Motorcycling in Vietnam is not only spectacular for the natural beauty of the country, it's people and culture but also for the diversity of its terrain. Mostly mountainous with river and lake systems which create what we, as motorcyclists, crave. Awesome roads in quite often, remote areas. The climate is mostly ideal but can be very hot and humid at certain times of the year and in the high country quite cold so consideration should be given to packing for this dependent on your destination and time of year.
As good as all this is, like many other developing countries, new roads are constantly being developed to open up new areas particularly to farming. Existing roads upgraded and in mountain areas quite often land slides repaired.
All of this makes for a very interesting and satisfying experience for the adventure rider. Whether road touring where you will still find yourself on some very difficult sections or embarking on a full blown offroad experience theres a few basic guidelines you should follow for your safety and well being.
Here's a few suggestions you might choose to use as a checklist outside of the normal sensible protective riding gear as motorcyclists we all understand one would hope! If you don't have an appropriate helmet, jacket, pants, gloves and boots get that amended before reading further.
These are in no particular order but I am putting HYDRATION first for a reason. So often riders, experienced or not but often from a much cooler country will need me to talk them into a water bag when touring. I'll just carry a bottle of water is often the response. By the time you stop to drink the water you are already dehydrated and dehydration in the early stages causes cramps and poor decision making. Both potentially fatal on a motorcycle. Extreme dehydration and you no longer have the strength or mental capacity to get yourself out of the situation that created it in the first place. A water pack at least 1.5 but up to 3 litre capacity with hydration salts is recommended.
One area that's pretty easily removed from the risk factor is bike failure. Keeping your bike correctly maintained is very important to your riding experience and safety. Have it checked by someone reputable and try and educate yourself on the basics also.
On multi day rides take the time each morning to check over the bike. A small thing like a loose bolt can very quickly escalate into a very serious and often costly problem.
This doesn't need to be an elaborate kit as of course space is always a consideration. Bandages, a tourniquet, pain relief, disinfectant and a space blanket are absolute minimum. A flashlight, whistle, lighter, tape and scissors also part of mine. If going remote you also should be educated to administer as well.
TOOLS AND TYRE RECOVERY
This should go without saying put a basic tool kit and tyre recovery kit for your specific motorcycle is essential and the knowledge to make basic repairs.
A clutch cable for the few dollars it cost is a very smart inclusion to your kit along with a throttle wrist saver, tape and zip ties.
GOING IT ALONE
I completely understand the desire of riders who choose to go solo. It's a unique experience that can't be achieved any other way. If going alone the importance of everything above is ten fold. In addition take two phones with data access to two different service providers. Viettel needs to be one, I also have Mobifone. That will get you access pretty much anywhere in Vietnam and it doesn't hurt to let someone know your ride plan, rough at least.
If cutting new ground and particularly if you are not an experienced rider with all the bases above covered. Take a mate!
There's plenty more to it and one of the great aspects is that we never stop learning. Far from wanting to discourage anyone I just hope the guidelines above help enhance your riding experience and enjoyment.
Ride smart and ride safe as you Discover the Wonder that is Motorcycling Vietnam!