08 Apr Our Tour with the Easy Riders
We first met some Easy Riders while waiting at a bus stop in Danang. Two men with faces as worn as the black, insignia-inscribed leather jackets they wore roared over to us, pulling their shiny, black machines to a stop: “We are Easy Riders – wherever you are going, we’ll take you,” they said, flashing confident, tobacco-stained smiles in our direction.
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Err, actually, we just wanted to get the cheap public bus over to Hoi An, not hitch a lift with a couple of Vietnamese Hell’s Angels, thanks very much. That wasn’t the last we saw of the Easy Riders though; minutes after stepping off the bus in Dalat a week later we were accosted by yet another one of them and we couldn’t help but feel intrigued – what exactly is the deal with these guys?
Easy Rider Tours Vietnam
Just as you don’t have to travel far in Vietnam before you bump into an Easy Rider, you don’t have to search for long to find word of them on the Web either. The group offer tailored personal motorbike tours around the country, organising accommodation, food and pledging to take you off the tourist trail to experience a slice of real Vietnamese life.
A good option for us would have been to take a tour from Dalat down to our next stop, Saigon, checking out the Ho Chi Minh trail as we went. While I’m sure it would have been incredible, the price would have run to £85 a day, which was far too expensive for us. Instead we decided to take a one-day Easy Rider tour of the Dalat countryside costing just £24 for both of us.
Since there don’t seem to be any patenting or copyright laws in Vietnam, we found it ridiculously difficult to figure out exactly who the real Easy Riders were and book a tour. There are several different offices in Dalat and numerous websites claiming to represent the original group; in frustration we eventually just went with one at random.
Our Easy Riders Countryside Tour
Things didn’t get off to a great start when the next day we were told there was only one Rider available for our tour, so Andrew would have to drive his own bike. We suspected that the other drivers were more interested in trying to fix themselves up with longer, more lucrative tours rather than bothering with our measly day-trip.
Nevertheless, after negotiating a cheaper rate we decided to go ahead with the tour anyway and all negative thoughts were banished as we sped out of the busy city centre into the spectacular hilly countryside. The clean mountain air chilled us as we wound along spiralling roads, stopping at a view-point to see the city stretched off in the distance beyond fields full of vegetables, fruits and flowers; the climate in Dalat is just right for growing crops and coffee beans.
Further along the road our guide sent us into a forest for a ‘romantic’ walk and with the scent of pine trees, the cool air and glimpse of rising peaks on the horizon, we felt more like we were in Austria or Switzerland than Vietnam. The next few stops were standard tourist-fare; a flower and then a mushroom farm and a silk weaving factory.
The only stop we weren’t pleased about making was at a coffee factory where we were shown a room full of tiny metal cages stuffed with distressed weasels pacing (as much as they could in the cramped conditions) to and fro. We were appalled by the conditions they were kept in, all so the coffee beans that they’d fermented in their stomachs could be collected, dried and sold. The only weasel that looked happy was a pet free to roam around the place. We refused to try the coffee and moved on.
In sharp contrast to the other commercialised waterfalls we’d seen in Dalat, our next stop, Elephant Falls was a welcome change. Despite the dangerous climb down over slippery rocks to the bottom of the hill and were rewarded with brilliant views of the powerful waterfall. After a lunch of rice and vegetables in a local café we stopped off at a peaceful pagoda and Buddhist meditation place before my most anticipated stop of the day – the cable car.
As we flew over the hills in our tiny metal and glass box we marvelled at the views of Dalat spread below us and got off at the other end to snap some pics of the city from above. At only £2 per person, a trip on the cable car was the perfect way to end our Easy Rider tour.
Would we Recommend an Easy Rider Tour?
Although we did have a good time on our Easy Rider Tour, after reading all those great reviews before-hand our experience was a bit of a letdown. As well as Andrew having to drive himself around, we found that our guide, while pleasant enough, wasn’t particularly informative, especially after we’d declined his offer of taking a longer tour with him down to Saigon.
For what we’ve read, it seems like you get a much better experience if you book a longer Easy Rider tour rather than a day trip. As for which company to choose, since it’s so difficult to figure out who the authentic Easy Riders are we’d recommend taking a day trip with a driver first before booking a longer trip with him.
Have you been on an Easy Rider tour in Vietnam? What was your experience like?