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Questions, updates and trip reports are all welcome. However, please keep comments polite and on-topic. See commenting etiquette for details.

  1. Wendy says:
    April 28, 2024 at 9:54 AM

    Hi Tom, What an amazing website! Thank you!
    We are planning to have about a month travelling, maybe not ideal time but it looks like end of September through much of October. We want to travel by train and jump off and explore different places and hire motorbikes. I’ve been looking at your weather guides, I know it is typhoon season. Do you think we should go north to south, or south to north? Kind regards, Wendy

    1. Tom says:
      April 29, 2024 at 11:57 AM

      Hi Wendy,

      Yes, there will be some rain around, most likely the central region will be worse. I would suggest travelling north to south at that time of year, because September/October is usually pretty nice in the north anyway, and the earlier you’re in Central Vietnam the better, and the south with be a mixture of hot, sunny, humid and wet during both months.



  2. Ivan says:
    April 15, 2024 at 10:44 AM

    Hi Tom, your guides are very useful, I flowed them last autumn traveling in the north of Vietnam.

    Now I’m thinking of extending my travels to Laos and Cambodia, do you know similar websites as yours about traveling by bike there and border crossing procedures? Or maybe you have such information here and I just haven’t found it yet.

    Best regards,

    1. Tom says:
      April 17, 2024 at 1:39 PM

      Hi Ivan,

      I don’t know, sorry. But there must be something like that out there.



  3. MC Warnier says:
    March 25, 2024 at 9:28 AM


    Im currently in South East Asia and I would like to come to Vietnam, especially to do a motorbike tour in the North.
    I can’t drive a motorbike because I have one leg amputated unless you have a sidecar or a three wheels motorbike. That would be awesome!
    In case not, do you organize tour with driver ? How many days ? What’s the price ?
    I normally use a prosthetic leg but if I have to spend hours during a few days in motorbike it would be more comfortable to not wear it. Is there a car that follows that could keep it ? Or I would need to find a safe place to store it during the trip.

    Thank you and best regards,


    1. Tom says:
      March 26, 2024 at 10:19 AM

      Hi MC,

      Perhaps you could try contacting Style Motorbikes – they do Jeep tours in the north. Or you could try contacting Cuong’s Motorbike Adventures – they may be able to arrange a sidecar.

      I don’t personally arrange or do tours.



  4. William P. Sensheimer says:
    March 17, 2024 at 1:34 AM

    Hi Tom,
    I stumbled across your description of Vung Ro Bay & Bai Mon Beach today. You brought back some fond memories for me. I appreciate your report and I myself discovered this area 10 years ago. At Bai Mon Beach An, I enjoyed seafood in a typical beach tent and met a visitor who I married shortly afterwards. Besides the beautiful scenery, the visit ended with a wife.
    Thank you for your report, I enjoyed it a lot.
    Best regards,

    1. Tom says:
      March 19, 2024 at 1:35 AM

      Hi William,

      That’s a wonderful story, congratulations and thank you for sharing it.



  5. Keith Scott says:
    January 21, 2024 at 9:13 PM

    Thank you for all your work Tom.
    Wife & I had another great time in Vietnam.
    HCMC,Vung Tau,Phan Thiet, CRB & Phu Quoc.
    Stayed at Phu Quoc Gold Coast on your recommendation & was indeed a good spot.
    Rooms, beach & pool lovely & a good restaurant too. Only issue was the poor state of the outdoor furniture etc
    Much of which was rickety & badly in need of repair.

    1. Tom says:
      January 28, 2024 at 9:54 AM

      Hi Keith,

      Sorry for the slow reply.

      I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to Vietnam and your stay at Gold Coast. Actually, I was just there last week. I think the old outdoor furniture you’re referring to is mostly on the balconies of the beachfront rooms – they are the older rooms; the ones around the pool are newer.



  6. Dudler says:
    January 12, 2024 at 4:21 AM

    Thank you for your website which is very interesting!
    For your information, the Bãi Ông Đụng is now closed because the place has been brought to build a resort… 🙁
    Best regards,

    1. Tom says:
      January 14, 2024 at 8:41 AM

      Hi Lauriane,

      Thank you for the update. It’s very helpful.



  7. Susanne Fuchs says:
    January 7, 2024 at 1:50 PM

    Thanks for your tips for Con Dao, that was very helpful. We went to Cat Tien National Park today and are going on to da lat tomorrow. Do you know a place where you can snorkel, even now in January? Maybe on Hon Gom? Or on cham? Best regards! Susanne and Max

    1. Tom says:
      January 9, 2024 at 2:30 AM

      Hi Susanne,

      I’m not certain about the season, but yes you’re right that around Nha Trang, such as Hon Gom (try looking up Whale Island), there is some decent snorkeling. I think (but I’m not certain) that the time of year is not great for snorkeling on Cham Island.



  8. Luc Beyst says:
    December 9, 2023 at 3:41 AM

    Dear Tom,
    First a big thank you for all the info.
    We are currently at Cao Sao beach report and went eating at Nhà Bè Đá Bạc yesterday and they only had schrimps to offer…looks like the place won’t last much longer.
    Kind regards

    1. Tom says:
      December 11, 2023 at 1:01 AM

      Hi Luc,

      I’m sorry to hear that. Try Tinh Bien restaurant instead – it’s a bit further down the coast and it’s very good.



  9. John says:
    November 30, 2023 at 10:29 AM

    Are your maps downloadable to or something similar?
    Thank You

    1. Tom says:
      December 1, 2023 at 12:02 AM

      Hi Jon,

      Try the following steps:

      1. Install the MAPS.ME application on your mobile device from the app store
      2. Download the country map for Vietnam
      3. Get the KMZ file for the Vietnam Coracle map you want to take with you offline.
      4. Open the KMZ file on your mobile device
      5. Locate the KMZ file on your mobile device using the “Files” app and open it. If your device asks you to
      select which app to open the file with, select MAPS.ME. The map should now appear in the “Favorites” tab
      in the MAPS.ME app

      Please note, that I will be releasing an offline maps instruction manual+guides package for certain routes and destinations is the next couple of weeks, so look out for that if you’re interested.



      1. John says:
        December 1, 2023 at 1:54 AM

        Thank you for your reply.
        That’s my issue, where is the KMZ file?

        1. Tom says:
          December 1, 2023 at 2:03 AM

          Hi John,

          Just click the three vertical dots next to the map title in the top left corner; that will open a menu, then find the ‘download KML/KMZ’.

          If that doesn’t work, trying googling it for your specific device and browser, for example, ‘how to download the KMZ file for a google map on (device name) and (browser name).



      2. John says:
        December 1, 2023 at 4:06 AM

        Thank you for the detailed instructions.
        But this is the area I’m having problems with.
        “ Get the KMZ file for the Vietnam Coracle map you want to take with you offline.”
        Where is the KMZ file on the website?
        Thank you

        1. Tom says:
          December 1, 2023 at 6:29 AM

          Hi John,

          Please refer to my previous reply: ‘look for the three vertical dots….’

          The KMZ is not from my website, it is from the google map.



  10. Nishit Chheda says:
    November 18, 2023 at 6:48 PM

    Hi Tom

    Planning a 10 day motorbike trip in the North of Vietnam with my gang. Do you know any Motorbike Guide who can come along?

    Great work by the way!

    1. Tom says:
      November 19, 2023 at 4:21 AM

      Hi Nishit,

      I don’t know anyone specifically, but you could try contacting the motorbike rental outlets that I recommend on this page – maybe they can suggest someone to go with you.



      1. Nishit says:
        November 19, 2023 at 4:46 AM


  11. Tim says:
    November 17, 2023 at 3:11 PM

    Mate just did one your northern loops ( I’m not saying which coz I don’t want it to turn out like the ha-gaing loop) and got to say a big thank you to you for putting it together. Would never of found the last leg if it wasn’t for your info . Fingers crossed it doesn’t get ruined like the ga haing loop has…. But if it does I’d like to think, again, I got in early!!! Big shout out to you!!!

    1. Tom says:
      November 19, 2023 at 4:34 AM

      Hi Tim,

      Great to hear you enjoyed your ride.

      I don’t think there’s any harm in saying which route you liked – it will help other people to choose where they’d like to ride: that is the point of this website 🙂



      1. Tim says:
        November 19, 2023 at 3:13 PM

        Haha na mate my lips are sealed. It was one of the remote ones though. I’ve biked for yrs in asia and one part of the leg was by far the best days biking I’ve ever done…. Keep up the good work though mate you’re doing a sterling job!!

  12. Deirdre Fearfield says:
    August 12, 2023 at 7:50 AM

    Great work! Very helpful content. Currently putting together a 3 week itinerary together,

    1. Tom says:
      August 12, 2023 at 12:49 PM

      Hi Deirdre,

      Thank you! And I hope your planning goes well.



  13. Meg says:
    May 28, 2023 at 7:20 AM

    Hi Tom! We are here in Vietnam and looking to complete one of these trips. Do you know if an outfitter/guide that might be able to put this together for us? A phone number or email would be ideal. Thanks so much!!

    1. Tom says:
      May 29, 2023 at 12:21 AM

      Hi Meg,

      Which trips are you referring to?



  14. Cam says:
    May 20, 2023 at 11:33 PM

    Hi Tom,

    Just writing to say thank you for your great motorbike routes and advice around Vietnam. I had a great trip on a longer loop route (~10 days) from Da Nang by piecing together several of your recommended routes (Hai Van Pass + Tomb Raider + Phong Nha + HCM Road + Golden Loop). The routes were great and it gave us an experience off the beaten path at times.

    I really appreciate your website and have donated to support!

    Cheers from Canada!


    1. Tom says:
      May 21, 2023 at 8:00 AM

      Hi Cam,

      Thank you, that’s great to hear – I’m glad you enjoyed riding those routes: it’s a wonderful area of the country.

      And thank you so much for supporting my site with a donation.



  15. Raúl Peláez says:
    May 13, 2023 at 11:35 PM

    Hi from Spain Tom!

    Thank you very much for your great job creating this web!
    It’s for great help shaping up our trip!!

    This will be our second time in Vietnam and in Saigon, but never rented a bike in Saigon (in other places of Vietnam yes)
    and our question is:

    Do you know where can I rent a motorbike (semiautomatic scooter) in Saigon? With 3 B (good, nice & cheap)
    *(in Spanish Bueno Bonito y Barato) 😉

    And without stratospheric deposit!

    Because all I see from here on Internet it’s expensive (in my opinion) 15 usd/day, when we rented just for 5/6 usd/day the last time (always saying those I found in Internet)

    thank you in advance and I hope I can spread your web here, in Spain (and support too!!)

    Best, Raúl

    1. Tom says:
      May 15, 2023 at 12:42 AM

      Hi Raúl,

      Yes, sure: try contacting the rental companies than I mention on this page.

      Remember that when it comes to renting motorbikes in Vietnam, price reflects quality: you rent cheaper, but the bike probably won’t be as good or as well-maintained.



      1. Raúl says:
        May 16, 2023 at 5:18 AM

        I’m sorry!
        I was so engrossed looking at other articles that I didn’t see this one.
        Thank you for all!

  16. Naomi says:
    April 10, 2023 at 6:28 PM

    Dear Tom,

    Glad to have found your page with the very places we’re visiting this summer!

    In PhuQuoc, we have Premier Village beachfront villa reserved, but it seems for similar price we could get (non-beach) standard rooms at the Intercontinental with access to more restaurants and amenities. Intercontinental seems a slight step up in the luxury arena with the added benefit of having everything close vs. Premier where we might need a buggy to get around within the resort which in and of itself is looks isolated.

    This is our first time to Vietnam and we want it to be centered around good food, drinks, comfort, and amenities. Can you provide some advice to make the decision easier? We are going to be traveling with other families and kids.

    In DaNang, do you have any comparison of Sheraton Grand vs. Four Points Sheraton?

    Lastly, I read you’re a tennis player. Do you have any recommendations on where/who to go for lessons with a pro or to book courts in Phu Quoc and DaNang?

    Thank you.

    1. Tom says:
      April 11, 2023 at 7:44 AM

      Hi Naomi,

      You’re right that Premier Village is more isolated than the InterContinental. However, I would say that Premier Village is more spectacular in terms of both accommodation and setting than the InterContinental. And this is especially true if you are visiting during the summer months (June-August), because at that time of year the sea on the west coast (where the InterContinental is) can be moderately rough, whereas the sea of the southeast coast (where Premier Village is) should be calmer. The situation is the opposite in the winter months (December-February).

      In reality, both accommodations would require you to take a taxi to get to restaurants, bars etc that are located outside the resort properties. However, there are other (big) resorts located around the InterContinental, but around Premier Village there is just one: The Marriot, but there’s also dining on Sao Beach, a 10-minute ride away. So it’s a difficult decision to make. I think, if it were me, I’d go for Premier Village considering the time of year, and just take taxis whenever you want to dine out. You could also contact the properties directly to ask about the surrounding areas and transport, they might have something more to say.

      In Da Nang, the Sheraton Grand is the better hotel of the two, but they are both in quite different locations: The Grand is a beach resort, far from downtown Da Nang, but near to the Marble Mountains; whereas, Four Points although on the seafront road is more of a city hotel with better access to downtown sites and activities. So it depends what your priorities are. The InterContinental Sun Peninsula is a better hotel than both of the Sheratons, but is located on Son Tra Peninsula, a beautiful setting, but a 15-min drive from Da Nang city.

      For tennis, I only found OK players on Phu Quoc Island. It’s possible that the resorts may be able to arrange some one to hit or coach with you – it’s worth asking in advance. On Phu Quoc, Rory (of Rory’s Bar) was apparently as very good tennis player, so perhaps try contacting him: maybe he knows more about where to play and who to hit with.



  17. BINH Vinh says:
    March 26, 2023 at 8:36 PM

    Dear Tom
    Your report « 13 Public Swimming Pools in Saigon » in very interesting.
    Congratulations and thanks a lot !

    Do you know if a same paper (about Swimming Pools) exists for Hanoi, Danang, Hué, NhaTrang, DaLat, etc ?

    Thank you for your attention.
    Best regards,

    1. Tom says:
      March 26, 2023 at 11:47 PM

      Hi Vinh,

      I’m sorry, I don’t have a guide to pools in those places.



  18. Claudia says:
    March 25, 2023 at 8:54 AM

    Hi Tom 🙂

    First of all thank you for all the time and knowledge you’ve putted together to create this incredible website you have!

    I just arrived in Vietnam (Hoi An) now with my motorcycle and trying to figure it out the best route and things to do in the south for the next 3weeks… And having a look at your website I feel like in a very good restaurant with a menu with too many delicious things to choose from that you can’t make your mind to what to get and end up “desperately” asking for the waiter help 😅
    So… I’m asking for your help now, if possible….

    As I said I’m planning to spend 3weeks in south and I would really want to get the best of it… my travel profile: passionate rider, mostly into nature (with a recent love for mountain hiking), carrying all my camp gear (fully independent) but also interested to learn about the country’s history and culture…
    Could you help me making my mind?! I’ll then focus to do a deeper reading considering your suggestions..

    Thank you so much in advance 🙏🏼

    1. Tom says:
      March 26, 2023 at 11:55 PM

      Hi Claudia,

      Thanks for you message.

      I would take a look at the following guides to get you started and then work out your own itinerary based on that: Golden Loop, Truong Son Dong Road, Dalat Routes, Dak Nong Geopark Loop, Nui Chua Coast Road, Dragons’ Graveyard, Sand Dune Highway.

      If you can mix these up together, you’ll get a good balance of highlands and coast.



      1. Claudia says:
        March 28, 2023 at 2:44 PM

        Thank you so much for your answer and guidelines 🙏🏼 I will look deeper into them 😉

  19. Daz says:
    March 19, 2023 at 4:24 PM

    Hi Tom
    Firstly what a fantastic website you have created.
    My first time back here since 2018 when I did a whirl wind north to south in 3 weeks.
    The information I took from this site then was invaluable. I will be donating to your cause very soon.
    A couple of questions I would like to ask.
    I’m planning a return motorbike trip in early November to include some elements of the north west and north east.
    Thinking of the train to Loa Cai from Hanoi then making my way over to either Lang Son or Dong Dang to train back .
    I was thinking about 7 or 8 days riding.
    Firstly is there a link route between these two areas you would recommend. Secondly is the weather at that time of year going to be reasonable, and thirdly, have I given myself enough time?
    Many thanks in advance.

    1. Tom says:
      March 21, 2023 at 10:30 AM

      Hi Daz,

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad to hear your enjoy the site.

      You’d need to check the trains between Hanoi and Lao Cai and Lang Son to Hanoi, because post-Covid they’ve been running on a skeletal schedule (usually Fri-Sun only). Although I would certainly hope that by November 2023 things will have changed.

      The link route from Lao Cai to Ha Giang is the Borders & Back-Roads route, and from Ha Giang to Cao Bang and the northeast it’s the High Roads routes. In general, you might want to browse all my Northern Routes and see which ones you want to link together.

      However, 7-8 days isn’t really enough time, unless you want to be rushed and riding all day everyday. The more time you have, the better. Riding in the northern mountains in general is slow.

      Weather-wise you should be right at the tail-end of the good autumn period – although the high passes could be chilly by then. See my Weather Guide for some more information.



      1. Daz says:
        March 22, 2023 at 10:03 PM

        Thanks for the speedy reply Tom
        Assuming the trains remain on a reduced time table from Hanoi to Lang Son. Is there another way of transporting myself and motorbike to the northeast?
        There seems to be plenty of bus options advertised online but non of them mention transporting motorbikes.
        Also are you aware of any reduced service to the reunification express?

        1. Tom says:
          March 23, 2023 at 5:43 AM

          Hi Daz,

          In general, most so-called ‘limousine’ or ‘VIP’ buses will accommodate your motorbike. These buses have 20 flat-bed ‘rooms’ rather than 40-60 seats: therefore, because there are fewer passengers, there’s less luggage, which means there’s more space in the hold beneath the bus in which to fit a motorbike.

          In the south and central highlands I do this all the time. I haven’t done it in the north, but I know you can do it. You’d need to search, google, ask around for a ‘xe limousine’, xe phòng’, ‘xe cung điện di động’ between Hanoi and Cao Bang or Lang Son.

          As an example of the kind of bus I’m referring to, take a look at this.

          And trains on the ‘Reunification’ line (the south-north line) are running pretty much as they used to.



  20. Bartek says:
    February 25, 2023 at 11:50 AM


    Thank you for the amazing resource!!!

    I was wondering if you could help me resolve one doubt. I’m going to Vietnam in March and I’m wondering whether to start in Danang and make my way North or go directly to Hanoi and focus exclusively on the extreme North (Ha Giang for example). From some articles it seems that it might be too early and the weather will be cold and bleak, others include March in the best time to go. Do you think March is too early for that part of the country to make it enjoyable on a motorbike?

    Cheers and thank you for great work 🙂

    1. Tom says:
      February 28, 2023 at 3:07 AM

      Hi Bartek,

      In general, March is on the cusp of one of the best times of year to ride the northern regions. April, May, September, October are probably the best. But with the northern mountains you’re never GUARANTEED good conditions – it’s very changeable and unpredictable.

