If you chance your luck and try travelling without the requisite documents, you will certainly be turned away. You can’t – yet – board a plane without a passport. NB: for all our destinations, your passport must be valid for at least another six months after your holiday end date and, of course, have a few blank pages left.You wish to know more?
The process for getting visas differs for each tour country, and it’s up to you to deal with it. It‘s worth the hassle, and we can answer any questions you might have. Here’s some guidance: India: India has a unique way of doing things – starting with ID photos, for which there’s a special format ! Australia: A 6-month tourist visa* costs about A$ 83. More details here * Fee calculation varies. Fee quoted is for: a lifelong Australian citizen with single nationality, for a single-entry visa, applied for/collected at an application centre, paid by debit card. UK: A tourist visa* costs about GBP 110. More details here * Fee stated is for: up to 1 year, single/multiple entry, max. stay of 150 days per visit (and includes VFS service charge). US: Details here Sri Lanka An Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is obligatory. Apply online a few days before your arrival for a 30 day ETA (US$ 35), or directly at the airport for latecomers for US$ 40. Nepal: See country-specific visa application details below. Visas are also very easy to obtain on arrival at Kathmandu airport (bring a passport-sized photo): expect to pay US $40 for the 15 day visa or US $60 for the 30 day type. For the Mustang region, we sort your permits on the ground: please bring 3 photos. Australia: Fifteen and 30 day visas (multiple entry) cost A$ 40 and AS$ 60. Available from embassy/consulates in person or by post. More details here UK: Fifteen and 30 day visas (multiple entry) cost £20 and £35. Available from the London embassy in person, or by post. More details here US: Fifteen and 30 day visas (multiple entry) cost US$ 25 and US$ 40. Available in Washington, NYC or Chicago in person, or by post. More details here Bhutan: We take care of all the formalities for Bhutan before you arrive (visa + daily taxes). NB: Our Bhutan trips leave from New Delhi, so be sure to get an Indian visa. Mongolia: You must apply for a visa in your own country before departure. Australia: A tourist/visitor visa (single, entry, 30 day validity) costs A$ 230. More details here UK: A tourist visa (30-day stay, single entry/exit, valid for 3 months) costs GBP 40. More details here US: US passport holders travelling to Mongolia for tourism for up to 90 days do not require a visa. More details hereYou wish to know more?
Just one rule: you must hold an unrestricted (all categories) motorcycle licence. If you usually travel by Porsche, scooter, bicycle or moped, you can’t come with us unless you’re riding pillion. Some intrepid travellers take their motorbike driving test just to come away with us !You wish to know more?
International Driving Permit
See country-specific details below. For our Sri Lanka trips, we’ll need a scan of your IDP in advance so we can then apply for a temporary local permit from the Automobile Club of Sri Lanka ! Australia: To obtain an IDP, contact the relevant IDP authority in your state: the list is here UK: You can apply for an IDP at selected post offices (cost: £5.50) or by post from the AA (£5.50 + £3 processing fee). US: If you have a valid tourist visa, your US driver licence is sufficient, but always keep your passport with you while riding. For more details, contact the American Bikers AssociationYou wish to know more?
We’ll be asking for (yet) more information, such as your T-shirt size and your international flight times. But also for your insurance documents and, for Himalayan destinations, a medical certificate showing you’re fit to ride at altitude for more than 6 hours a day. You’ll then just need to sign a liability waiver during the booking process !You wish to know more?
We’ll look after you throughout your trip, but you’ll need a bit of pocket money even so – mainly to pay for additional meals when you’re staying half-board. Don’t forget other things like drinks, souvenirs, personal expenses and tips. Depending on how much you love shopping and your need for alcohol, plan on €200-500 per person to be comfortable.You wish to know more?
Cash machines are increasingly common, so you can withdraw money in all major cities (New Delhi, Kochi, Chennai, Leh, Kathmandu, Pokhara, Ulan Bator, Colombo, Paro, Thimphu, etc.). Your credit card will be accepted even if you decide to raid a pashmina store in the heart of the Himalaya. That said, it’s advisable to bring some cash with you to use in the bureaux de change, at the airport or in town. You’ll avoid bank commission charges and any nasty surprises if the ATMs are out of action.You wish to know more?
