Just returned from a 2 week ride from Vientiane, Laos to Hanoi, Vietnam with Toby Jacobs Ride Expeditions. We did 2300km of fantastic single track, dirt track and some roads through some of the most beautiful country. Toby runs a great outfit, with local guides & mechanics as lead and sweep riders. the accommodation ranged from home stays with local villagers, riverside cabins & hotels.
We ate local food the whole trip, some of the more unusual treats were BBQ rat, squirrel, python, buffalo skin & jellyfish! Our Vietnamese guide, Phu, chowed down on duck embryo out of the shell, but none of us could bring ourselves to try it! Every night was finished off with a few (too many some nights!) local beers and rice wines.
The bikes supplied we're crf250l, which I thought seemed a bit lame when I signed up, but proved to be tough little tractors, ideally suited to this trip. They have a torquey little motor, which was great on the long steep hillclimbs that seemed to go on forever. I had mine up to 135kmh on one of the road sections. This trip is not full on enduro, but is an adventure to see an amazing landscape and fantastic people and culture, still there is plenty of challenging riding. You have to keep your wits about you, as around every corner will be a mob of cows, buffalo, goats, dogs, kids or someone on a scooter, in a truck or an iron buffalo.
We had to negotiate many river crossings, long narrow mountain passes, landslides, rocky hillclimbs, greasy clay tracks, crazy Asian city traffic, ferry & canoe river crossings. We had a couple of newbies on board, but Toby is flexible and separated the group several times so the more experienced riders could take a more challenging route. We traveled through country rarely seen by westerners and wherever we went we were a source of fascination for the locals. We were on the bikes at 8.30am most mornings and rode till about 5pm, averaging between 180-250km per day. One day myself and two other Australians and our Laotian guide did a ride called the Elephant Trail, which turned out to be about 400km, the last 100km being in the dark on the main road, challenging in itself in Asia!
The only day we had off the bikes we spent traveling up the beautiful Nom Ou River all day by boat, which was a highlight of the trip.
Ride Expeditions do a range of rides throughout South East Asia and the Himalayas, if you're looking for an adventure off the beaten tourist track, I couldn't recommend them more highly. Everything is included in the price, except airfares and booze and, in my opinion, is great value for money. This rates as one of the best adventures I've been on and I'm thinking about the next one and I've only been back a couple of days!