty, will leave you wanting more. Therefore, we would say an optimum length of tour to be around 7 – 9 days with one or two rest days thrown in so that you can take some time off at key points and transform from being a motorbike tourist to just a tourist. 

North / South – South / North Route

You will need more time to complete this tour due to the distance covered. It simply isn’t wise to cover 1,600km in 8 days. We recommend around 10 days as a minimum and 14 – 16 days being perfect.  

The longer you have, the more chance we have of getting you to the most remote places that offer the highest rewards.

Technically, we have no maximum number. However, we assign one guide and one mechanic to a maximum of 12 riders. This means that if you have 13 or more, we will split into two groups for the daily ride. 

The advantages of this are a higher level of safety and comfort along with the ability to group riders according to riding skill.

We require a minimum number of 4 riders on a tour to offer the listed prices. However, if you have a smaller group we can custom build a tour and price this accordingly. There are a number of fixed costs that mean a tour with fewer members is often more expensive per person.

Yes, we can let you know what tours we have arranged and whether they are willing to accept a new member. Often times this is possible but it takes a little understanding on both sides due to different skill levels, needs and desires. We have found that most people can get along quite well and this isn’t an option.

Absolutely, yes. Generally, speaking foreigners are left alone and not hassled other than by pesky tourist touts (just like any other country). Vietnam is a predominantly Buddhist and partly Christian country and women play a vital role in daily life. They are not wall flowers and nor are they hidden away. They are strong and capable and, although, there are some extra precautions that a female traveller might feel necessary, these are no more or less than most countries in the world. Also, bear in mind that this is a guided tour and there is plenty of support from our staff in all aspects of the tour. Contact us for details of female guides and female only groups.

No, definitely not. Whilst the country does not shut down as it did in the past a large number of businesses, including ours, will close for at least one week and perhaps longer. It will be difficult to find services available and there will likely be a holiday ‘premium’ applied. 

Further to this, travelling on the roads at this time can be quite dangerous du to the levels of traffic, distraction and, unfortunately, drink driving.

Well, for two simple reasons. First, a local guide will know the region and be able to show you places that are of interest to you as well as help with translation and, thus, make your experience so much better. Also, you will be more able to relax and enjoy the tour whilst the guide takes care of the humdrum aspects of touring such as booking accommodation, arranging meals, learning pertinent route information, maintaining bikes, dealing with entrance fees, tolls, ferries. With all of this stress removed you will be able to enjoy the trip so much more.

Rider Requirements

You need to have a valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity in order to obtain a visa for Vietnam. We can assist with an invitation letter for a visa on arrival. You should prepare (2) 3 x 4cm passport photos and have $USD for the visa fee, which we can advise you of before you depart.

It is essential that you have a valid driving license from your home country or from Vietnam (if you are living here). This will be a requirement of the personal health insurance provider, too.

If it is possible to get an International Driving Permit, then it is advisable to do so. However, you must check to make sure that Vietnam is named on this. Be warned, there are two different conventions and Vietnam signed up to the 1968 Convention so this is the one that you need.

You must have your own personal medical insurance that covers you for operating a motorbike in Vietnam and you must adhere to the requirements of that insurance. If not, we cannot take you on tour.

We strongly recommend taking out our motorbike insurance. For a small fee, we cover you against the loss, theft or any damage to the motorbike caused by an accident or fall and you will be covered should the bike be damaged beyond repair. This is not a license to go crazy as you will not be covered for misuse of the bike. The policy excludes any personal medical insurance, 3rd party liability or damage / injury caused by other vehicles or drivers. The peace of mind this offers is worth its weight in gold.

Choosing Your Bike

We totally understand where you are coming from and how you have become used to the power provided by your larger CC bike. 

All we can say is that this extra power is not really required for most average people when they are driving in Vietnam. The XR150 is capable of carrying you anywhere you will want to go whilst on tour with us and the fact that it is lighter and more nimble is a distinct benefit when we are on goat tracks through the hills. 

We can offer the CRF 230 which does have more power but is slightly heavier with a higher centre of gravity that makes it a little trickier to handle on muddy or steep rutted tracks. More power than this is not going to be of real benefit on any trip that we do. 

Also, the Honda CB500x is available so long as we have a little advance notice and we can provide these bikes (at a higher daily rate due to higher cost of vehicle) for tours. Again, this is a different kind of riding to that which we are used to and a lot of the smaller more technical tracks become unavailable to us unless you can prove you are a competent off road rider on such a vehicle. 

An important point to remember is that we are on tour and there is no hurry. We can drive defensively and let the hoons overtake us and kill themselves. We are better off taking it slow and steady and getting to our destination in one piece. The XR 150 can do this just fine.

No. We do not allow bikes other than our own on tour. This is because we cannot be sure of the history of any strange bike and we do not wish to jeopardize the enjoyment and safety of the whole tour because of this. What would a bricklayer say, if you asked them to build a wonky wall?

Yes, you are welcome to bring a pillion passenger. The cost of a pillion on a tour is 20% less than the rider rate as we provide the same service only minus the bike.