In lots of Asian countries tipping is very common: a way of acknowledging and bumping up the wages of many seasonal workers, restaurant staff, drivers, mechanics and guides. It’s not obligatory and depends on how happy you are with everything. It’s something you can discuss with your group during the trip.You wish to know more?
Arrival & Departure
Keep your eyes peeled when you arrive at the airport for your name on a small Vintage Rides sign. A member of our team will recognise you by the helmet in your hand and will welcome you with open arms, even in the middle of the night. We won’t leave your side until you return to the airport on the last day of your trip.You wish to know more?
The essential “how much” question: a large 30kg roller suitcase, a vanity case or a backpack ? Your luggage will be transported from hotel to hotel, so you’ll be seeing it every day one way or another. Choose bags that are handy and easy to carry. There are very few destinations where the wheels on your suitcase will be useful, apart from the airport. Pack the bare minimum, start your Buddhist training early and free yourself from all that unnecessary clutter. Don’t exceed 15kg for your “big bag”, there’s no need for your smartest shirts as you can pick one up locally should you get an invite to an Indian wedding. In an emergency you can always wash some underwear and, in some cases, get your laundry done at the hotel. Look on the bright side – you’ll have more room for souvenirs and gifts. For everyday use, we recommend a small backpack to carry a few essentials with you on the bike: camera, sunscreen, spare clothes, waterproofs – everything you may need quickly.You wish to know more?
Extending your trip
It’s not every day that you travel across the world to discover Asia. If your holiday dates go beyond the group bike tour, make the most of it by extending your stay, whether it’s just for one night or a second trip. We know the countries you’re visiting very well, and we’re always happy to share our top tips with you. Not to be missed: Agra and the legendary Taj Mahal, a must-see just a few hours from Delhi. For a glimpse of mystical India, spend a few days in Varanasi. Too much bike, not enough beach ? Stay a few extra days in Sri Lanka or Kerala ! Need some time out ? Venture into the Gobi desert. And if you’re still not tired, head off on a rafting expedition down the Zanskar !You wish to know more?
Royal Enfield motorbikes
All our motorbikes are fitted with the gearshift on the left hand side, with first gear at the bottom.You wish to know more?
We don’t rent out motorbikes, but we do offer a Freedom option which lets you head out on India’s roads on your own, with a GPS sat-nav, our planned route and a mobile phone.You wish to know more?
Bringing your bike
Leave your own motorbike at home. The Vintage Rides experience is all about cruising around on our legendary Indian machines. You’ll soon be won over by the authenticity, charm and character of our Royal Enfields.You wish to know more?
As well as having real character and an unforgettable purr, the Royal Enfield can go practically anywhere; it’s easy to handle, light, and perfect for our trails and secret routes. We take good care of our fleet of around sixty Royal Enfields. Our models date from 2009 to 2015, mainly Classics but also Bullet Machismos and Standards, all 500cc apart from in Sri Lanka where the law currently only allows up to 350cc.You wish to know more?
On request, we can supply a lowered seat or a comfortable passenger seat with sissy bar. Who maintains the vehicles? We have a busy garage in Delhi, overseen by a logistics expert who centrally manages all our trips in Asia. The five mechanics who maintain our motorbikes throughout the year are all based here. As well as stocking more than 3,000 spare parts, the garage was recently equipped with a paint booth. You’ll meet our mechanics out on the road during your trip.You wish to know more?
Accommodation and food
Depending on the destination and the selected trip, you stay in authentic guesthouses, comfortable hotels, yurts or palaces worthy of a thousand and one nights. We track down original locations with the emphasis on boutique accommodation. For custom built trips, there’s a choice of hotels depending on your budget and our recommendations, as long as they’re on your route.You wish to know more?
Telephone / Wi-Fi
Apart from in the Himalaya, more and more hotels have Wi-Fi. Quality varies, but in an emergency you’ll always find a way of connecting with the virtual world. The telephone network is somewhat patchy, but 3G is becoming more common in the Mongolian steppe and Sri Lankan countryside. In Ladakh, there’s no coverage outside Leh.You wish to know more?
