Try out foreign motorcycle touring with two bikes – Shannon would ride her own!
In 2007 we took a two-week trip to Vietnam to ride motorcycles through the north. We stopped in Bangkok to visit friends before heading to Hanoi where we rented two 125cc motorbikes after being convinced that the old Russian Minsk motorbikes would likely just cause us problems. At first Shannon was distraught about not riding a Minsk but at the time she only had about 100 miles riding her own bike under her and later was so thankful for the nimble 125cc bike because of the various and sundry road conditions.
The route and bike rental were chosen through Internet research when we stumbled upon the Minsk Motorcycle Club’s website. They had a great route laid out as well as helpful information about bike rental – we used both. We rented our bikes through Cuong of Cuong’s motorbike adventure.
- Touring around the mountain town of Sapa.
- The food in Vietnam is always spectacular.
- Riding local bikes meant that we were very incognito and weren’t immediately pointed at as foreign. It also meant that any bike repair was simple and cheap (fixed a flat and an oil change during the trip).
- Don’t get overly hung up on type of bike – the local 125cc step-through Honda was a much better option for the trip than the much cooler looking Minsk motorcycles. The people we met who did rent Minsks had mechanical issues and Shannon’s skill level being so new would have struggled with some of the road conditions and a Minsk.
- Vietnamese driving takes a bit of getting used too as no one follows the standard rules that we are taught in Western countries so give yourself some time to adjust and the local rules of the road will become clear. When in doubt follow a local motorbike drive and mimic them.
This would end up being our least expensive motorcycle trip. It was also one of the most straight forward as far as logistics. We fly to Bangkok, Thailand and purchased separate tickets between Bangkok and Hanoi, Vietnam. Visas are required for Vietnam and were procured before we commenced our travel. Our total cost was about $2,500 plus flights. Our flight costs were minimal because our primary flight from Seattle to Bangkok was obtained with airline miles (those credit card memberships do pay off) so we only had to purchase the ticket from Bangkok to Hanoi. Other costs were motorcycle rental at $10/day per bike plus $1/day for luggage on one bike, and then we spent about $50/day for food, fuel, and lodging. Food and lodging are very inexpensive in Vietnam with guestrooms around $10-20/night with your own bathroom. The trip also included shopping and non-riding days (trip was just over two weeks).
- Flights: $400 plus airline miles
- Bike and luggage rental for 10-days: $210
- Lodging, food, and fuel for 10-days (about $50/day): $500
- Shopping: $500
- Other days in Hanoi and Bangkok: $800