Thursday 6th December 2019
From my personal experience in both Thailand and Vietnam, riding scooter or bikes is the best way to explore the local area.
Today deserves no other title than ‘Operation learn to ride a Moped’. Wanna learn to ride during your travels abroad? Heres my one o one on riding a scooter in Asia not only for those who have never risen before.
Waking up and checking out of the Airbnb we headed to a local bike rental company and hired two, one semi-automatic and one automatic, bikes. I’d recommend staring to learn on an automatic, then you can worry about learning the gears on a manual at a later date.
Getting out of the city was up there with one of the most stressful experiences of my life. If you haven’t experienced or know what I am talking about when I even mention driving in a city in Asia then hop onto YouTube to see what I was having to deal with. You have bikes coming from every angle, cars crossing in between, tourist pedestrians that have no clue how to cross a road in South-East Asia so end up standing aimlessly in the middle and the occasional woofer running across the road (or being pilled by the dozen on top of mopeds). Although at the time it was incredibly overwhelming, we did it, I managed it fine, and the more I practise the better and more confident I became. I am a very strong believer of getting thrown in at the deep end and learning that way once you have established a basic level of skill. However, this is definitely not a sensible idea and I would recommend starting to learn first somewhere where there is no traffic.
Adjusting to the volume of Asian traffic, you also have to adapt to learning to drive on the right hand side of the road. If you’re English, perhaps try learning in Thailand first, then this is something you don’t have to think about as there they drive on the left!
Oh and another point, if you think what you can carry on the back of a moped it limited to a rucksack, you are very very wrong. Anything and everything from dogs, to families of 5, fridges, chickens and the kitchen sink.
When I say throwing myself in the deep end, our first ride was 90km north of Nha Trang to a well known chain of hostels in Vietnam called The Vietnam Backpackers in Ninhvana. Located in Ninh Van Bay, the Vietnam Backpackers are known for their action pack, party atmosphere, with high rating across most travel websites. With its own private beach, pool and free kayaking and yoga, why wouldn’t we want to check it out?
So, here’s my first tips for those beginners as you step foot on your first bike.
WEAR A HELEMT. This is an absolute must. No explantation needed.
As I said previously, start learning somewhere with no traffic like a small back road or carpark.Make sure you get the basics first. May sound silly but the hardest part is going slow. This is vital when trying to navigate around cities and towns. You have to balance keeping your balance, manoeuvring the bike and keeping an eye out on everyone else.
When choosing a bike, find one that’s lightweight. The first time I went to stop the weight of the bike caught me off guard and I ended dup keeling over with the bike while still running - not cool….. Also don’t go for the cheapest, get a bike in relatively good nick with a 110-125cc.
Check everything works, sounds simple - run it round, check lights, breaks horn etc etc etc…..
Get a pillow - I had horrendously bad chaffing on my arse after a day riding, not fun or cool - see a theme approaching here?
Some rental companies if they are legit will give you a quick lesson and show you how to learn the basics. If not, take a friend or someone with you who knows how to ride to show you first. Like I said earlier, an automatic bike is easy to learn on, so don’t make life harder for yourself by getting a manual.I would recommend wearing long clothing, just incase you fall off to provide some element protection to your skin.
One thing most rental companies don’t check for is whether you hold and international drivers license. You are required to show one of these if stopped by the police, which if you don’t have, you have to pay a fine of between $15-20 USD.
Want to get an electronic IDP? Click here……
It took a while to depart from Nha Trang on our expedition to the party hostel as we totally forgot about how we would attach ur bags to the bikes, with zero cable ties. I looked in every shop within close proximity - NADA. Managing to get hold of one from the rental company, we must have tried (and failed) about 10 times before a local (who had clearly been finding the whole situation very amusing while observing from a distance) stepped in to help. He ran me round to a local garage on his moped where we picked up another 3 cable ties. Got back to the bike, and the rest is history….
Heading off on our voyage to the Vietnam Backpackers, I was able to practise riding the moped in the city, highways, mountains, high winds, inclines, you name it, I’ve nailed it.
Checking into Backpacker around 4pm, we headed straight to the bar (as you do) and ordered a double rum and coke. The rest of the evening remains a blur…….. Highly recommend staying at the backpackers! The facilities are great, the dorms are clean and spacious and the people are amazing!
BOOK your stay at the best rated party hostels, Vietnam Backpackers here.
Im giving you £32 off your first AirBnb stay here!