Touring Vietnam with the Easy Riders

We did a two day tour with the Easy Riders during our trip to Vietnam. The Easy Riders are a small group of riders that typically take visitors by motorcycle around the Central Highlands of Vietnam and up to the border with Cambodia and Laos. We did the slightly less exciting family version: a hired car with driver and tour guide. Same idea, a lot more comfortable. We had two very full days of sights and attractions as we drove from Dalat high in the mountains down to Mui Ne on the coast. We stayed one night at a hotel along the way.

A worker at a coffee plantation. He showed us the many stages of the coffee beans, the differences between different types of coffee, led us around the farm – and though he didn’t speak much English – smiled and laughed a lot. Worker at a coffee plantation in Vietnam Central Highlands.

At a silk farm near Dalat. Those are the cocoons in the basket. This machine pulls the single thread of silk from the cocoons.
Taking a tour of a silk factory in Vietnam.

We visited a flower farm along the journey – flowers are a huge export for the highland region – and here’s a bike just before heading out to deliver roses to some buyers in the area.Flowers in Vietnam ready to be delivered to buyers.

When I saw this picture after we returned home, I wasn’t certain if we correctly answered that question on the immigration card, “Did you at any time visit a farm while on your trip?”The kids looking at pigs at a farm in Vietnam.

I know what you’re thinking. We took the kids to a brick factory on a Saturday? When it wasn’t even operating? How much fun could a brick factory be on a weekend?Tour of a cement factory in Vietnam - not your typical tourist attraction.

The kids loved this little baby chick. Oh, and the rice wine they make in the distiller off to the right is about as subtle as cheap Russian vodka.Kids seeing baby chicken on tour of Vietnam

Taking a break with our driver as we made our way down from the highlands and back to the coast.Boys and driver on the side of a mountain road in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

Eating some pho at a roadside restaurant. One of the best things about the easy riders is all the great food and local restaurants they expose you to.Eating at a restaurant in Vietnam with the Easy Riders.

Walking into the “jungle”. This was fairly uneventful, but the kids were excited to slop around in the mud and it was a nice break from the truck.Walking into the jungle with the Easy Riders.

You’ve probably seen those very simple maps of a country – perhaps on the backcover of a book – where there are just a few cities labeled and a collection of black lines – maybe 4 or 5 – criss-crossing the land marking the country’s major roads. This was one of those roads.Cattle blocking traffic on a highway in Vietnam.

14 questions and comments

  1. Victoria

    These photos are great. We are visiting Vietnam with our children next year, the easy riders tour sounds like a brilliant way of doing it.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      It’s a great way to see the country. We found our guide at the Peace Cafe in Dalat – I think he hangs out there a fair bit looking for tourists. Dalat is where the Easy Riders are based but with a little perseverance I’m sure you could track them down in Saigon, Nha Trang or Hanoi.

      Reply
  2. CascadiaKids

    Wow, I love your photo journey through Vietnam’s countryside. Very cool. The pig cages look a bit frightening. But my favorite shot is of the guy holding the chick, looking very nonplussed with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Excellent.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I really like that one too. It’s hard to steal the scene from two kids and a baby chick but he does it somehow – with that look and the cigarette.

      Reply
    1. David Post author

      At one point we passed a motorcycle with the same bunch of roses tied to the back only there was a man and woman – husband and wife presumably – riding the bike and the scenery and the farms were flying by and it would have been a great shot. But I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough.

      I still remember a shot I missed when I was in Delhi, India. There was a bull pulling a cart, with a man driving, and 10 or 12 young girls being carried along on their way to school – all in their uniforms – through the crowded city streets. I had left my camera back at the hotel that day and still regret it. Don’t go out without your camera people! It was the absolutely perfect shot that never was.

      Reply
      1. Debbie

        We are headed to Vietnam in December or January and want to do a simular trip for three weeks but only go as far south as China Beach. We do plan to go to Halong Bay for several days after a stint in Hanoi, then to Ninh Binh. Is it easiest just to get a driver from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh? We will have kids ages 9 and 11. Thanks.

        Reply
        1. David Post author

          Hi Debbie.

          One important thing to note: the overnight train (the Reunification Express) from Hanoi down to Danang doesn’t stop in Ninh Binh. If you were planning on taking this train to get to China Beach you’ll have to return to Hanoi to catch it.

          Also affecting your decision is whether you’ll get a tour from Hanoi or arrange it when you arrive in either Halong City or Cat Ba. If you do arrange it in Hanoi this will include a return bus trip to Hanoi. Handspan Travel in Hanoi is a reputable tour operator in the Old Quarter that gets good reviews from travelers. They are a little more expensive but you’re going to get a better boat for the money.

          Having said all that I might recommend doing the northern part of your trip in a counterclockwise direction. Take the train from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. Hire a driver to take you to Tam Coc and neighboring sites AND THEN on to Haiphong. Negotiate the whole trip all together and you should save some money. Boat from Haiphong to Cat Ba – do your Halong Bay tour – then return to Halong City and bus or car back to Hanoi.

          Another tip: if you’re going to take the train south to Hue and Danang book the tickets when you first arrive in Hanoi.

          Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

          David

          Reply
  3. Sharon

    Thanks for your posting. We are going to Vietnam in the next 12 months (not sure of exact date prob late 2013). We have four kids aged 18 16 14 12. Do you have any other ideas on great places to visit. Did you go to Sapa. WE are deciding on going to Hanoi Sapa Halong Bay Hoi An and Nha trang Ho Chi Min. China Beach looks lovely maybe we could stay there and drop Nha trang. What do you think???? thanks Sharon

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Sharon. Yes, I would definitely recommend China Beach over Nha Trang. (Though it should be said that some people love Nha Trang and its wide range of activities.) China Beach is an easy distance from Hoi An so if you’re pressed for time you can combine the 2 destinations.

      Danang has a fair size airport too if you’re looking to catch a flight at the end of your trip (and save some more time). The train ride from Hanoi down to Danang is great — especially the journey from Hue south to Danang.

      We did not go to Sapa but it sounds like a great destination. Be prepared for a full-on tourist scene, but there are many things to do in the North and I think eluding the masses doesn’t take a whole lot of effort.

      The Dalat region has lots to see and you can even do a hired car direct from Dalat to Saigon which I’ve heard is a beautiful drive. The Mekong Delta is one area we wish we had explored more. It has a completely different feel from the rest of the country and I think you could spend a good week boating and river hopping around the delta.

      Have fun and let me know if you have any more questions or concerns.

      Reply
  4. Virginia

    Hi!
    We are headed to Hoi An for a long stay and would love for our 4 children to meet some local Vietnamese children. Should we connect with a church or a school? How do you suggest we do this?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Virginia. That’s a tough one. There is large grade school right in the center of Hoi An. I suppose you could walk in there, introduce yourself, and see if you could hang out in a classroom or on the playground. Perhaps ask if they need any help or tutoring for the kids.

      Reply

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