Dong Thap, located in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region, offers visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the scenic countryside and experience traditional rural life. Renting a motorbike and exploring the backroads, remote villages, and local attractions is one of the best ways to see this part of Vietnam. This comprehensive guide provides everything you need to plan the ultimate motorbiking adventure in Dong Thap.
Reasons to Explore Dong Thap by Motorbike
Renting a motorbike opens up a world of possibilities for exploring Dong Thap that would be difficult to access otherwise. Here are some of the top reasons to see the sights of Dong Thap from the seat of a motorbike:
See the Countryside
The vast, lush countryside of Dong Thap with its rice paddies, fruit orchards, and winding canals is best experienced from a motorbike. Riding through rural landscapes at your own pace allows you to soak in the scenery and stumble upon hidden gems not found in guidebooks. The roads that weave through tiny villages and past vibrant green rice fields are perfect for motorbiking.
Visit Remote Villages
Many traditional villages in Dong Thap where ethnic Khmer and rural Vietnamese live can only be reached by small backroads. Motorbiking makes it easy to get off-the-beaten path and interact with locals in places most tourists never venture. Spend time exploring sleepy villages, learning traditional crafts from artisans, and gaining insight into rural life.
Flexibility and Freedom
One of the best aspects of renting a motorbike for exploring is the flexibility and freedom. You can roam wherever strikes your fancy, stop to take photos anytime, or pull over at fruit stands and markets. With a motorbike, you dictate your own adventure and aren’t constrained by bus schedules, tour groups, or travel guides. Go where your curiosity takes you!
When to Go
Due to the tropical climate in Dong Thap, the optimal time for motorbiking is during the dry season from November to April.
Dry Season (November – April)
The dry months from November through April are ideal for motorbiking since there is little chance of rain and temperatures hover around a comfortable 27 ̊C (80 ̊F) during the daytime. Roads stay dry and landscapes remain vibrant green thanks to irrigation.
Avoid Rainy Season
It’s best to avoid the rainy season from May to October when the region receives heavy monsoon rains and roads can flood. Riding a motorbike through muddy, slippery conditions is dangerous.
The hottest time of year is April and May when temperatures and humidity spike just before the rains arrive, so aim for a November through March trip if possible.
Renting a Motorbike in Dong Thap
Renting a motorbike is easy to arrange once you arrive in Dong Thap. Here’s what to know about finding a rental and securing one:
Where to Rent
In larger cities like Cao Lanh, motorbikes can be rented through hotels and tour companies. There are also independent rental shops. Compare rates and inspect bikes carefully. In rural areas, homestays and lodges often have 1-2 bikes guests can use.
What to Look For in a Rental
Opt for a semi or automatic motorbike in the 100-125cc range to handle the area’s roads and allow enough power for two riders after packing gear. Check tires, lights, brakes, oil levels, and fuel. Test drive it before committing.
Expect to pay around 100,000-150,000 VND ($4-7 USD) per day for a basic motorbike rental in Dong Thap. Prices may be higher for large bikes or those rented through hotels. Always confirm costs ahead of time.
Vietnam law requires riders wear a helmet. Rental shops should provide one, but bring your own for comfort and hygiene. Also pack sunglasses, insect repellent, rain protection, and a first aid kit.
Top Destinations for Motorbiking
Dong Thap offers picturesque landscapes, cultural attractions, and outdoor activities perfect for exploring on two wheels. Here are some top spots to hit on a motorbike:
Gao Giong Eco Tourism Area
This protected area spanning Gao Giong and Cay May districts features tropical jungles, lotus swamps, orchid gardens, and diverse bird life. Cruise along treelined roads through the park.
Tram Chim National Park
One of Vietnam’s most famous bird sanctuaries, Tram Chim is home to rare sarus cranes and over 130 other species. Ride through the peaceful wetlands early morning or late afternoon for optimum bird watching.
Phong Dien Floating Market
The iconic Phong Dien market is a must-visit to experience vendors crowding the canals on boats overflowing with tropical fruits and vegetables. Wander the stalls then continue exploring by motorbike.
Carefully planning your route ensures you maximize time on the motorbike hitting prime attractions. Here are tips for designing the ideal itinerary:
Consulting a Local Guide
Hiring a local guide to ride along and share insider knowledge helps craft an optimal route. A guide can suggest the best roads and provide information on customs and etiquette too. This input makes a big difference.
Using Ride-Sharing Apps
Apps like Rever, Eat Sleep Ride, and RideWithGPS allow you to download or share recommended motorbike routes in Dong Thap from other users. Their first-hand experience helps build a solid route.
When planning a route, consider distance between stops, road/terrain conditions, must-see attractions along the way, and your pacing. Leave room for spontaneous stops. Avoid over-ambitious routes that leave no time for exploration. A relaxed pace is ideal.
Preparation and packing appropriate gear makes your motorbiking journey safer and more comfortable. Be sure to pack:
Clothes, Toiletries, Medications
Bring versatile clothes that provide sun and bug protection. Pack toiletries and personal medications. Have some cash and copies of your passport/ID on hand.
Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm with SPF, and lightweight shirts/pants to protect from the tropical sun when riding.
Snacks and Water
Stay hydrated and fueled by carrying water and non-perishable snacks like protein bars, trail mix, or bananas easily eaten along your route.
Download offline maps on apps like Maps.me, so you can navigate remote areas with GPS when offline. Bring a paper map as backup.
