The Easy Riders of Dalat
My first experience with the EASY RIDERS was in 2002, on my first visit to Dalat. I was walking down the street when a fellow riding a motorbike approached me. He asked if I was interested in taking a tour of the Dalat area. I asked what I would get to see and he ran off a list of places a tourist would be interested in seeing: the Crazy House, the Chicken Village (home to a local montanyard tribe), Datanla and Prenn Waterfalls, old colonial buildings from the French Era, the Dalat Market and the Truc lam Monastery on Tuyen Lam Lake.
When tourists first started to arrive in Dalat in the early 1990s, the guides were not known as EASY RIDERS, they were just guides that escorted their clients around the area on motorbikes. These guides were former soldiers of the South Vietnamese military (and members of their families), who couldn’t get a authentic employment because of their association with the former government. Some worked family farms in the area. The term EASY RIDER was bestowed upon them a decade later by a tourist referring to the 1960’s American movie by the same name.
The original EASY RIDERS usually spoke English because of the former association with US and Australian military. This ability provided them with a method of employment after years of forced poverty. Most of the old timers have retired now and passed the namesake on to younger generations.
My guide, Ti Ti (meaning “Small” in Vietnamese) provided me with a great tour that day as I watched the scenery go by from the back of his motorbike. I’ve looked Ti Ti up on other visits to Dalat and we take a tour for old time’s sake. The EASY RIDERS hang out at the Peace Hotel. If you’re lucky you’ll find an original EASY RIDER, who can tell you about the old days, in addition as provide you with a great tour. Today’s EASY RIDERS will not only show you the sites around Dalat, but escort you to just about any place in all of Vietnam.Travelers to Vietnam arriving in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) can catch a flight to Dalat if pressed for time. A “real” traveler will jump on an “open tour” bus from the Pham Ngu Lao area in District 1 and use the day enjoying the great scenery going up the mountain to Dalat. Most “open Tour” buses will drop you off at or close to the Peace Hotel and you can use an hour or 2 negotiating with an EASY RIDER for his sets. Have a cup of local coffee or tea and use some time getting familiar with what’s going on in Dalat.
Check Easy Riders of Dalat for traveler’s video experiences. Enjoy your trip!