I drive a large sized cc motorbike back home and am afraid that the 125cc Minsk will not be up to the task. Can’t we drive anything larger?
While the Minsk will not break the sound barrier, it will easily get you where you want to go, in safety. Speed is not the priority as the whole point of riding here is enjoying the sites and sounds, the people and culture and the remarkable scenery, not the pitch of the engine. Why race past it? Minsks are light, comfortable, balanced and fun to ride. Their retro Soviet styling will ensure you have a memorable ride on a motorbike no longer available in all but the most remote of countries like Afghanistan, Mongolia and Cuba. Having said that, our 650cc Urals should satisfy anyone looking for a larger sized engine. These motorbikes are excellent cruisers, with plenty of torque when you want it.
What's the best duration for a trip?
The perfect timeframe to spend on the road is seven to ten days, depending on your riding skills and stamina. The wildest country lies atop the highest mountains, and they tend to be along the Chinese or Laotian borders. Our trips are always wide loops, so the longer the ride, the more chance we have at getting you deep into the most remote locales. For rides from Hanoi to Saigon you need 12-14 days, as do rides in Laos down the original ho Chi Minh Trail.
When is the best time to ride in northern Vietnam?
In the north there's no best time to ride, as there are four distinct seasons, each with their own unique advantages. Summer runs from April to October, winter from November to March. Hottest months are June and July, coldest month is February. Expect the possibility of passing rain from April to September, while winter months are normally dry. For rides down south in Vietnam, its best to avoid the monsoon season of September through to October, while in Laos, a ride down the original Ho Chi Minh Trail is only possible from November to late April.
I hear the traffic is crazy in Vietnam. Is it safe to ride there?
Traffic in Hanoi is chaotic to the uninitiated driver. For this reason we always use the easiest roads to get out of town. We can also arrange for riders to be dropped off at the city limits by taxi where the bikes are waiting. Once out in the countryside, the level of traffic drops off remarkably and on some roads it is possible to not pass a single vehicle for the whole day. That said, it must be emphasized that the riding conditions in Vietnam are demanding which means extremely defensive driving is imperative. All riders must be very careful and be fully aware that the purpose of the trip is not to ride performance bikes hard into the bends, but rather to drive along nice and slow and enjoy the sites and sounds of the passing countryside. Motorbiking is just the link between so many facets that make up the touring experience with us – people, scenery, markets, food, drink, historical vestiges, rural life. We will send you an extensive document covering all aspects of driver safety particular to the conditions found in Vietnam. This document and constant support from your guide will make your ride as safe as possible.
Can you arrange accommodation for me in Hanoi?
We can make reservations for you at any hotel in Hanoi and also organise a car to pick you up from the airport. Commonly we recommend people to stay at a particular hotel in the heart of Hanoi's Old Quarter. The central location makes it easy to get around the city and the hotel offers comfortable and spacious rooms in the US$35-40 per night price range. They also provide safe storage for baggage during the duration of the motorbike tour.
Do we carry everything on the bike, or can I leave some of my luggage at "base"?
We provide you with spacious saddle bags which can carry a large amount of belongings. It's also possible to strap a further bag or rucksack onto the bike's back rack if required. Any other luggage may be left safely in storage at your hotel in Hanoi waiting for your return.
What type of clothing should I bring?
Before departure we will send you a complete listing advising you what may be useful for your trip and how best to prepare.
I'm travelling alone, is it possible to join any existing groups?
Yes, have a look at our "the Adventure" page. Where possible we try to link individuals together as long as they are of similar driving experience. The more advance warning the better.
Where do the tours start from?
All of our tours start in Hanoi. Our shorter loops of the northern mountains return to Hanoi by road, while longer rides finish with a comfortable overnight train journey from Lao Cai.
Our rides down the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam can finish in either Hoi An or Ho Chi Minh City. Hoi An is close to the international airport in Danang.
Meanwhile, our rides down the original Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos start and finish in the capital, Vientiane.
What other expenses should we expect? How much cash do we need to take with us?
In terms of costs we cover everything except telephone calls, tips, souvenirs and alcohol. As there are often some impressive minority crafts to be found in the markets or some more bizarre products of Chinese origin, bank on carrying about US$50-100 worth of local currency with you.
How will I meet you in Hanoi?
We normally find it easiest to come and meet you at your hotel and then proceed to our office, so all you have to do is call us on our office number when you are settled in Hanoi. We will then arrange a pre-departure briefing session to introduce to you the route and equipment, and to cover any other outstanding issues.