World Tourer - Travel Information - June to September 2017

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World Travel Blog - June to September 2017

30th September 2017

Seoul, South Korea

Tonight I fly from Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City and then on to Seoul, South Korea, for a week. I don't have any specific plans, just have a look around and try the food.


11th September 2017

Home in Nha Trang

I am now back in Nha Trang after my Northern Adventure and I plan to relax for a few weeks before my next trip - which is to South Korea, a country I have not visited.
Later in October I will be riding up to Danang where I have rented an apartment for a week to see if it may be a suitable place to live. In November I am going to Australia for 2 months, afteer which I will be returning to Vietnam.


10th September 2017

Hoa Lu - Tam Coc Tour

Today was spent in the Ninh Binh area (about 90 kilometres south of Hanoi) on the Hoa Lu - Tam Coc Tour. Hoa Lu was the original capital of Vietnam in the 10th century and Tam Coc (3 caves) is a village on a river that runs through 3 caves and is a popular tourist destination for the boat ride down the river and through the caves. The tour was good and the weather was fine - the tour included lunch and I tried goat meat for the first time and it was OK.
Tomorrow I fly home to Nha Trang and will be resting for a while.

Hoa Lu Palace Entrance Remains of The Original Palace Feet Rowing Entrance to The First Cave
Hoa Lu Palace Entrance                         Remains of The Original Palace                              Feet Rowing                              Entrance to The First Cave    


9th September 2017


I am back in Hanoi at the end of my Great Northern Vietnam Loop and I must admit I am tired. Today was smooth riding all the way from Lang Son to Hanoi except for the major thunderstorm I had to ride through. I have returned the bike back to Offroad Vietnam Adventures after having travelled exactly 1,700 kilometres. It was a good trip but would have been better with less rain.
I have booked a day tour for tomorrow to Hoa Lu - Tam Coc.


8th September 2017

Bac Son Valley

Today I rode out to Bac Son Valley and back but there was nothing unique (or even that interesting) in the area and I was rather disappointed - a 170 kilometre ride for nothing - the plus side is that it did not rain.
Tomorrow is the final leg (of my Great Northern Vietnam Loop trip) from Lang Son into Hanoi, about 160 kilometres, and as far as I can tell the road should be relatively straight and smooth as it is AH1 the main north/south highway in Vietnam.

Bac Son Area
Bac Son Area


7th September 2017

Lang Son

I arrived in Lang Son today, a day ahead of my original schedule. The original schedule was only for 9 days when I actually had rented the motorbike for 10 days - so in fact I am 2 days ahead of plan and have rewarded myself with 2 days in Lang Son at the 4 star Muong Thanh Lang Son Hotel. Weather permitting I will ride from Lang Son to Bac Son Valley and back tomorrow.
On 9th September I move on to Hanoi where I will also spend 2 nights before flying home to Nha Trang.


6th September 2017

Mountains Again

Tody I went from Meo Vac to Cao Bang across a large mountain range in a major thunder storm I was literally in the centre of the storm at the top of the mountain with thunder and lightning all around (and lots of rain of course). I had to stop several times as I just could not see the road.
Tomorrow I am not sure what I will do - I have a spare day and may use it to visit Ban Gioc Waterfall and stay a second night in Cao Bang. I may continue to Lang Son as per my original plan and leave the spare day for Hanoi - the weather in the morning may help me decide.


4th September 2017

Same Same - Not Different

Another day of bad roads, endless corners and the usual soaking. Today I travelled 282 kilometres (felt like 2,000) from Sapa to Ha Giang. I thought I was going to have a rain free day until it started to rain steadily for the last 60 kilometres. I also encountered the worst stretch of road I have seen in Vietnam - it was rocky, potholed and muddy - the photo below was at the beginning of it but it got much worse and went for about 35 kilometres.
My hotel in Ha Giang (Tiamo Hotel) is probably the best value hotel I have stayed at in Vietnam - it is a brand new 2 Star hotel and my room was less than $10 US for the night.
Tomorrow I ride on to Yen Minh which is only 98 kilometres from here but Google Maps says it will take more than 3 hours.

