Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Some essential tips in motorbike tour

1. Reasons for choosing motorbike
Motorbike is considered the best means of transportation for traveling mountainous areas due to its convenience and initiative. With a motorbike, one is free to go wherever he loves, despite all kinds of road’s condition. He can stop whenever he feels like to take photographs or relaxing, instead of depending on the driver or tour guide. Motorbike helps integrating people with nature and fresh air, and one will never be afraid of motion sickness. If choosing a car, people are likely to waste hours sleeping in passenger’s seat with air condition, not to mention the car sick caused by consecutive slopes and mountain passes. Riding on the motorbike means living on every single kilometer of your itinerary! Moreover, one can ride a motorbike in any kind of terrains, and it is much easier to repair in case of breaking down.

2. Which kind of motorbike and when?
100 cc-or-more semi-automatic motorbikes are all suitable for roads in Northern Vietnam’s mountainous area. The main criteria for choosing motorbike are strong engine, gasoline-saving and flexible packing space.

Weather is one of the most essential issues regarding planning for motorbike trip. The best time for exploring those mighty areas is from late September to the beginning of December or after Tet Nguyen Dan, when there is almost no rain and the temperature is cool. The spring’s rain and summer’s heat in high region somehow are hazardous for health as well as damaging to the road’s quality.

3. Be well-prepared!
There are indispensable things that one has to bring whenever traveling to remote areas such as specialized clothes and shoes, personal stuff, map, contact information and medical bags. However, a motorbike trip requires more than that. One will have to be well-prepared with a protective helmet and a motorcycle repair tool kit, and of course, certain skills of mending engine. An extra spark-plug and motorbike’s key are always in need. Remember to maintain the whole motorbike before setting off, change the oil and check its tyres, brakes, mirrors, horn and light. Fill up your motorbike with gasoline and know the location of gasoline station!

4. On the way
If possible, traveling in groups of two or three motorbikes with one experienced leader is advisable. All members of the group are required to have detailed itinerary to get rid the risk of getting lost. People should not ride parallel to each other and talk while controlling the motorbike, thus, stop the bike if feeling a need for a conversation.

Pay attention to the bend and ones driving contrariwise and do not drive into other lane. Sometimes, there may be animals like buffaloes, cows, dogs or even pigs crossing the road, so one should decrease the speed and avoid making them panic. At night or in rain weather, when the vision is limited, travelers had better pause the journey for resting and safety reasons.

5. Other things to remember
• Do not ride when you feel tired or sleepy.
• Do not ride after drinking alcohol.
• Avoid riding too fast or stop without noticing.
• Observe carefully and pay attention to road signs.
• Bring your identity paper and driving license because there will be police checking along the road (however they will not be very strict to foreigners)
• Be extremely careful when crossing the stream; be sure about the depth of the water to have the best arrangement.
• Respect the ethnic minority people and their distinctive culture.
• Protect the environment and always remember: Safe is of primary important.

View ActiveTravel Asia's motorcycling at:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What is adventure travel?

Adventure travel often conjures up images of mountain climbing, whitewater rafting, scuba diving and four wheel driving. While these are certainly activities associated with adventure travel, adventure travel may involve something as sedate as a wine tasting Motorcycling tour in Ho Chi Minh trail, Viet nam. Adventure Travel is simply to go above and beyond one’s normal known area, seeking out experiences which are unfamiliar. The travel destination may be as close as a few kilometers from your home, or it can be thousands of kilometers away in an exotic location in Africa or Asia.

Maybe it has to do with the stressful and fast-paced lives we are leading, that adventure travel has become one of the fasting growing segments of the travel industry. More and more travelers are abandoning the usual beach resorts, and are actively seeking new experiences in their travels. These trips often bring significant personal discovery, development of new skills and knowledge and cross-cultural experiences.

Adventure travel is not for everyone. It is for an individual with the thirst for new experience, one who dares to forsake the well-trodden path. Health and age may restrict the traveler to less-strenuous activities, but that does not stop the traveler from other forms of adventure travel.

It is undeniable that some adventure travel activities carry additional risk. Trekking across the desert is definitely more dangerous than planting your self under an umbrella at the beach. As in most travel situations, having adequate planning and practicing common sense will go a long way in minimizing risk.

An adventure travel need not be expensive. In most cases, you would not be staying in five star hotels, eating in fancy restaurants and taking limousine rides. Instead, you would probably be staying in guesthouses, eating at local food stalls and taking public transport. These usually more than help to hold the line on the total cost.

If you need more reasons to start your adventure travel, here are some motivating quotations I have collected.
“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro
“The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him.” – Daniel J. Boorstin
 “All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary” – Sally Ride
“It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joys.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
Now, are you willing to join in adventure tour?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

10 things to do in Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang in Laos is one of the most visit places in Asia before it turns into another common tourist place. On my visit there, I had a chance to explore and experience the best of Luang Prabang which is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site, so here are 10 things you can do in Luang Prabang in no particular order.

