Explore Indochina's Safe Riding Tips
A ride with Explore Indochina is an adventure that you will never forget. Sights and sounds will unfold in a breath-taking sequence, but the positive experience will be threatened unless all riders take certain straightforward precautions at all times.
Please read this document carefully and ask your guide if you require further information. Explore Indochina will do everything it can to keep you safe, but at the end of the day, your safety is in your hands, literally, so take good care!
- ride at a reasonable speed (30-60 km/h);
- maintain a safe distance from other motorcyclists (50+ metres);
- anticipate oncoming traffic at every corner and turn;
- use your horn much more than you are used to;
- pay attention to the gravel on the sides of the road.
Riding Conditions in Asia
Remember that no matter how much riding experience you have, you are still a ‘novice’ in Asia due to the drastically different driving conditions. Just because you have the skills to ride a motorcycle does not mean that you have the skills to ride it safely in Asia.
Safety is paramount, so always drive with utmost care.
The best way to stay safe is to ensure that your driving speeds are moderate and appropriate to the conditions. The group must travel at the pace set by the guide, which will be in the 30-60 km/hr range. If you drive fast, you won’t see anybody or anything, so dial down the throttle and look forward to an experience of sights, sounds, and culture.
Hazards Unique to Rural Economies
Vietnam, Laos, and India are rural economies, meaning free-roaming livestock is a common sight on roads and trails. There are many small villages and towns, so you should always slow down when passing through populated areas. Road awareness is lacking, and local people often fail to check for oncoming traffic when turning or entering a road.
You must keep your concentration on the road and not be over-distracted by the scenery and events surrounding you. Only enjoy the view when you are sure there are no rocks, potholes, kids, pigs, chickens, road workers, trucks, cars, buses, carts, horses, bamboo poles, avalanches, soccer games, market stalls, wedding processions, gravel pits, or buffaloes etc. ahead!
Keep an eye on your motorcycle and inform your guide of any problems you might encounter. Notify the guide immediately if something feels loose, creaky, or unnatural. Likewise, tell your guide if you feel tired, sick, or stressed.
Experienced drivers must understand that their skills are compromised on roads and in conditions unfamiliar to them, so it’s very much in their interests to take note of all the guide’s advice.
It’s all about anticipation. If you expect trouble, you will be better positioned to avoid it. If you look for tell-tale signs, you can adjust your speed and driving position to be ready for any outcome. So, watch out and be extra vigilant if you:
- see a child running alongside the road – think about the child’s friend(s) that might be chasing close behind;
- see a cow – think about its hungry calf;
- are approaching cyclists near an intersection or side path – they might suddenly turn;
- see piles of rocks along the side of the road – get ready for some road building.
- pass a soccer game – get ready for a loose ball;
- see a road worker waving a red flag – stop because they are about to set off explosives;
- are heading into a corner with a grazing buffalo or cyclist on one side – slow down and move slowly through the bend as an oncoming vehicle could put you at significant risk.
Sometimes we ride to remote regions with very little traffic where riders forget about the possibility of oncoming vehicles. This is a huge mistake. You must enter every corner assuming that there will be an oncoming vehicle just around it. You must stay on your side of the road (right in Vietnam and Laos, left in India) and never go wide when turning.
Riders must always wear the correct attire, which includes gloves, strong long pants, sturdy boots/shoes, and helmets.
Finally, don’t forget to drink lots of water, cover up, and wear sunblock.