Published on June 8, 2018
You’ll love Southeast Asia’s wide-open spaces – great to travel through by bus or car, and even more awesome to explore by motorcycle.
Traveling on two wheels takes you to places that cars and buses can’t, and provides encounters that you won’t be able to do otherwise. The bloggers who share their experiences below met locals, went to out-of-the-way locales, and simply covered more kilometers of road than any regular traveler can – and they did this simply by choosing two wheels and not four!
North to South Vietnam by Motorcycle
After traveling the world for most of the last 5 years, crossing Vietnam by motorcycle is still one of my favourite adventures.
We were two friends and bought bikes on the streets of Hanoi for about $250 each: two Chinese copies of the Honda Win 110cc manual shift motorbike.
Vietnam is perfect for a motorcycling adventure. It is long and narrow so driving North to South it is easy to reach most of the highlights. With more than 37 million motorbikes registered here, driving is a bit crazy, but the upside is there is always someone who can fix your bike around! When we had a bike problem someone always showed up and we could explain by signing, showing and drawing what was wrong.
We had some awesome adventures, dodging trucks or scooters transporting everything you can imagine; cages with chickens, pigs and up to a family of 4 on one bike!
After about a month, 2500km later, we sold our bikes on the streets of Ho Chi Min for $125 each, if you have patience or luck you can even make profit when selling your bike!
Siquijor is a lesser-known tourist destination in the Philippines, and one of the best ways to see it is by renting a motorbike. We rented it thanks to our tricycle driver as we were heading from the port from Dumaguete to our resort in Siquijor. We were talking about how keen my ex and I were about renting a motorbike to explore the island, and our tricycle driver struck a deal with us and made it happen!
The next day, he delivered the motorbike that we rented, and we went off around the island with another couple and saw a good amount of the island: Cambugahay Falls, the Enchanted Balete Tree, the Siquijor Butterfly Sanctuary, got lost on the way to Cantabon Caves (and getting there when it was closed), Lazi Convent and the church in front of it, the Tubod Marine Sanctuary and numerous beaches along the way.
We did not get back until way after sundown when the bugs were hitting us in the face, but it was an amazing day overall.
With a motorbike, you are free to go about your own way, and have the liberty to get lost (signal wasn’t quite as good so we relied on good old maps as well). We interacted with a few locals who owned small businesses where we bought gasoline from the side of the road, played with their dogs, and waved to people who were just going about their day to day life.
Malang to Gunung Bromo Trail, Indonesia
We were in Malang, a city in eastern Java and were heading to Gunung Bromo, an active volcano around 55km away. A local friend Umbu suggested doing the journey by motorbike so we could drive to the volcano in darkness and watch the sunrise from behind the crater.
We borrowed Umbu’s friend’s 125cc scooter and would follow him as he had done the journey before. We filled up the tanks and 2 extra 1.5 litre bottles as petrol outside Malang was expensive. Leaving by 3 am we would get to the volcano by 6 am to watch the sunrise.
The first hour was on well maintained roads but leaving the city roads turned to rubble paths and became very steep.
At 2,329 metres the last hour to the crater was a scramble through pitch dark forests on winding paths filled with loose rubble and rocks. Our tires slipped around every corner and many hills were so steep Sarah needed to jump off the bike to make it to the top. Luckily the roads/paths were very quiet at this time of day and we made it to the volcano safe and sound in time for sunrise.
The experience was unforgettable but I wish I knew how difficult the drive would be before agreeing to it!
Bagan by e-Scooter, Myanmar
Renting a scooter in Bagan is one of the best things you could do while visiting this incredible sight of more than 2.000 pagodas.
We got our eScooter from our Hotel (convenient but more expensive) and tried one of the local shops on the road (cheaper and they even have a bring/pick up service). If you rent it for a couple of days you can bargain for a discount.
The bikes have power for around 8 hours & a top speed of about 25kmh. So consider that you might need a little longer to get from A to B than with a “normal” motor scooter.
As the pagodas in Bagan are situated in a huge area, you just drive around on the dirt roads and get to the ones you like and explore. We felt a little like Indiana Jones and Lara Croft.
Make sure to get up early to catch the breathtaking Bagan sunrises from a pagoda. The scooter comes in really handy, as you can avoid the tourist crowds and can drive deep into the field of pagodas!