Forbes Traveler location: http://www.forbes.com/2010/12/02/motorcycle-tours-trips-lifestyle-travel-biking-road.html
Every motorcycle rider loves the feel of the open road. But too few take the blacktop further than a couple hours from home.
The world is full of bike-friendly locations-spots with big curves, little to no traffic and boundless adventure. Motorcycle tourism can be a great way to indulge your riding habit and see some of the most beautiful places on the planet.
For riding terrain that’s far removed from a western sensibility, you could tackle the steep mountain passes, winding roads and Hmong hill tribe villages of north Vietnam–an exotic wonderland for motorcyclists.
“I’d always been curious about Vietnam and its people,” says Charles Drummond, a 68-year-old retired marketing executive from Walla Walla, WA, who toured North Vietnam in late 2007 with Offroad Vietnam, a motorcycle tour company in Hanoi.
During the ten-day trip, Drummond departed Hanoi with a small group of riders and headed north, close to the Chinese border, on a circuitous route that led up steep mountain passes terraced with ride paddies. “The trip was a challenge as far as my riding skills, but I survived,” Drummond says. “It was delightfully grueling… We rode for four to five hours a day and there were mountain passes of ten and 12,000 feet. Homestays along the way made the trip even more rewarding.”
The mix of challenging riding terrain and cultural wonderment of motorcycle adventure in Vietnam makes for quite a cocktail. “Adventure riders like North Vietnam a lot,” says Anh Wu, co-owner of Offroad Vietnam, “The roads go all around the mountains with many blind curves, and it can take 20 kilometers to complete one mountain or hill because it winds around so much.”
What makes the experience even more special are the locals. “The Hmong people who live in the countryside, they cheat nobody and they are friendly,” he says. “If they see a foreigner, they consider it will bring good luck to them, and they welcome them like a god.”