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From Saigon to Hanoi on a Motorbike

On our latest adventure, we bought motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) in south Vietnam, and rode them all the way up the coast of the country to the capital of Hanoi, in the north. All in all, we rode our motorbikes for about four to five hours a day for three weeks, and saw a huge chunk of this stunningly beautiful country.

There's a whole industry based around buying and selling motorbikes, which are both abundant and relatively cheap in both Saigon and Hanoi. The process was surprisingly straightforward, even though it took some patience to both find bikes and resell them.

We sold our bikes back in Hanoi, and although we lost a bit of money in the process, the experience was worth every penny. Our journey brought us to the beaches in the south through the southern highlands, past the colonial cities and ancient imperial capitals of central Vietnam, up to the gorgeous rock formations of the north.

Getting motorbikes to explore a country has quickly become my favorite way to travel. Ted Simon, a travel writer and living legend who has circumnavigated the globe on a motorbike (twice!) once said that "the motorcycle is best because it puts you so much in contact with everything. You experience much more closely the nature of the terrain and almost taste the cultures that you're riding through, because it exposes you to the climate and to the wind and rain and it's a much more complete experience."

Having a motorcycle allows you to travel outside the comfort zone of an air conditioned box and puts you in touch with the smells, the sites, and the roads of a country much more intimately than would otherwise be possible. To drive on two wheels with the wind in your face and nothing else but the road ahead is to be completely free, and there's nothing quite like it.

This last month in Vietnam will likely be the last motorbike trip I will undertake, at least for the foreseeable future. This year has left me spoiled: after a three week journey through northern India, two weeks in northern Thailand, and a month through Vietnam, I have had some amazing experiences on two wheels, and I know I'll be back for more. At some point, I would love to return to India to explore the states of Himachal Pradesh and Kerala on a Royal Enfield; I also dream of coming back to Vietnam to get another motorbike and explore the mountainous regions in the north.

Enjoy the gallery below for some more pictures, along with descriptions of the areas we explored in beautiful Vietnam.

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