(Robin Robinson reviews of 7 days Honda dirt bike XR250, ~1,300 km)
We left Hanoi with our wives as pillion passengers, 3 bikes, we were recommended to go with the 250 XL bikes, due to the power needed especially as we had pillions and luggage on board.
Leaving Hanoi was an enlightening experience, it wasn’t too far to get out of the hustle and bustle, keeping our designated guide “VUONG” in site and he kept us all on site made it easy to battle through the sea of scooters and honking cars. to our first small road leading to the north.
It wasn’t long before we were detached from the capital and soon stepping back in time into rural Vietnam.
Tempo of the tour and the stop-over
Amongst us was 2 experienced riders and one less experienced rider, who had pleasure using second gear for the whole trip, The speed was relaxed and offered the rider to also experience the sights and smells as we rode along. – Full face helmet! no thanks, open faced with a face visor was ideal. The guide would always keep checking the group in his mirrors as he leads to ensure as we approached a junction that all were brought back together to head in the correct direction.
The home stays were tremendous, 4 home stays in 6 nights. Each one had its own charm, from location to space, to basic amenities, to dormitory style rooms, separated by material for screens, we all knew each other so it was fine. One home stay was not used for its shower as it was very basic and consisted of hot water boiled over the fire and left out ready to pour over your self, whilst standing in a basin, in Winter it was too cold to experience the natural way.
All the families were very welcoming, attentive and happy to be meeting new people despite their limited comprehension of English. However with your guide close by no misunderstanding occurred.
Bikes and equipment
The bikes were excellent work horses and had obviously seen some terrain both on both wheels and along their sides. They were reliable and felt safe and whenever minor adjustments were needed, “Vuong” took out his multi tool and repaired it.
We had one clutch lever repaired, one puncture, and one rear light cluster repaired.
Home stays were predominantly in wooden stilt homes which are part of the family residence or on the property itself and detached from the local family. – Snoring and sounds of the morning competing cockerels are part of the experience, starting from 02.30 – until you awake, that is providing you have sunk enough Rice wine the night before to be numb of sound – Suggest ear plugs if you are a light sleeper otherwise limited rest is to be expected, in between the cockerels expect all other beasts, dogs, cats, toads, trucks, scooters, anything that moves, will make an amplified noise.
Superb local Vietnamese fare was served fresh and simple but always accompanied by additional raw chillies on the side for those with a fiery palette. – Our guide arranged in advance of each home stay, what we would like and also ensuring the dietary requirements of our veggie friends were taken into account despite being a massive pork eating country. – beers flowing which you settled up for in the morning subject to your previous night’s appetite.
Guide and organization
Our Guide was excellent “Vuong” knowledgeable, friendly, photographer, Tour rep, Mechanic, Translator, Food server, Tea and coffee maid, just about everything, despite asking him to relax, he would always be doing something to sort out. day or night. – even went shopping after the tour was over to assist negotiating the best prices when shopping for souvenirs.
Was acceptable as we went on the tour which included everything except beer and drinks with each meal.
How did you know about us?
We discovered this company through one of our group member’s Google search.
We attended the office in Hanoi in advance to sort out payment and submit the disclaimers and check the bikes over, The office was crammed with bikes, and with an office upstairs.
Anh Wu – was professional in his pre communications before our trip and always responded to our inquiries with in the hour day or night, suggested itineraries, the company can arrange additional requirements for the tour length, Anh was also preparing and servicing bikes as we left.
As we had not seen many pillion reviews, I can say that we all fitted onto the bikes with limited access to move about, wives could perch on the back and still have room enough for the luggage to be bungee(d) and fastened securely onto the luggage rack. – Suggest taking a pillion gel seat or as we found a self-inflating portable camping cushion – which worked much better and was a cheaper buy before you go as trying to find one in Hanoi proved difficult – We took out own equipment, helmets, clothing etc., but you will find their rental equipment quite adequate.
The first 2 days did cause a little saddle sore but expect that from sitting on off road bikes with a passenger – Spas, massages mod cons this is not, but seeing the rural side of Vietnam having the local kids , rush out to greet you as you speed past and wave wherever you go, made you feel guilty when you left them in a wake of dust passing them along the roads – but it never seems to discourage them. We took some LED pocket key ring torches and handed them to the children which we felt they would make use of them, they loved them – they went down like hot cakes.
The weather during December/January was chilly at night especially at the home stays as they weren’t heated, but glorious sunshine and blue skies during the day, occasionally a bit grey but no rain experienced by us.
“Why did the chicken cross the road? ” because there was too bloody many of them on the other side !! be warned use you horn always
Or “Why did the chicken cross the road? ” because they were following the abundance of dogs and buffalos that decided to also cross the road !!”
A memorable time, A supporting and professional company, with a personal touch to the service by “Off road Vietnam” – Highly recommended
Mr & Mrs Robinson (Party of 3 bikes with pillion on board) – UK
For more customers’ reviews of Offroad Vietnam motorbike tours riding the scenic Northeast loop, please follow this link