      However, I would recommend going straight to Hanoi and focusing on the north: if you’re lucky, conditions will be clear, dry, and warm; if you’re unlucky, they’ll be cold and misty. But, on the whole, everyone who rides the northern mountains ends up enjoying it, regardless of weather conditions.

      You might also take a look at my Weather Guide. And use app for forecasts and rain satellites.



  21. Andy says:
    February 4, 2023 at 12:33 AM

    Hello Tom, My wife and I will be heading to Vietnam early April and will be riding the Golden Loop. After a night in Hue we were planning on riding along the coast then getting on the AH16 to Khe Sanh. I am wondering if you think riding from Khe Sanh along the QL14 to Dong Giang (about 235kms) in one day is manageable? We were initially hoping to break that leg of the journey up and stay somewhere half way over night, but I am having difficultly finding a place to stay. Any suggestions? Or do you think we should bypass the coast after Hue and visiting Khe Sanh altogether and just ride from Hue to Dong Giang?
    Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks so much!

    1. Tom says:
      February 6, 2023 at 5:54 AM

      Hi Andy,

      Yes, you could ride all the way from Khe Sanh to Dong Giang (more commonly referred to as Prao) is one day. The road is good, but you would need to leave at a decent time in the morning to give yourself plenty of time to complete the ride. It would take around 6 hours, not including stops.

      However, you could also ride Khe Sanh to Prao over 2 days by staying overnight in A Luoi. For more information about A Luoi and places to stay, take a look at my Golden Loop guide.

      Along the coast north of Hue is interesting if you stick to the back-roads – you can take a look my Tomb Rider guide for more about that.



  22. Andrzej says:
    January 25, 2023 at 1:51 PM

    Hello. Me and my wife will be in Vietnam for the 3rd time in April. The first time we used local transport. The second time we drove from Hanoi to HCM on a scooter we bought. Now we want to cycle around the Mekong Delta and Con Dao Island. We have 1 month for this. I couldn’t find anything about cycling on various forums. If you have any knowledge, tell me whether to rent a bike or is it better to buy and then sell? Or maybe rent at parking places?
    You write that from Can Tho you can get to Con Dao by ferry, but I haven’t found such connections. It’s only from Soc Trang. Can you take a bicycle on this ferry and do you have to pay for it? Are there bicycles on the island itself. Is it true that scooters up to 50 cm do not require a driving license?
    I’m from Poland and I used a translator. Please reply.
    Andrew and Martha.

    1. Tom says:
      January 27, 2023 at 12:38 PM

      Hi Andrzej,

      On the Con Dao Islands, you can rent bikes: some hotels rent bikes. But for the Mekong Delta, it’s probably better to rent a bike in Ho Chi Minh City – you can try Google for some recommendations of places to rent bikes in Ho Chi Minh City.

      The good thing about bikes is that you can transport them on most buses. That means that means that you don’t have to cycle on the busy roads out of Ho CHi Minh City to the Mekong Delta.

      The Superdong boat from Soc Trang to Con Dao allows you to take bikes on board.

      Yes, that’s right: motorbikes with 50cc do not require a driving license.



  23. Jo Letty says:
    January 17, 2023 at 7:57 AM

    Hi Tom,
    I came across your wonderful travel resource having read the Andrew Eames article in The Daily Telegraph in December.
    I would like to visit Bai Tu Long Bay (to try and get away from the many boats in Ha Long Bay) and wondered if you had a boat company that you could recommend that went there?

    I am also looking for an island with good beaches that is not too difficult to get to to finish off our journey before we head back to work in a cold UK.

    I look forward to hearing from you Tom.

    Thank you so much,


    i look forward to hearing from you.

    1. Tom says:
      January 21, 2023 at 6:54 AM

      Hi Jo,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’m afraid that I don’t have any specific recommendations for boat companies in Bai Tu Long Bay. But I do know that it’s worth paying more for boat tours there, because the budget ones are almost always disappointing. You might also consider a boat tour around Lan Ha Bay from Cat Ba Island, because that is also not as busy as Ha Long Bay.

      Also, bear in mind the possible weather conditions – I don’t know what month you are planning to travel, but the north of Vietnam can be surprisingly cold and grey during the winter time. Take a look at my Weather Guide.

      This will also be a consideration when choosing an island to finish your journey – time of year determines which one is best to visit. Take a look at my Islands Archive for some ideas.



  24. Hiten Amin says:
    January 1, 2023 at 8:49 PM

    Hey Tom,

    Thanks for all you do. Just wanted to ask what your interest is in pets and pet-friendly travel locations? We want to travel with our dog but the information is limited but surely there are large numbers of foreigners with pets in Saigon. Would love to see something on that – just my two cents 😉


    1. Tom says:
      January 2, 2023 at 6:40 AM

      Hi Hiten,

      Although I don’t have pets in Vietnam, I had cats for the first 20+ years of my life in the UK. Yes, many expats in Vietnam have pet dogs and cats, and some of them travel with their pets. I’m not particularly interested in writing a post about pet-friendly destinations, but I know that some of my foreign friends in Vietnam travel by train if they want to take their pets with them, and they contact resorts and hotels in advance to check they allow pets on the premises.



  25. Yannick says:
    December 30, 2022 at 11:13 PM

    Hi Tom,

    I’ve read some of your articles on camping and wild camping. Stunning!
    But what I’ve been wondering is, how did you manage your registration with the police department if you did not camp on official camp sites?
    I am a passionate camper and I am planning a motorcylce trip for six weeks starting end of January. On my research I just recently found out about this registration process and I am a little confused.

    Thank you in advance, cheers, Yannick

    1. Tom says:
      January 1, 2023 at 9:15 AM

      Hi Yannick,

      In general, most people who wild camp in Vietnam (Vietnamese and foreigners) do not register in order to camp. This should not be an issue, unless you camp near a national border or other ‘sensitive’ area, such as an military base. The best way to avoid an issues is to choose your campsite carefully so that you are not within easy sight of people, and if there is anyone else around, ask them if they mind you camping for the night. I’ve written advice about choosing your campsite in most of my camping guides. Take a look at this guide and click the links to each specific guide for more details.



  26. Miles Dahl says:
    December 23, 2022 at 12:25 AM

    You mentioned that will publish a book on visiting Vietnam; did this ever Happen? I did not see a link on your site. Please keep up the good work! Thanks – Miles

    1. Tom says:
      December 23, 2022 at 3:35 AM

      Hi Miles,

      No, I’ve not published a book, nor do I intend to. Perhaps someone else mentioned it in a comment. The problem with publishing a book about travelling in Vietnam, is that things change all the time and print can’t be updated or edited once it’s published; whereas, online information can be changed and updated, or readers can write comments with updates at the bottom of my guides and articles. This way the information can be (hopefully) more accurate.



      1. Miles Dahl says:
        December 23, 2022 at 6:37 PM

        Hi Tom,

        Thank you for the speedy response. You are right of course. Change is inevitable. We live inside a very dynamic system. The inputs, processes and outputs change all the time. However, I think you could add inestimable value by publishing a book about history, culture and food with a special emphasis on touring the historical sites. There is no replacement for experience and you have it in Spades. Judging by your web site’s pictures, someone is good with a camera as well. Your web site is the best resource on Vietnam that I have found. My heartfelt congratulations on a job well done!

        You can edit this next section out entirely . . .
        When I lived in Thailand back in the 80’s, I relied on a guidebook (may need to edit out Joe Cummings, Lonely Planet) to get around. There was no Internet and few people spoke English. 35 years later, the names of restaurants and hotels have changed, but the historical sites have not. I still use that that same book. There is a new airport, subway and highways. However, the historical sites, food and language have remained the same. I didn’t need a guide book that explains how to get my bags off the carousel or how to use a subway. My needs included language, history and customs. The maps inside my guidebook were a life saver. Enter the new millennium. One could make the argument that this information as available on line via cell phone. It is if your SIM Card works, the batteries are charged and a WiFi connection is available. I still travel with Joe Cummings whenever I visit Thailand. My two cents worth. I will cease and desist. Excellent job BTW.

        1. Tom says:
          December 25, 2022 at 2:56 AM

          Hi Miles,

          Yes, I also like and have long used guidebooks for travel. For things that stay static they are still a good resource, as are other books that deal with specific aspects of a country or culture. There are plenty of these ‘evergreen’ topics and posts on this website already, such as Flora, Herbs, Book Reviews, Nguyen Dynasty Emperors, ‘Odes‘, Weather and more besides. So for now, I would rather publish these kind of articles on my website rather than a printed book.



  27. Joel Monnikendam says:
    November 27, 2022 at 1:13 PM

    Hi Tom,
    I do have a question, but first of all I would like to take this opportunity to compliment you with, and thank you for, Vietnam Coracle. Very well written, well documented, well informing content which I love to dive into and read and learn from. Being married with a Vietnamese, Vietnam will be part of my future and even though I am still employed in Europe, we take every opportunity to visit Vietnam during my annual leaves. As we have discovered gem destinations ourselfs, your blog confirms our interests and gives valuable in-depth information about what is there to see and to do. Excellent articles indeed!
    Though I do have the following question, or better say suggestion. Some articles I would like to save on my computer as PDFs for later/offline reading purposes. As I normally do on my Macbook with Safari, is using “Print to PDF”. But with your articles the images seem to go blank; it must have to do with some sort of coding. Even though I understand about copyrights and the limitations of using your intellectual property, it would be great if you would add a button with something like “Save as PDF”, linking to a downloadable PDF version of the article. Hopefully you would consider this?
    Thanks so much again for your great work and wishing you all the best and fun exploring and continuing expanding this blog.
    With regards,

    1. Tom says:
      November 29, 2022 at 7:01 PM

      Hi Joel,

      Thanks for your comment and kind words about my site.

      Yes, you should be able to save articles for reading offline, and if the images don’t load, at least you have all the information still. Image files are very large in order for the quality to be good, so that is probably why they don’t work offline.

      We may develop the availability of offline articles more in the future.

      I hope you have fun planning your trip to Vietnam.



  28. Daniel says:
    November 5, 2022 at 3:30 AM

    Hi Tom and the collective,
    awesome to see what you built up! 🙂
    I am cycling from germany to vietnam and I will go to Saigon the next days from cambodia. May be I am not smart enough, but is there a way to download a gpx-file for my gps-device (wanna Do the beach road)? Would be great to hear from You 🙂

    1. Tom says:
      November 7, 2022 at 3:51 AM

      Hi Daniel,

      Yes, that’s a common question: you should be able to open my maps in a new window, then choose the option to ‘download KML’, then you should be able to open that file with gps on your phone. However, the process is different depending on your device and OS, so you might want to google something like ‘how to download KML google maps using (device name)’

      I hope this helps,


  29. neal says:
    September 19, 2022 at 1:59 PM

    Thanks for the content Tom. Do you have any articles or maps around border runs into Laos or Cambodia? Like which land border entry points have visa on arrival so you can hop in and out of Vietnam to reset your 30 days.

    1. Tom says:
      September 20, 2022 at 4:58 AM

      Hi Neal,

      I don’t have any specific articles about border crossings. You could try searching facebook groups like Expats Ho Chi Minh or Vietnam is Awesome for more information about that.



  30. April says:
    July 8, 2022 at 4:49 AM

    Hi Mr. Tom, I love reading your page.

    I plan to do a motorbike trip from Da Lat to Mui Ne then Mui Ne to Nha Trang and lastly Nha Trang back to Da Lat. I’d like to ask what’s the best route from Da Lat to Mui Ne and are there lots of fuel station along the way?

    Thank you.

    1. Tom says:
      July 8, 2022 at 6:06 AM

      Hi April,

      Yes, there are fuel stations at fairly regular intervals on those routes. Just don’t let your tank get too close to empty before trying to find a gas station.

      From Dalat to Mui Ne, the most direct route is QL28B. This is scenic, but some sections of the road can be bumpy.

      The best route for scenery and road conditions is to take DT725 all the way from Dalat until it hits QL28 then take that all the way via Di Linh to Phan Thiet. However, it is a much longer ride.

      From Mui Ne to Nha Trang the coastal route is fantastic by linking the Sand Dune Highway, the Dragons’ Graveyard, and the Nui Chua Coast Road – this is probably the best coastal route anywhere in Vietnam. Don’t miss it.



  31. Tracy Hanlon says:
    June 30, 2022 at 11:13 PM

    Hi Tom, two Canadians will be in Vietnam November, 2022. Fingers crossed. This will be our second time. Thinking of a short bike trip from Hanoi. Saw your maps – car hire to Lang Son City. Rent motorbikes there and ride to Cao Bang and then Ban Gioc loop and back. Is there a better starting point in your opinion? I chose Lang Son as it seems the closet to Hanoi to do this route. What do you think?


    1. Tom says:
      July 1, 2022 at 6:53 AM

      Hi Tracy,

      Yes, Lang Son is closer/easier to get to from Hanoi (you can also to the train there). However, if your purpose is to rent a motorbike and ride to Ban Gioc, I would suggest going straight from Hanoi to Cao Bang by bus and starting there instead. You could try contacting QT Motorbikes, they should have bike rental available in Cao Bang and they might also be able to give some recommendations for good bus lines between Hanoi and Cao Bang.

      In addition, take a lot at my Ban Gioc Waterfall guide and Northeast Routes.



  32. Maikel Lybaert says:
    June 7, 2022 at 12:38 PM


    First of all, big fan of your website! 🙂

    I’m in Vietnam this august and planning to do a (long) trip with the bicycle. I’m still doubting between cycling from HCMC to Hanoi ( the Ho Chi Minh highway or perhaps a mix of the Ho Chi Minh highway combined with the Đường Trường Sơn Đông or partly along the coast) or doing a loop in the Northern mountains.

    From what i read August is not exactly the month with the greatest weather. According to your personal experience, you think it’s at all possible to plan such a trip that time of year? Or is such an attempt only for lunatics…? 🙂 My feeling tells me that most likely the rain will be limited rather to late afternoon showers so it might be fine if i limit my cycling to morning/early afternoon times but safer to check with someone who knows the area better than me…

    If so, do you think one of both options is better suited?

    Finally, currently i’m planning to bring my bike from home with me which is a road race bike but will be fitted with 28mm deeper profile tires to have more grip and avoid having too many flat tires. I’m not very familiar with the quality of roads in Vietnam, however. I’ve been in Phong Nha area already and there the roads seemed fine enough to use a normal bike but that’s of course only one part. Do you think it’s feasible with this kind of bike or should i better search for a decent rental bike locally?

    Sorry for the relatively broad question and thanks again for making such a great resource for travelling in Vietnam!

    Kind Regards

    1. Tom says:
      June 12, 2022 at 1:03 PM

      Hi Maikel,

      Apologies for my slow reply.

      August is not necessarily a ‘bad’ month to travel Vietnam. In fact, during August the weather is similar nationwide: hot, sunny, humid, rainy. Yes, you’re right: it doesn’t rain all the time – generally, there are big but short bursts of heavy rain, however, if a typhoon or tropical depression blows in, then the weather can be bad for a few days. I’ve written more about weather and when/where to go on this page. In addition, in Vietnam you should keep an eye on the satellite map (select the ‘rain & thunder’ setting) on – it is surprisingly accurate.

      If you are an experienced and avid rider then I would suggest bringing your own bike, simply because the routes you are planning are long and challenging (considering the distances, weather conditions and climbs) so you’ll want a bike that you are perfectly happy with: the right (or wrong) bike on a trip like this could be the deciding factor as to whether you’ll love or hate the journey.

      But, taking into consideration the road quality and tyre size is important too. Firstly, you should be aware that road conditions are constantly changing in Vietnam (although in general they change for the better). If you decide to do a big northern loop, there is probably a higher chance of encountering rough road conditions (due to road works, or landslides, or just bad quality) than if you ride HCMC-Hanoi via a combination of the Ho Chi Minh Road and the Truong Son Dong Road. (Always check the comments section at the end of my guides for any road updates that readers have added).

      In addition, heavy rains can cause severe flooding or trigger landslides on mountainous roads. Even so, I don’t think a mountain bike is necessary at all. Just a road bike, hybrid or race with wider tyres.

      Whichever route you decide to take, I would strongly suggest putting your bike on the train or bus to a starting point outside of HCMC or Hanoi, so as to avoid the long, boring and polluted crawl out of these two cities. I’ve suggested some ways on doing that on this page.

      Finally, the section of the Truong Son Dong Road linking Dalat and M’Drak is not finished yet. But the ride is sublime right up until it ends (you can read about that on this page).



  33. Lana says:
    May 18, 2022 at 5:03 PM

    Hi Tom. Very pleased I found your informative and great website. Considering a trip to Vietnam in October starting in Hanoi and possibly finishing in Phu Quoc for some relaxation.
    However I understand the weather may not be so good for beach time. It would be towards the end of October.
    Grateful for your advice

    1. Tom says:
      May 19, 2022 at 1:35 PM

      Hi Lana,

      October sees quite a lot of monsoon rain nationwide, but not all day, everyday. You just need to adjust your expectations accordingly. (Take a look at my Weather Guide for much more about this.)

      October is usually excellent in Hanoi and the northern mountains (although you can still get unlucky with the rain at that time of year).

      Central Vietnam is usually the worst hit by rains and storms during October.

      Southern Vietnam, including the islands, can be mixed – some lovely sunny clear days, but also very windy wet days. Personally, late October is my favourite time to visit the southern islands, such as Phu Quoc, Hon Son, Nam Du and the Pirate Islands: it’s the transitional month between the wet and the dry seasons, so weather conditions are OK and tourist numbers are quite low.

      I hope this helps,


  34. Satya says:
    May 14, 2022 at 2:21 PM

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for your extensive and wonderful Vietnam travel lifestyle content. You have captured the essence of Vietnam better than most travel guides.

    On a lighter note, have you ever been to a cock (rooster) fight yet? I went to one in deep rural Can Tho and in the middle of the fight Police arrived and we all scattered like flies.

    Cheers from NYC


    1. Tom says:
      May 15, 2022 at 6:02 AM

      Thanks, Satya.

      Yes, cock fights are quite common in Vietnam, even in he cities. I’m not sure if it’s the actual cock fighting or the betting (gambling is generally illegal here) that makes the police break them up. Either way, cock fighting is still thriving here.



  35. Kelvin says:
    April 26, 2022 at 12:50 PM

    This is an awesome site! I am glad I found it. I was thinking of making the easy rider motorbike trip soon. I was wondering what do you pack for those motorbike trip. Thanks in advance!

    1. Tom says:
      April 27, 2022 at 11:42 PM

      Hi Kelvin,

      Well, it depends really on what time of year you’re going – see my Weather Guide.

      In general, you need to pack the kind of things you usually would when travelling, but try to be as light as possible because you will have to carry your luggage on your bike.

      It’s always a good idea to bring a rain suit or poncho. A pair of shoes and sandals. A couple of sets of clothes for riding during the day (to get dirty and sweaty), and another two sets of clothes (clean) for the evening. Swim stuff. Sunscreen. Sunglasses etc.