1. Luang Prabang Town in General

Explore this beautiful and well maintained town by foot to see the amazing  heritage buildings in traditional Lao and Dutch designs which take you back in history. Hotels, restaurants, cafes and guesthouses utilize these buildings for their businesses around Luang Prabang Town and one can easily do all of this by foot. There are absolutely no modern buildings or anything above 2 floors in this unique town.
Wats in Laos
 2. Pak Ou Caves

Or simply known as the Buddha Caves, this is a must-visit for all travelers as the 25 kilometer scenic river journey will be one to remember. Seeing everyday life along the great Mekong River on route to the caves is something special here. At the Pak Ou Caves, thousands of Buddha statues are placed inside the caves which is an amazing sight. Entrance fees are separate here.

Pak Ou Caves
3. Luang Prabang Markets

There are 2-3 markets around Luang Prabang town but the most popular would be the daily night market which is another must-visit for everyone. Unlike the common markets we are used too, the Luang Prabang Night Market is filled with lots of craft and silverware. This is also your best place to get souvenirs. Alternatively, there is the Hmong Market in the day which is in town where you can also get some decent souvenirs too. For art lovers, do check out some of the local paintings sold around town.

4. Eat local Lao Food

Lao Food in Luang Prabang is relatively safe for everyone's consumption. Try the local baguettes that are sold around town. Tasty and filling for a very decent price. Make sure you get it with the local Lao Coffee which is reputed to be one of the best in the world. Try various local Lao restaurants along the Mekong River roadside. For some fusion of French and Lao, try the upmarket L'Elephant Restaurant in town.

5. Whisky Village

Known as Ban Xang Hai, this Lao village is on route to Pak Ou Caves where boats make a 30 minute stop here. You can also visit this interesting craft village via road from Luang Prabang town. Highlights here are the local whiskey or Lao Lao where all sorts of snakes, insects and bugs are fermented and mixed with the whiskey and sold in various shaped bottles. Lao Silk is also woven live in front of you by the locals. You can also buy fabrics and other crafts here.

6. Phu Si Hill

Also known as Chomsy Hill or Mount Phousi, this easy to climb hill serves as one of the best spots in Luang Prabang to catch the amazing sunsets or view the entire city. A temple is also located up top while there are two ways of getting up here. One from the main street in town while the other is a trail behind the Ethnic Museum in town. Best visited in the evenings just before sundown and there is a minimal entrance fee.

7. Temples and Wats

There are 30 or more Temples or Wats located around Luang Prabang Town so you can easily visit any of them by foot. The most popular of them would be Wat Mai which is on the main street of town where it was recently refurbished.A walk around town will also take you to various other temples and Wats there. Check out some of the temples with schools for the younger monks where they learn woodwork, painting and also English.

8. Tad Sae Waterfalls

For the nature explorers, various tours or trips are offered to this beautiful waterfall which is located in a park and about 13 kilometers from town. There is an entrance fee of KIP 8,000 into the park where restaurants and facilities are available. The best time to visit the waterfalls is after the rainy season. During the dry season, the waterfall often has not much water so you may be disappointed.

9.  Wat Xieng Thong

The Golden City Temple probably one of the oldest and most important temple in Luang Prabang which was built in 1560. Entry fee of KIP 5,000 (US$0.50) into the temple grounds where you see fascinating architecture here. Check out the detailed work on the main temple structure while various wall paintings have been restored to look amazingly beautiful. 

Wat Xieng Thong
10. Elephant Riding and Trekking or Elephant Village

The Elephant Park Project Area is located about 15 km out of town and in the middle of a wonderful mountainous surrounding. Easy half day trekking (about 3-4 hours) will lead you out into a local Khammu village where you get an insight in every day life and culture of this ethnic minority.

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA recommend travelers the tour Cycling, Kayaking & Elephant Riding in Luang Prabang, Laos

This is a multi-activity adventure to get real sound and senses of the ancient capital of Laos, Luang Prabang. You are going to bike, trek and kayak in each day of the tour. Every day we will get you involve in different types of activities at introductory to moderate grade. Some of the days tour may be quite intense if you are not active novices but with proper warming-ups, you can keep back the right track. This adventure will surely give an exotic picture of Luang Prabang that you have not known before. 

  •     Awesome scenery while trekking through remote and beautiful bamboo forest
  •     Enjoy a relaxing lunch under a natural waterfall after hiking via dense forest
  •     Fantastic kayaking on the Nam Khan River at introductory, leisure grading
  •     Stop for visiting to stunning Pak Ou Cave whilst enjoying the ancient capital of Laos, Luang Prabang
  •     Authentic homestay at local villager's house
To know more adventures in Luang Prabang, Laos, view here.