Your adventure is also a culinary adventure ! Put your faith in your guide, who’ll unearth the best places to eat along your route. You‘ll alternate between local and Western cuisine wherever possible. For those with a sensitive palate, ask for something “not spicy”. Our packages are either half board or full board, where you just pay for drinks. For lunch, your guide sometimes organises a picnic and will do their best to cater to everyone’s tastes. The same goes for vegetarian or special diets, like gluten free, as long as you let us know in advance. And don’t forget to pack specialities from your own local area – no one will say no to a light aperitif in the middle of the Rajasthan desert or up on the high Tibetan Plateau !You wish to know more?
We give details in each tour programme about what the price includes and excludes. Remember two important things: international flights and visas are your responsibility. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if this is not clear.You wish to know more?
To book, we require 50% of the total travel cost. You can pay directly into our French account by bank transfer or credit card, via our online payment platform. The balance must be paid 45 days before your arrival, using the same payment method.You wish to know more?
Our team looks after bike maintenance before, during and after each trip. As a rule we ask for a security deposit on your arrival before handing over the keys. The amount is stated in each tour programme. If you fall off (we won’t tell anyone) and you damage our motorbike, an amount may be retained. The same applies if you ignore our advice and harm the bike we entrust to your care. You and your guide will assess any mechanical or cosmetic damage.You wish to know more?
Our rates are based on the cost of a double room, shared with another member of the group. Either you come with a friend, a biker like you, so there’s no surprise if they snore or have nightmares. Or you share a room with a fellow traveller, in which case we can put you in touch before the trip so you can start to get know each other. For solitary bikers, who opt for a single room, any supplements are detailed in the tour programme.You wish to know more?
For a range of reasons – a broken collarbone, a family crisis or a suspended motorbike licence – you may be forced to cancel your trip with Vintage Rides. Our teams are on hand to find an appropriate solution with you, within the terms and conditions of sale. More than 30 days before departure, the deposit (50%) is refundable, net of bank charges (€60), registration costs (€40), and in the case of flight reservations (€15/person/flight, except for non-refundable tickets, in which case the full cost of the ticket or the charges specified by the airline are payable). Less than 30 days before departure, in case of cancellation the deposit (50%) is non-refundable. Any part of the balance paid will be refunded, net of bank charges (€60), registration costs (€40), and in the case of flight reservations (€15/person/flight, except for non-refundable tickets, in which case the full cost of the ticket or the charges specified by the airline are payable). Finally, anyone who fails to turn up on day one without warning us is not entitled to any refund.You wish to know more?
Don’t leave without cover ! All travellers must purchase repatriation assistance and insurance that covers medical costs on the ground. You can easily get this from your insurer, or contact a provider like Mondial Assistance or Europe Assistance, who offer comprehensive and practical packages (allow €60-80/person). Check that your insurance covers motoring holidays in the relevant areas, especially at high altitudes as in Ladakh.You wish to know more?
If getting into and out of the saddle and putting on a helmet is a physical effort for you, we’re going to have to discuss your booking in more detail. Even on our “Chic & Charming“ tours, a bike trip is no piece of cake. We welcome all bikers, novices and experts alike, as long as you’re in good health and ready to keep up with the pace. Let’s talk about which tour suits you best.You wish to know more?
No vaccinations are required for any of the destinations on offer. However we recommend the following jabs: DT Polio, Hepatitis A and B, and Typhoid. In any case, speak to your doctor and get more details from an official website in your country, such as: Australia: here UK: here US: hereYou wish to know more?
Acute Mountain Sickness is a constant risk on trips in the Himalaya, and especially so in Ladakh. Our routes are designed with the altitude levels in mind, with a preference for gradual climbs and a limited amount of time spent at high altitude (mountain passes). Well aware of the symptoms (headache, nausea, loss of appetite, insomnia...) and their consequences, our team and your guide are there to give you all the advice you need on how to successfully acclimatise. Drink lots of water, eat garlic, chew coca leaves, limit alcohol intake and avoid too much physical effort. If necessary, we’re equipped with oxygen cylinders in the support vehicle following the group. Check with your doctor and get a prescription for Diamox.You wish to know more?
