Riding a motor scooter in South East Asia is almost a right of passage in travel. Here are the best places to do it
The terraced fields of Dieng Plateau, Java (Shutterstock)
Embark on an adventure around this scenic highland town, taking detours to steaming volcanic lakes, a hot spring or small ancient temples. Around every corner you will be treated to mesmerising views of the patchwork mountainside growing every vegetable imaginable. On clear days, several omnipresent volcanoes linger on the horizon. Opt for a 4am wake up to check out one of the most spectacular sunrises in the world.
Waterfall in Chang Mai Doi Inthanon (Shutterstock)
Challenge yourself by first embracing the gauntlet of traffic that loops around the old walled city. Once free from the hustle and bustle you are treated to a mesmerising number of alleyways that skirt along charming waterways and traditional markets. You can also choose to head high up into the surrounding mountains for spectacular views of the city or to reach Thailand’s highest point at Doi Inthanon.
Overlooking Luang Namtha (Shutterstock)
Rice paddies, hidden waterfalls and traditional settlements will entertain anyone who takes a hillside trail from Luang Namtha and follows a gushing river into the wilderness. Bamboo villages dot the burnt-red road which is otherwise overcome with countless layers of emerald forest. You may see children collecting from the fields, women dribbling red betel nut juice or men hanging out poppies to dry. Note: Beware of leeches while bathing or the throngs of roadside women who might block your pathway, they have an eye for jewellery.
Child mechanics, Sapa (Shutterstock)
It is all about heading north upon a single lane road that stretches through undulating and stunning hillside. Past traditionally-dressed farmers tending their fields or skinning a caribou, you will encounter unrivalled scenery cloaked in vineyards. Roadside waterfalls are hardly worth a detour, but their accompanying chestnut roasters are well worth a stop. Landslides and crumbling roads make this a real adventure. If you’ve got the steam, power north for eight spellbinding hours and find accommodation close to the Chinese border.
Pulau Ternate is formed from a spectacular volcano. Looping around the rim is a well-maintained road that takes an hour to circumnavigate. This bikers' paradise has some worthy stop-offs including a 200-year-old lava flow, ancient fortresses, spell-bounding views from the Indonesian 1000 Rupiah note and crocodile-infested volcanic lakes. Wow.
Rebecca Mayoll is a freelance writer from England, who over the past decade has lived anywhere except her homeland. Since completing an overland trip from Australia to England (no flights!) she is enjoying travelling at a more relaxed pace and enjoys writing anything travel-related. Find her at straightondetour.com.
Main image: Beach on a moped (Shutterstock)