Distance this stage: 295km| Total: 295km
After a little practice on a scooter in Phu Quoc, the time had come to start writing the first entry of our Vietnam motorcycle diaries 😁🏍️🇻🇳. Coming back from the island, our first task was to buy a motorbike. We decided against rental so we are free to take the bike into Laos as well. Let’s see how it goes. We have a few thousand km ahead all the way North…
Buying a motorbike in Vietnam
There are two principal options to buy a bike. First from a local dealer that often also does rentals or from other travellers. We opted for the latter and picked a bike from the fb group ‘Vietnam backpacker motorbike market’. May it carry us as well as its previous owners!
So within 2h of landing at HCM airport we were proud owners of a Yamaha YBR 125 (be it at probably a too high price, time will tell). Check out the info on Tigit motorbikes for details.
Laura’s comment: I must say that the first 2 days traveling on the motorcycle were very difficult, especially for our bottoms 😅. But now heading north, the trip changed a bit and the landscapes are very different to the south of the country, very beautiful and full of nature. Without doubt very memorable 😄.
First 110km in the bag
We left HCM before lunchtime to ride westwards. Our first destination on our Vietnam trip was Cai Be and its floating market. The bike worked well and after getting out of (crazy) HCM traffic rolled nicely with 60-70km/h towards our destination right in the Mekong delta – a small village right opposite of Cai Be.
It was nice to leave the heavy traffic of HCM behind us and stop for lunch – Pho soup with beef served by a lovely old lady. Slowly we got into greener surroundings as we approached the Mekong delta. Less than a year ago i saw this great river first time in the golden triangle (Golden Triangle: How opium shaped world history). So this is where it ends.
We stayed at Mekong Rustic Cai Be, a small yet fine ressort located on Tan Phong island. To get there, we took a ferry and meandered through the lush greenery on small roads. Nice! The food was tasty be it that i passed on seafood as usual. We didn’t spent much time exploring the village bar a surprise Buddhist prayer ceremony. Time to sleep!
A visit to Cai Be floating market
We got up really early next morning and hit the road about 5.30am. I had read that much of the market action on the rivers happens really early and we wanted to catch sunrise on the Mekong.
So off to the ferry to get to Cai Be village. Sadly, and in line with several reports i read, there isn’t much left of the floating market. Much happens now off the water (owing to improved infrastructure) and concentrates in larger markets such as Can Tho. So better head there than Cai Be.
Still, it was nice to see how the river came to live with all sorts of boats in action and the sunrise was spectacular. Likewise, sad to see how dirty the river is in many places (though the Mekong is by no means the worst polluter out there).
Back Eastwards towards Vung Tau
We had an ambitious plan today – more than 200km back east to the seaside town of Vung Tau. According to google, we would ride one part of 100km and then take a ferry all the way to Vung Tau.
As we arrived at the shores of the Soai Rap river, more or less immediately a ferry arrived. However, it would only cross the river rather than taking us on the sea to Vung Tao. So much for trusting google 🤫
So a change in plans was required and we redirected straight towards our next big way point of Dalat. For today, that meant another 80km to a city some 30km outside of HCM – Bien Hoa.
Initially the ride was lovely as we got off the boat. Villages, quiet roads etc. We had to pass through the outskirts of HCM though and with it yet again crazy traffic 😐. But not for long and late afternoon we reached Bien Hoa to get some rest after a c200km day on the bike.
Bien Hoa doesn’t have much to offer for my taste. Loads of traffic, a busy market and it smells pretty awful in many places. One night is surely enough here…