If you had to summarise Da Lat, it would be countryside and waterfalls, and motorbike is the best way to experience both. Get on two wheels in order to smell the pines, see the flowers, feel the cold air brush your skin and drink in the stunning pastoral scenery.
Everyone and their mother (and sister and brother and second cousin) has a motorbike tour in Da Lat and we counted at least a dozen with “Easy Rider” in the name. A one-day trip is a good way to tick off the must-see attractions, and a multi-day trip is a more interesting way to relocate to another city than a bus ride.
The Easy Rider trips offered are formulaic: You can ride on your own (be it a regular motorbike or something more powerful), or you can ride pillion, usually on an impressive touring motorcycle with a comfortable seat.
Keep in mind that sitting as a passenger gives you the freedom to soak in the scenery and take photos.
A Da Lat daytrip in the surrounding countryside is US$25. The stock standard tourist sights are some combination of the following: Truc Lam Pagoda, Tuyen Lam Lake (aka Paradise Lake), Crazy House, the Prenn Pass, the “Chicken Village” (K’Ho minority village), Elephant Waterfalls and Linh Phuoc Pagoda. You’ll also likely stop at farms and villages to see coffee, flowers, silkworm and/or mushrooms. The minority villages are real (that is, they are not human zoos) but they have been chosen by the government for visits. Guides also seem to have a set narrative of how the government has greatly improved their lives with schools, health care and electricity.
Companies are usually flexible with customising trips. For example, if you’ve already seen Elephant Waterfalls, you can visit Pongour Waterfall instead, paying a little more to cover the extra distance. Overall it is difficult to break the mould – this isn’t off the beaten track stuff here – but the beauty of the Da Lat countryside is undeniable and average folk will be thrilled with the whirl through quiet rural scenes.
How to choose a company isn’t an exact science and can be tricky. Sometimes it is the luck of the draw with what guide you get. Some guides are engaging while others will leave you wondering if you’ve paid for a trip that could have been done by xe om, having not added any value to the journey. For peace of mind – especially if you are shopping for a multi-day trip – it’s not a bad idea to meet with your potential driver in person, gauge how professional they are, discuss the itinerary, go over what is included in detail and pick out a helmet that fits. Try getting a referral from another traveller who’s just done a trip.
Original Easy Rider Vietnam has received overall positive reviews and we found their one-day tour to be safe and satisfactory. Replies to emails were prompt and our guide spoke a fair level of English. The Da Lat day tour including Elephant Waterfalls costs US$25 per person, not including lunch. Switch Elephant Waterfalls for Pongour Waterfalls and the trip is US$36. Contact Mr Bin at 35 Dinh Cong Trang Street, T: (0982) 110 050; email@example.com; vietnameasyridertours.com.
Mr Ho Vui, better known as Mr Happy, has a 750cc Honda that purrs like a leopard, accelerates like a demon and has a horn that could wake the dead (note that this is a good thing on roads in Vietnam). He’s a superb driver. Passengers will nary feel a bump while riding on the extremely comfortable pillion. Mr Happy has years of experience and specialises in multi-day long distance trips, which may explain why he seemed a tad bored on our Da Lat city tour. A one-day tour is US$25. Contact him at T: (0913) 865 470; (0913) 865 470 firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
A fantastic alternative to the run of the mill Easy Rider tour is Mr Rot’s Secret Tour. Done on an average rental motorbike, this tour is a window into Vietnamese and ethnic minority K’Ho culture. The secret to the “secret tour” is Mr Rot himself, an animated, light-hearted and engaging English-speaking guide who is K’Ho himself. The US$35 trip includes lunch and a few regular tourist sites such as Elephant Waterfalls and a silk farm, but the highlight is the visit through Mr Rot’s home village. Book the tour at Villa Pink House or contact at T: (0913) 953 300; firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Cindy Fan
Last updated on 26th January, 2016.