Between Sapa and Lao Cai                    The Road to Ha Giang
                              Between Sapa and Lao Cai                                           The Road to Ha Giang                                 


3rd September 2017

More Sapa, Vietnam

Around lunchtime the skys cleared slightly and it got brighter so I went for a walk to get lunch. The restaurant I had lunch at had a terrific unobstructed view of the Sapa area, including a rare glimpse of the summit of Mount Fansipan. The 3 photos below were taken whilst I was sitting at my table having lunch.
Within 30 minutes of taking these photos the entire valley filled with dense fog - the weather has not followed the script so far - the forecast was for clear weather for the entire trip and so far I have been drenched every day. Also I looked the the weather satellite and it shows a cyclone heading towards the northeast of Vietnam which is the way I am heading.

Spa Lunch Table Viewe          Mount Fansipan - Sapa          Mount Fansipan Summit - Sapa
     Sapa Lunch Table View                                        Mount Fansipan - Sapa                              Mount Fansipan Summit - Sapa


3rd September 2017

Sapa, Vietnam

I got up early this morning and had Pho Bo (beef noodle soup) for breakfast at a local restaurant before visiting Sapa Market. Whilst Sapa Market is in a large building it was actually very quiet inside (almost deserted) which is surprising as Sunday markets are supposed to be the busiest.
I then rode out of Sapa around the local ethnic villages - the weather forecast was not good and predicted a thunderstorm at 8 am. I got a few photos before the storm came over Mount Fansipan (Vietnam's highest mountain) and drenched the Sapa area (including me) so much that all the roads became rivers and I had trouble getting back to my hotel.
It is still raining and looks like it may rain all day. I hope it has cleared by the morning as I have another hard day of riding.

Sapa, Vietnam Sapa, Vietnam Sapa, Vietnam Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa, Vietnam Sapa, Vietnam Sapa, Vietnam Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa, Vietnam (Click for Slideshow)


2nd September 2017

Mountain Roads & Mountain Weather

I have reached Sapa and I am tired - the roads, traffic, people, animals and weather all conspired to make my day an ordeal. Today is Vietnam's National Day and a public holiday so the roads were crowded and the towns full of people with local markets blocking the streets - Plus the roads between Son La and Sapa were pretty bad partly because there was a major cyclone in this area last week. As well as that there must have been 5,000 sharp corners with steep climbs and descents. Then there were landslides, cows, buffalo, ducks, chickens, pigs, dogs, ducks, geese, children, people and traffic to avoid. Of course it also rained heavily just to add interest to the ride.
Sapa is very crowded and I had trouble finding a hotel - Sapa appears to have become a victim of its popularity as the number of tourists here is incredible and the traffic is mostly gridlocked.
I had planned on riding to Bac Ha tomorrow as their market is supposed to be the most colourful in the area but I have cancelled that idea because of the crowds and the holiday weekend. Instead I have decided to stay in Sapa for 2 nights and then ride on to Ha Giang on Monday. Hopefully the weather will be fine tomorrow and I will get a few photos of Sapa.

The trip so far:

Hanoi to Son La - 320 kilometres (about 8 hours)
Son La to Sapa - 230 kilometres (about 6 hours)


1st September 2017

Son La

I am relaxing in Son La after a long day in the saddle (320 kilometres in close to 8 hours) mainly due to bad roads and heavy rain for the last 50 kilometres. I have checked into the Hanoi Hotel in Son La and my room is good.
Tomorrow I plan to ride on to Sapa and according to Google Maps that will be another 7+ hours of riding.


31st August 2017

Happy in Hanoi

I am in Hanoi ready for my "Great Northern Vietnam Loop" that I start tomorrow. I have just picked up my rental bike (a Honda Winner the same as my bike) from Offroad Vietnam Adventures and plan to leave around 7 am in the morning - the weather is fine and the forecast is good. I have not booked any hotels (very unlike me) and will be staying where and when I choose. Plan "A" is to go from Hanoi to Son La but that is quite a long ride (more than 7 hours according to Google Maps) and depending on road conditions etc. I may instead go to Mai Chau.


28th August 2017

Vietnam Road Trips

Below are Google Maps images of my solo motorbike road trips so far - Approximately 7,000 kilometres. (another one starts on Friday).

