Vintage vehicles enhance tourism experience in Viet Nam

Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 17:11

A collection of vintage military Jeep cars are upgraded as vehicles for tourists visiting Viet Nam.
DA NANG (Biz Hub) — Pham Vu Dung collected 10 vintage military jeeps from across the nation, and modified and upgraded them as tourist vehicles for foreign visitors.

The four-wheel drive vehicles were used by the US Army during the American war. They were left behind in garages either due to the unavailability of spare parts and accessories, or the high cost of repair.

Dung, who manages a travel agency in Hoi An city, has the largest jeep collection in the tourism hub and organises tours in the vehicles. "Most of the jeeps had to be repaired for safe travel. Mechanics had to change the chassis and repaint the vehicles, change the tyres and interior decoration," Dung said.

"The engines were changed and new cylinders and pistons acquired from providers in Thailand and Taiwan where the spare parts and accessories for modification of vehicles are available," he added.

The 1970 models originally had a four-cylinder 2,500-cc engine and a four-gear box. A mechanician tried to retain the origin design as much as possible.

During the repair work, the torn seats were covered and antenna installed. The reserve fuel tank, shovel and canvas roof were installed just as they were used many decades ago, mostly in the southern provinces and cities of Viet Nam.

However, the vehicles consume 14 litres of gasoline for a 100-kilometer run on smooth roads or 20 litres on uphill and tough roads.

The four-wheel drive cars, which were left from American war over 55 years, become rare in Viet Nam.

The upgraded and redecorated vehicles have a maximum speed of 80 kilometres per hour, but it's recommended to drive them at only 50 kilometers per hour on smooth roads.

"The jeeps are used for short tours in Viet Nam. They allows only a 300-kilometre run per day during a 10-day trans-Vietnam tour," said the jeep collector.

"The favourite tourist destinations for which the jeep can be used include Hoi An, My Son Sanctuary, Chu Lai airport which was a US airbase during the war, the mountainous A Luoi district in Hue and Da Nang," said Dung.

Tourists can drive the jeeps themselves, but they are required to have had the local driving licence for three months prior to the start of the tour.

Vespa collection

Italian scooters are used to carry tourists to destinations with short distant roads in Viet Nam .Photo courtery with rose travel company. — VNS Photos

The jeep collector also hunted for scooter brand Vespa's two models from the 1960s and 1980s. For Vietnamese families in the 1980s, possessing a Vespa scooter was a sign of wealth.

The 1960 models still use two-stroke engines and their drivers have to mix engine oil with gasoline.

However, the Italian scooter is used to carry tourists around Hoi An only or to short distances within a 20-kilometre range.

It's also tough for motorcyclists to ride it as it has manual gear control.

"Inexperienced motorcyclists often get into trouble with the manual gear and old engines. I and my mechanic have wasted a lot of time and money searching for spare parts and accessories," said Dung.

The 1960s' Vespa Lambretta and Acma do not cost much, but the owners had to pay a lot for their repair and decoration. The scooters can be used for city tours of Hoi An, and to visit pristine beaches and tourist places in the ancient town. — VNS

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