In the event of an accident, the motorbikes are covered by third party insurance (personal injury and vehicle damage) by an international body. In many Asian countries, “comprehensive” insurance doesn’t exist for motorbikes. You will be requested to provide a security deposit amount of minimum 400 euros, which may vary depending on the country where your trip is occurring.
This security deposit will be returned to you at the end of the Tour, unless deduction of any costs of repair or replacement of all or part of the Vehicle and/or its accessories that would be borne by you in case of damage suffered by the Vehicle. If the repair costs exceed the amount of the security deposit, Vintage Rides reserves the right to claim the reimbursement of costs incurred, which will be subsequently charged to the Vintage Rider separately.
Contrary to popular belief, whether it’s a trip to Southern India or to Nepal, you’ll need more or less the same classic motorbike equipment. Choose gear that keeps you safe: gloves, jackets, trousers, ankle boots and above all a good helmet. Even in Sri Lanka no one cruises along in flip flops and shorts, with the wind in their hair. Thermal technical clothing is very useful for changes in temperature. Don’t forget your scarf to protect you from the dust, a good pair of sunglasses and sunscreen. Think about packing wet-weather gear at all times. For some trips in the Himalaya, if you prefer your sleeping bag to guesthouse blankets, then bring it with you.You wish to know more?
You’ll never be alone, even stuck in the middle of the Indian countryside, with a bike that no longer starts up and a cracked rib. Our teams back in the office in New Delhi, Colombo or Ulan Bator are in constant contact with your guide. Whether it’s a change of route, adverse weather, a last-minute extension or a hospital stay, we‘re ready to respond. We check your insurance details and get on the line to your insurer ! Actually, we’d rather you just dropped by the office to have a drink and tell us about your adventures.You wish to know more?
On the road
Our guaranteed departures are open to a maximum of 12 people (riders and passengers alike). It’s a chance to meet other motorbike enthusiasts, some of whom are already familiar with Vintage Rides and can get you up to speed. You’ll share laughter, bike horns and routes for ten days or so. You’ll all ride together as friends, adhering to your guide’s advice, and not forgetting that good team spirit is the key to a successful group trip. If you’re already part of a group (club, colleagues...), we can put together a plan to suit 12 or more participants.You wish to know more?
We offer itineraries for everyone, with various routes and tempos. You can choose between “off road” circuits on mainly dirt tracks, and smoother routes on well paved roads. Our Motorcycle ramble is a balanced mix of the two, and lets bikers get a taste of the magnificent routes without having to be an endurance expert. Our Chic & Charming range offers more comfortable accommodation to relax in after a day in the saddle. Meanwhile, our Adventure Tour is aimed at experienced bikers looking for a physical challenge. The number of hours per day on the bike and, above all, the number of days (8 to 12) affects the difficulty of the trip, in terms of endurance and fatigue. We put in all the groundwork when designing our itineraries to make sure the pace is nicely balanced. You simply choose the trip that suits you, advised by our team.You wish to know more?
Most of our routes are suitable for passengers: partners, children, colleagues, friends – everyone is welcome as long as the rider is up to scratch. The Adventure Raid in Mustang is for solo riders only, and The Trans-Himalayan is not the easiest tour for riding pillion. Get in touch and we’ll let you know straightaway if your plan is feasible.You wish to know more?
English-speaking motorbike guide
Your motorbike guide speaks fluent English and French. He might be French or Indian, or even American on occasion. An experienced biker, he’ll be passionate about your destination and a lover of Royal Enfields, so you’re in good hands for an adventure. He ensures good communications and is the link between you and the rest of the team (mechanic, driver). He encourages contact with the locals, relying on his natural charm when he can’t speak the local dialect. The support vehicle is behind you all the way, so you can travel light without bags or spare parts. The vehicle is also very handy if a passenger wants a rest or a rider is unable to continue.You wish to know more?
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