Left to Right - Top to Bottom:

Nha Trang to Dalat Return (many times) - Nha Trang to Mui Ne Return (twice) - Nha Trang, Buon Ma Thuot, Dalat, Nha Trang (Coffee Trail) - Nha Trang to Vinh Hy Return - Nha Trang to Phong Nha, Dong Hoi Back Down Coast - Nha Trang, Dalat, Bao Loc, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Vung Tau, Mui Ne, Nha Trang.

Nha Trang to Dalat Return Nha Trang to Mui Ne Return Nha Trang, Buon Ma Thuot, Dalat, Nha Trang - Coffee Trail Loop Nha Trang to Vinh Hy Return
Nha Trang to Phong Nha, Dong Hoi Back Down Coast Nha Trang, Dalat, Bao Loc, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Vung Tau, Mui Ne, Nha Trang


21st August 2017

Beats Gardening

I have just booked a flight with Air France (Premium Economy - "Mr. Cheap" got a good price) flying from Ho Chi Minh City to Berlin (via Paris) departing 3rd June next year and returning on 27th June. At this stage the plan is:

Euro Map
High Speed Euro Trip

Berlin - 1 night, Athens - 3 nights, Rome - 3 nights, Barcelona - 2 nights, Madrid - 2 nights, Paris - 1 night, Prague - 2 nights, Frankfurt - 2 nights, Lisbon - 2 nights, Vienna - 2 nights, Berlin - 2 nights

This trip will involve visiting 2 countries I have not been to before - Greece and Portugal - and 4 cities I have not visited - Berlin, Athens, Madrid and Lisbon.


15th August 2017

"Home Sweet Home"

I am now back home in Nha Trang after a tiring southern road trip. I spent last night in Mui Ne and rode the final leg to Nha Trang today. Overall the trip was not that interesting and I will certainly not be doing it again.
I now have 2 weeks to rest (other than fly to Saigon next week - I am going to have a pizza and beer with Harry) before I fly to Hanoi for my 10 day solo "Great Northern Vietnam Loop" road trip starting and finishing in Hanoi.


13th August 2017

Vung Tau

Yesterday was an eventful day as I had my first Vietnam motorbike accident (something I new would eventually happen) - a car ran me off the road into a concrete barrier - the bike got damaged and I got a large gash in my leg (stitched up in Vung Tau hospital). The bike has already been fixed by the wonderful local Honda dealership. I am here for 2 days but the plan to spend time on the beach has been cancelled due to my leg injury - so I will just spend today relaxing and ride on to Mui Ne tomorrow.


11th August 2017

Can Tho

After a hard day of riding I am in Can Tho and this time I did not miss the afternoon thunderstorm and got soaked - the laneway my hotel is in became a canal about 300mm deep.
The roads south of Ho Chi Minh city are like a spiders web with the only direct road towards Can Tho is a new tollway that does not allow motorbikes.
Tomorrow I travel on to Vung Tau and according to Google Maps it will involve more than 6 hours on the bike. I am spending 2 nights in Vung Tau so I will get a rest day.

Flooded Can Tho Street
Flooded Can Tho Street


10th August 2017

Ho Chi Minh City

I am now in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on day 3 of my southern road trip after spending last night in Bao Loc. The ride into Saigon was "interesting" with major traffic jams for the last 20 kilometres or so - the motorbikes take to the footpath in heavy traffic so it became an "Urban Motocross" ride from road to footpath and back again on many occasions. I eventually found my hotel despite the traffic, a wayward GPS and Google Maps telling me that most of the time I was not even on any road.

Floating Village Between Bao Loc and Ho Chi Minh City
Floating Village Between Bao Loc and Ho Chi Minh City


8th August 2017


I am now in Dalat (again) and this time the weather for the ride up was warm and wonderful - although just as I got to Dalat a large thunderstorm arrived but I beat it to my hotel (The Thanh Thao Hotel - my regular Dalat hotel) with time to spare (about 5 seconds). I had planned to take a drone video of Xuan Huong Lake but the storm killed that idea (maybe in the morning if the weather is fine).


4th August 2017

On The Road Again

Next Tuesday I leave on another solo motorbike road trip "The Southern Loop" from Nha Trang to Dalat, Bao Loc, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Vung Tau, Mui Ne and finally back to Nha Trang - 7 nights away (2 nights in Vung Tau). According to Google Maps a distance of 1,267 kilometres.