Mobile Power Bank
A portable charger comes in handy for keeping your phone charged to use GPS and take photos when in rural regions with limited power access.
One of the pleasures of motorbiking in Dong Thap is overnighting in scenic areas. Here are great lodging options:
Stick to basic hotels along your route that provide secure motorcycle parking, or splurge on unique accommodations like stilted houses.
For cultural immersion, spend nights at local homestays found through apps like Airbnb. Cottages on orchards or houses in rural villages promise authenticity.
Camping allows waking to sunrise over the countryside. Pitch a tent at established campgrounds or ask homestays about options to camp on site. Enjoy nights under the stars.
To determine a daily budget for your motorbike trip, consider these expenses:
Fuel costs around 21,000 VND ($0.90 USD) per liter in Vietnam. Most 100-125cc bikes get 35-40km per liter. Budget 5-7 liters per riding day.
Allocate 100,000-150,000 VND ($4-7 USD) per day for motorcycle rental fees. Some require deposits. Ask if fees include insurance.
Food and Lodging
Figure 60,000-150,000 VND ($3-7 USD) per person for basic Vietnamese meals. Rooms at local hotels or homestays run 150,000-300,000 VND ($7-13 USD).
Incidentals and Activities
Budget extra for activities like birdwatching tours, entrance fees to attractions, souvenirs, snacks/drinks purchased on the road, and tips. Carry at least 1,000,000 VND ($44 USD) extra per person per day.
Riding Safety Tips
Obeying some key safety tips will help ensure your motorbiking adventure goes smoothly:
Assume others may make sudden moves and watch for vehicles entering the road. Drive slower at night since bikes aren’t always well lit.
Checking Bike Before Riding
Do a quick check that tires are inflated, brakes work, lights are functional, and no oil leaks before setting out each day. Top off fuel.
Obeying Traffic Laws
Follow the same rules of the road as cars. Stop at red lights, signal turns, and don’t drink and drive. This avoids accidents and traffic fines.
Dealing with Hazards
Watch for potholes, debris, and loose gravel on backroads. Slow way down for wet, muddy, or flooded patches. Pull over under covered spots if caught in rain.
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Top Foods to Try
One of the joys of exploring Dong Thap is sampling delicious Vietnamese fare. Be sure to try:
These Vietnamese sandwiches filled with meats, pâté, pickled veggies, and spicy chilies make ideal on-the-go road food.
A Southern Vietnamese specialty, this noodle soup contains fish sauce, shrimp, pork, and herbs. It’s a must-try!
Banh Trang Nuong
Rice paper “pancakes” filled with minced pork, shrimp, and mushrooms are grilled for a smoky flavor. They’re addictively good.
Refresh with this decadent dessert beverage of sweetened coconut milk, tapioca pearls, and crushed ice on a hot day.
Venturing beyond main tourist attractions rewards you with glimpses into traditional ways of life. Here are top ways to get off-the-beaten-path:
Meander down red dirt roads to remote villages where you can observe weaving, rice wine-making, ceramics firing, and other crafts being practiced just as they have been for centuries. Chat with smiling elders and kids who are excited by foreign visitors.
For immersive culture, stop to wander vibrant local markets where villagers sell fresh produce and handmade goods. Dong Thap is known for its thriving morning markets.
Glide through lush mangroves and narrow canals on a relaxing houseboat tour. This offers a unique on-the-water perspective of daily life along remote waterways.
Rise early and head to protected marshlands and winding backroads to spot some of the region’s over 160 bird species like storks, kingfishers, and colorful bee-eaters.
Souvenirs to Bring Home
Pick up unique keepsakes of your motorbiking adventure through Dong Thap. Excellent souvenirs include:
Bring back traditional handicrafts like woven reed baskets, clay and bamboo figurines depicting village life, or beautiful lotus silk scarves.
Transport tasty edible treats back home like crisp rice crackers, dried sweetened fruits, or lotus seeds and teas grown in the region’s wetlands.
Dong Thap Rice
Dong Thap is renowned for growing top quality rice. Purchase flavorful jasmine rice cultivated in this perfect climate to enjoy long after your trip.
Scarves and Textiles
Dazzle in beautifully embroidered Dong Thap silk scarves. Also look for handmade brocade pillowcases and woven sleeping mats featuring local designs and motifs.
Extending Your Trip
Two weeks is ideal for fully exploring Dong Thap Province on a motorbike. If you have more time, consider adding:
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Add a few days to visit attractions just outside Dong Thap like My Tho, Ben Tre, and Can Tho in the Mekong Delta region or make the trip down to Ha Tien near the coast and the Phu Quoc island ferries.
Traveling During Other Seasons
Experience an entirely different side of Dong Thap by visiting during rainy season when the countryside transforms into a lush green oasis perfect for indoor pursuits like cooking classes, museum visits, and staying in rural homestays.
Or time your trip during a major festival like the Ok Om Bok Festival when the region comes alive with boat races, carnival games, and traditional music and lion dances.
From lively floating markets to lush national parks, Dong Thap province provides endless discoveries. Renting a motorbike opens up this captivating region so you roam rice paddies, cruise through villages, and experience life at a leisurely pace. Follow this guide to plan your motorbiking adventure through majestic landscapes and vibrant cultures. The rugged backroads of Dong Thap await! Just be sure to stop often for tasty local noodles, refreshing tropical fruits, and, above all, another jaw-dropping sunset over the countryside.