Well our tour with the motorbike from north to south is over and we noticed many people have questions about this trip. So here an article, use it as a guideline, the answers are honest although it’s not always safe it was te trip of our lives. Here we go!
Where did you bought your bike:
At a shop in Hanoi, we wanted that our bikes were checked and ready to ride. You pay a little bit more though.
What kind of bike did you bought:
Honda Win 100, well officially it’s not a Honda Win, since it’s a Chinese replica. Real Honda Wins are way more expensive. It’s a full manual bike which means you have to shift gears with your foot while pressing the clutch handle with your left hand.
Why full manuals and not automatic:
If you have a full manual bike it’s easier to get up hill, let it fix and start when it doesn’t want to start anymore compared to an automatic one. An automatic bike is usually more expensive to buy as well.
What did you pay:
We paid $290 for each bike including a helmet with visor. Luggage rack with bungee straps, driving lessons and some route advise.
Did you considered buying one bike:
As being boy- and girlfriend, people often tend to think that we had one bike though we chose to take to separate ones. We considered but it is not advisable. Having one bike with 2 back packs makes the driving hard, you are not able to steer easily around the put holes and it will be way harder to do an emergency break. Imagine 2 people + 2 backpacks of weight, the 100 cc bikes are not really made for this. I think you will have more comfort and safety if you take two separate bikes.
Did you have a motorbike drivers licence:
Do you need a licence:
Technically yes, but police in Vietnam is corrupt and so you can solve any problem with money. Officially you need a Vietnamese motorbike licence, it is hard to get one if you don’t speak Vietnamese.
Were you ever pulled over:
Yes, once, we paid 200.000 dong (€8) and we were good to go again. Make sure you bargain on the price of the fine as well, police asked for 300.000 dong, we managed to pay 2/3 of that. Do this discreetly though, especially if they are with multiple officers, they don’t want the others to see what they are doing.
Had you ever driven a motorbike before:
Was it hard to drive:
No, the gear shifting seems quite hard but when you drive a manual car you will get it within an hour.
How did you bring your backpack:
We both had a luggage rack with straps on the back of our bikes. Which allowed us to drive without any weight on our shoulders.
What is the maximum speed:
On good asphalt without luggage you can reach up to 120 km/h I guess, but maybe that is not the best idea. I think we drove max 80 on the good roads. Still that is very fast and definitely not safe on 90% of the roads. The official maximum speed is 40-60 in the rural areas and especially on the Ho Chi Minh trail you are not able to drive faster than that.
How many km did you drove a day:
Around 200 km, this was comfortable for us and took us 5-7 hours depending on the condition of the roads, amount of breaks we had and the weather. If you will drive everyday it will take you around 2 weeks to drive from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, depending on your speed of course.
Is it dangerous:
Yes, some people in Vietnam drive crazy so you must be sure that you are always sharp and fresh on the road. A lot of roads have holes in them you have to watch out for it and always be prepared, if you drive into one of them……..
Did you have insurance:
No, no company will insure you for these kind of activities, so make sure you think about this when you start a trip like this. Your medical costs in case of an accident will also be on your own expenses, be aware and drive with care.
Did you crash:
Yes, I crashed once. Though there was no damage done to me at all, my bike had a broken mirror and a broken turning light. I was shocked.
A truck driver had pushed me of the road, I saw him coming so I was slowing down already and nearly standing still which probably saved me. I had to drop my bike though to safe myself.
Michael crashed 2 times, one time he wasn’t paying attention to the road and drove into a pile of sand (he was adjusting his mirrors), no harm to the bike and a small burning wound on his calf.
The second time was more serious though, I was sitting in the back because we were on a day trip. We used to go on 1 bike during daytrips. This time the road was really sandy and on the last moment Michael discovered that we had to turn left. He broke and turned which let us slide over the asphalt. I had one small scratch on my hand though Michael had several big scratch wounds, the biggest one on his underarm. Due to the heat we were only wearing short sleeves… In the end everything was ok, we paid the doctor 40.000 dong (€1,60) for cleaning the wounds, but he was quite sore for at least a week.
Did your bike broke down:
Yes and no, we never stood still in the middle of nowhere though we had some issues. But fixes can be found anywhere. Xe May means motorbike and you can find the sign at every motorbike repair shop. They usually do not speak any English but as soon as you start your motor (or try to start) you will be able to explain what is wrong. Fixes are cheap as well, for example I paid 40.000 dong (€1,60) for a new mirror (I got 2 a matching new pair) and a broken turning light.
The traffic in the city seems very busy, was it easy to drive in:
Yes, depends though on your mind set, you have to go with the flow, make no sudden movements. Sometimes we were packed in front of the traffic light especially in HCMC. Wearing a mask for the pollution is a good idea then. We felt safe though in the big cities, when people driving so close to each other you can’t drive fast so hardly any accidents happen.
Where do you get fuel:
You can buy it everywhere, the Honda Wins drive on 92, which is available through the whole country. I think we both spend €30 on fuel for the whole trip.
Would you advise other to do it:
Yes, it has been the best trip of our lives!