25th July 2017


Today I rode up to Dalat from Nha Trang and it is unusually cold - the normal temperature for Dalat this time of year is a maximum of 30C and a minimum of 25C - today the maximum was 20C and it is currently 17C and I am cold. There was light rain most of the way up which became heavy rain by the time I arrived - when I got to my hotel I was wet and cold. I chose to wear shorts (mistake), sandals (mistake) and a light jacket (mistake).
I hope the rain will have stopped by tomorrow morning, if not I may stay another night.
I was hoping to make a drone video of the mountain area and waterfalls but that now seems very unlikely.


19th July 2017

Restless in Nha Trang

I am back home in Nha Trang after a fruitless trip to Quy Nhon - I had hoped to find a suitable apartment and move to Quy Nhon for six months or so. Unfortunately there do not seem to be any available apartments and no one in Quy Nhon speaks English.
Next month I am doing a motorbike road trip to Dalat, Bao Loc, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Vung Tau, Mui Ne and back to Nha Trang. I will be staying two days in Vung Tau and will be looking at apartments with the idea that I may move there.
Nha Trang has lost most of its appeal since it was invaded by Russian tourists and more recently also Chinese tourists.


25th June 2017

Ha Giang Adventure Tour - Day 3

The bulk of day 3 was spent travelling back to Hanoi with a few rest stops and stops for breakfast and lunch - we did visit the Quan Ba Sunday market which turned out to be a highlight of the tour - our tour guide bought a live pig and Billie 2 suggested we tell Billie 1 (who was not with us at the time) that Billie 2 had bought the pig to take back to France as a pet. The short version of the story is that initially, as expected, Billie 1 did not believe the story but when she saw the pig she was convinced. After an hour or so of discussing the issues with bringing a pet pig into France (Billie 1 was concerned about what to feed it etc.) Billie 2 told Billie 1 the truth and we all had a good laugh.
Tomorrow I fly back home to Nha Trang but I will be back in Hanoi on 31st August when I have rented a motorbike (a Honda Winner - the same as my bike) for 10 days to do a solo road trip into the northern area of Vietnam repeating visits to some of the places visited on the 3x3 day tours I have done on this trip.

Route for September Solo Motorbike Road Trip


24th June 2017
Ha Giang Adventure Tour - Day 2

After a breakfast of Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) in a local Yen Min Restaurant and a Vietnamese coffee in a coffee shop we departed Yen Minh for the Dong Van karst plateau. We had several photo stops along the way and also a lunch stop in Dong Van. After lunch we continued north close to the Chinese Border and stopped at Lung Cu Flagstaff which is a lookout point at the most northern point of Vietnam. We then headed back to Yen Minh for the night stopping at Ma Pi Leng pass for photos of the Ma Pi Leng Canyon and the Nho Que River. We also visited the Meo King Palace and a Mong house. Northern Vietnam Slideshow

Young Mong Flute Player Local Mong Woman Dong Van Area Dong Van Area
Young Mong Flute Player                            Local Mong Woman                                                                  Dong Van Area                                  

Billy 1 Billy 2 Billy 1 and Billy 1 Ma Pi Leng Canyon
                Billie 1                                                         Billie 2                                         Billie 2 and Billie 1                                  Ma Pi Leng Canyon         

Nho Que River Lung Cu View Lung Cu View Rice Fields Rice Replanting
          Nho Que River                                        Lung Cu View                                    Lung Cu View Rice Fields                                  Rice Replanting           


23rd June 2017

Ha Giang Adventure Tour

Day one of the Ha Giang Adventure Tour involved almost the full day driving with rest stops and photo stops along the way. We left Hanoi around 7am this morning and got to our hotel for the night in Yen Minh around 6pm. Despite the long drive it did not seem so long as we had several stops along the way.
Tomorrow we go to Dong Van which includes a visit the the most northern point in Vietnam.

