Feel the wind
What we say:
When we last wrote about renting a motorbike in Hanoi options were relatively limited and bike rental shops were just that: bike rental shops. Since then there has been a motorbike-supply eruption, with numerous operators offering not only bike rental and sales but also organised tours.
While it’s of course possible to replicate the trips they offer under your own steam, a guided tour provides companionship, security and most likely a better route than you’ll find on your own. And of course, there’ll be no arguments over which way up the map goes. With tours including accommodation and food, they can also take the stress out of planning and ensure you get a good feed.
You can choose between private and group tours. A private tour means you just go with the people you book with, rather than joining a group of strangers. They tend to be more expensive, but can be tailored to your needs. Single travellers or those on a budget may prefer to join a group tour. Groups are kept to a comfortable size, so you won’t be trailing down Highway 1 in convoy, but still provide an opportunity to meet others, and the cost is usually lower.
Popular overnight and two-night trips from Hanoi include Mai Chau, Ninh Binh, Tam Dao and Cuc Phuong National Park. Thac Ba Lake is another, less visited, nearby option. If you want to venture further afield, north Vietnam offers numerous routes through amazing scenery, or buy a bike and do the classic north-to-south journey.
Rentabike, which we recommended in 2011, are still a good bet for bike rentals but now also operate private guided tours for groups of two or more and will help you plan an itinerary if you want to go it alone. Prices range from US$80 to $140 per day, all inclusive.
Dao Duy Tu and Luong Ngoc Quyen Streets in Old Quarter are now lined with motorbike shops, a popular spot being Vietnam Motorbikes. Originally focused on refurbishing and selling bikes, they now also offer guided tours. Their two-day tours cost US$80 per person, including bike hire, accommodation, food and a guide, and they guarantee no more than six bikes on each tour. Choose from automatic, semi-automatic or “beefed up” manuals.
Famous Cuong’s Motorbike Adventures now operates out of a smart shop on Gia Ngu Street, also in Old Quarter, and has a diverse fleet of motorbikes on which to enjoy your tour. Bikes include Minsks, Urals and more modern Honda CRFs. Cuong’s offers a range of scheduled departures on trips lasting from three to 11 days and can also arrange trips as far as Ho Chi Minh City or into Laos.
Finally — although this list is by no means exhaustive — the tours on offer by Zoom Zoom Let’s Go to the Countryside include motorbike trips to northern destinations including Mai Chau and Ha Giang.
Rentabike 6b Tam Thuong St and 27 / 52 To Ngoc Van St. T: (0913) 026 878;(0904) 392 423 www.rentabikehanoi.com
Vietnam Motorbikes 40 Dao Duy Tu St, T: (01662) 913 512. firstname.lastname@example.org
Cuong's Motorbike Adventures 46 Gia Ngu St, T: (0918) 763 515 cuongs-motorbike-adventure.com
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