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Off to Hanoi in a couple of weeks. I'm planning on renting a small bike there (avoiding the hassle off having to sell it at the end) and ride around for a month. I haven't had much time to prepare this trip but I'm planning to head west from Hanoi to the Sapa region, do a loop from there to Halong bay and then head down south... I would like to avoid the big roads, keeping it rural as much as possible. Has anybody got good tips on the routes to follow?? I got myself a periplus country map which is not very detailed, will by regional maps once there...
Any tips more than welcome
If you search the forums using the search bar at the top right you will find loads of info about riding in Vietnam, more then enough for your trip to Sapa.
You can rent motorcycles from 'voyage vietnam' and 'Mr Cuong' in the north-east of the city, I believe the shops are opposite each other. Very reasonable prices. I dont think you can take them accross the 17th parallel though. You used to be able to pick up a bike in the south and drop it off in the north but thats not possible these days.
Routes can be found at 'minsk club vietnam . com'. Your route is well ridden and has made its way into the lonely planet guide. Its on the country roads here that you may ant to think about hiring a dirt bike, but then again the minsk is a pretty sturdy beast and almost everyone knows how to fix them.
Theres a couple of chaps (pete123 and someone else I forget...) on here who have ridden extensively in vietnam if you need any more info.
If air travel was cheaper Id be coming with you lol
The best road map you can get in Viet Nam is a road atlas available in the book shop next to thoung bac shopping centre in Ha Noi. I just cut out the pages I needed and it was fine. I rented a few different bikes form flamingo travel and would recommend them. They will be able to point you in the direction of the atlas..
I would highly recommend taking a bivvy bag or tarp and sleeping bag.. This way you can ride up a track and see where it takes you and if you don't make it to the next town with a b&b, no problem.. I found some amazing places this way that I would not have otherwise..
If you go through Bac Ha there was an English speaking guy in a cafe straight opposite the biggest hotel in town.. Can't remember names but he told me about some excellent offroad short cuts on the road North towards Ha Gaing..
Also, I found showing people maps when trying to find your way was not helpful but a piece of paper with the place name you are looking for writen on it works well.. Or you can try and pronounce it but the tones can be confusing..
More and more, a Minsk seems the way to go, 'minsk club vietnam . com' is great! Thanks Tommy. I will hopefully find one to rent for a month without probs. I'll try Voyager Vietnam and Mr Coung. Musq, any idea of prices to rent? What papers do I need? Or do I really need any? Insurance (third party or something)?
I've also seen a few Minsks for sell over there, kind of hesitating but I'll see when I get there... Lambchop, I'm taking a light tent with me (has been very useful on previous touring trips) and will definitely get the road Atlas.
Hey Vince, camping sounds like fun but It can get nippy up in the mountains (apparently) so take some thermals. I think you can buy insurance there, but thats all you need. I think renting is around 4 to 8 USD a day. You need to leave your passport with the rental agency so take coloured photcopies, laminated, so you can use them at guesthouses. Check this out:
I'm not sure if I'm too late? Sapa is great, a must-do but I'm not sure it's the ideal time. It's definitely winter here (24 degress) and will get colder as you head north.
Then again, you're English! Tough as old boots maybe? lol
On the other hand, it will be warmer, much warmer as you head south.
The trip from Hanoi via Halong starts ok ish but gets better and better.
From Hue to Hoi An via the Hai Van pass is unforgettable. I actually turned around and did it again.
I suppose it depends on whether it is 'the ride' or 'the culture' that you desire.
If it's the ride, I suggest the big loop but again the weather will not be as friendly as the people you'll meet.
Northerners! The weather outside is frightful, so what better time to start planning your next adventure! To help you get started, for February we're taking 30% off the Get Ready! DVD in the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'GETREADY' on your order when you checkout.
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