Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Regional Forums > Southern Asia

Southern Asia Topics specific to Southern Asia, from Iran and Armenia east through Pakistan and India to China / Vietnam / Indonesia.
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.

Motorcycle travel in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India...

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 3 Sep 2012
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Belgium
Posts: 55
Question Three weeks to tour in north Vietnam in November

Hi everybody,

after struggling with my boss for some weeks I finally managed to get a three week holiday in November, which should be the perfect time to tour north Vietnam on a motorbike or scooter , haha, really looking forward to that.

I've been looking up a lot of info on the internet but would still appreciate some first hand experience from fellow motorbikers. Got a lot of questions:

- I found a few shops in Hanoi with good recommendations to rent bikes (without guide, me and my wife like it cheap and independent) but wonder if anyone of you had particular good experiences with a shop/company?

- We plan to drive to the north (first direction Halong, then up north and return to Hanoi more to the west). We would like to avoid the big busy roads as much as possible, so any tips for us? Alternative road out of Hanoi? Roads in the north to avoid or not to be missed? We're not looking for spectacular things, just want to enjoy the scenery, the people, some nice food and a cold drink once in a while.

- We want to travel two up. Anyone did this on a 125ccscooter? We can rent bigger bike but like to keep the cost low and we're no speed or power addicts, just as long as the bike keeps us moving we're happy .

- How cold does it get in the north in November? Will we need sleeping bags (hope not, takes too much space)?

- We also hope to go south from Hanoi to Cuc Phuong National Park. Any tips on roads or interesting things in that area? Anybody visitted the monkey care center? Tourist trap or interesting?

Lots of questions, I know. All your input is welcome, all part of the preparation which gets my mind out of the office here

Safe travels to all of you.

Reply With Quote
Old 16 Sep 2012
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Belgium
Posts: 55
Hey guys, nobody with some advice
Reply With Quote
Old 18 Sep 2012
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 5

Me and my girlfriend did exactly that trip a few months ago, in May. We rented a Honda Fortune 125cc and it was quite comfortable... well more than a Honda Dream at least. Also for the passenger.
We spent 3 weeks on the road, and loved every moment of it! It's amazing scenery up there! And the Vietnamese people are so friendly and helpful. We even got invited to an old VC generals home. He didn't speak a word of English, but gave us tea, cucumber and rambutans and read our list of useful Vietnamese words.

We rented the bike from a small company, which I unfortunately forgot the name of, but I give you the exact location here on google maps: 21.028613,105.848089
It was about $17 per day (incl saddle bags and stuff), and it drank almost nothing although it was working hard sometimes up the hills in the north. Ca 0.3 liter/100 km, and the petrol is cheap!
We went clockwise from Hanoi and stopped at the following places for the night: Mai Chau, Son La, Dien Bien Phu, Muong Lay, Sin Ho, Lao Chao, Sapa, Bac Ha, Vinh Quang, Ha Giang, Meo Vac, Bao Lac, Thai Nguyen, back to Hanoi.
The roads are generally really good, with a few exceptions. The worst part was between Bac Ha and Coc Phai (before Vinh Quang) where we had an average speed of 8 km/h. Very bumpy and very tiring to drive (if you don't have a dirtbike)
Also there was a long stretch of roadworks with a lot of dust halfway between Muong Lay and Lao Chao. But if you take the amazingly beautiful road over Sin Ho you don't have to worry about that. (We did because we forgot our passports in a hotel, so we had to backtrack from Sin Ho to Muong Lay, and then we took the other route to Lao Chao.)
There is almost no traffic at all on those roads. And we met 3 tourists during our trip, except around Sapa where all tourists hang out.
BUT - the big highway from before Thai Nguyen back to Hanoi is very dangerous and boring! We were almost flattened by a few buses overtaking big trucks in curves and over hills. Drive VERY defensive and be ready to go off the road when the big fella's take the whole width of the road.
We would have taken another road but the rain season just started so we were tired of driving in the rain and just wanted to go back as quickly as possible to Hanoi. The first 2½ weeks we had perfect, dry weather.
The guidebook spoke quite well of the road from Dong Van to Meo Vac, and yes, it was beautiful, but we thought other roads between Sapa and Vinh Quang, Ha Giang was more beautiful. Also between Ha Giang and Dong Van. Different beauty though, around Meo Vac the landscape is more rocky, almost lunar, and around Sapa it's more green with all the nice rice terraces.
What you shouldn't miss is the morning market north of Bac Ha with all the beautiful, colourful hill tribes. Amazing to see. And since you have a motorbike you can be there early before the tourist buses arrive.
A note about the Dong Van - Meo Vac area. You need a permit to go there, and maybe it's changed now, but our guidebook told us you can only get the permit in Ha Giang, which makes it a bit awkward for you if you wanna go counter clockwise... so check out the latest info about that somewhere.

3 weeks for that trip was good timing we thought, no stress and it was never boring. With some resting days/trekking days in places. If you're a vegetarian the food can become a bit repetitive up north (tofu, tofu, tofu), but as a carnivore the bbq pork is craaazy good.
Some bbq-places smell really nice, but beware if you're a friend of dogs. "Konchao" means dog.

I have more detailed tips of places of course, but I'm not gonna bore you or perhaps spoil the fun of finding stuff out as you go. The whole trip was very beautiful. Every day.
Hope this was of some help! Have fun!!!
Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Recommended Vietnam tour company ? Trident900 Tours 15 2 Feb 2014 00:27
Wher to buy 2 x small used motorbikes in Vietnam uk_vette Southern Asia 1 16 Jul 2012 00:13
With 3 weeks available should I buy a motorcycle or be part of a tourist pack? MyOwnWay Trip Paperwork 21 2 Apr 2012 00:09
Entering Vietnam from China ChinaV Southern Asia 7 5 Jan 2012 05:20


NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 21:00.