      I hope this helps,


  36. Rick Papa says:
    March 6, 2022 at 4:04 AM

    Greetings from Coos Bay Oregon, USA
    Tom, I very much enjoy your content. I’m looking forward to a return to Vietnam to finish a moto loop I started in the wonderous mountains of the north. May I ask you to point me to a trusted link for play by play information on tourist entry. I ask, fully realizing the flux of such info as the Covid landscape continues to change.
    Thank you, Rick

    1. Tom says:
      March 6, 2022 at 10:51 AM

      Hey Rick,

      At the moment (despite a lot of complications), it does look at those borders will reopen March 15 and visa-free travel will be available for many nationalities for up to a month, without quarantine after the first 24 hours. But of course things could change at any time. I would imagine that real independent travel will resume by April this year.

      I would suggest checking the VNExpress English language site once a day for any updates. But watch out for the word ‘proposal’ because that means the scheme hasn’t actually been implemented yet.

      I hope this helps,


  37. Tony Mylius says:
    December 24, 2021 at 1:36 AM

    Hey Tom,
    Contemplating a group ride out of HCM and down south west corner mid June 2022, the ride you do looks great, we could go it alone but you as our guide might make the trip so much better, do you do guided tours?

    1. Tom says:
      December 24, 2021 at 1:57 AM

      Hi Tony,

      That is a fun ride (at least it is after the initial hour riding out of Saigon’s industrial sprawl). The good thing about that region of the country is that many of the smaller roads are decent paved lanes, so it’s really easy to get off the big highways and find alternative routes.

      Thank you for asking, but I don’t currently do guided tours 🙂



  38. FLOYD UNGER says:
    August 28, 2021 at 1:55 PM

    Hey Tom
    New site is great, same quality but more vibrant. Still waiting to come over,,,,,,,damn covid. Have made a friend in Da Nang, learning so much about the people and culture, what a wonderful treat. They are currently in a hard lock down but I am amazed by the strength and generosity of the people. Good things come from hard times, you just need to be open to it. Karma, karma, karma.
    I am still focused on retiring there just being patient,
    Cheers Tom
    Keep up the excellent work.

    1. Tom says:
      August 28, 2021 at 3:30 PM

      Hi Floyd,

      Thank you, I’m glad to hear you like the new site design.

      Yes, the Covid situation in Vietnam isn’t great right now. Hopefully things will turn around by the beginning of next year, but 2021 is probably out for international travel to Vietnam, except maybe Phu Quoc Island later this year, but we’ll see.

      I hope you’re able to get to Danang sometime soon,


      1. floyd unger says:
        October 14, 2022 at 1:01 AM

        Hello Tom. Was in vietnam this past June, amazing place. trying to relocate there. Loved Danang took an overnight train to Nha Thang. So many adventures. Keep up the good work.

        1. Tom says:
          October 15, 2022 at 3:16 AM

          Hi Floyd,

          Thanks. Great to hear you enjoyed Vietnam so much that you’re planning to relocate!



  39. Rick says:
    January 20, 2021 at 9:33 AM

    Any idea how the recent very wet and stormy rainy season impacted the Truong Son Dong Highway? Are any sections now (January 2021) unpassable because of landslides, etc? I’m particularly curious about road conditions from Thạnh Mỹ to K’bang. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

    1. Tom says:
      January 21, 2021 at 12:46 AM

      Hi Rick,

      Yes, that’s a good question. I’ve been thinking about that too. I haven’t heard anything about sections of the Truong Son Dong Road being closed due to landslides, and the storms were months ago now, so there’s a good chance that any damage there was has now been repaired. But I have no updates from on the ground.


  40. floyd unger says:
    November 7, 2020 at 2:20 AM

    I am 58 years old and hoping to retire in Vietnam, spend half a year there and the other half here in Canada. This covid epidemic has thrown a wrench into my plans. Vietnam has done a great job on handling the spread and keeping everyone safe, do you have any opinion on when the borders might reopen?

    1. Tom says:
      November 7, 2020 at 4:21 AM

      Hi Floyd,

      Unfortunately, no one can make a realistic guess as to when the borders may open again. However, Vietnam is in a better position to do so than most other countries in the world, thanks to it’s successful containment of Covid-19. It’s likely that when flights do start coming in again from around the world, passengers will have to quarantine for at least two weeks.

      I hope this helps,


  41. Alex Wiley says:
    February 3, 2020 at 11:13 PM

    Hi, I think this is a wonderful website, thank you for all the information. I was planing on Biking up the country from HCM to Hanoi, and was wondering if you have any tips regarding whether renting or buying is the best option an what and where would be recommended to buy/rent from? Many thanks, Alex

    1. Tom says:
      February 5, 2020 at 3:44 AM

      Hi Alex,

      Yes, sure, please see this page which explains whether you should rent or buy.

      I hope this helps,


  42. Steve Jory says:
    January 1, 2020 at 5:50 AM

    Chuc mung nam moi Tom,
    Firstly thank you for creating and constantly updating Vietnam Coracle, it has helped me out countless times and whenever any of my mates ask me about riding in VN, I always direct them to your web page. Last year my wife and I on our Yamaha NVX ( as our Nouvo 3 died after 30,000km around mainly Southern VN) done a round trip from Phan Rang up to Buon Ma Thuot then up the HCM Road to Phong Nha then down the coast back to Phan Rang, absolutely amazing memories. This year in May again we want to do a round trip starting and finishing in Phan Rang, but basically the trip will start in Tam Coc (Ninh Binh) I have thought about putting the bike and us on the train to Hanoi but not keen on 30 hours on the train, so it looks like 4 to 5 days riding to get to Tam Coc ( in the past my longest day on the Nouvo was about 440km from Gia Nghia to Chau Doc) If we do about 330 a day we can get to Tam Coc in 4 days. So from Tam Coc the rough plan is to get up to Ban Gioc Waterfall then the Ma Pi Leng Pass to Ha Giang then over to Lao Cai, Sapa. And then make our way back down to Phan Rang, yes I know this is over 4000km (probably closer to 5000km after looking around towns and wrong turns etc…) in probably 3 week. Any tips and suggestions and or alternate routes would be greatly appreciated.
    Cheers Steve & MyMy

    1. Tom says:
      January 2, 2020 at 1:54 PM

      Hi Steve & MyMy,

      Thanks for your kind words about my site – it’s great to hear that it’s been useful to you. And thank you for recommending it to others – that makes a huge difference.

      Personally, I would send the bike from Phan Rang up to Hanoi on the train and just fly yourselves from Cam Ranh (Nha Trang) up to Hanoi then pick your bike up at the station. From there, it’s only 100km or so to Tam Coc. (Of course you’ll need to send your bike at least 2 days prior to your arrival in Hanoi).

      From Tam Coc to Ban Gioc and Ma Pi Leng to Sapa see the following guides: 5 Northeast Loops (you could also use this train to get to the northeast), then High Roads for Cao Bang to Ha Giang, then the Extreme North Loop for the Ma Pi Leng Pass, then the Borders & Back-Roads Loop for Ha Giang to Sapa, then the Y Ty Loop and Sin Ho Loop for Sapa, then the Theatre of Rice route for Mu Cang Chai (or the Northwest Loop if you want to go to that region).

      For the journey back down south don’t miss the Troung Son Dong Road – I’m currently updating my guide, and it’s a must-ride route for any self-respecting rider in Vietnam.

      I hope this helps,


      1. Steve says:
        January 3, 2020 at 10:53 AM

        Cheers Tom,
        Great advise

  43. lior says:
    December 15, 2019 at 11:10 AM

    wonderful website !!!!
    We are 50-year-olds looking for a motorbike (110-150 cc) trip loop in North Vietnam.
    Want to start at COA BANG (2-4 days)
    Is the weather fine in March?
    Do you have a guide recommendation?
    Can I get a contact?
    Thank you

    1. Tom says:
      December 16, 2019 at 5:28 AM

      Hi Iior,

      March is usually OK in the north, but it will probably still be quite cold in the mountains.

      Please take a look at my 5 Northeast Loops for ideas about routes in that area.

      I don’t have contacts for guides as I’m an independent website: I write guides so that other travellers can follow them by themselves.

      You can try contacting QT Motorbikes in Cao Bang.

      I hope this helps,


  44. Gregor Mernyi says:
    August 16, 2019 at 9:22 PM

    Hey there!
    Like many have said before, great site. Your passion really comes across.

    Ill be in Vietnam from august 2 to sept 14 and most likely doing your classic route. Couple of questions:
    1) how long are the rainshowers on average? It seems like i picked the rainiest season to go (poor planning on my part) and i am kinda scared it will single ruin my trip a litte bit. I looked at your weather map and according to that it should get better going north. I guess I’m just looking for validation that it won’t be too bad.

    2) you said the hai van pass isn’t the must beautiful route, which I’ve is in your opinion?

    1. Tom says:
      August 18, 2019 at 6:44 AM

      Hi Gregory,

      Yes, it’s the rainy season all over Vietnam at that time, but that doesn’t mean it rains all the time – in fact, August-September can be one of the best times of year to travel the length of the country. In general you can expect pretty similar conditions nationwide: hot, humid and sunny in the mornings, usually clouding over by lunch and bursts of heavy tropical downpours in the afternoon. It shouldn’t ruin your trip.

      The Hai Van Pass (this this guide) is certainly a nice and scenic route, it’s just not THE BEST road in the country (as it’s often touted to be). See my list of the 25 Greatest Riding Roads in Vietnam. Between Hoi An/Danang and Hue there are several good, scenic options to choose from – take a look at this guide for details.

      I hope this helps,


      1. gregor says:
        August 20, 2019 at 12:54 PM

        this helped a lot! thanks for your fast response, can be easy to reply to everbody

  45. Jake says:
    August 6, 2019 at 2:16 PM

    Hey Tom. I am currently in Pho Chao and wanting to take the QL7A towards the Laos Border. If we loop around onto QL48C does this make for a nice drive. I imagine it does but I guess I’m more concerned with the amount of places to stay that would be available in this region!

    Any help would be appreciated


    1. Tom says:
      August 6, 2019 at 5:25 PM

      Hi Jake,

      Well, yes it does, but I haven’t ridden QL48C for many years so I don’t know what its current condition is like. If you do decide to ride it, I’d really appreciate if you let me know what it’s like.

      There are guest house along QL7A, even towards the Laos border. Back along QL48C I’m not sure of, but Thai Hoa has guest houses, too.


      1. Jake says:
        August 8, 2019 at 3:48 PM

        Hey Tom.

        Thanks for replying so quickly. We rode the QL48C from Cua Rao back to HCM Road, it was a wonderful drive with almost empty roads for the mountainous part of the drive. The condition of the road varied. Around Ben Ve it was poor. But nothing to be too concerned about. Shortly after there it improved drastically, some sections were almost new and the worst parts weren’t so bad at all, just a little bit of patching up is needed.

        Lots of petrol stations along the road but there were no hotels in the mountains. But the distance is easily covered in a day. We made it all the way from Muong Xen to Thanh Hoa in one day.

        Thanks for the website. Really appreciate the effort thats gone into it.



        1. Tom says:
          August 9, 2019 at 7:55 AM

          Hi Jake,

          Thanks for the information. It’s really great to hear you can loop around like that. I’ll definitely ride that way next time I’m in the area.


  46. Emily says:
    June 28, 2019 at 3:35 PM

    Hi Tom,

    What a great site! Thank you so much for all the info.
    I’m after a beach break with no hawkers, no traffic, just scenic beaches, ocean breeze and some relaxed bars. Going at the start of August.
    Is there anywhere you’d recommend at this time please?

    1. Tom says:
      June 30, 2019 at 6:21 AM

      Hi Emily,

      At that particular time of year, I’d suggest Cam Lap, Con Dao, Tam Hai Island and the Quy Nhon.

      I hope this helps,


  47. Nguyễn Trọng Giao says:
    May 12, 2019 at 1:22 AM

    Chào vietnam coracle. Tôi là một người làm trong ngành du lịch . nhận thấy web có nhiều thông tin rất hữu ích. Muốn đóng góp ý kiến nhỏ nhỏ về giá cả mà bên bạn viết trong bài viết thật sự là ko đúng như thực tế. Một suất cơm nấu riêng dao động từ 70-100 k trên vùng núi vì việc vận chuyển đồ ăn rất khó khăn và lượng khách ko thường xuyên cho nên ko thể đồng loạt nấu theo suất và giá ko thể rẻ 20-30k như dưới xuôi dc. Bún và cơm rang từ 30-40 k .
    Về tiền phòng thì bed dao động 50-115 k tùy chất lượng . room từ 230-450 tùy chất lượng.
    Việc suggest giá chuẩn thì khiến khách ko có cảm giác bị chặt chém mỗi khi hỏi giá về đồ ăn thức uống. Thân ái

    1. Tom says:
      May 12, 2019 at 4:11 PM

      Hi Giao,

      Thank you for your feedback 🙂


  48. Dale Chad Stephen says:
    April 20, 2019 at 4:36 PM

    Awesome website. thank you.

    I am looking to do one of the rides up North. But is it possible to rent a bike for the trip if not doing the loop?

    So picking the bike up in one location and dropping off in another.

    1. Tom says:
      April 21, 2019 at 6:46 AM

      Hi Dale,

      It depends on the route. For example, QT Motorbikes might be able to arrange pick up/drop off between Ha Giang and Cao Bang because they have shops in both cities. But many don’t. Generally, picking up and dropping off your bike in different places is fine anywhere between Hanoi and Saigon with the rental companies I recommend on this page, but the northern mountains is usually different. Even so, it’s worth contacting them to ask.

      I hope this helps,


  49. Mike Dunn says:
    March 14, 2019 at 8:36 AM

    Hi Tom,

    Great site. I have been using it a lot as I plan my upcoming trip.

    I am now in Kampot Cambodia and hoping to start a motorbike trip around Vietnam next month. I have been looking for a Vietnam-plated bike Honda Wave or Dream here with no luck, so I am wondering if you would recommend going over the border and getting one in Ha Tien or Chau Doc. If so, can you make any suggestions on how to find a decent used one?


    1. Tom says:
      March 14, 2019 at 9:19 AM

      Hi Mike,

      I don’t really have any good information about that, although I would expect it to be easier to find a bike to buy in Ha Tien than Chau Doc. It might be worth contacting Andy at Oasis Bar in Ha Tien for some advice – if anyone can help you get a bike there, it’s probably Andy.

      Good luck,


      1. Mike Dunn says:
        March 15, 2019 at 10:26 AM

        Thanks Tom,

        Yes I had actually read about Andy on your site and heard about him from other people in PP. I will definitely do that.


  50. Matt says:
    January 12, 2019 at 10:06 AM

    Hey Tom

    My partner met you in Thailand just recently. She mentioned you had spent some time in Vietnam and to check out your page.
    I am amazed by the amount of content you have put together and shared and like many others I am very thankful.
    My partner and I are planning to meet in Vietnam in a few weeks time and explore for three weeks in total.
    I have always dreamed of riding through parts of Vietnam and am very excited to get there. One thing which had put me off was the license and I think on one of the other comments you stated having the money for the fine is an easy solution?
    Also I have had quite a lot of experience riding and in quite a few parts of Asia although my partner has none at all.
    Would you recommend against taking her to the road or just be careful to avoid busy cities and keep day riding distance to a minimum?
    Cheers, Matt

    1. Tom says:
      January 13, 2019 at 5:04 PM

      Hi Matt,

      I don’t think it was me who you met in Thailand – I haven’t been there for years. But anyway, I’m glad you found my site 🙂

      Well, licenses is still sort of a gray area and sort of in flux all the time.

      The reality is that most foreign riders still don’t have a license; and most still get a way with it. The law is that you need an local license, although some (but not all) international motorbike licenses are accepted, and in any case it’s better than nothing,

      The bottom line is: as long as you are not riding in Ha Giang Province or the ocean road between the Red and White sand dunes near Mui Ne, you are still quite unlikely to have any trouble. You might be pulled over by the police, but after brief, polite, smiley conversation, a ‘fine’ of 200,000-400,000vnd (about $10-20) is paid then you can go on your way.

      Since last year, it is now virtually impossible to ride in Ha Giang without a local license. On that sand dune road in Mui Ne, there is an easy way to bypass the police completely – see the first few paragraphs and the red line on the map in this guide for details.

      Also, if you’re renting your motorbike from any of the recommended companies on this page, they should be able to give you some more advice about licenses and the police.

      If you’ve had experience riding in Asia you should be fine and know what to expect to a certain extent. But if your partner has none at all then some of the riding culture will come as a shock and be potentially dangerous. The cities especially can be daunting at first. But if you start your road trip from somewhere other than Saigon and Hanoi (Danang or Phan Thiet/Mui Ne, for example) the roads are much quieter and you can avoid the urban sprawl of the bigger cities.

      I hope this helps,


      1. Matt says:
        January 14, 2019 at 11:18 PM

        Okay maybe she meant she met someone who’s followed the advice of your page hahah.

        That helps a lot and clears up a lot of my concerns.
        I will start to build an itinerary now following your advice and page.
        Really appreciate you taking the time to get back to me.


  51. Petra says:
    January 10, 2019 at 10:44 AM

    Dear Tom,
    got the link to your website last night in a guest house from a traveller, who is fascinated of that.
    I read it at once and found myself in your text: a disappointed traveller who want to leavt the country… But after reading your lines I am really interested in Vietnam again and wanna give it another chance 🙂
    At the moment I am in Phan Rang. My idea is to do a roadtrip (I can drive automatic scooter) to Dalat and back to Saigon. But unfortunately I am alone and it is much more fun with a travel-buddy…
    How can I find a buddy, who wants to do the same? I can try on FB “Vietnam backpackers”. Or take an Easy Rider? How does it work with your service? I just take your links e. g. to rent a bike or accomodation?

    Sunny greetings


    1. Tom says:
      January 10, 2019 at 3:24 PM

      Hi Petra,

      You can try posting in the Vietnam Back Roads Facebook page to find travel buddies. You might meet a few people on bikes on the road, too.

      For supporting my website you can book your accommodation, transportation, or make a donation – more about all of that here.

      For the route between Phan Rang, Dalat, and Saigon there are lots of good roads to choose from. To get an idea of what possible routes there are in that region, try opening my Vietnam Coracle Map and then zooming in on the relevant area, then clicking the green motorbike symbols on the map and follow the links to the motorbike guides for full details.

      You can also choose to send your motorbike back to Saigon from Phan Thiet – that way you don’t have to ride all the way back to Saigon.

      I hope this helps,


  52. Bay says:
    January 2, 2019 at 5:38 PM

    Helloo Tom, I have worked myself up into a foaming ball of excitement perusing your travel guides. Its grand to find a site with such great content. The challenge is picking an adventure.
    I will be meeting 3 other friends in Vietnam from early Feb, having inadvertantly booked our trip coinciding with Tet. They really want to see Hoi An but also do some riding. We have 8-10 days.
    I have been considering the coast road to Hoi An but am wary of spending too long in the saddle getting to places rather than enjoying them. I am curious as to whether your time estimates cover your side trips to places like the Cam lap promotory and the Burnt road etc?
    Other plans rattling about have included catching a train/bus to Phan Thiet or Nha Trang and getting a bike and looping through your multitude of side trips from there over 5ish days then getting transport north to Hoi An and doing the Golden loop from there as well. Too much? OR
    Fly to Hoi An, get a bike, complete the golden loop and meander down the coast getting as far as we do with the remaining time and getting the bikes back to HCMC as a one way rental on the train around the 15th Feb.
    As we will be in HCMC at the start of Tet any sugestions for fireworks spots or good shindigs?
    Thanks for your time, truly appreciate your efforts here. you do an epic job!

