February 24, 2011

Motorbiking in Southeast Asia: two-wheeled adventures from mountain to coast

Southeast Asia is home to some of the greatest adventures on earth. Throw a motorbike into the mix and you’ll have the time of your life. Here’s our guide to a two-wheeled adventure in the Mekong region.

Vietnam and Laos – sublime scenery from mountain to coast

Ho Chi Minh Trails, VietnamHo Chi Minh Trails, Vietnam

To kick off, the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail has been upgraded into a major highway running along the spine of the country and offers some sublime scenery. The stretch from the old US airbase of Khe Sanh north to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a beauty.

Elsewhere in Vietnam, Ha Giang is the final frontier for motorbiking aficionados in Indochina. Like Halong Bay on high, karst peaks protrude from the top of rolling mountains and secluded villages are home to a colourful mosaic of ethnic minorities. The gorge road from Dong Van to Meo Vac is the stuff of biker yore, its towering cliffs looming high above and plummeting to the Nho Que River in the distance below. Just remember to keep an eye on the road, despite the breathtaking scenery. A word of caution, however, Ha Giang still requires an official permit to visit more remote areas.

Ha Giang, VietnamHa Giang, Vietnam

If the coast is more your cup of tea, then try the Top Gear thing and ride notorious Highway 1 between Saigon and Hanoi. The traffic can be daunting around major cities, but there are some remote and desolate stretches with empty beaches. Aim high over the Hai Van Pass, ignoring the tedious tunnel that has been conveniently burrowed through the mountain.

Take the Top Gear theme further and team up with some friends to ride a Minsk, a Vespa and a Honda Cub. Converting the bikes to amphibious vehicles to explore Halong Bay might be a step too far for a holiday.

Back to the Ho Chi Minh theme, for experienced dirt bikers, it is possible to explore remnants of the old Ho Chi Minh Trail across the border in Laos. Rusting tanks and forgotten field guns litter the jungle of Southern Laos. Combine a ride through the region’s recent history with some of the most remote and wild regions of the country in Salavan and Attapeu.

Recommended tours:

Motorbiking Adventure Vietnam
Motorbiking Adventure Cambodia

Source: lonelyplanet

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