Firstly and most importantly – BEWARE of imitators!! On our 3 week trip in Vietnam we met so many people who claimed to be ‘Easy Rider‘ or tour agencies/hotels offering Easy Rider tours. Ignore them all unless you want a substandard trip, they attempt to copy the real easy riders by following the same route/stop offs. We bumped into a few other tourists on our trip who had been dropped off at the same point of interest but their socalled easy rider didn’t bother getting off the bike to give an explanation of what the place was about – leaving their passenger to bemusedly take random photos or hover in the background trying to pick up snippets of what our guide was saying!
So basically if you want a real authentic amazing experience – book direct with ‘Dalat Easy Rider Club‘. You can go to their office in Dalat (next to the poetry cafe) their website (www.easyrider-tours.com) or http://dalat-easyrider.com.vn or email the guides we had Thien and Hong (firstname.lastname@example.org) directly. They can do trips all over Vietnam but you need to give them at least a weeks notice if your starting point isn’t Dalat. Anyways onto the actual trip…
Guides – these are the people that really made our trip such a fantastic experience. Hoan and Lan both speak excellent English and their knowledge of the history of Vietnam plus their understanding of the way of life of people in the countryside/ethnic minorities makes it a really enriching experience. You will struggle to find a question on Vietnam they won’t be able to answer!
Route / Itinerary
We did a 6 day trip from Dalat to Hoi An (originally a 3 day to Nha Trang but we decided to extend) We found the best part about this was actually not knowing exactly what we would be doing / seeing each day so I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone! Suffice to say you will see some stunning scenery and at the end of the trip I felt like we’d completed a degree on Vietnamese culture, history & life (not in a boring way) You really do get ‘off the beaten track’ – when we reached Hoi An it was abit strange to be surrounded by so many westerners again!
These aren’t just your standard motos – they are proper bikes. We had 2 massive 20 kg suitcases plus numerous backpacks / bags which they put in waterproof bags and strapped safely to the bikes with plenty of room for you to sit. The great thing is they stop regularly en route so you have a chance to stretch your legs and stay comfortable. Also they don’t drive like maniacs!
We stayed in a hotel/guesthouse every night on our tour. All the rooms were of a good standard with en suite, hot water and aircon. Most of them also had TV and fridges
This was personally a highlight for me as I’d been a little bit disappointed with Vietnamese cuisine up until going on the tour. We ate all our lunches & dinners with our guides, they know exactly what is good to order in each place which makes life easy. They also make an effort to take you places where it is possible to try local delicacies (goats brains & blooding pudding!) Furthermore my girlfriend is vegetarian and she had no problem eating in these places.
As we are on a backpacker budget we were initially a bit concerned about the cost ($75 pp per day) however at the end of the trip we both agreed it was worth it without a doubt. These guys are with you everyday from morning to night. they are professional guides, not just moto drivers!
The rate includes all accommodation and entrance fees. Plus visiting the different local workshops / farms / minority villages we never felt obliged to buy or donate a thing (unlike a lot of other ‘cultural’ attractions in Asia) because our guides had a good relationship with them and looked after them.
You do have to pay for your food but they take you to local restaurants that are really cheap (not on commission!) On average we spent about 50k per person per meal.
SO to summarise…just bloody do it! It was the best tour we did in the whole 12 months we have been travelling. But make sure you do it with the real Easy Riders!
James (25) and Jen (26)