    1. Tom says:
      January 3, 2019 at 8:06 AM

      Hi Bay,

      Firstly, you should be aware that Tet is not a great time to travel in Vietnam. The week leading up to it should be OK, but from Tet day for about a week after it the entire country hits the road, many destinations are packed, and many businesses close, including some motorbike rental companies. The dates this year are around 5-15 Feb. Bear this is mind when planning your trip.

      As your time is quite limited, I suggest you start your road trip in Danang or Nha Trang. The Golden Loop is excellent, but the weather may not be ideal at that time of year. You could take the Coast Road route south from Danang/Hoi An to Nha Trang and drop the bikes there. All of the bike rental companies that I recommend here can arrange pick up in Danang and drop off in Nha Trang (assuming they are open during Tet, of course).

      Another possibility is to start from Nha Trang and ride several shorter roads, most of them connecting to each other. For example, Cam Lap, Nui Chua, Dragon’s Graveyard, Burnt Road, River Road.

      I hope this helps,


      1. bay says:
        January 3, 2019 at 1:48 PM

        Cheers Tom, I will throw some beer money in your kitty, and sort our accom and bikes through your links.
        Your guides have been immeasurably helpful and I am truly flabbergasted that you manage to reply to everyone.
        I know Tet is not ideal but thats the way the cookie has crumbled and we just gotta make the best of it. I will be there a week before the others and intend on doing a loop in the mekong from Ha Tien.
        Thankyou again for the recommendations.

        1. Tom says:
          January 4, 2019 at 2:24 AM

          Thanks, Bay. I appreciate that.

          A loop in the Mekong is good fun – try to take as many back-roads as possible. And the western corner, including Ha Tien, is my favourite part of the region.

          Safe travels,


  53. Maciej says:
    December 29, 2018 at 6:18 PM

    Hi Tom,

    Maybe you could help me. I’m planning a trip arount north Vietnam in the second hald of February. Route I’m planning to make looks more less like this: Hanoi-Sapa-Dong Van – Ban Gioc – Ha Long – Hanoi.

    How do you see this trip at this time of the year. Wouldn’t be to cold out there, especially in the mountainous part of Vietnam. Maybe it would be betther to go shouth from Hanoi.

    Would be thankful for your advice.


    1. Tom says:
      December 31, 2018 at 4:14 AM

      Hi Maciej,

      Yes, it will definitely be a bit cold in the northern mountains at that time of year. During those months the best weather is in the south, particularly anywhere south of Nha Trang – see this guide for more information.

      But if you do want to do that northern loop then 3 weeks is OK, but remember that travel takes longer in that area because the roads are so mountainous.

      I hope this helps,


  54. Max says:
    December 3, 2018 at 11:51 AM

    Hello, Tom,

    we plan from 09.01.19 to 16.01.19 a motorbike trip from Saigon, via Mui Ne to Dalat. Possibly also from Dalat to Nah Trang if there is enough time. In order to save time we consider to take the train from Saigon to Mui ne. Or is the route from Saigon to Mui Ne especially recommendable by motorbike? Which part of our route would you call the most beautiful?

    In your opinion, is one week enough for our plans? In Mui Ne I would like to spend 1-2 nights and in Nha Trang only 1. I know both places, so I know what to expect. I do not know Dalat yet and cannot estimate how many nights I should plan. We have no language barriers, because my friend speaks Vietnamese. Therefore they are also suitable for tips outside the tourist paths.

    Is it possible to send the motorbike from Dalat back to Saigon by bus? So that the tour could end there?

    Altogether we are 16 nights in Vietnam and plan the following:

    04.01 – 07.01 Phu Quoc
    07.01 – 09.01 Saigon
    09.01 – 16.01 motorbike trip (Mui Ne, Dalat, Nha Trang maybe)
    16.01 – 19.01 Con Dao

    Do you think our plan is too tightly tacked?

    I’ve been to Vietnam twice, both times much longer. Each time the time went by faster than I thought. But this time I plan to fly all distances. My girlfriend’s never been to Vietnam. Should we therefore plan more time for one of the destinations from your point of view?

    Many greetings Max

    1. Tom says:
      December 4, 2018 at 4:54 AM

      Hi Max,

      Yes, that’s enough time for the road trip. I would recommend taking the train from Saigon to Phan Thiet (Mui Ne) then riding up to Dalat, then down to Nha Trang. From Nha Trang you can send your bike back to Saigon. Try contacting any of the bike rental companies I recommend here. They should be able to arrange for you to collect your motorbike in Phan Thiet and drop it back off in Nha Trang.

      As for the route, from Phan Thiet to Dalat you can take either QL28 or QL28B. However, if you choose to take the latter, be aware of the notorious so-called ‘police trap’ just outside Mui Ne – read the first few paragraphs of this guide to find out where it is and how to avoid it.

      Then from Dalat to Nha Trang, you can take QL27C.

      Each of those rides (Phan Thiet-Dalat and Dalat-Nha Trang) are doable in one day, so that gives you enough time to stay in the places you want to.

      The rest of your itinerary is also doable within your time frame, providing you take flight between all your destinations – Saigon-Phu Quoc, Nha Trang-Saigon, Saigon-Con Dao. All of this is easily done, but you should try to book your flights in advance because you’re on a relatively tight schedule. The only problem you might have is Saigon-Con Dao flights, which are sometimes difficult and expensive to book through the Vietnam Airlines website. All the other flight are operated by Vietnam Airlines and budgets airlines, such as Jetstar, so the flights are frequent and cheap. To get an idea, you can search flights and trains here.

      I hope this helps,


  55. Rob C says:
    November 13, 2018 at 9:54 AM

    Hey Tom!
    I know you’ve heard this many time but really thank you for your blogs, because, even tho my trip to Vietnam isn’t until April next year is already helping so much to understand how many things work, really thanks a lot.
    Now to my question(s)
    it probably sounds crazy (especially compared to most of the people here) but, i would only have 2 weeks to explore as much as i can of Vietnam, i was initially thinking doing the HCM to Hanoi route, but im not sure if thats entirely possible, and if it is… how would you recommend doing it
    If it isn’t
    What would you suggest would be the best way to spend 2 weeks on a motorbike, while exploring as much as possible of this beautiful country.
    Once again, thank you for what you are doing, it is amazing

    1. Tom says:
      November 17, 2018 at 1:42 PM

      Hi Rob,

      If you have experience of motorbiking and you are OK spending lots of time in the saddle each day then you can ride HCM to Hanoi in 2 weeks. Take a look at my 5 Suggested Routes for some more ideas.

      April is a good time of year to ride Vietnam – the weather should be pretty good across the nation. This means that are lots and lots of options for road trips. For example you could do the Ha Giang Loop in the north, or the Golden Loop in central Vietnam, or the Coast Road from the south to the centre.

      I hope this helps get you started,


  56. Ganesh says:
    September 27, 2018 at 6:33 AM

    Hello Tom,

    This is Ganesh from India. Very glad to have come across your website It is mesmerizing to see your blog about vietnam and specially about the ban gioc waterfall..

    We are a team of 5 to 8 people (aged 32 to 36) planning to travel to vietnam and combodia from Nov 1st to 18th 2018. All of us are nature lovers and would like to explore Vietnam in the best possible way with expert opinions like you.

    We do not have much idea on how the weather will be during November and the best places to cover but as much with googling around , we have thought through trying to cover Northern and southern vietnam (couple of places each ) in 9 to 10 days with the following places of interest.

    Vietnam : [in 9-10 days]

    1. Mua Cave and Tom Coc, (Ninh Binh) (1 day)
    2. Halong Bay, (3 days)
    3. Ba Be Lake (1 day )
    4. Bang gioc waterfall & Nguom Ngao Cave, (Cao Bang) (2 days)
    5. Nha Trang (2 days for scuba diving or snorkling)
    6. Mekang Delta.(1 day)

    Clarifications and Help:
    We reach Hanoi airport on 2nd Nov morning. (We can change this to reach Hanoi by 1st Nov morning if its worth to come one day earlier).

    1. Can we possibly start from Hanoi airport directly to ban giac waterfall and stay overnight there and then next day, visit the waterfall and cave and move to ba be lake ? how long will it take by car to reach ban gioc waterfall from hanoi airport through taxi , is it possible or will be very strenuos ?

    2. Is it possible to cover the above mentioned places in 10 days ? Can you suggest any other better places of visit than the above list .Any additions / modifications/ deletions in our list that we can make to make the trip worthwhile?

    Sorry for this very long comment and thanks in advance for your time and help.
    Again to mention, your Vietnam Coracle is just amazing

    1. Tom says:
      September 28, 2018 at 11:26 AM

      Hi Ganesh,

      Your itinerary is fine but it is a lot to do in just 10 days. I recommend getting to Hanoi a day earlier and leaving the Mekong Delta off your list – this gives you two extra days to play with.

      The weather is November is OK, but it might be getting cooler and misty in the north. The central provinces, including Nha Trang usually experience their wettest weather in November.

      You could arrange a car from Hanoi airport to Ban Gioc but it is a long way – about 8 hours. Instead, I would recommend going to Ninh Binh and Halong Bay first – these are easy trips from Hanoi. Then going to Ba Be Lake from Hanoi, then Ban Gioc and back to Hanoi. Then you can fly down to Nha Trang.

      I hope this helps,


  57. Ben says:
    September 17, 2018 at 3:07 PM

    Hi Tom,

    What an amazing site. I’m looking to visit Vietnam next summer for 4 – 5 weeks with my family (wife and 2 boys aged 9 & 11) and plan to travel North to South. I’ve been looking at several sites and books but this one is the most informative and genuine of them all.

    Whilst we plan to visit some of the main attractions and sites, we also like a little bit of adventure and it seems like hiring motorbikes is the best way to get out and about and see the real side of Vietnam. Would you recommend this with young children? Obviously not in Hanoi or Saigon!

    Current plan is Hanoi (inc Bai Tu Long Bay) -> Hoi An & Hue -> Dalat -> Mui Ne -> Phu Quoc -> Saigon

    Any other tips for traveling around Vietnam with kids?


    1. Tom says:
      September 18, 2018 at 2:45 AM

      Hi Ben,

      Yes, you definitely do get to see a side of Vietnam on a motorbike that you never would be any other means (except bicycle). But with young children you’d have to be extremely careful. I think perhaps it would be best to look into riding pillion (you can do this through some of the rental companies I mention here and also look up Easy Riders) in two areas that you’ll be travelling through: Hoi An/Hue and Dalat. At the former you could ride the Hai Van Pass, and at the later there are lots of routes, including the Pine Tree Road or riding out to one of the waterfalls.

      Then, after these experiences riding pillion, you can try renting your own bike on Phu Quoc Island and riding around the beaches – you can read more about that here and here.

      I hope this helps,


  58. Robert Duffy says:
    September 5, 2018 at 2:19 AM

    Wow! Wonderful , information-packed and professionally designed website! I live in Thailand and plan to venture into Vietnam after the rainy season. Thank you for all the hard work you put into this site! Safe travels!

    1. Tom says:
      September 5, 2018 at 4:22 AM

      Thanks, Robert. I’m happy to hear you like my site. And I hope you enjoy your trip to Vietnam.


  59. Richard says:
    August 25, 2018 at 5:39 AM

    In June I got the eight or so hour bus from Hanoi to Ha Giang, from where I did the Extreme North Loop, which I connected to the Pastoral Pathways: The Northeast Motorbike Loop, back to Ha Giang, then the Borders & Back-Roads: Sapa to Ha Giang, and the ‘Sapa-Sin Ho Scenic Motorbike Loop’, then back to Ha Giang.
    For the entire trip (20 days), printed out copies of the routes and descriptions from Vietnam Coracle were all I had to guide me (together with google maps on my phone).
    I was so impressed with the accuracy of the routes and details included! It made the trip so so easy, and thus more enjoyable. The extreme north loop definitely had the most dramatic scenery, but as a result was also the area busiest with other tourists doing the same route.

    Thank you so much Tom for the articles you write!
    (I’m trying to find a similar website for riding in North Thailand, but cant find anything as details or helpful as Vietnam Coracle)

    1. Tom says:
      August 25, 2018 at 12:09 PM

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your comment, it’s really great to hear that you enjoyed your trip and that my guides helped you out along the way.

      I hope you find a similar resource in Thailand – there must be one out there somewhere.


  60. Joshua Sussman says:
    August 12, 2018 at 9:10 AM


    Great site — could I get your opinion on an existential question: guide or no guide? I have a small chunk of time, August 17 – 26th, and have booked a flight to Hanoi. Want to get on a bike and do some exploring. Was in Hoi Ann last year, did a one day ride on a dirt bike — it was awesome: little trials through rice paddies, over the hills, through the dales, etc. Want more of that. Generally I never travel with a guide, but had the impression if I were to try to do that myself, I’d just get lost, fall in a creek, and be eaten by a water buffalo. Haven’t had/wont have the time to do much research, but thinking maybe something along the lines of your High Roads post.

    Have been going back and forth with some guides I found through google, but a bit hesitant to make a commitment over the internet. What do you think — can you get off the main roads and out in the country by yourself? Or is it better to have someone who knows where they are going? If you vote guide, think you need to book ahead? Or could I just show up in Hanoi and find some one? Final question — got any guides/companies you recommend?



    PS. If anyone else is looking at doing something similar in the same time frame, happy to team up.

    1. Tom says:
      August 12, 2018 at 10:09 AM

      Hi Joshua,

      Yes, you can do it on your own, and the High Roads region is a good place to do it – there are lots of enticing dirt paths into the mountains there. But obviously it’s more dangerous to do it alone and without a guide. You’d also need to make sure you have a smart phone with a local SIM and data. Try to get a Viettel SIM because they get best coverage in the mountains.

      However, if you go with a guide they will know all the best off-road routes. You can check out the bike companies I mention here and also Cuong’s Motorbike Adventures.

      I hope this helps,


  61. Sabrena Mackenzie says:
    August 9, 2018 at 3:38 PM

    What a great resource. Thanks for sharing so much great info. I am headed to Vietnam for the first time in September. We are planning to do your harvest route on a motorbike. We also want to visit Ha long Bay, do you have any suggestions for that area I couldn’t find any on your site.

    thanks, Sabrena

    1. Tom says:
      August 10, 2018 at 2:04 AM

      Hi Sabrena,

      Yes, I haven’t written anything about Halong Bay on this site. This is partly because it’s difficult to get away from the crowds in Halong Bay. I would recommend exploring Cat Ba Island and Bai Tu Long Bay.

      I hope this helps,


  62. Guy says:
    July 29, 2018 at 10:05 AM

    Hey Tom, as usual, I’m an avid reader of this blog.
    What I’d like to see is a map with regions, where I can click on and get articles for the selected one. If I’m in a place and don’t know what there is around and don’t even know what to search, this would make a wonderful, helpful addition.


    1. Tom says:
      July 29, 2018 at 10:10 AM

      Hi Guy,

      Thanks for your suggestion. Yes, I totally agree, and I’ve been developing an app which will work just like that. However, it’s a long process – I’ve already been working on it for a year. I don’t know exactly when it will be finished, but I desperately want to do it so I’m putting the hours in.



  63. jack says:
    May 28, 2018 at 7:38 AM

    Hi Tom
    Thank you so much for your informative website its helped us loads.
    We had a month to ride from the south to the north, but we have stayed in places longer than we should of, so we was just wondering, can we get a train an put our bikes on the same train? We was thinking from Hue to Ninh Binh, or just Hue to as far north as the train goes?
    thanks very much jack and desi

    1. Tom says:
      May 28, 2018 at 8:24 AM

      Hi Jack,

      Yes, you can put your bikes on the train, but in the vast majority of cases, your bike will travel on a separate train to you and usually takes between 1-3 days to arrive at its destination. The two exceptions to this are the Saigon-Phan Thiet and the Hanoi-Lao Cai (Sapa) routes. I’ve also written in details about sending your bike on the train here.

      I hope this helps,


      1. jack says:
        May 28, 2018 at 9:39 AM

        thanks for the reply, ok ill check them.
        do you know any other way to get the bikes up but stay with us, as we are on a tight schedule now 🙁 and wouldn’t wanna loose some days waiting for the bikes to arrive?

        1. Tom says:
          May 28, 2018 at 10:07 AM

          Hi Jack,

          You might find that some of the bus companies allow motorbike carriage – it’s a good idea to ask about that at your hotel, they might have some more information about it.


  64. Paulo Hess says:
    April 29, 2018 at 10:21 AM

    Hello Tom,

    We are students currently working 6 months in Hong Kong, and in August, at the end of our training, we want to go to Vietnam for around 10 days for a trip, probably on a motorbike.
    10 days is a very short period of time, and we have no idea wether we should visit south, north or go from south to north with one of the road you advise on your website. There are so many possibilities for only 10 days, and we were wondering if you could give us some recommendations on where to go and what to do for our trip on motorbike.
    Some people told us that for 10 days, we should definitely stay in the north.
    What do you think about this ?
    Thank you in advance for your answer, and bravo for this amazing website you created !

    1. Tom says:
      April 29, 2018 at 12:21 PM

      Hi Paulo,

      10 days isn’t enough time to ride the length of the country, so it’s best to concentrate on a particular area instead. I would suggest a road trip either in the north or central Vietnam. At that time of year the weather will be hot and humid with regular tropical downpours: this can sometimes cause landslides (especially in the north) which can block some of the more mountainous roads for hours or even days. So bear this in mind and try to be as flexible as possible with your itinerary.

      In the north, think about the Ha Giang Extreme North Loop, Borders & Back-Roads, and the two Sapa loops: Y Ty and Sin Ho. You could combine these or do them separately.

      Alternatively, the Golden Loop in central Vietnam is also very scenic and relatively easy to follow and ride compared to some of the northern loops. You can also extend the Golden Loop by continuing on the Ho Chi Minh Road from A Luoi to Khe Sanh and Phong Nha (see sections 4-5 of this guide), and then heading back down the coast on the Tomb Rider route.

      These are all great rides that you can consider for a 10 day road trip to Vietnam.

      I hope this helps,


      1. Paulo Hess says:
        May 1, 2018 at 3:23 PM

        Thank you so much, we think we will do as you advised us on the northern loop, looks really scenic with some nice mountain roads!
        We will buy our motorbikes in Hanoi for the trip, and then sell them back in the end.
        Do you know how much time it takes to buy and sell the bike ? Can it be done in 1 or 2 days? And do you have any adress to give us where we will find some cheap but reliable bikes ?
        Sorry for all these questions, hope it doesn’t take too much of your time.

