Was this motorcycle tour in Thailand your first Vintage Rides experience?
Laurent already did two Freedom Formula motorcycle tours in India with you in Rajasthan and Uttarkhand. It was a trip of firsts for me, as I had never ridden a motorbike, let alone been on a Vintage Rides tour!
How did this motorcycle tour come about?
We really fancied going away somewhere far and exotic, ideally with some sun. In February 2018, we set off for Chiang Mai, where we had booked your Freedom Formula in North Thailand. We wanted to be in charge of our own rout, stopping places and make up our own road book. This option didn't exist for Thailand, but we were able to prove that it would be worth adding it.
What did you think about our Freedom Formula in Thailand?
Your team gave us a really warm welcome in Chiang Mai and the central hotel was excellent. Laurent had already been on a Royal Enfield, but we were still given some quick, effective training, so we could take to the roads worry free. We spent some time with Martin and Josh and went through our route before setting off. Josh gave us some tips about places worth visiting, good restaurants, and great small roads and tracks to take if we wanted. Even though we'd taken a Freedom Formula, we felt we had received plenty of help and support. It was the perfect combination because we could discover things for ourselves but the local knowledge and tips from the Vintage Rides Chiang Mai team were really helpful.
What was your trip like on a day-to-day basis?
We set off to explore the north of the country, covering more than 1,000 miles. We discovered authentic Thailand, hidden between fertile valleys close to the Burmese border and the banks of the Mekong, facing Laos. We had never been to Thailand, so we had to quickly get used to riding on the left. We rode an average of 125 miles per day through the countryside and across the mountains on the edge of the Golden Triangle. We were well received, no matter if we were staying in hotels or in the small villages. Thai people are really friendly, smiley and polite. And, although our mouths were sometimes on fire, we really enjoyed the Thai cuisine.
Did you have any problems?
Not at all, everything ran smoothly. There were no technical glitches, the Royal Enfields ran like a dream. Riding the famous Mae Hong Son loop with its 1,864 bends was a real treat! What's more, the Vintage Rides mechanics have customised the bikes, modifying the exhausts. The Royal Enfield's rumble echoing across the Thai jungle was really magical!
Was there a particular place that really made its mark on you during your road trip in Thailand?
There were loads! There was a surprise and something breathtaking on every leg of the trip: riding along the Mekong, hearing the Laotian music right in front of the Golden Triangle, going along the Burmese board on a beautiful ridge, eating in local restaurants... and then there's my first experience of Thailand on off-road. I also loved taking a break at the biker bar in the middle of the mountains and getting a warm welcome from the regulars there, who nicknamed me "The Lady Biker".
What would you like to say to someone who is thinking about taking a Freedom Formula tour?
Take your courage in both hands and go for it! You don't really need much experience of the road. Trust in Vintage Rides, the motorcycles and the people you find on the way. And above all, take it all in and enjoy yourself!
Do you have any more Royal Enfield holidays planned?
Yes! This time, we are going to take the rest of the family for a motorcycle tour in Nepal with a guide. We've made up our own group and are planning it for the dates we want. We fly to Kathmandu in spring for the Mustang: the Legendary Expedition Adventure Tour.
Sophie Squillace / Vintage Rides
Photo credits: Amelie Genève / Laurent Barandon / Elisabeth Fieujean