Taking a Vespa tour in Hoi An, Vietnam: Look beyond the lantern festival

Hoi An lanterns

We haven’t met anyone who hasn’t loved Hoi An; those old ochre buildings and magical lantern festivals really are something special. But few visitors get beyond the edges of the town to explore the surrounding countryside – Lawrence ventured out on a Vespa tour to look beyond the lanterns.

Vespa tour in Hoi An

With its yellow buildings and colourful lanterns, Hoi An is a highlight of any trip to Vietnam, but it has become quite a hit with tourists. While visitor numbers don’t detract from the beauty of the town or the fun to be had there, a less trodden side awaits in Hoi An’s equally beautiful surrounding countryside. Take a Vespa tour to see this different side of Hoi An.

I’d never ridden pillion before, so wasn’t quite sure what to expect from our plan for the morning. Having spoken to other people who had done Vespa tours in Vietnam though, I was confident I was in for a rather interesting morning.

As we waited in our hotel lobby, we soon heard the buzzing of the Vespas arriving outside. With our guides, all smiling and inviting us to be their passenger for the morning, we all quickly saddled up and posed for a few pre-departure photos. Everybody in our group was in good spirits before we had even pulled away, and as the engines roared into life we were off!

Not long after leaving our hotel, we found ourselves in the countryside, where it became clear we wouldn’t just be sticking to the main roads! The tarmacked-streets and busy town were soon replaced by back alleys, rice fields and locals going about their everyday lives. With the noise of the engines and the wind and local scenes whizzing past, I knew that this experience would become one of the most memorable of my time in Vietnam.

Stopping along the way

Our first stop of the morning was at a local temple where we climbed off our Vespas – each with the same wide grin – and huddled around our guide to learn more about the area. Admittedly it did take us a few moments to calm down and stop talking about the first part of our tour, but the guide seemed used to this reaction!

Our next stop took us to a local house where two ladies were busy making bed mats in the traditional manner. A few of our group tried their hand at weaving but soon realised it wasn’t quite as simple as it looked!

Another of our stops was at the local boat building yard. Our tour took place on a national holiday so the yard was a little quieter than usual, but it was still interesting and a good opportunity to stretch our legs and talk about the latest part of our journey.

Hoi An countryside

As we headed further into the countryside, the horizon opened out to countless rice fields – the iconic Vietnamese scene complete with the local farmer wearing a typical conical hat.

The furthest point of our journey was the bamboo bridge; the drivers rode the scooters across, but we took to our feet (can’t think why!)

After crossing, we made our way back to Hoi An along the main roads. Throughout the morning the drivers took turns at the front of the pack, passing each other at suitable spots. There were fleeting conversations between members of the group, usually resulting in laughter, as we zipped on to our next destination.

Our final stop before lunch allowed us to take in the view of the river from the bridge. All of the drivers were very friendly and happy to pose for photos along the way.

Our half-day tour ended with lunch on the banks of the river, leaving us with the rest of the day to relax in our hotel before walking into Hoi An in the early evening to see the town’s sights. During my time in Vietnam I joined another Vespa tour – a food tour of Ho Chi Minh City at night. That too was a great (albeit very different) experience, but I think of the two this one had to be my favourite. I would recommend it to everyone.

For more information about travelling in Vietnam (aboard a Vespa or not…) get in touch with our team. All of our Vietnam experts have sailed on Halong Bay, tucked into crispy banh mi, wandered the My Son ruins, kicked back on Nha Trang’s beaches… we’d love to help you plan.

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