        Best regards,


        1. Tom says:
          May 1, 2018 at 3:31 PM

          Hi Paulo,

          Yes, about 1 or 2 days. But I would strongly recommend renting instead of buying – it’s much more convenient, reliable, and easier. I’ve written more about it here.


          1. Paulo Hess says:
            May 1, 2018 at 5:45 PM

            Thank you very much for all your help!
            Again, this blog is a goldmine for motorbike trips! 🙂

  65. Hoseung Joun says:
    April 27, 2018 at 8:59 PM

    Hi Tom,

    Will be in VN next week. When passing through between Nha Trang to Vung Tau on previous rides, I saw so many beautiful deserted beaches and wanted to spend time there. What are your thoughts about safety when spending time during the day at one of the deserted beaches along the Coast Road or Ocean Road or other areas further north? I would be alone with just my motorbike, a bit of shade, and some food/drinks bought locally. I think it should be fine but wanted your opinion/experience.

    1. Tom says:
      April 28, 2018 at 2:33 AM

      Hi Joun,

      Yes, you should be fine visiting those beaches on the Coast Road. Just try to leave your motorbike somewhere that you can always see it, or make sure you lock the wheel. When swimming don’t leave your valuables out of sight etc. But I’ve never had any problems with theft on the beaches – that mostly happens on touristy beaches, such as Nha Trang and Mui Ne.

      I hope you enjoy it,


  66. Darran Martindale says:
    April 18, 2018 at 8:16 PM

    Hi Tom
    So me and a friend have finally got dates and tickets and all the skittles in line for a 3 week tour of Vietnam.
    We have settled on the Classic as a route as it seems to cover everything we want to see, with perhaps the exception of the Halong Bay area, but you cant have everything.
    Where can I get detail of the exact route you recommend please. The roads names and or numbers etc.

    Many thanks in advance Daz

    1. Tom says:
      April 19, 2018 at 12:14 AM

      Hi Darran,

      The route map is here. To follow it precisely when you are on the road you can upload the map to on your phone. To do this follow these steps: open this map, click the three vertical dots next to the map title, click the option ‘Export to KML’, then upload the KML file to the app. Then you can follow The Classic route map on your phone when you are offline on the road.

      I hope this helps,


  67. Seb says:
    April 15, 2018 at 1:08 PM

    Hi, my name is Seb and I arrived in Vietnam about 5 days ago and have spent some time in Hanoi, Ha long and the a bit of time in Cat Ba. The weather at the moment is pretty bad, raining a lot and not really sunny. I am think about heading south for some sunshine. Where would you recommend going from Ha Long, I have my own motorbike so anywhere is a possibility. I was talking to a friend and they recommended this page and I can see why, it’s amazing! Keep up the good work. Thanks a lot.

    1. Tom says:
      April 15, 2018 at 4:17 PM

      Hi Seb,

      Sorry to hear that the weather isn’t good at the moment.

      If you’re planning to head south then I would ride due south-west to connect up with the Ho Chi Minh Road somewhere around Cam Thuy, Ngoc Lac or Lam Son, and then follow it down to Phong Nha. You can read more about the Ho Chi Minh Road in this guide (although you’ll have to follow it backwards because it’s written from south to north). Unfortunately, the ride from Cat Ba via Hai Phong and Ninh Binh to get to the Ho Chi Minh Road isn’t that great, but it should only take a day.

      I hope this helps,


  68. Kyubo Kim says:
    March 16, 2018 at 11:34 AM

    My name is Kyubo Kim.
    I reserved your resort through few days ago.
    We scheduled to stay for 2 days from May 25 th to 27 th .
    But due to the change of my flight schedule, I’d like to change the date.
    So I am wondering whether I can change just one day behind schedule from May 26 th to 28 th.

    Actually I checked through, and I understood the fact that I have to charge a fee for change.
    According to this Web site, We have to charge a fee about 140 dollars more.
    I cannot accept excessive fee that more than the original bill.
    Could I get a good way to stay your resort without excessive fee ?

    I look forward to your reply.

    1. Tom says:
      March 17, 2018 at 12:10 AM

      Hi Kyubo,

      I’m sorry to hear about that.

      I do not have a resort – I write independent reviews of resorts, but I have nothing to do with the management or ownership of any accommodations in Vietnam.

      I do not personally oversee reservations that are made through my webiste – it’s all through Agoda. I suggest that you contact the accommodation directly and explain your situation to them. Maybe they can work it out for you. Sometimes with bookings on Agoda there’s a free cancellation policy, but sometimes there’s a charge for cancellation.

      Good luck,


  69. Alice says:
    March 16, 2018 at 1:47 AM

    Tom, thank you thank you thank you for all the knowledge and experience you impart! We are halfway through our HCMC to Hanoi journey in Hoi An for few days and looking ahead to the north.

    I’m thinking of putting our bikes onto the train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, motorbike journeying to Dong Dang and returning to Hanoi by train. These were the two most northern destinations I found on tre Vietnam Train website.

    I have combed through your trip descriptions of the various Northern loops and am wondering what are the highlights we should definitely hit in 7+ days.

    from the road,

    1. Tom says:
      March 17, 2018 at 2:02 PM

      Hi Alice,

      The Ha Giang Loop, Ba Be Lake and Ban Gioc Waterfall are the highlights on that northern loop, unless you also want to add the Sapa-Sin Ho Loop, which is west of Sapa.

      Bear in mind, however, that riding is quite slow in those northern mountains – partly because of winding roads, but partly because of unpredictable road conditions: 7 days is a relatively short time to do it in; but also very doable.

      I hope this helps,


  70. Shazzy UK says:
    January 21, 2018 at 10:59 PM

    Thanks for such a great site! A wonderful find.

    Now, I am trying to plan a trip to Vietnam with my partner where the bulk of our time would be spent at Phu Quoc. My plan was to fly LHR to HCMC – stay there for 2 nights and then fly from there to Phu Quoc. We would spend 10 nights there but wanted to include a trip to Siem Reep. I am unsure as to most cost effective way of doing this i.e. do I book a return flight from LHR to Phu Quoc that includes flights or do I do a round trip flight with hotel to HCHC and book hotel accommodation separately?

    With doing a trip to Siem Reep from Phu Quoc – we thought the easiest way would be to fly there. Could this be done with 1 night’s accommodation?

    I guess trying to figure out what is the best route to do this….should we fly straight to Phu Quoc and then do the tours to HCHC and then from Phu Quoc do a tour to Siem Reep?

    Thanks so much for your advice!

    1. Tom says:
      January 22, 2018 at 10:33 AM

      Hi Shazzy,

      I don’t know if you can flight directly between Phu Quoc and Siem Reap yet, but it’s quite possible you can, so check that out. If not, you can flight easily between Saigon and Siem Reap and Saigon and Phu Quoc. There are regular flights and a few airlines doing it so prices are fairly low.

      I would book your flights separately, and then book your hotels.

      As for which way round to do it: I think it depends if you want to relax by the beach at the beginning or the end of your trip.

      I hope this helps,


  71. Hoseung Joun says:
    January 20, 2018 at 12:33 AM

    Hi Tom,

    I’m an Asian-American from New York and I’ve done several motorbike trips (Saigon to Nha Trang, Dalata, Bao Loc, and points in between) with my VN girlfriend before I stumbled onto your site a few years ago! And you described them well – exactly as I had experienced them. During those rides I dreamed of camping and stopping for extended stays at remote beaches and mountain lakes that we passed but I never had enough time to do so. I finally have the opportunity now and plan to move to VN for 5-6 months (maybe longer!) this Spring to explore business opportunities, property, and of course, take long bike trips!

    Besides the train, are there any bus companies that can ship my bike to Danang or even to Hanoi? Or back to Saigon? I’d rather do a one-way trip combined with a flight. I’ve shipped the bike from Nha Trang back to Saigon a couple of times already in the past but not sure if other cities are possible (girlfriend made it seem there were no other cities a few years ago).

    Oh, and the reason I ask is that I’m on my own now. Please keep up the great work. I share exactly the same fondness for Vietnam that you do. Despite having traveled to many places around the world, my favorite is always Vietnam.


    1. Tom says:
      January 20, 2018 at 6:58 AM

      Hi Hoseung,

      I think there are some bus companies that allow you to ship your bike on certain routes. But the train is pretty easy and convenient and you can ship the bike between most major cities along the main line between Saigon and Hanoi. I’ve written a guide about sending your bike by train here.

      However, there’s no need to ship your bike back to your departure point because lots of motorbike rental companies now offer one-way rental: you pick the bike up somewhere and return it somewhere else. Check the recommended rental companies at the bottom of all my pages for more details.

      I hope this helps,


  72. Anna Janssen says:
    January 6, 2018 at 11:20 AM

    Hey Tom,

    First of all, your blog is absolutely amazing. Thank you, thank you!
    I am going to endeavour to use Agoda where possible for accommodation so I can throw your name in 🙂

    My BF and I are riding from South to North in May and we’ve got 4 weeks. Below is the places that I’d ideally love to stop at, and I’m just wondering if there would be any logistical issues or timing issues. I understand it may be a bit of a stretch to include all of Sapa and Ban Gioc Falls and Halong/Cat Ba, and I’m also not sure where would would start / end from there. Anyway, heres a list of where we’d like to stop.

    6th of May: Arrive in HCM
    Mui Ne
    Ghenh Da Dia
    Quy Nhonh
    Hoi An
    Phong Nha
    Nihn Binh
    Cat Ba or Halong Bay cruise
    Sapa (arriving here either around the 22nd of May or 28th of May)
    Ban Gioc
    3rd June Fly from Hanoi to HCM to fly back to Aus

    If we were to place our bike on a train for an aspect of it to save some time, which would be the recommended part to do this for (I guess in regards to landscape that we wouldn’t be missing out on!)

    Any info is greatly appreciated!


    1. Anna Janssen says:
      January 7, 2018 at 4:29 AM

      Oops. Instead of Cat Ba I meant Bai Tu Long. Think I’d prefer that instead of Halong Bay as it seems quieter .

    2. Tom says:
      January 7, 2018 at 12:30 PM

      Hi Anna,

      May is a pretty good time of year to travel south to north – the weather should be fairly similar across the country: hot, humid and sunny with regular tropical downpours.

      Yes, it probably will be a stretch to fit all that into 4 weeks. I think you should take it as it comes and make decisions about the north (Sapa, Ban Gioc, Halong) as you get closer to Hanoi. For example, by the time you get to Phong Nha you will have a much better idea about how far you can/want to travel in a day on your motorbike, and, based on that, whether you want/have time to go to the far north. Because you will be on motorbikes, this gives you the flexibility and freedom to change your plans as you go.

      Between Saigon and Hanoi it looks like you will be following the Beach Bum route. This is 2,050km long which means if you keep an average daily distance of between 100-150km you will be able to comfortably complete it in 15-20 days, depending on how many places you stop at for more than one night. This would leave you about 10 days to travel the northern destinations.

      I think you need to cut out at least one of your northern destinations. Ban Gioc Waterfall is very beautiful, but it is a long way to go just for one sight. Sapa town is very touristy, but there are some great motorbike loops starting and ending from the town – see this and this. Also, you can put your bikes on the train from Hanoi to Sapa and Sapa to Hanoi (your bike travels on the same train as you do, so it’s very convenient). The problem with Halong Bay in general (whichever part you choose to visit), it that the ride there is not very nice. It’s probably a better idea to take a tour from Hanoi for a couple of nights to Halong Bay instead of riding there yourself.

      Thanks for trying to book your accommodation through the Agoda links on my site, I really appreciate it.

      I hope this helps,


  73. Mario Preston says:
    December 11, 2017 at 7:04 AM

    Only have one thing to say about your website: “AWESOME”.
    Actually one more thing: thanks for all this load of informations which help me so much in organizing my trips.

    1. Tom says:
      December 11, 2017 at 7:58 AM

      Thanks, Mario! 🙂

  74. Daaw says:
    December 4, 2017 at 7:16 PM

    Hey ! Love your website, it’s very helpful ! Do you have any recommendations for camping in North Vietnam? I’m planning on doing the Ha Giang 3 day motorcycle loop (Ha Giang / yen minh / dong van or meo vac/ Ha Giang)
    I have all my all camping gear ! Trying to achieve some seclusion.

    1. Tom says:
      December 5, 2017 at 12:46 AM

      Hi Daaw,

      I was just in that region and although I didn’t see any dedicated camping grounds, there were plenty of places that would have been suitable for camping. Especially on the smaller roads. But there’s not much tree cover and it’s quite densely farmed. Try the pine forests at the top of the pass before descending into Yen Minh, or between Meo Vac and Khau Vai, or between Mau Due and Du Gia (see my Ha Giang Map). But make sure you are discreet because those areas are border territory are authorities can be particularly sensitive about foreigners being near the borders. Remember that it will be quite cold at nights at this time of year.

      I hope this helps,


  75. Israel Aharon says:
    December 1, 2017 at 11:33 AM

    Hello Tom,
    In one word your site is wonderful. In three words it is extremely wonderful and helpful Thank you so much for taking the time to write this wealth of information written so well and in so much detail. Incredible!!!
    We know what it takes to write on the go as we travel the world with our Landcruiser for the last 4 years. Unfortunately, our car has a right hand wheel which is not allowed in Vietnam but fortunately this gives us a new opportunity – to travel on a motor bike
    ABOUT US: Couple with 130 years of combined life experience (hahaha). I 85 kg and 184 cm and my wife 65kg and 168cm. Zero riding experience not even as a back rider. I am left leg amputee above the knee. My wife is rushing now to get her licence up to 125cc.
    PLAN: Arriving at Ho Chi Minh at 20/12/2017. Travel for 7 weeks and return the motorbike at Hanoi.
    1.Which automatic or semi-automatic bike would you recommend? What company in Ho Chi Minh would you recommend so we can return the bike in Hanoi.
    2. Bothers me how could be the sitting in the back with my prosthesis? Do you have any experience on this issue? Should I tie the prosthesis shoe to the leg support so it will not slip?
    3. Considering our lack of experience any comment about riding the first time in Vietnam?
    4.Given the time frame and the riding capabilities (which i guess will improve over time) which route would you recommend among the 5 mentioned (we are more interested in scenery,local culture and cities highlights and less in beaches)
    Best Regards,
    Tamar and Israel
    *I posted the same questions about an hour ago but the entire post disappeared so I wrote i again. If for some reason it will appear twice my apologies.

    1. Tom says:
      December 3, 2017 at 4:14 PM

      Hi Israel,

      With 7 weeks on the road you should have plenty of time to get used to riding a motorbike in Vietnam. However, you should be extremely careful on the roads, especially in big cities. Unfortunately, by far the busiest part of any north-south route is leaving Hanoi. But after the first day, the traffic will be much lighter and you should start to feel more and more confident and comfortable on the roads.

      It terms of weight, the bike should be able to handle it fine, as long as it’s in good condition. Automatics are easier to ride for a first timer because there are no gears and no foot brake. But if you are used to driving a manual car then perhaps you will feel more at home with a manual motorbike. Take a look at the recommended and trusted bike rental companies listed in the right sidebar and bottom of this page (and every page of my website). Try contacting any of them – Flamingo, Dragon Bikes, Tigit, Rent a Bike and looking at the kind of bikes they have. You can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me.

      Age shouldn’t be a problem either – my parents are in their 70s and they come on road trips with me every year. But again, don’t underestimate the danger of Vietnam’s roads – take it very slowly and carefully. You might feel quite vulnerable for the first couple of days, but providing you stay safe, you will start feeling much better after that.

      Riding pillion with a prosthetic leg could be an issue, but I’m sure you are used to making adjustments for specific situations. You might be interested to watch a recent BBC program about a group of physically challenged people riding and driving across Vietnam – you can watch it here.

      I think if you are not interested in beaches and you are first time riders you should consider the Uncle Ho’s Road route, and maybe combine it with the Classic and the Easy Rider routes once you are south of Hue for some variety. This is because these routes are relatively easy to follow and spend most of the time on the Ho Chi Minh Road which is generally less busy.

      Remember that December/January can be quite cold and bleak in many areas from Hue to Hanoi. South of Nha Trang the weather should be good at that time of year.

      I hope this helps,


      1. Israel Aharon says:
        December 4, 2017 at 12:47 PM

        Hi Tom,
        Thank you so much for your prompt and detailed response. We also donated
        with great pleasure to support your project which helps so much to plan a trip in Vietnam.
        Israel and Tamar

        1. Tom says:
          December 4, 2017 at 1:41 PM

          Hi Israel & Tamar,

          Thank you very much for your donation, I really appreciate it.

          I hope you enjoy planning your Vietnam trip.


  76. Clair s says:
    November 20, 2017 at 5:20 AM

    Hi Tom, your website makes for fabulous reading, helpful insights and practical information.
    Our family of four are getting very excited about a 5 week trip late Dec and all of january. We come from western australia – so we know good beaches and while we will explore a few in Vietnam we are keen to experience scenery we don’t get to see a lot of. We’ve got Cat Tien, Da lat, and Phong Nha-ke bang on the list but is it still worth making time for the north – Sapa etc., perhaps even Ha Giang in mid january given the weather? Don’t mind the cold more concerned about visibility etc.,
    Also – do you know if many/any families use the motor cycle services (easy riders etc.) with children – would so love to experience a day trip in this way.

    1. Tom says:
      November 21, 2017 at 12:23 AM

      Hi Clair,

      It’s difficult to say with any certainty – the north is very scenic indeed, but visibility year round (not just the winter) is a problem, especially in places like Sapa. But yes, December/January would definitely be a bit cold.

      I would recommend Ha Giang over Sapa anyway. In particular, riding or driving the Extreme North Loop. I suggest you contact QT Motorbikes and ask them for more information about weather at that time of year and the possibility of riding pillion as a family – they are an excellent company and should be able to assist you.

      In Dalat, the Easy Riders specialize in taking passengers on the backs of motorbikes all around the country. I’m sure it’s possible as a family too. But you’d need to Google around a bit to find out which ‘Easy Rider’ company to go with, as there are now quite a few competing ones. Another possibility might be contacting Tigit Motorbikes because I think they’ve started to do pillion tours too.

      I hope this helps,


  77. Tim (Sydney) says:
    November 12, 2017 at 11:21 AM

    Hey Tom, a really well put together website. Thanks for the great effort. I’ll be in HCMC for a month, 15 Nov-14 Dec. Partly to dance Argentine Tango, (there is a small tango event there on the 24th-27th or thereabouts.) and the rest is just to get to know a little of the culture.
    I’m really going to enjoy your food recommendations, and get into a bit of yoga and taichi, if I find a good teacher. After that I’ve got a couple of weeks to travel.
    Motorbike sounds good, (The Classic) but what could you recommend re, second hand or rentals. I read some of some shonky goings-on with the rentals.
    And I’d be happy to buy you a beer while I’m there!
    cheers Tim

    1. Tom says:
      November 13, 2017 at 1:02 AM

      Hi Tim,

      Sounds like an interesting time in HCMC in prospect!

      For bike rental I recommend using one of the trusted companies listed in the right sidebar and bottom of this page (and every page) of my website. Flamingo, Dragon Bikes, Tigit, Rent a Bike are all good, reliable companies. You can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me. It’s much better renting from these companies than randomly buying or renting from someone in the backpacker area of Saigon, because you never know what the quality of the bike will be.