Tea Plantation Ha Giang Road to Yen Minh Fairy Bosom Rice Terraces Yen Minh
    Tea Plantation Ha Giang                                Road to Yen Minh                                     Fairy Bosom                                     Rice Terraces Yen Minh  


22nd June 2017

Mai Chau Trip

Last night I discovered that I am now the only person left at the Mai Chau Sunrise Village and I had dinner alone - it is the off season due to the heat and humidity.
This morning involved a guided cycle tour of the area including the local market which is quite large and just like a major department and supermarket combined. There were a few unusual food items such as - frogs, grass hoppers (which were part of yesterdays lunch), silk worms, snails and dog meat. Next stop was the local cave (used as a bomb shelter during the Vietnam War) that involves a climb up 1200 steps to get to the entrance (no one mentioned the steps until we got there) - it was a tough climb and I was soaked with sweat when I got to the top (my guide arrived about ten minutes later looking quite stressed and told me I walk very fast).
This trip is now coming to an end and I have just had lunch which is followed by a couple of relaxing hours before the 4 hour bus trip back to Hanoi.
Tomorrow I leave Hanoi again for the Three day Ha Giang adventure tour

Sunrise Village Dinner Mai Chau From The Cave Entrance Mai Chau Cave Sunrise Village Lunch
Sunrise Village Dinner                       Mai Chau From The Cave Entrance                           Chieu Cave                                        Sunrise Village Lunch   


21st June 2017

Mai Chau Trip

Today involved a full day motorbike tour of the Pu Luong Nature Reserve that included about 100 kilometres of bike riding and a few kilometres of trekking. It turns out that I am the only person doing this 3 day tour to Mai Chau - I did not know as they also run 1 and 2 day tours that are based at the Mai Chau Sunrise Village so there was just me and my guide Tam. We visited a local ethnic Thai village (no connection with the Thais of Thailand) for lunch with a local family and also another small ethnic village of some other race that I have forgotten (maybe  Na Meo or Na Mo). On the way back we stopped at a roadside shop and got a 2 litre jug of icy cold Bia Hoi (Fresh draught beer) at a cost of 25,000 Dong (about $1.10 US).

Pu Luong Pu Luong Pu Luong Pu Luong
Pu Luong


20th June 2017

Mai Chau Trip
After a rest day in Hanoi I am now on the Three day Mai Chau - Pu Luong tour - today we drove from Hanoi to Mai Chau and booked into the "Homestay" - Mai Chau Sunrise Village which I would describe as a 4 Star Eco Resort. I have a private air conditioned self contained bungalow with a balcony. After lunch was served in the restaurant we then went on a two hour bicycle ride around the rice fields and to the local craft market which had an amazing range of handmade goods.

Mai Chau Valley View My "Homestay" Room My "Homestay" Room Balcony Mai Chau Market
Mai Chau Valley View                             My "Homestay" Room                          My "Homestay" Balcony                             Mai Chau Market     

Mai Chau Market Mai Chau Market Mai Chau Market Mai Chau Market
Mai Chau Market


17th June 2017

Ba Be Lake Ban Gioc Waterfall

Another long day of travelling but we got to see the highlight of the trip, Ban Gioc Watersall which was impressive. Tomorrow we head back to Hanoi and I will have a rest day before starting the Three day Mai Chau - Pu Luong tour

Ban Gioc Water Fall    Ban Gioc Water Fall    Ban Gioc Water Fall
Ban Gioc Waterfall


17th June 2017

Ba Be Lake Ban Gioc Water Fall

I am now at Ba Be Lake staying at Ba Be Lake View Homestay. The homestay is excellent with a great view and lots of good food. The group spent yesterday driving from Hanoi and cruising Ba Be Lake. Unfortunately it was overcast and raining for most of yesterday and is still raining now.
I was supposed to on the Three day Ha Giang adventure tour but there was a mix up and I am now on the Three day Ba Be lake Ban Gioc Water Fall Pac Bo cave tour. I am looking forward to our visit to Ban Gioc Waterfall today.
Before, in between and after my tours I am staying at the Hanoi Romance Hotel which is great and much better than expected - in a very good location in Hanoi's Old

Ba Be Lake Homestay View     Locals Fishing on Ba Be Lake
 Ba Be Lake Homestay View                       Locals Fishing on Ba Be Lake


14th June 2017

Vietnam Northwest Trips

Tomorrow I fly to Hanoi for 11 days and have booked 3 separate 3 day group tours into the Northwest of Vietnam:

Three day Ha Giang adventure tour

Three day Mai Chau - Pu Luong tour

Three day Ba Be lake Ban Gioc Water Fall Pac Bo cave tour

I booked the tours with Vietnam Typical Tours as I previously booked Sapa and Halong Bay trips with them and was very happy with the service.


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