Advice on Vietnam

Discussion in 'Asia' started by stan.riner, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. stan.riner

    stan.riner Been here awhile

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    Thanks for all of the advice.

    We're coming the second week of May to visit. The main purpose will be to make sure we will be happy there and to figure out where we can live. The area where I'll be working will eventually have a nice community near the plant site but my wife wants to understand where we'll be living until that's done.

    I just sent an email to Flamingo travel to book hotels and possible do a one or two day tour via motorcycle. We just finished a tour of Baja, Mexico and Christina rode awesome. She's a great rider and I think we'll be fine.

    We'll stay a few days in Hanoi, a few days in Ha Long, and where ever else we can find a decent place to stay.
    #21
  2. Josh69

    Josh69 Uhhh

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    Just as an FYI, I went back to HCMC and renewed my expired VN licence while I was there. Still no A2 licence. Not possible, even for a billion dong apparently.....

    You may have more success if you have a long duration resident visa.
    #22
  3. stan.riner

    stan.riner Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the update.


    I've pretty much given up the thought of trying to get an A2.
    I'm probably just going to get a Honda 67 scooter and bolt a CR500 2 stroke motor in it! Just kidding. You'd need a wheelie bar.

    We're pretty excited about our trip. We got our visa approval letter so we'll be able to get our visas at the airport. We used an on-line service.
    We got our recommended shots and start anti-malaria treatment today.

    Regarding our visit:
    We arrive late next Friday night. Staying in Hanoi that first weekend and then headed down to Cam Pha on Monday. We'll be staying in Van Don Monday and Tuesday night. Will probably stay in Haiphong Wednesday night and then head back up to Hanoi on Thursday. We're flying out the next Friday night.
    #23
  4. stan.riner

    stan.riner Been here awhile

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    We finished our week long visit to Vietnam. We fly into Hanoi and saw Haiphong, Ha Long, Cam Pha, and Van Don.

    Professionally, the biggest challenge will be the language. Personally, the biggest challenge will be the heat! That's a good thing! We were a little cautious with food because we didn't want to risk our trip getting messed up if we got sick. If we're living there, I'll be a little more adventurous. I saw some dual sports that I would be happy to ride and my wife wants a Honda 67 cafe style.

    I've read on here and other forums about how crazy the driving is. Words cannot describe it. You can't imagine some of the stuff you see until you visit.
    It'll be a while before I'll be comfortable riding a scooter around Hanoi.

    We have to report by July 15th and we committed to stay at least 3 years. The company is building a nice compound so we'll stay in a nice hotel until that's done.

    We stayed in a nice hotel in Hanoi for $100 and that included breakfast. We found a cheaper place for $70 the night before we left. I'm sure there are even cheaper nice places.

    I have to catch a flight home. If anyone has any specific questions, just post them on here or PM me.
    #24
  5. VietHorse

    VietHorse Long timer

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    Recalculating... recalculating.... HCMC-Vietnam :)
    It's coming near to that date.
    So how is your preparation now? All ready? :deal
    #25
  6. stan.riner

    stan.riner Been here awhile

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    Thanks for asking.

    We're working hard to get ready. We're only bring clothes and bicycles and a few tools for working on xe mays. My company will pay us a nice tax-free payment for not shipping or storing anything so we're liquidating everything except a few items and our dirt bikes. A friend is going to store them so we can ride during our visits home. I sold my KTM 500 and have to sell my 14 year old truck that I've had since it was new. That's going to be tough!

    We're excited about it.
    #26
  7. VietHorse

    VietHorse Long timer

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    Yours seemed to be well arranged.
    I don't really know about the life of expat in the North, but there are several Expat blogs from the South. From there you can easily to communicate and even get good stuff with good price, as several Expats in and out the Country everyday.
    Keep in touch, if anything I can help.

    See my Signature' link for your more info.
    #27
  8. Asienizen

    Asienizen Adventurer

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    I don't know if this thread is still active, I've lived in Hanoi for over 1.5 years. The north has some amazing countryside for riding, great karst topography and mountains. As far as getting a bike, you can get the 175cc or larger bikes, but to do it fully legal is a big hassle. I'd suggest getting a 125 or 150cc bike. Most guys I know have a 125, I've got a 150 - and every little bit helps. Some fellows get the 170cc Rebel, but that may be hard to come by. Also, you can get large bikes on The New Hanoian, but you may be riding "less than legal". I don't know if you are familiar with that site, but I've found TNH to be very helpful.

    Again welcome to Vietnam, and post some pictures from your trips around the north. I'd recommend a week up to Ha Giang sometime.
    #28
  9. stan.riner

    stan.riner Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the advice. We'll be in Hanoi late Saturday night and staying at the Somerset next to the Hanoi Hilton. We're working our butts off getting the house ready to rent out so we'll rest on Sunday. We have to take care of some stuff at the US Embassy on Monday before heading to the Haiphong area Monday night. Then on to Van Don/Cam Pha area on Tuesday morning. In the beginning, we'll probably only be able to do day trips due to my work load. Hopefully, later on it'll slow down and we can do some weekend trips around the local area.
    I've been on TNH already. It's a neat web site. By the way, what's the deal with everyone putting the word "beer" in all of their posts? Do you know the story behind that?

    Re: riding, I've accepted that I'm not going to get an A2 license. I hope to find a decent dual sport to ride. I'm 6'2" 225 so any distance on a Honda Win is probably not going to be fun. I also understand the benefit of having a common bike when on the road so that repairs and getting parts are easier. It's a trade-off I suppose. My wife wants a cafe-style 67 to ride around on. She's a very experienced motorcycles both dirt and street (may have mentioned this early in this thread, don't remember). PM me your email address if you don't mind so we can keep in touch.
    #29
  10. stan.riner

    stan.riner Been here awhile

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    We're near Cam Pha now and have settled in. I'm currently having to share a ride to and from work so that's kind of a drag. I've got a line on some dual sports in Hanoi. It's raining every day so I'll definitely have to find a good rain suit.