      I’d love to have a beer, but as I move around a lot, I’m never sure where I’ll be from one week to the next.

      I hope this helps,


  78. Simone says:
    November 8, 2017 at 8:12 AM

    Amazing website! Very inspirational, I am putting together a solotrip on motorbike and everything here is very helpfull and makes me want to go NOW!!!

    1. Tom says:
      November 8, 2017 at 9:02 AM

      Hi Simone,

      Good to hear that you will be doing a solo road trip in Vietnam soon and that my site is whetting your appetite.

      I hope you enjoy the ride,


  79. Jill says:
    November 5, 2017 at 8:43 PM

    Hi Tom, your site is amazing, and much appreciated! I have booked my hotels via your Agoda link. We plan to spend Jan 9-12,2018 on Phu Quoc, and are trying to decide on Dong Duong vs. Ganh Dau (Peppercorn Beach Resort) vs Ong Lang. We are a family of mom, dad and 2 college age sons, and looking for a mix of exploring town/food and relaxing the beach (prefer quieter less crowded beaches….). What would you recommend–is the Peppercorn too isolated? Is Dong Duong too busy?



    1. Tom says:
      November 6, 2017 at 12:48 AM

      Hi Jill,

      Thank you for booking through my site, I really appreciate it.

      I think Ong Lang might suit you best. This is because Peppercorn is probably just a bit too isolated, and Dong Duong (Long Beach) is probably a bit too busy. But at Ong Lang, which is in the middle of Peppercorn and Dong Duong, the beach is quiet but you are only a 10 minute taxi ride away from Dong Duong town, and a 15-20 ride away from Ganh Dau. Also, Ong Lang has a small community of resorts and restaurants so you’re not too isolated.

      I hope this helps,


  80. liz says:
    October 13, 2017 at 4:40 AM

    I have a Vietnamese motorbike license and would like to rent a bike while I am in Dalat. Can you recommend a company in Dalat that does daily rentals? Thanks for a great blog! Liz

    1. Tom says:
      October 14, 2017 at 2:45 AM

      Hi Liz,

      I can’t recommend a specific bike rental company in Dalat but it shouldn’t be hard to find a bike to rent there – you could start by inquiring at your accommodation in Dalat or perhaps try contacting Phat Tire Ventures.

      If you do find a specific rental company, please let me know.


  81. derek woodhead says:
    October 12, 2017 at 11:28 AM

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for your previous advice.

    My wife and I are UK citizens travelling to Vietnam for 11 days as tourists on 25th October 2017 (we will be flying in from China which we are first visiting).

    Could you please advise us if we need a tourist visa for Vietnam ?

    (Our understanding from the UK Foreign Office is that we do not as there is an exemption ; however the Vietnam Govt website says we do and makes no mention of an exemption, and I can’t get hold of them on their London embassy phone no)

    Many thanks

    1. Tom says:
      October 12, 2017 at 3:30 PM

      Hi Derek,

      I think UK citizens are exempt for stays of 15 days or less, but visa regulations change regularly so it’s very difficult to keep abreast of them. I therefore can’t say with any certainty. You should try to check with an embassy or consulate in China before you arrive in Vietnam, and consult as many sources as possible.


  82. Derek Woodhead says:
    September 30, 2017 at 8:54 PM

    Hi Tom,

    Many thanks for your prompt and helpful reply.

    Could you please let us know during the last week of October ; is there a prevailing direction of onshore wind on the island ?

    Also, does this wind normally get strong and create choppy seas ? (if so we would prefer a more sheltered beach)

    Many thanks,


    1. Tom says:
      October 1, 2017 at 12:33 AM

      Hi Derek,

      I’m not certain about wind direction. October is the tail end of the rainy season – still low season on Phu Quoc – so you may find that the winds are still strong. Sao will probably be more sheltered at that time of year.


  83. Derek Woodhead says:
    September 29, 2017 at 6:51 PM

    Hi Tom,
    Well done on your website – really good information !
    6 of us from UK are going to Phu Quoc for 10 days on 26th October, mainly to relax, snorkel and explore the island.
    Are there any beaches which are good for snorkelling from?
    We would like to stay at a beach side hotel for 5 days and then (for change of scenery) another beach location for 5 days. Are there any beaches / hotels you might recommend (mid range price) ?
    Many thanks
    Derek Woodhead

    1. Tom says:
      September 30, 2017 at 12:21 AM

      Hi Derek,

      Snorkeling is not bad on Ganh Dau beach and Vung Bau beach. But you can also easily arrange snorkeling trips on a boat from your accommodation – there are a few tiny islets and reefs that can easily be reached by boat.

      So perhaps spend 5 of nights on Ganh Dau and the other 5 on Vung Bau or Ong Lang. I’ve included some of my picks for accommodation on those beaches in my Phu Quoc Beaches Guide – take a look and see if you like any of them.

      If you’re planning to book your accommodation online, please consider doing it through my website – more info about that here.

      Thanks and I hope this helps,


  84. Josie says:
    September 19, 2017 at 11:42 AM


    Wow just found your site and am blown away by your love for Vietnam and the resulting details. I was so impressed at your generosity I also made a small donation.

    I am having my first holiday adventure and break away from raising children alone in TEN years…. so am SO excited and thrilled to have chosen Vietnam. The only barrier is my trip is only ten days.

    I love the beauty of the natural lands and water ways and would like to just absorb village life as well as spend a few days in a lovely beach side resort style place…. not much of a city girl and def do not want to visit any war sites out of respect.

    Was wondering what itinerary you could recommend that would take in all of this outside Ho Chin Minh (where I land and depart) up to Ho An . I would like to be in Ho An for the lantern festival on the 4 and then probably fly back for my flight on the 6th.

    Any light you can shed would be appreciated!

    Also because of diabetes I cant eat sugar and see that so much of the food contains sugar… do you know any meals that definitely dont contain sugar?

    Kind regards

    1. Tom says:
      September 20, 2017 at 1:30 PM

      Hi Josie,

      Yes, there is a lot of sugar in many Vietnamese dishes, so this might be a problem. ‘không đường’ means ‘no sugar’, but you should also find out how to stay ‘diabetes’ in Vietnamese too. In hotels etc it shouldn’t be hard for them to deal with this, but with street food you might find it more difficult.

      There are many places to visit along the coast between Saigon and Hoi An: the popular destinations from south to north are Mui Ne and Nha Trang. These are good places and easy for transport. But if you want something a little less touristy, try Ho Tram, Cam Lap, and Quy Nhon, which are all lovely.

      I hope this helps get you started planning an itinerary.


  85. Emma says:
    September 12, 2017 at 11:34 AM

    Great website!

    Can you recommend any reputable companies in HCMC that offer motorbike tours? I’ve never ridden before and want to make sure I’m in safe hands! So I will be sitting in the pillion seat.

    Would very much like to do the HCMC to Dalat tour – is it best in 3 or 4 days?


    1. Tom says:
      September 13, 2017 at 12:24 AM

      Hi Emma,

      You could try contacting Flamingo Travel or even Vespa Adventures – I think they would both be able to organize a tailored road trip to Dalat.

      I hope this helps,


  86. Adam Mitchell says:
    September 12, 2017 at 1:37 AM

    Firstly, this site is a wealth of knowledge. Thank you!
    I am trying to get a last minute Typhoid shot but it is pretty difficult and expensive in the US. Any experience getting vaccines or malaria meds in Saigon?
    Also, I love the bike box. Any suggestions on a bigger one or saddle bag style ones? I would like to lock my stuff up but since there will be 2 of us I think one box will be a bit small. Cheers!

    1. Tom says:
      September 12, 2017 at 1:45 AM

      Hi Adam,

      Yes, I’m sure you could get the typhoid shot in Saigon, but you’d do it through an international hospital so it might work out fairly expensive anyway. Try contacting Victoria Healthcare in Saigon and asking them – I’ve had good experiences with them.

      GIVI has an office in Saigon and they can fix back and side boxes to your bike if you want. The address is 480 Nguyen Chi Thanh Street, District 10. Also many of the rental places offer some kind of saddle bags or boxes or racks.

      I hope this helps,


  87. Kieran says:
    September 6, 2017 at 7:23 AM

    Hi Tom,
    Awesome website! Thanks so much for putting up all of this info. I have literally been reading for hours now 🙂

    I was hoping for some advice. Me and about 5 mates are looking at doing a bit of a road trip in Jan for about a week of riding.

    We are thinking of riding from HCMC to Nha Trang and back. Taking the Coast there and then going via Dalat on the way back using the ‘back ways’. We have all ridden motorbikes previously (In Australia) but none of us in Vietnam. Is this achievable? too ambitious? would there be something better to see during this time?

    Also is there anywhere where you could recommend are a must see along this route? As we are only there for a short time I don’t think that budget will be a problem, just time!

    1. Tom says:
      September 6, 2017 at 9:30 AM

      Hi Kieran,

      Yes, that route should be fine for a week of riding. I’ve written up the separate sections of coast road between HCMC and Nha Trang in detail so check out the following guides for places to see, stay and do along the way:

      The Ocean Road: Saigon-Mui Ne
      The Sand Dune Highway: Mui Ne to Ca Na
      Dragon’s Graveyard: Ca Na-Phan Rang
      Nui Chua Coast Road: Phan Rang-Cam Ranh

      For more on Cam Ranh see this.

      I hope this helps,


  88. Aaron says:
    July 27, 2017 at 9:42 PM

    Hi Tom, glad i stumbled across your site!

    Right back to basis. Me and a friend or two are looking at dong a motorbiking tour likely mid 2018. Apologies if you have addressed this elsewhere else, but what is required in the way of a motorbike license? I hear you don’t NEED one, but if we’re involved in an accident there could be trouble. Plus no insurance. Can you expand on this or confirm? We definitely want a license for insurance purposes but unsure how to get this from New Zealand? Thanks heaps.

    1. Tom says:
      July 28, 2017 at 9:37 AM

      Hi Aaron,

      Yes, a license is legally required, but in reality most foreigners riding motorbikes in Vietnam do not have one. However, the traffic police are getting stricter these days. In general, if you get stopped you will just have to pay a regular ‘fine’ (bribe) of around $10-$20. But in some rare cases, and in some ‘hotspots’, the police may impound your bike. Also, no travel insurance will cover you without a license.

      I think it is the case now that international driving licenses are accepted (you can apply for this in your home country). You can also convert your driving license from your home country to a Vietnamese license fairly easily in Saigon. However, the process usually takes at least a few days.

      I’m not sure if it’s possible to do all this from abroad. You’re best bet is to contact some of the reputable motorbike rental companies here in Vietnam (who you should be contacting anyway to get your motorbike) and asking them for more details on the license situation. Try contacting Rent a Bike Vietnam, Tigit Motorbikes, Style Motorbikes, and Flamingo – they are all reliable companies. There are links to all of them in the right sidebar and bottom of all my pages. You can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me.

      I hope this helps,


  89. Mahtab Chhapkhanawala says:
    June 30, 2017 at 6:34 AM

    Hi, So we coming for a wedding to Vietnam in Hoi An to a beach resort Sunrise Premium on the 23rd of Feb 2018. Few of us want to branch out after that and do a biking tour. Can you suggest what would be a good option to go from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh. We love the mountains ,quite small villages and towns and the beaches and have approx 6 days to spare.
    Since we first landing at Hanoi and taking the Halong bay cruise before the wedding thats why we wanted to go towards Ho chi Minh.
    Also if few do not ride is hiring cars an option. Do you have a link to your on your page so that we could give you that business.
    Also Qudos on writing this Blog, its great and so informative.

    1. Tom says:
      June 30, 2017 at 1:57 PM

      Hi Mahtab,

      Great to hear you will be coming to Vietnam next year.

      From Hoi An down to Ho Chi Minh I would suggest going inland (west) from Hoi An into the mountains on road QL14B to Thanh My. Then turning south on the Ho Chi Minh Road (AH17) all the way to Pleiku (see sections 2 and 3 of this guide for details). Then head back to the coast (due east) on road QL19 to Quy Nhon. From here turn south on Highway QL1A along the coast to Chi Thanh before joining smaller coast roads all the way to Dai Lanh Beach and rejoining Highway QL1A to Nha Trang. Then follow the Ocean Road all the way back to Ho Chi Minh City (for a map and links to more information about the coastal roads between Quy Nhon and Ho Chi Minh take a look at the map in my Beach Bum route and click the map links to my relevant guides).

      I’m not sure if foreigners are allowed to drive rental cars in Vietnam yet – you can check with the rental companies. If you’re planning to go by motorbike then Tigit Motorbikes, Rent a Bike Vietnam, and Style Motorbikes all have shops in Danang (next to Hoi An): you can rent bikes from any of them and give them back in Ho Chi Minh. There are links to all three rental companies in the right sidebar and bottom of all my pages. You can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me.

      I hope this helps,


  90. Brian says:
    June 27, 2017 at 6:18 AM

    Hi Tom,

    I just wanted to start by thanking you for this unbelievably fantastic resource. I just had a couple of questions – a friend and I will be spending November and December motorbiking Vietnam and would like to start by flying into Hanoi, doing the Ha Giang Extreme loop, then onto the Northeast Pastoral loop, before heading back to Hanoi and then down south along your “The Big One” route. We decided given the weather it makes more sense to go from North to South. We are also likely to use your advice and go with tiggit motorcycles so we can ensure the bikes we used have been maintained. My first question is:

    1) how should we get from Hanoi to Ha Giang? Should we use the bikes we get from tiggit and ride up, or just rent bikes for Ha Giand and Northeast loops and then pickup the tiggit bikes when we get back to Hanoi to head south?

    2) Your “the big one” route is written assuming th eraser is traveling south to north, I assume it would be easy enough to do the same ride from north to south?

    Thanks in advance and if you have any other suggestions we’d greatly appreciate it!

    1. Tom says:
      June 27, 2017 at 6:32 AM

      Hi Brian,

      Yes, I think it makes sense to ride north to south at that time of year. There’s no problem riding The Big One ‘backwards’.

      I think you should rent your bikes from Tigit in Hanoi and ride them to Ha Giang and do the full loop, via the Northeast, back to Hanoi, because if you rent from Ha Giang you’ll have to return the bike back to Ha Giang after. Tigit may be able to transport your bikes from Hanoi to Ha Giang (for a fee, of course), but that would be well worth it. Any option might be to put your Tigit bike on the night bus from Hanoi to Ha Giang – however, I’ve never done this myself; other readers have mentioned it in the past.

      Please note that road conditions on the Northeast Loop are notoriously unpredictable: you should bear this in mind when estimating time etc. In particularly, there have been very bad reports about the road along the Chinese border behind Ban Gioc waterfall – it’s best to avoid it. I will be riding the north for 2 months this autumn so look out for updates on my site for all those routes.

      I hope this helps,


  91. Dawn says:
    May 12, 2017 at 8:40 PM

    Your site and writing are superb and inspiring! Just as I have a question you seem to answer it or provide new ideas. It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve been to Vietnam and I plan to visit in August (hot and wet I know). I will be spending a good portion of the time in and around Hanoi and the north (per your suggestions). I was hoping to have a few solid days of beach R&R. Phu Quoc is unlikely but I thought I’d monitor the weather just in case it provides a few clear days. What would be your top beach recommendations for end of August? Binh dinh is what I gathered from your site—is it accessible from Hoi An? I’m in love with Mango Bay on Phu Quoc and am hoping to find something similar (fingers crossed more affordable;).

    If you can spare a moment to add or confirm, I’d greatly appreciate it. Thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge with the world!


    1. Tom says:
      May 13, 2017 at 1:55 PM

      Hi Dawn,

      Yes, Quy Nhon would be a good option, or just stay on Cua Dai or An Bang beach near Hoi An. There are plenty of places to stay on the beach near Hoi An. On the beaches south of Quy Nhon there isn’t as much choice but it’s a wonderful area. I’ve written briefly about it here. You can reach Quy Nhon by bus or train from Hoi An pretty easily.

      You might also consider Cam Lap Promontory, just south of Nha Trang – it’s a superb beach area.

      I hope this helps,


  92. willem says:
    April 19, 2017 at 8:04 PM

    Hi ,

    Great and helpful site for my up coming trip to Vietnam .
    What month did you ride the Ha Giang Extreme North Motorbike Loop , weather looks good clear sky,s , but yellow rice terraces , i would like to visit them when the terraces are green .

    Thx , Willem

    1. Tom says:
      April 20, 2017 at 12:29 AM

      Hi Willem,

      The rice terraces should be green before September as this is nearly harvest time. Go in the spring or summer months for green rice terraces.

      I hope this helps,


  93. andrew says:
    April 18, 2017 at 2:01 PM

    Hey mate. I’ve previously traveled around SE on my own bike using a carnet, however never made it into Vietnam.

    Either way, I’ve managed to get some time off so with almost zero planning I’m flying into HCMC very early this Saturday, and back out on Sunday, 8 days later. My plan is to rent a dirt bike for the entire time.

    From what i can see my options are either fly directly up to Hanoi and do a loop north of there, perhaps along your northeast or extreme north trails, or do some sort of loop that starts and finishes in HCMC.

    What would you do? To give you an idea of what I am after, I’m pretty keen to get off the beaten track, without the hassle of getting covered in mud each day.

    Thanks Legend.

    1. Tom says:
      April 19, 2017 at 3:16 AM

      Hi Andrew,

      Well, road conditions are better in the south so there’s less chance of getting covered in mud, but the scenery is bigger and better in the north, although the road conditions are sometimes not quite as good – but this shouldn’t matter if you have a dirt bike.

      So I suggest going up to Hanoi and doing one of the northern loops. The Ha Giang Extreme North Loop has better road conditions than the Northeast Loop, but the latter is more off the beaten track.

      For renting dirt bikes from Hanoi, try Style Motorbikes, Tigit Motorbikes, and Rent a Bike Vietnam – there are links to all three of them in the right sidebar and bottom of all my pages.

      (Also, bear in mind that the last weekend of April is a national holiday in Vietnam so the roads maybe become very busy then.)

      I hope this helps,


      1. andrew says:
        April 19, 2017 at 8:33 AM

        Thanks mate – I’ll send through a paypal donation so you can keep this up!

        1. Tom says:
          April 19, 2017 at 9:21 AM

          Thanks, Andrew. I really appreciate that!


  94. Andy says:
    April 5, 2017 at 12:04 PM

    Amazing website! So helpful and inspiring. I’m just starting to put together a decent little plan and thought I would ask your advice. I will be coming in mid June and would like to start in either Hanoi or HCM and do your suggested Classic route. I’d also like to add in Sapa/Northern area for about 5-6 days. I’m thinking 3 weeks for the classic and add the Sapa route. Would you recommend this? Does it really matter which city I start or finish in? I’m thinking I’d like to end in Hanoi so that Sapa is my last big thing before I leave. What do you suggest as far as getting the bike back to Hanoi? Putting it on a train or riding back? I’ve read conflicting things about the route and as I will be doing Hanoi to Sapa by motorbike – I don’t know if time or interest would allow me to return the same way. Any tips on the route or getting the motorbike back from the Sapa area? Thanks!

