Tag Archives: RTWbyBIKE

Is Vietnam worth a trip by motorcycle? Post 2 / 5 12.12.2019 – 11.01.2020

A clear yes! We had a lot of fun with the small and light XR150s. Of course, you might wish for a little more power at one point or another, but in the end, they’re quite enough. Especially on the small narrow streets of mountain villages, the paths of mountainous regions, or on the bridges and between the rice fields on the hillside, a small agile bike is very comfortable. Some ways to the accommodations are limited to a small width and would be hardly accessible with a bigger vehicle.

As already mentioned above, we were on the way with little luggage and have rejected to carry a tent. Accommodations are everywhere, even in the most remote areas. There is always a guesthouse in the closer surroundings. They are called ‘Nhà Nghỉ’ and are local, mostly family-run, cheap (3, – to 10, – Euro for a double room, often including breakfast) accommodations. As a rule, they are neat, clean and comfortable and the nice family connection is usually part of it. A few are also pure ‘love hotels’, but this is quickly recognized. Either by the facilities or if the accommodation is charged by the hour ;)

By the way, the price is often still negotiable, and it is always advisable to check the room beforehand. This is quite common, also with the locals. In some regions there is also the variant of the ‘homestay’, these accommodations can vary both in price and in the type of accommodation. Sometimes it is simply a common sleeping room, mattress dormitory, but more and more often it is a well-equipped guesthouse and frequently it resembles a small hotel complex. In the tourist areas you can find everything you can imagine, from ‘Nhà Nghỉ’ to hostel, hotel or high-end hotel.

Something to eat can be found everywhere and at any time of the day. Typical food stalls offering of course noodle and rice dishes like Pho Ga/Bo, the famous Vietnamese noodle soup with chicken or beef, which as breakfast is a good basis for the day. Bún Cha, grilled pork is available on every street corner and Bánh Mì, the sandwich baguette, or Goi Cuon (summer rolls) or also Cha Gio (fried spring rolls) are a popular snack in different variations always and everywhere.

Fresh fruits and juices are also abundant, depending on the region and season. Bia, beer, the Vietnamese like and drink a lot, although it is not cheap compared to all other food. Very common is also rice wine, which is often home-brewed. So, the physical well-being is provided for. The food is good, but in our opinion, it does not come close to the Thai cuisine.

In general, we are not the people who just lie on the beach for days. Nevertheless, probably it is in the nature of things that as a motorbike traveler feels rather more attracted by the mountainous regions. Vietnam offers here many beautiful roads with little traffic if you go off the main routes. It has quite a good infrastructure in the more remote regions, which makes it easy to get supplies and find accommodation.

This makes traveling pleasant and uncomplicated, so it’s ideal even if you don’t have much experience. As usual, we prefer the non-touristic areas, which does not mean that we do not visit one or the other sight. However, we have also consciously avoided some places as for example the famous rice terraces in the north of Vietnam, Sapa. Fantastic rice terraces are everywhere in the mountains, you only have to let yourself drift and then the pleasure is all to yourself without the commercial hustle and bustle.

Xin chào Vietnam Post 1 / 5 12.12.2019 – 11.01.2020

Some of you have followed us on Facebook, Polarsteps or Instagram during this trip, but we still owe you the update of our blog…

The return of our Pan Americana trip had already been half a year ago. A new home found, Sascha went to work and Kerstin was still looking for a new job when we realized that Sascha still had to take his 3 weeks remaining vacation. Adding the Christmas days, we came to 4 weeks altogether. One month off is something you can work with. On our first long-term trip (2011 – 2013), we travelled to many countries in Southeast Asia, AU, NZ and Oceania, but we were not allowed entering Vietnam because of the size of the motorcycle-engine. So now is a good opportunity to close this gap!

We are still in close contact with many people we met on our trips. So also, with George from San Francisco. We met him for the first time in Panama and later we travelled together for a longer period in South America. When we told George about our plan to discover Vietnam with rental motorcycles, he was immediately enthusiastic. Since he himself was already playing with this thought, we quickly agreed and arranged to do this exploration together. In addition, just before the flight Kerstin signed her new work contract starting at 14th January. Perfect!

Reunion in Hanoi! Let the games begin!

Friday the 13th of December we all landed in Hanoi with very light luggage and the next morning we set off to pick up our Honda XR150s. They weren’t in the very best condition, we exchanged one of them, had one or two things repaired – but what’s the point? They were Honda’s and we were sure they wouldn’t let us down. There was one more person we wanted to see here again. David, also from the USA. As well we met him in South America and spent a few days together there.

David moved to Hanoi after his trip for professional reasons, which was just a few weeks ago. What a coincidence!?! Nothing stood in the way of a cheerful meeting with delicious Asian-influenced tacos and some margaritas.

The rough plan of George and us was to explore the North of Vietnam along the Chinese border. This mountain region is, according to our research, still rather untouched apart from a few touristic highlights. Especially if you stay away from the main routes and regions in the extreme northeast and even more in the north-west. If you look at Vietnam on the map, you quickly notice how elongated it is.

The daily planning of the road book….

This also means that there are different climate zones. The north in winter can get very cold. The middle is more moderate and in the very south, it gets subtropical hot. We agreed that we wanted to travel and not race and therefore excluded to drive all the way down to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). The idea was to drive south a part of the Ho Chi Minh Road along the Laotian border and maybe the time would be enough to reach the middle of the Da Nang region.

It was also an idea to make a loop through Laos, because we had this fantastic country in such a good memory. Like I said a general plan which we adjusted day by day…)

Where the streets have no name.

In the end, we left out the north-west because of long lasting very bad weather. In addition, we skipped Laos due to new border regulations and not enough time left. That is the way it is. We rather let ourselves drift. But see for yourself:

You have an idea where to go, but that doesn’t mean that you must implement it. For us it is more important to remain spontaneous, to be able to allow ourselves to linger, or to decide completely differently. However, everyone has his own opinion about the happiest way to find freedom!