Preparing For Your Tour

Yes, it is our pleasure to provide you with an introduction letter that you can show at immigration to collect your Visa on Arrival (VOA). We have a local agent that arranges this, AT NO EXPENSE TO YOU. We simply need your passport and flight information to arrange this.

Yes, this is what we do. We can assist with reservations in any hotel in Hanoi and also provide a FREE airport pick-up that will take you to your hotel of choice. Good hotels can be had for 30-40usd per night and they will also store any excess gear you may have until you return from tour. You can choose from staying in the heart of the city’s old quarter or closer to West Lake and our office.

The bulk of our tours start in Hanoi because the best riding in the country is easily accessible from here. However, we have offices in Hanoi, Danang and HCMC so we are able to start and end tours from any of these three locations.

We generally advise AGAINST this. We understand that you may feel like you want to help or to share your culture by handing out small trinkets and souvenirs. However, this can encourage a cycle of poverty and desperation which ultimately harms far more than it helps. We feel it is much better to buy products and services from local adults i.e. drinks, ferry crossings, and give a small tip, if you wish. This money is far more likely to go to families and their children.

Yes. You know your gear and it is well worn and comfortable. This will increase your pleasure and safety on the tour immeasurably. It is a no-brainer. However, are you willing to pack or carry your gear? Do you have enough space? Can you be bothered? Ask yourself and if the answer is no, you will need to use our gear, which is up to international standards but is likely to be a little less comfortable or suited to any particular need of yours.

Safety

Yes, the death toll is high but bear in mind that nearly all of the 100million citizens who are old enough to drive, drive a motorbike. There is a certain level of organized chaos on the roads and it often looks far more dangerous from the outside. Once, you are ‘in the swim’ so to speak, you will find that you can just follow the flow. Also of note, the average speed of traffic is usually less than 40kmh, which gives you plenty of time to react in a possible crash sitatuion. 

Driving conditions in Vietnam are challenging, especially in the cities. We need to drive defensively and on the slower side whilst we are getting used to the traffic flow/logic. It is also imperative to expect the unexpected at all times. That means kids running into the road, other drivers missing corners and driving head on in our lane, inconsiderate overtakers, overloaded vehicles with minimal control etc…

Our first priority is you, then it is the other members of the tour and then the crashed vehicle. Our guides have first aid training and a basic medical kit. They will also seek to get you professional medical assistance as quickly as possible. The location of the nearest medical centre is known to us and we contact them as well as hospitals in the nearest city for advice. Note: the tour is put on hold until any injured rider is stabilized. 

If repairs are needed we will arrange for those to happen in the nearest mechanic or ship the bike to a suitable location for this. We may need to take a detour on the tour and adjust the schedule. 

Any 3rd party damages that are needed to be paid can be dealt with by the tour leader or mechanic and recouped from the rider involved. Damage to our vehicle will be charged to the rider unless they have completed and paid for the damage waiver. 

We find it is usually advisable to go along with the locals with a view of extricating ourselves from the situation as quickly as possible. Arguments over ‘right of way’ etc… are generally fruitless. 

If the tour can go ahead, with or without the tour member involved in the accident, then it will. This is ultimately a decision for the tour leader and the mechanic (with consultation from the group members).

Only if you go against the advice of the tour leader and or mechanic and leave the bike unattended in an unsecure location. 

Whilst on tour the guide/mechanic will tell you where to leave the bike and take responsibility for this decision as well as the decision to lock the bike or not. 

In general, theft is not an issue and we do not need to worry about this. If you follow our guidance, then you have no need to think about this at all and can enjoy your tour stress-free.

No. Vietnam is not the place to learn to drive if you are visiting for a tour. We do not provide driving lessons and require all of our drivers to have a motorcycle license from their home country.

On Tour

This varies greatly on the tour and the level of the riders. We can arrange long days on the bike or short days. We can also offer tour routes that allow rest days in interesting locations such as: Ba Be, Phong Nha, Sa Pa etc… 

We recommend not planning to be onthe bike for more than 5hrs per day and also arranging our leaving time so that we can arrive at our accommodation early int he afternoon. However, due to many factors this cannot always be guaranteed.

We can provide a support vehicle to carry baggage and, occasionally, a tired pillion passenger. This is particularly useful on long trips around the North, so that extra baggage does not need to be carried on the bike and also on the North / South – South / North route where extra baggage would need to be carried or shipped to destination. 

This also gives us one more member of staff to support us which can help in numerous ways. It is an option worth considering for any number of passengers/tour days.

We cover every basic cost so you will not need to carry much if any cash. You might wish to purchase some souvenirs or alcohol so having around 50-100usd of local currency could be useful. In most towns there are ATMs that you can draw currency from and there are many shops and hotels that accept debit cards. Carrying physical cash is less of a need nowadays.

This depends largely on whether you have opted for a support vehicle or not. Without a support vehicle you will need to carry the clothing and personal items you need for the duration of the trip. Don’t forget any medication. We an provide waterproof bags for you to use. With a support vehicle you will only need to carry the items needed for the day. 

You can leave the bulk of your luggage in your hotel and if it is a one way tour we can assist in sending your excess bags to one of our offices in Hanoi, Danang or HCMC, or a hotel of your choice.