    1. Tom says:
      April 7, 2017 at 4:29 AM

      Hi Andy,

      Yes, that sounds like a suitable itinerary and a decent time frame in which to complete it. At that time of year it doesn’t really matter which way you do it, because the weather conditions are pretty similar across the country during June/July – hot and humid with tropical downpours.

      Yes, it’s a good idea to ride up to Sapa and then put your bike on the train for the return journey to Hanoi. The ride up to Hanoi is long, mountainous and beautiful, but getting in or out of Hanoi can be pretty grim. To get to Sapa from the Classic Route you could branch west off the Ho Chi Minh Road at Ngoc Lac (the beginning of the Limestone Loop) and follow road QL15 until it joins QL6 towards Son La. Then follow this all the way northwest until eventually linking up with my Sin Ho Loop and Sapa.

      I hope this helps,


  95. Julius says:
    March 20, 2017 at 4:17 AM

    Amazingly helpful blog. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Quick question regarding the Golden Loop. If you can extend that trip to a total of 6 days what would you recommend?
    – stay put in some places of the golden loop for an extra night (if so which)
    – add stops in between / ride smaller distances (if so which)
    – extend by 2-3 stops south or north (if so which)

    I suppose the last option might give you the most experience, really curious what you would recommend.

    Thanks a ton,

    1. Tom says:
      March 20, 2017 at 3:16 PM

      Hi Julius,

      Well, you don’t have much choice for stops between Prao and A Luoi, because there are no towns between the two of them. So you could spend an extra day in each of those places if you like – both of them are interesting, scenic and relatively remote off-the-beaten-path little towns. Other than that, you could stay an extra night in Hue – there’s lots to see in that city – and maybe spend a night on the beach on Thuan An Peninsular, or the lagoon south of Hue, or Lang Co. Also, Danang is a very interesting up-and-coming city these days, and then of course there’s Hoi An.

      So you shouldn’t have too much trouble extending this loop to 6 days 🙂

      I hope this helps,


  96. Torsten says:
    March 14, 2017 at 4:27 PM

    Hi Tom,

    we just came back from a 2,5 weeks trip through Vietnam and I want to say thank you very much for the helpful information at your blog here! Especially the hotels you recommended for Hanoi and HCMC were first choice as well as the beach resort in Ho Tram. Please continue the blog, your experiences are highly appreciated!

    Thanks and best regards from Berlin,

    1. Tom says:
      March 14, 2017 at 11:49 PM

      Hi Torsten,

      Thank you. It’s great to hear that you enjoyed you trip to Vietnam and that you liked my hotel recommendations – I’m actually at the Ho Tram Beach Resort right now 🙂


  97. Oliver says:
    February 27, 2017 at 5:34 AM

    Me and My friend are really looking forward on doing the beach bum ride, but when we got to Vietnam we noticed that we could only visit for 15 days. Do you have any idea if there is a way to get a visa when you are already in Vietnam for one month? Or if the only way is to take the “voa” (visa on arrival)?

    Thank you for all the guides! They are really appreciated!

    Regards Oliver

    1. Tom says:
      February 27, 2017 at 6:09 AM

      Hi Oliver,

      My knowledge of visas is limited because I receive an annual multiple entry visa as I have a work permit. I suggest you search the Expats Ho Chi Minh Facebook group for posts about visas, or post your question in that group and see if anyone has answers for you.

      I hope this helps,


  98. Danielle says:
    February 25, 2017 at 3:26 AM

    I’m looking for a reliable taxi driver to take us from Can Tho airport to Ben Tre Mango Riverside Hotel. Can you recommend someone?
    Thanks 🙂
    Greetings Danielle

    1. Tom says:
      February 25, 2017 at 4:23 AM

      Hi Danielle,

      Can Tho has a lot of taxis – there will be lots of them at the airport. If you can, try to find a Mai Linh or Vinasun taxi. But any taxi should be fine. Either negotiate a price before you leave or go by the taxi meter.

      Good luck,


  99. Tuan Dao says:
    February 16, 2017 at 7:15 PM

    Dear admin,
    I have a hostel in Ha Giang city, my hostel is Kiki’s House
    You can find my hostel information on Tripadvisor, Booking, Agoda…
    I have read your article at link and i would like to ask you to get your agreement about your post. Could i print this article then give my guests your information by hard coppy. They will bring it to the loop to read and refer some information
    I’m look forward to your message
    Thanks and Best regards,

    1. Tom says:
      February 18, 2017 at 12:21 PM

      Hi Tuan,

      Thanks for your message.

      Yes, it is OK if you print my Ha Giang Motorbike Guide as long as you make it clear that the information is from Vietnam Coracle. Please do not print it for your guests unless it says clearly that this guide is written by Vietnam Coracle.

      Thanks for being professional and asking for my agreement.

      I will visit Kiki’s House next time I am in Ha Giang



  100. Silver says:
    February 9, 2017 at 11:25 AM

    Hey Tom,
    Can you recommend a good informative site for motorbiking in Laos?

    1. Tom says:
      February 9, 2017 at 11:41 AM

      Hi Silver,

      Sure, try Googling Laos GPS, the guy’s famous for having mapped the entire nation specifically for motorbikers.

      I hope this helps,


      1. Silver says:
        February 9, 2017 at 11:57 AM

        Thanks, I’ll check it out!

  101. Yonatan says:
    February 6, 2017 at 3:34 AM

    Hey Tom 🙂
    Great site and so helpful , thank you and keep doing your thing !

    Quick question:
    We’re at kon Tum (came on the hcm road) and want to reach hoi an. We’re trying to decide if to stay on the hcm road or take the QL24. Also we drive slow and would like to stay somewhere on the way (so 2 days to hoi an ) cheers !

    1. Tom says:
      February 6, 2017 at 3:46 AM

      Hi Yonatan,

      I would advise staying on the HCM Road to either Kham Duc or Thanh My, and then turning east to Hoi An on either Road 14E or 14B respectively. You can stay the night in Kham Duc on the way. This is a scenic ride, much nicer that the southern section of the HCM Road.

      I was on QL24 a couple of weeks ago and some of it is a bit bumpy, although it is still a good, scenic ride.

      I hope this helps,


      1. Yonatan says:
        February 6, 2017 at 4:51 AM

        Thank you !

  102. Lynn says:
    January 27, 2017 at 4:57 PM

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for replying to my earlier comment on the Ho Chi Minh road page.

    Just another question…i noticed that the route from Qui Nhon to Kon Tum goes via Highway 1 and QL24 in the Classic Route, The Big One as well as The Scenic Route. I’m wondering how many days will it take for that particular route? Assuming that it’s definitely more than a day ride, may I know where do you stay in between? Is it easy to find budget guesthouses on the way?

    Thanks again, I’m planning to ride from Qui Nhon to Kon Tum via that route, thus hoping to break the route into 2 parts. Will be great if you have any idea on the current road condition too (I’m planning to ride this coming May). 🙂

    1. Tom says:
      January 28, 2017 at 12:56 AM

      Hi Lynn,

      From Quy Nhon, the route follows a coastal back-road north for around 100km to Tam Quan, then it joins Highway 1 for about 60-70km towards Quang Ngai. There are nhà nghỉ (local guest houses) on the way. A good place to break the journey would be Ba To, which is on Road 24 not too long after turning off Highway 1.

      I was on Road 24 two days ago and it was in good condition.

      I hope this helps,


  103. Mikhal says:
    January 17, 2017 at 6:28 AM

    Hello Tom,
    I’d like to thank you very much for your website. It’s amazing and also gives a lot of confidence. I think I would never have done the Ha Giang loop for a first motorbike trip with my 8 years old daughter without having a look at it every 5mn. We did also the loop in Sapa and Mu Cang Chai.
    I’d like to ask you about our next trip for Tet (we’ve been living in Vietnam for 6 years).
    We fly to Da Nang from Hanoi and will rent motorbikes from Hoi An. We would like to visit Kon Tum area and we have 5 days and must return the motorbikes in Hoi An. I didn’t find anything on the internet about the road DT616. Do you have any information about it? I’ve read that there where a lot of trucks on QL14 and AH17. For the way back, I guess we will drive on QL24 as you suggested to someone else. Anyway we won’t have time to go much further and do Buon Ma Thuot some other time.
    If you have any suggestion, I would appreciate very much. Thank you again and I hope to read from you soon.

    1. Tom says:
      January 17, 2017 at 7:45 AM

      Hi Mikhal,

      It’s good to hear that you’ve had some enjoyable road trips using my site as a guide.

      Actually, I will also be travelling to that area during Tet. I want to explore a loop around there, including DT616. I rode it a long time ago, but back then it was impassable after a certain point. However, several readers have written me to say that it is now a beautiful paved road all the way from Tam Ky up to Dak To, where you can join the Ho Chi Minh Road (AH17/QL14) down to Kon Tum. If you want to find more information about this road you could try posting your question on the Vietnam Back Roads Facebook page.

      Also, QL14/AH17 (the Ho Chi Minh Road) is not at all busy in that area – in fact the section between Kon Tum and A Luoi is some of the best riding in Vietnam (Read Sections 3 & 4 of this guide for more information). The section between Kon Tum and Buon Ma Thuot can by busy with trucks and it is also not very scenic – so you are not missing much by not continuing to BMT.

      QL24 is a scenic road but parts of it maybe in bad condition now, so perhaps it’s a better idea to go back to Danang via the Ho Chi Minh Road, linking up with either QL14E from Kham Duc or QL14B from Thanh My.

      I hope this helps,


      1. Mikhal says:
        January 25, 2017 at 5:34 AM

        Hello Tom,

        Thank you very much for your reply and your suggestion about the roads. We will follow your advice.
        And if you see somewhere on the side of the road a couple with 2 little girls taking pictures, please stop and say hello!

        Chúc mừng năm mới!

        1. Tom says:
          January 25, 2017 at 11:36 AM

          Thanks, Mikhal. Yes, I’ll look out for you 🙂


      2. David H says:
        January 10, 2018 at 1:26 PM

        Thought I give an update in case any one sees this. I saw this and thought I’d risk it, did so today. Its currently impassable due to a massive landslide. Earth moving machinery was working there but it appears it will take at least a month or more to clear. There are slips dotted all round the landscape and lots of other slips recently cleared from the road so I imagine this is a reasonably regular occurrence along this route. I would not describe it as beautifully paved road, it was old tar seal which was quite bumpy up until Tra Mai (coming from Tam Ky), then after crossing the river the road really deteriorates for about 5kms going up the hill but passable. I then hit relatively new concrete paving for a few kms, my hopes were up until the landslide. Nothing for it but to come back the way I came. I had a bit of fang on the way back through the bits I knew to be relatively safe (I know but sometimes I can’t help myself), all up not a bad days ride. It’s a pity as it’s a gorgeous landscape, very scenic and through some beautifully lush jungle.

        1. Tom says:
          January 10, 2018 at 3:30 PM

          Hi David,

          Thank you for this update, I appreciate it. So it sounds like the Tra My road is still not in good enough condition to recommend to riders without bikes that are suitable for rough or muddy conditions. That’s a shame but I guess some day it will be repaved.


  104. Vitor Mangualde says:
    January 6, 2017 at 5:39 PM

    Hey, Tom!
    I just came to thank you for all the great tips that helped a wonderful bike trip through Vietnam. Such reliable informations also enforced my confidence in going out of the beaten tracks, making possible unique experiences that I’ll remember forever!!!
    For the future bikers, I strongly recommend taking the HCM Highway, specially in the most remote area (the 240km ride – Section 5) and also the northern loop.
    All the best!

    1. Tom says:
      January 7, 2017 at 12:07 AM

      Hi Vitor,

      Great to hear that you had a good bike trip through Vietnam and that my guides helped you along they way. I agree, Section 5 of the Ho Chi Minh Road is superb!



  105. Paul Tremewan says:
    November 8, 2016 at 9:13 PM

    Tom.. just found your Vietnam Coracle site… excellent! Well done… some excellent material here and the cross referencing is most helpful.
    We’re coming back to complete the Viêt Nam Run in March, Sài Gòn to Da Nang, having completed the northern loop via Sapa starting from Hà Nôi and the Run down to Da Nang from Hà Nôi earlier, and I rode the Delta ( then by boat up to Phnom Penh, bus back top Sài Gòn in June). I am passing the details of this excellent treasure trove on to my two Scottish riding buddies for their reference ( The Leo Boys… named after a well known beverage, of course..) in preparation for the Run up to Nôi An and then Da Nang.
    Anyway, just a note to say keep up the excellent site.. BTW just re-reading ‘ A Short Ride in the Jungle’, Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent’s wonderful book, that captures what it is like riding way out in the Vietnamese countryside ( and of course Lao and Cambodia, where the HCM Trial actually went!).
    Cheers from New Zealand
    Paul Tremewan

    1. Tom says:
      November 9, 2016 at 12:18 PM

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks. It’s great to hear you like my site and that you’ve enjoyed riding through the country already.

      Thanks for telling your friends about the site. I’m sure they’ll have a great time here.

      I’ll check out the book – sounds good.


  106. Steven Lee says:
    October 15, 2016 at 10:42 AM

    Hi Tom,

    This is an amazing website. After reading it, I am gonna do a solo ride from HCMC to Hanoi in February. Being on a solo bike trip, how do you manage your personal belongings between stops? Do you leave your backpack tied to your bike and carrys the important stuff in your napsack? Or carry both? – Steven

    1. Tom says:
      October 17, 2016 at 1:52 AM

      Hi Steven,

      Yes, that’s the general idea. Personally, I have a GIVI box which is totally secure, so I leave my unimportant stuff (clothes etc) in that, and take the important stuff (passport, money, laptop etc) in my small day pack.

      But in general, travellers strap their big backpack to the back of the bike, and if/when they stop they leave in on the bike and take their small day pack with them.

      I hope this helps,


  107. Robert says:
    October 9, 2016 at 1:01 PM

    Hi …really loving your stuff…priceless information.

    I am in Saigon right now but soon going to be following your trail along the coast by public transport ostensibly to find a wooden boat to rescue….they are even making blue plastic coracles now in Vung Tau…Aaaargh…won’t be long before VN becomes as plastique as Singapore.

    I wondered if you have any comments about boat living and purchase in VN…every local seems horrified by my intentions to live aboard a decomposing wooden boat on the water…but I reassure them I have been living that way for decades and it is the only way TO live! lol….well…in my opinion anyway.

    Of course VN makes everything as insurmountable and difficult as it can be, and I have little doubt living afloat will throw up its own obstacles. I shall no doubt need a licence and may need to assume the identity of some kind of work boat…so I shall be taking tourists out and about on painting holidays…if I have to…or find a local proxy. There is no shortage of local volunteer crew.

    I wondered if you have any experience of buying a boat from from a VN native?…or the most likely location to head for that may offer the best chances?

    Keep it up. Great work!



    1. Tom says:
      October 10, 2016 at 10:08 AM

      Hi Robert,

      Thanks, I’m glad you like my site.

      Yes, I’m not a fan of the plastic coracles either – they don’t have the same aesthetic appeal. Although, of course, they’re much more convenient for the fishermen, so what can you do.

      That sounds like an interesting project indeed. I don’t have much advice to offer there, I’m afraid. But I imagine that searching the southern coast for an old boat would be fun and should turn up what you’re looking for.

      If you’re in Saigon now, perhaps you’d be interested in checking out the boat cafe on the Kenh Te River between District 4 and District 7. I can probably find the address if you like. It’s a converted river boat – very nice idea.

      Yes, I’m sure they’ll be plenty of obstacles along the way, but it would be great if you manage to make it work!

      Keep me posted,


      1. Thao Phan says:
        October 12, 2016 at 5:36 PM

        Hi Robert,

        I am Thảo, a friend of Tom. Tom has shared with me your intention of buying a wooden boat from a local to start your adventure along the coast. In the previous comment, he has suggested you to go to the boat café on Kenh Te River in District 7, and I really think you should pay a visit to that area if you are still in Saigon at the moment. When I first visited that café with a friend who lives nearby, I was so interested in the idea of converting an old wooden boat to a café that I wanted to meet with the owner or the one who came up with that idea but I didn’t get such chance. Since then, the café has become one of my favourite spots especially when I feel like watching sunset while enjoying the river breeze. They have recently purchased another boat and have been refurnishing it to expand their café business. So, I think this is a good time for you to contact the café owner and ask her/him about the recent boat purchase.

        Regarding the idea of living or travelling on a wooden boat, it isn’t something horrifying or abnormal to local people who live or earn their living along Kenh Te River. I once had a conversation with a little boy who was selling fruits in front of a big wooden boat which was his floating house. I asked him where his family came from and how long it took his family to get to this part of the city to sell their fruits. Though he was a bit shy and reluctant at first, he told me he is from An Giang province and it took his family nearly three months travelling and stopping along the way to sell their products until they got to Saigon. Therefore, I think there is a high possibility that you can buy a boat and start your adventure the way you want it.

        Let me know if you need my help to contact the café owner or to talk to local people who live in the boats along Kenh Te River (or along another waterway in District 6 & 8) to find out where you can buy a wooden boat. You can reach me via my email .

  108. DAVID says:
    August 31, 2016 at 10:51 AM

    Hi Tom
    did you know about the place name Dan Kia in the area Suoi Vang
    some say that this place is one of the beautiful places in the world but i couldn’t find it in your perfect site.
    I will be greatful if you say something about this place

    1. Tom says:
      August 31, 2016 at 2:26 PM

      Hi David,

      Yes, Dan Kia Lake is the one before Suoi Vang Lake. I mention it in my Pine Tree Road guide. And I talk about Ankroet Waterfall which is on the lake there too.

      It’s pretty there, but personally I wouldn’t describe it as ‘one of the most beautiful places in the world’, or even in Vietnam.


  109. Baris says:
    July 27, 2016 at 3:23 AM

    Hey Tom !

    I mailed already but again want to say thank you for this AWESOME PAGE! Really i just checked the saigon night loop and it really looks sweet! Thank you for all your information, pictures , advice and itineraries !! Really great my friend ! Especially the quality of your information is really on a high level! I can only imagine how much time it takes to make your posts !

    Thanks again always be blessed! very Grateful !!!

    Greetings Baris

    1. Tom says:
      July 27, 2016 at 4:36 AM

      Thanks, Baris.

      I’m glad you like it! Yes, it takes a lot of time to produce everything, but I love doing it 🙂


  110. Chris says:
    July 10, 2016 at 2:13 PM

    I was wondering your opinion on Halong Bay, Cat Ba island, and Bai Tu Long bay. I’m not really one for organized tours but I would like to experience the sea karsts and I want to have my motorbike with me. Any suggestions on which place? Do I really need to do a boat tour? Would I get a sufficient experience from land and ferry? Thanks

    1. Tom says:
      July 10, 2016 at 2:45 PM

      Thanks, Chris. Can you please post that comment on my Ho Chi Minh Road guide so that other readers can benefit from your experience, please?



