Travel Tips

Quick tips for biking Vietnam that we find useful:

  • Get a Minsk, they are rugged, simple and easy to repair. Mechanics and parts are literally everywhere in Vietnam. I have heard that by 2012 they will be outlawed in the major cities of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi but look into it further at that point.
  • If you get a Minsk, read through this repair manual by¬†Digby Greenhalgh: Minsk Repair Manual by Digby Greenhalgh. You need to know the machine that you are riding.
  • When something breaks, don’t panic. Check the basics first and work your way up. As Pete Hewitt told me, a bike takes gas and a spark, so check the gas lines and the electrical lines. It might be something more serious but it’s usually one of those two.
  • Keep a solid repair kit with you. This includes all the allan keys and spanners/wrenches you’ll need. Extra parts such as an electrical control box and a spark plug will be handy as well.
  • Based on our bike purchases, try to purchase a bike from someone who has just finished a similar trip, or where the bike has been ridden recently. Adam’s Minsk he purchased off of an Australian has been the most reliable. People that ride their bikes tend to put more money and time and love into them than somebody just trying to offload them for a quick buck. It can be difficult to find bikes from these sources but check travelfish.com, craigslist and walk the streets looking for sale signs on bikes. Ask around, get names and numbers. It’ll be worth it.
  • Put some extra time and money into your bike after purchasing it. Take it to a mechanic and have them ride it around, replacing and tuning what needs to be done. I had my brakes tuned, new shocks, rear view mirrors, and various other adjustments done for about 15 bucks. Completely worth it.
  • If you’re in a group of riders, have some form of communication between you guys. You might want to use a buddy system where two people are responsible for each other and at least one of them has a cell phone. Each group should have a cell phone. Walkie-talkies are handy but we’ve run into trouble using them. Cell phones are king here.
  • Buy waterproof pants and buy a tarp for covering you and the bike. You can buy both of them here, but good waterproof pants that can breath might be worth getting at home. The bike tarp you can buy in a variety of places, we found ours at the Ben Tang Market in Ho Chi Minh.
  • Go skinny dipping. Thanks Eoin.
  • To get around the block of Facebook while here, you need to change your DNS servers to 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 – google this for more information on how to change on your computer or mobile phone

More to follow as we run into things…