    I brought a shit load of stuff on the plane using my excess baggage allowance that my company provides along with Korean's free bike baggage allowance. I could have brought my KTM 300. No one besides TSA ever checked my bags. I walked right out of the baggage claim area with two big-ass carts of stuff.

    [​IMG]
    #30
  11. Asienizen

    Asienizen Adventurer

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    It rains a lot in N. Vietnam, in fact from December to April the clouds almost never lift. Also it gets cold, much colder than you'd expect. We all think that Vietnam is tropical, but in the north it is more subtropical. The best weather is in late October to mid December - so take some rides in the autumn while you can. You could take a trip north to the border perhaps.

    As far as bag checking, isn't it ironic that you have uniformed men pawing through your bags as you leave "the free world" but when you come to a one-party state, no body even takes a peek as you walk in? I wish you luck in getting the kind of bike you want, it can be hit and miss sometimes.
    #31
  12. stan.riner

    stan.riner Been here awhile

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    I've been here for a few months so I thought I would provide an update. Everything is going good. I really like it here. The food is great, we have a nice place to stay, work is fun, and the Vietnamese people are super nice. I ride my bicycle down to Van Don island and the little kids treat me like a rock star saying Hello and what not. The biggest difficulty so far is not being mobile on the weekends. I don't have my own car/driver so I'm kind of at the mercy of the the guys I share a car with.

    I am actively working on that now. I just obtained my car and motorbike license and I'm trying to find a dual sport now. There's not a lot for sale and they're in Hanoi or HCM City. I'm going to get my wife a 2013 XR125. They're readily available in Hanoi for around $2,800. I have been riding a scooter around. The company won it in a drawing at the Metro (Vietnamese version of Costco). I can go around the local area now that I have my license (boss didn't want me riding it until I was legal).

    Mr. Anh Wu at Offroad Vietnam has been super helpful providing advice. Viethorse (on here) has also given me some tips.

    Mr. Wu told me about the XR125 and this is the picture of the new one's they're getting on his web site.

    [​IMG]
    #32
  13. stan.riner

    stan.riner Been here awhile

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    I went to Hanoi to bike shop this weekend and bought a 2007 Yamaha TTR 250 with motard wheels. I bought it from Flamingo Travel. It was a good experience. The transaction was easy and they went out of their way for me.

    In front of Flamingo travel's shop before heading back to Quang Ninh province (where I live).
    I don't have my proper riding jacket. My wife is bringing it from the States when she comes next month. I was able to get what looks like a good rain suit for $10. We'll see how it holds up once I wear it.
    [​IMG]
    This is a brand new road that more directly connects the road that goes North of Ha Long bay back down to the road that we normally take. It saves a little bit of time, it's way safer because there's very little traffic, and it's awesome.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Paid $2 for a rửa xe (bike wash). They took a few minutes longer than the time it took me to walk across the street to buy fruit at the market. The lady even loaned me a knife to cut a piece of fruit while I was waiting for him to finish.
    People act like this bike is a Desmosedici. I guess there's not a lot of these types of bike out here in the sticks.
    [​IMG]


    This drive normally takes 5 hours in a car. I did it in around 3 and a half. There's usually a small strip of real estate to get by the traffic jams so I was able to save a lot of time that a car has to wait to get by slower traffic. There's a lot of road construction so I would just stand up and go over the rough stuff.
    I didn't really have any big issues. I think I've pretty much figured out the "rules" of the road. I had several times where there was a big ass bus in my lane but I handled it ok. It seems that they won't pinch you off to a situation where you have nowhere to go.
    There was a Toyota Camry right in front of me that passed a bus that was passing a truck. They were three abreast in front of me. Everyone handled it well and they all got all back in line before the next oncoming car showed up.

    Overall, it was a fun ride and I'm looking forward to touring around with my wife on the weekends and eventually doing the Ho Chi Minh trail.
    #33
  14. VietHorse

    VietHorse Long timer

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    Recalculating... recalculating.... HCMC-Vietnam :)
    Congrat. You've made it! :clap
    #34
  15. iamcanjim

    iamcanjim Snorting snow.

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    Wow. Gives me hope. Looks like I will be in HCMC next week for a year and hoping to ride.

    Viethorse, sent you a pm.
    #35
  16. VietHorse

    VietHorse Long timer

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    Is it? Where did you pm to? I don't see here on ADV :deal
    #36
  17. stan.riner

    stan.riner Been here awhile

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    I'm coming down to HCMC this weekend to look at a Honda XR250. I will ship it back on the train if I buy it. You may have seen it around. It's all camo'd out. He advertised it in the Asia section of the regional forums.
    #37
  18. BitShuffler

    BitShuffler Adventurer

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    #38
  19. BitShuffler

    BitShuffler Adventurer

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    Oh and if you decide to go for the XR125 it should be possible to get them registered in your name since you would be buying new. Registration laws are starting to be enforced more strictly so that could be an advantage and will definitely be worthwhile when it comes time to sell again (bikes that can easily be transferred to the new owner demand a higher price these days).

    That said, I wouldn't worry about registration issues too much...
    #39
  20. Keithert

    Keithert Long timer

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    Wow, $2900 or 59 MILLION Dong. Reminds me of the James May quote from Top Gear in VietNam where he mutters 'my Dong is all wet'.
    #40