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1. MOPEDS MAKE MEMORIES
THE ZOOM CAFÉ is where this adventure begins. I’m getting ready to head out on a journey through the crazy streets of Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh as we now know it, with Vespa Adventures. A fabulous company specialising in tours on vintage Vespas. My first and lasting feeling was that I was part of a hive, humming along the streets. The journey in search of “pollen”, which is nature-speak for photos, videos, and caffeine fuelled “yeehahs” took our convoy through the tightly packed alleys of the old town markets. We visited a temple in the Cho Lon district of Chinatown and smelt the strong incense sticks loaded with the prayers of worshipping locals. Over the bridge to District 2, we looked back on the modern city of HCM with a skyline that was worth pic after pic. So many people on so many scooters. Mum, dad and their two children all on one moped, quickly darting through packed streets, but with courtesy and politeness. Scooters harmoniously blend together, with no shortage of beeps and honks that everyone seems to abide by. Dropped back at our hotel I had a smile on my face that wouldn’t go away. It’s an experience I would recommend to anyone who likes the wind in their hair (protected by a vintage helmet). By SUSIE BERNARD, House of Travel, Lakers Gore
2. SECRET STREETS BY CYCLO
THE CYCLO DRIVER picked me up right outside the hotel and we headed off down the main street. It is interesting, albeit slightly unnerving, to be sitting fully exposed to the road whilst someone peddles behind you. Almost like being a passenger in a car without the framework. However, it is this very exposure which allows you to soak up every sight and sound of this spellbinding city. Every side-street we turned down seemed to be hung with fish; fish wrapped in newspaper and fish tanks full of squid, crayfish and every other possible seafood you can think of. Sure it smelt funky, but it was fascinating to see. You don’t get this kind of addictive mayhem in your local supermarket. We then stopped at my favourite of all spots, the flower market. My guide actually pulled up at one end of the market and then drove to the other end, to meet me once I had walked through. Every flower of every size was squished on the back of mopeds or piled high in stalls. I have never seen so much colour in the one place. Our cyclo then took us further afield to finish at the Fine Arts Museum. The perfect place to get off and duck into a local antique store for traditional Vietnamese coffee. Yum. By DANIELLE SCOTT, House of Travel
WHERE SHOULD YOU GO IN VIETNAM?
1 / SAPA
In the mountains of northwestern Vietnam and famed for emerald rice paddies. Beautifully dressed hill tribes make up much of the population.
2 / HANOI
Vietnam’s capital. Haggle in the Old Quarter, where narrow streets erupt with vendors, and walk around the lake in the city’s historical centre.
3 / HÔI AN
The grand, yellow hued architecture casts an elegant glow across this port. Traffic is nonexistent, the food is sublime.
4 / HUÊ
The former home of emperors and grand palaces, imperial Vietnam still stands strong. Explore the 19th-century fortress and Forbidden Purple City.
5 / HO CHI MINH CITY
Bustling and chaotic, this city mixes traditional culture with modern commerce.
Know before you moped!
1. You will be riding pillion (passenger seat) with an experienced driver. Tours are approx. 4 hours, available morning and afternoon.
2. Double check with your travel insurance provider what moped cover they offer*
3. Helmets are required by law in Vietnam. Certified, open-faced helmets are provided.
4. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses and good shoes. Dresses and skirts are not recommended.
5. Children 6-12 ride pillion with the guide or driver. Children 3-5 ride with a parent and driver.
6. Tours run daily as long as one person has signed up. The maximum is 8-10 riders.
7. Private tours or a customised group tour can also be arranged.
*Travel insurers will not provide coverage to anyone driving a motorcycle above 49cc in Vietnam without a locally issued licence.
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