Born of a Motorcycle Club
Way Back in the 90s
How a Small Group of Biking Enthusiasts Started Vietnam’s Most Storied Tour Company
1993: The Adventure Begins
Digby Greenhalgh and Markus Medeja set out on one of the very first 125cc Minsk motorcycle adventures in north Vietnam. They had no idea what they were doing and spent most of the time getting lost and trying to work out how to stop their Minsks from breaking apart.
March 1998: Minsk Club Founded
El President Digby founded the Minsk Club, dedicated to riders of smoke belching two-stroke 125cc Belarussian motorcycles, which were the only bikes at that time that could tackle Vietnam’s badly maintained road network. The Club would prove pivotal at highlighting the motorcycling potential of north Vietnam to the world.
Mid 1999: Digby Publishes Minsk Madness and the Minsk Repair Manual
Two classic photo-copied booklets that told you where to go and how to fix your Minsk with just a rock, a stick and what you could find on the road.
Late 1999: Motorbiking Vietnam starts
Digby teamed up with a fellow hairy-chested Minsk Club member to create the second-ever motorcycle tour company in Vietnam. Credit goes to Fredo Binh for being the first.
2002: Explore Indochina is Born
On the advice from a customer who was the vice president of the Saatchi and Saatchi advertising agency, Motorbiking Vietnam rebranded itself as Explore Indochina.
2003: First Expedition down the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam
The 315km stretch of sublime winding road from Khe Ve to Khe Sanh is considered the absolute best riding road in central Vietnam, but it took us three attempts to breach it, because the conditions were so appalling. On the last try, we finally staggered into Khe Sanh at 3.30am with just a whiff of gas left in our petrol tanks.
2004: The Long Expeditions Begin
A large group of Kiwis completed our first complete north to south run of Vietnam while a group of Brits made our first cross-border ride into Laos and back.
2005: The Lonely Planet Guidebook Takes Notice
The antics of the Minsk Club, which by now were organising monthly rides, rampaging rock concerts, mad capped ‘Olympics’, and charity events, were given the honour of a highlighted text box in the legendary guidebook. Bikers from around the world took note that Vietnam was a choice destination for hitting the road.
2006: Fleet Expansion
It was love at first sight, so when local government authorities started selling off vintage 650cc Ural motorcycles, we just had to have them. We ended up with 25 of the beauties!
2007: First Ho Chi Minh Trail Expedition in Laos
After years of exploration and research, we braved bombs and appalling trails on our first hard-core dirt-bike adventure down the original Ho Chi Minh Trail.
June 2008: Charley Boorman Hits Town
Charley Boorman chose to ride one of our Minsk motorcycles on his show By Any Means. Working with him was an absolute pleasure—fantastic guy.
October 2008: Top Gear Vietnam Special
We were chosen by Top Gear to provide all motorcycle support for their world-famous Top Gear Vietnam Special. Aside from carrying the cameramen on the back of our Ural motorcycles, we also designed and built the amphibious motorcycles which carried the three presenters out into Ha Long Bay!
2009: First Ural Sidecar Tour Through Laos
This cross-border ride went beautifully–the border guards couldn’t believe their eyes, and luckily had no problem with the defused bomb strapped to the back of one sidecar!
June 2010: Gordon’s Great Escape
Gordon Ramsay chose to ride one of our 650cc Ural motorcycles for his TV show called Gordon’s Great Escape. His first words when he saw the Ural were “Wow. I want it. How much?”
April 2011: First Rally Indochina Charity Rally
A total of 17 wonderful people joined our first charity ride from Hanoi to Hoi An that raised some US$40K for the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. We’re still working with Blue Dragon and a further eight rallies have collectively raised a total of around US$250K for them.
Early 2012: We Began Buying Up and Restoring Old US Army Jeeps
We started buying up and restoring old US army jeeps left over from the war. This was a real test of our mechanics’ skills, and they made for great support vehicles for our motorcycle tours.
July 2012: First Reconnaissance Ride into the Himalayans
We made our first foray into the some of the highest and most spectacular roads in the world and began tweaking a fantastic and special route that has since evolved into our Himalayan High motorcycle adventure.
March 2013: First US Army Jeep Run Down the Original Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos
A retired USAF fighter pilot and intelligence officer from the legendary Misty Fast FAC Squadron joined us for an epic self-drive adventure down the entire length of the original HCM Trail.
April 2013: Charley Boorman’s Freedom Riders Asia
As always, it was great to hang out with Charley, both in front, and off the camera. He also joined the first day of our annual Rally Indochina charity rally.
July 2015: First Official Tour Conquers the Himalayas
Twelve great guys from around the world joined us for the first of many epic adventures up and over some of the highest and most remarkable roads in the world.
July 2017: BBC’s Without Limits
We modified three motorcycle and one jeep so that a group of six people with different physical disabilities could embark on an ambitious and emotional adventure from Hanoi to Hoi An.
Some Things Never Change
How it All Started
Explore Indochina evolved way back in the early 90s as an offshoot of the infamous Minsk Motorcycle Club, a small collective of diehard motorcycle enthusiasts. There are two things that will never change – we’ll always love motorcycles, and we’ll always love exploring – the more remote the better!
We pieced together the original Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and Vietnam, we worked with Top Gear, Charley Boorman and Gordon Ramsay, and we run the largest charity motorcycle rally in Vietnam.
Meet the Explore Team
First Motorcycle: Minsk
Digby is one of the undisputed pioneers of motorbiking in Vietnam, dating back to the early 90’s when he was the founding member of the Vietnam Minsk Motorcycle Club. Over the last 30 years he has cracked open many uncharted regions in Vietnam and Laos and revels in discovering unmarked tracks and trails.
And We're Just Getting Started
Explore in Numbers
9 Day Hardcore Dirt Bike Expedition Down the Most Remote Sections of the Original HCM Trail
12 Days Cruising Some of the World’s Highest Roads through the Most Magnificent Mountains on the Planet