  111. Chris says:
    July 10, 2016 at 2:05 PM

    Just a heads up:

    The hotel five minutes north of pho chau has two tiers and actually two separate buildings. The bigger hotel with the pool is 500000 for room with pool use and breakfast.

    To get the 250000 price you stay in the smaller hotel next door. You do not get breakfast nor pool use. Actually I think the price is 200000 for a single bed (250000 for two beds) but she could not get the door open…

    At the reception I had to ask for the 250000 price, referring to your notes. It was not listed there.

    1. Tom says:
      July 10, 2016 at 2:48 PM

      Sorry, my previous reply was meant for this comment.

      As for Ha Long, yes you can do it independently. Try getting the ferry to Cat Ba Island, or even better go to Van Don Island and get the boat from Cai Rong town and explore for there.

      I want to write a guide to doing Ha Long Bay without the organized boat tours but I rarely get the chance to go there in recent months.


  112. Corentin says:
    July 10, 2016 at 10:28 AM

    Hello Tom, my name is Corentin and I’m from France.

    I just wanted to thank you so much for all the help and advice you provide with your website.

    Indeed, I traveled with a motorbike through Vietnam during 3 months, without any smartphone or GPS of any kind.
    Only a basic map, my own sense of direction, the people around and… your website.

    It has helped me decide my itinerary, the beautiful roads no to miss, discover the food and hidden aspects of this wonderful culture.

    Very well documented with pictures, texts and maps, I was always impressed with how simple it was to use your website.

    You helped me build amazing memories I will remember for a long time. Well it’s true, I really feel grateful.

    Thank you again and good luck for everything.


    1. Tom says:
      July 10, 2016 at 12:09 PM

      Hi Corentin,

      That’s really great to hear that you had such a wonderful time riding around Vietnam and that my website helped you a bit on your way. It sounds like you had a great time and one that you will always remember.

      I hope you get the chance to come back to Vietnam again sometime 🙂


  113. Chris says:
    July 8, 2016 at 3:20 PM

    This is a broad question, but can you suggest some other villages that offer homestays? These are some I have heard about: Mai Chau, Ba Be, the park you mentioned north of Canh Nang (sorry do not recall name at the moment…). I believe I also heard of some homestay options around Bac Ha…

    I was just reading about Nghe An and saw some pricey organized tours going to homestay villages there (Pu Mat park) and it piqued my interest.

    It’s not something you can find info on easily…

    P.S. I’m only interested in anything north of Phong Nah at this point.

    Thanks for any sharing 🙂

    1. Tom says:
      July 8, 2016 at 3:28 PM

      Hi Chris,

      Yes, Mai Chau is famous for its homestays – there are hundreds there. Personally, I would recommend Pu Luong Nature Reserve. I’ve written more about this here, however it needs to be updated as you’ll see by reading the comments at the bottom of the post.


  114. Chris says:
    July 7, 2016 at 2:37 PM

    Long Son is awesome. The hotel cost 250000 and dinner was 45000 and 30000 at the restaurant four doors down up a little driveway. Did not seem to be any irregular pricing… There looks to be a gas station under construction but besides that only roadside “pumps” for gas.

    1. Tom says:
      July 7, 2016 at 3:09 PM

      Hi Chris,

      Yes, it’s a lovely little place. Good to hear there might be a gas station there sometime soon.


  115. Chris says:
    July 5, 2016 at 12:35 PM

    Doing a little planning, just a few random questions:

    1. I noticed you rode from phong nha to pho Chou in one day. About how much time did that take?

    2. I noticed you rode from pho chau to cam thuy in one day. About how much time did that take?

    3. I noticed in one ride you rode from Sinho stopping in Lai Chau. Why did you not go further?

    4. How much time do you think it would take to ride from Quan Hoa to Yen Chau?

    5. How much time does it take to ride from Sapa to Bac Ha in the quickest route?

    6. How much time do you estimate it to take riding from Bao Lac to Ba Be?

    7. Any idea how long it might take to ride from That Khe above Lang Son to Tien Yen, south of Lang Son on the coast?

    Sorry for so many questions… I’m wanting to do a big loop of the north with sapa, ha giang area, ba be, ban gioc waterfall, and one of the bays, possibly even cat ba island…

    I’m pretty sure I’ll be sleeping in quan hoa on July 15 and need to sleep in Hanoi August 4. I keep going back and forth whether I can make all that…

    Sorry, very long…

    1. Tom says:
      July 6, 2016 at 7:28 PM

      Hi Chris,

      Time between all those destinations depends on how you ride. In general, on the highways like the Ho Chi Minh Road you will average between 40-60km per hour. In the northern mountains your average speed will be a lot slower because the roads are smaller and the terrain is more mountainous: between 30-40km per hour.

      So based on this, for your first two questions just take a look at the distances in my Ho Chi Minh Road guide to work out how long it might take you to ride them.

      For your third question, I just stopped in Lai Chau because the weather was bad.

      Number 4, just take a look at the distances and make an estimate based on general average speed. Note that some readers have mentioned bad road conditions from Quan Hoa to Mai Chau so it might be better to take the road from Canh Nang through Pu Luong Nature Reserver to Mai Chau instead.

      Number 5, Sapa to Bac Ha takes a couple of hours, but there are reports that the pass from Sapa down to Lao Cai is under reconstruction.

      Number 6, Bao Lac to Ba Be takes a few hours.

      Number 7, again take a look at the distances and use your average speed to estimate how long it might take.

      The northeast, especially Cao Bang Province around Ban Gioc and Lang Son, is usually where the riding is slowest.


  116. Chris says:
    July 4, 2016 at 3:06 PM

    I’m in Hue and will travel to Phong Nha via A Luoi, Khe Sanh, Long Son. I’m considering riding from hue to khe sanh in one day. It looks to be about 165 km. How many hours do you think I should estimate for that trip? Am I biting off too much to chew? It just seems a bit short to go to A Luoi from Hue…

    Also I had a blast exploring monkey mountain. So many areas to explore with great scenery.

    1. Tom says:
      July 4, 2016 at 3:19 PM

      Hi Chris,

      Yes, you should be able to comfortably ride from Hue to Khe Sanh in a day. The ride from A Luoi to Khe Sanh on the Ho Chi Minh Road is very nice, scenic, and easy riding, and the road is in good condition. The road from Hue to A Luoi is also scenic, however I’ve had mixed reports from readers over the last 6 months about the condition of that road: some have said there is a bit of construction going on. If you ride it I would very much appreciate it if you could give me and update on the road conditions.

      I hope you enjoy the ride,


      1. Chris says:
        July 6, 2016 at 9:04 AM

        I experienced no construction today, July 6, 2016

        1. Tom says:
          July 6, 2016 at 5:09 PM

          That’s great to hear, thanks for the update. (I’ll reply to your other comment soon).


  117. Chris says:
    June 23, 2016 at 3:45 PM

    Do you know of any lodging options $20 USD or less on the Sop Promontory besides camping?

    If not I may try camping there or stay at Vinh Hy Resort.

    1. Tom says:
      June 23, 2016 at 4:09 PM

      Hi Chris,

      Camping on the promontory is very nice. But there are also rooms for about $15-20 on Binh Chau Beach on the promontory. Staying at Vinh Hy Resort is also very nice. In general, remember that on the weekends the area can get relatively busy, but during the weekdays it’s practically empty.


  118. Chris says:
    June 23, 2016 at 1:02 PM

    Thanks for the Ca Na Hotel recommendation – exactly my kind of place.

    1. Tom says:
      June 23, 2016 at 1:38 PM

      Great. Glad you liked it. Nice little place.


  119. Chris says:
    June 18, 2016 at 12:34 PM

    Just curious, have you ever investigated a possible road from Tuong Duong to Que Phong in Nghe An province? It appears on one of my maps and I’m intrigued by it.

    I took a road similar to this on my bicycle trip some years ago (from Quan Hoa to Na Loc along the Luong River in Thanh Hoa province). In that case the road literally became a dirt walking path. I was able to manage it however and encountered a village where I ended up sleeping. It was a great adventure.

    1. Chris says:
      June 18, 2016 at 9:55 PM

      Actually I see now you mention that Quan Hoa road in your Limestone Loop. Road 520…

      Wonder if the one in Nghe An could turn out to be similar…

  120. Chris says:
    June 18, 2016 at 5:27 AM

    I will probably stay at Binh Lieu hotel near Co pass. After that the next definite stop I have planned is Hoi An. I am estimating two stops between those destinations. Can you recommend two good stopping points in that span?

    I think one would probably be Rang Beach. Is there any particular place you like to stay near Rang Beach?

    Thanks again

    1. Chris says:
      June 18, 2016 at 10:01 PM

      One lodging I discovered on the internet near Rang Beach is Life Is A Beach. It looks like a cool little spot with shacks on the beach…

      1. Tom says:
        June 19, 2016 at 6:19 AM

        Hi Chris

        Yes, Life is a Beach is great and so is Haven. Rang Beach and the Quy Nhon area in general is a great place to break the journey from the Co Pass to Hoi An.

        About the Que Phong road, I have also looked at it on the map and thought that it’s worth exploring, but I never have. That area is supposed to be where the ruby mines are, so perhaps the roads are kept in good condition. In general, the roads leading west from the Ho Chi Minh Road to the remote Lao borders are some of the most beautiful in Vietnam. Please let me know if you do end up riding that road – I’d love to know how it is!


        1. Chris says:
          June 19, 2016 at 8:46 AM

          Any suggestions for a sleep between Quy Nhon and Hoi An? Thanks.

          1. Tom says:
            June 19, 2016 at 12:48 PM

            Hi Chris,

            There’s no particular place that I always stay at between Quy Nhon and Hoi An, but Quang Ngai makes sense – it’s a big place but fairly off the tourist radar: the riverbank is nice at night and the town has lots of street food. You could also try My Khe Beach, but not if it’s on the weekend, because it gets crowded.

            Don’t forget (if you have time) to take the coast road from Quy Nhon to Tam Quan instead of Highway 1. And from Tam Ky to Hoi An too.

            I hope this helps,


  121. Chris says:
    June 16, 2016 at 10:52 PM

    I was not able to locate the atlas you mentioned in three fahasa bookstores in Saigon. It was also not in a large art book store that the kind hotel receptionist tried. Any other ideas where I might find that atlas in Saigon?

    I did purchase the smaller map that you mentioned. May I suggest looking into the Nelles map by Abercrombie and Kent. I have the 2005 version but there is a newer one I believe. I used it on a bicycle trip a few years ago in north Vietnam and comparing it with the one you suggested I see some small roads I took on the nelles but not on the other. Of course some of those turned out to be damn near “animal trails” like you mentioned but they were navigable…

    1. Tom says:
      June 17, 2016 at 12:36 AM

      Hi Chris,

      Yes, I’m sorry about that – my maps article needs an update: a couple of other people have commented that the atlas is no longer in print.

      Thanks for the suggestion of Nelles map – I’ll take a look at that when I get around to updating my maps article. Personally, the Travel Map of Vietnam is still the only one that I’ve found reliable over the years: it’s updated every year and it only shows roads that ARE roads and that actually exist which is more than can be said for other printed maps and even Google Maps too.


  122. Reed Bernstein says:
    June 11, 2016 at 12:52 AM

    Thank you

  123. Reed Bernstein says:
    June 10, 2016 at 8:43 AM

    Hey, I followed your advice and I sit now at the impressive hotel in Hanoi. I am picking up my Tigit motorcycle tomorrow and I want to hit the road on Tuesday. I’m thinking of heading towards Hai Phong and I was wondering if there is any other coastal town or area you think I should visit instead?


    1. Tom says:
      June 10, 2016 at 10:37 AM

      Hi Reed,

      Hai Phong is an interesting city to visit – much nicer than Ha Long. You should be able to put your bike on a boat to Cat Ba Island – either from Hai Phong or Ha Long. You could also skip Hai Phong and Ha Long and head straight to Van Don Island, which is further east of Ha Long City. This is a great place to explore by bike, and from the main town of Cai Rong you can put your bike on a boat to other islands.


  124. Alessandro says:
    June 9, 2016 at 10:38 AM

    Hi Tom,

    I’m planning a three days ride in the Sapa valley with my girlfriend; could you recommend me few good motorbikes rentals in Sapa that I can contact and which deals with gears motorbikes that easily fit two people?

    Many thanks,


    1. Tom says:
      June 9, 2016 at 11:58 AM

      Hi Alessandro,

      You should be able to rent motorbikes from most hotels, guesthouses and travel agents in Sapa quite easily, but I can’t recommend a particular place. You could try contacting Sapa O’Chau and asking them where the best place to rent bikes from is.

      I hope this helps,


  125. Chris says:
    June 2, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    Concerning getting a flat tire, do you carry a patch kit, pump, fix a flat, or anything of that nature? Or do you rely on the ubiquitous tire repair men in most parts and hope for the best in more remote areas?

    1. Tom says:
      June 2, 2016 at 4:21 PM

      Hi Chris,

      If you’re going to be on the road for a long time, it’s well worth investing in a set of tubeless tyres (about $20 each) – these are great and hardly ever puncture, and even if/when they do, it’s a very slow puncture so that you have enough time to ride to the nearest garage.

      But, yes, you’re right, in general I rely on the roadside mechanics that are never far away – even in remote areas – to fix any problems that occur. But it certainly is a good idea to carry some basic tools with you.


      1. Chris says:
        June 3, 2016 at 12:08 AM

        One of the things I will look for in choosing a motorbike are tyres with good tread, after that its just hope for the best…

        Also I’ve rented bikes that had trouble with their starters. Is it possible to kick start any bike: manual, automatic, semi automatic, etc…?

        And a horn…

        Any other obvious things to look for in choosing the motorbike?



        1. Tom says:
          June 3, 2016 at 2:37 AM

          Hi Chris,

          Yes, good tyres are important and a starter and horn that works. And yes all those bikes can be kick-started too. Personally, I think wing mirrors are important too – many Vietnamese bikers tend to remove them as they are considered ugly and a safety hazard! 🙂


  126. Chris says:
    June 1, 2016 at 11:12 PM

    I’m thinking of following the coast all the way to Dong Hoi and then cutting inland to Long Son and spending the night / gassing up there. Then continue north to caves and eventually north Vietnam. I’m trying to stay on the coast because once I turn inland I will stay inland through “the neck” and a loop around north Vietnam… essentially the remainder of my trip until I finish my loop at around the Halong Bay coast area…

    You had some good words about Dong Hoi /Quang Binh beaches but do you have any in-depth reports of that area on the website? I did not see any…

    My reason for going to Long Son is to see that stretch of the HCM Hwy from Long Son to Pho Chau. I would get on it earlier but I would like to see Danang, Hue, and Hoi An and also maximize the beach. Also I figure I will be in a lot of similar scenery in the north … but I can still catch a piece of it if I get to Long Son…

    How much time do you estimate it would take to ride from Dong Hoi center to Long Son?

    Thanks again for your great resource. I am reading every word…


    1. Tom says:
      June 2, 2016 at 4:04 AM

      Hi Chris,

      Yes, Dong Hoi is a neat little city with a great stretch of beach, but you are right that I haven’t written any in-depth articles about it yet.

      The ride from Dong Hoi to Long Son on road TL563 takes about 2-3 hours – it’s not far at all, but the road is very windy and beautiful so it takes a while to ride it.

      Your itinerary sounds good to me. I understand about staying on the beaches as long as possible, but another option is to head away from the beaches earlier: you have two options: take road QL49 west from Hue to meet the Ho Chi Minh Road at A Luoi, or take road AH16 west from Dong Ha to meet the Ho Chi Minh Road at Khe Sanh. All of these options are good.

      I hope this helps,


  127. Chris says:
    May 27, 2016 at 5:24 PM

    Also, do you ever bring an extra bottle of petrol, for example in some of the remote areas on the HCM HWY or in remote areas of north vietnam?

    1. Tom says:
      May 27, 2016 at 11:59 PM

      The only place you actually have to bring a bottle of gas with you is on this section of the Ho Chi Minh Road, but sometimes I just like carrying gas with me just in case.


  128. Chris says:
    May 27, 2016 at 5:02 PM

    Do you recommend buying a lock and chain to secure my motorbike when it is parked? In the past, I have never locked my motorbike, but I also had beat up motorbikes. If I get a tigit bike it will be a newer model….

    I also like your suggestion of the bike box; I can see great benefit in that…

    1. Tom says:
      May 27, 2016 at 11:58 PM

      Hi Chris,

      You don’t really need a lock for your bike unless you are going to camp or are planning on leaving your bike unattended somewhere while you go away. You can buy small disc locks which are very good.

      The GIVI bike box is great. You can get them from the GIVI store on Nguyen Chi Thanh Street, District 5, in Ho Chi Minh City.


  129. Chris says:
    May 26, 2016 at 11:39 PM

    Thanks for this excellent website; it has been immensely helpful in planning my trip from saigon to hanoi and a loop around the north. This site is full of information and I often get lost in all the info and do not want to miss one piece (which can be tricky because a location/town may often be mentioned under a few different route descriptions).

    One question I have is that none of routes seem to go along the coast from Dong Ha to Vinh. Is that because the scenery is much better inland or because of HWY 1 or because the coast is not nice along this stretch?

    My route will be similar to the one you did with your friend except when getting around Mai Chau I will start the northern loop.

    I have a loose plan of doing the tigit rental.

    Again, thansk for your excellent website.

    1. Tom says:
      May 27, 2016 at 2:27 AM

      Hi Chris,

      Yes, that’s right the ride along Highway 1 from Dong Ha to Vinh isn’t particularly scenic, but the main reason not to do it is because the inland route along the Ho Chi Minh Road is one of the best and most scenic rides in the country.

      If you’re planning a south to north road trip, you should take a look at my most recent post recommending 5 different routes from Saigon to Hanoi here.

      I hope this helps,


  130. Cecilia says:
    May 26, 2016 at 3:49 PM

    Thanks for all this amazing information! We are a family of cyclists and are considering some of your destinations by bike. Do you have a recommendation for which is the most bicycle friendly? Thanks! C

    1. Tom says:
      May 27, 2016 at 2:20 AM

      Hi Cecilia,

      All of my motorbike guides can be used as cycling guides too. Which ones to choose just depends on the kind of ride you are looking for: coastal or mountains, southern or northern, challenging or easy etc. Have a browse through my Motorbike Guide Archive and see which routes appeal to you, then get in touch with me again and I can give you more information.

      I hope this helps,


  131. Jun KIM says:
    May 2, 2016 at 10:07 PM

    Hello Tom,

    Have read many useful blogs on your websites. I had finished Northern Loop last February. The weather was not good (really cold, and I even saw the snowing in Vietnam.), but the tour was amazing. It was a good start to explore the Southeast Asia country with a motorbike.
    Thanks for sharing your tips about riding in Vietnam. Your articles were really helpful for the trip.

    Now, I have a plan to take a motorbike tour in other Southeast Asia countries like Thailand, India, Philippine, Laos, Myanmar, etc. Do you have any idea where I can get an information to prepare the trip? Is there any other blogs, just like yours (not commercial, and specialized in one country), for the motor bike tour of other Southeast Asia countries?

    Good luck with everything.


    1. Tom says:
      May 2, 2016 at 11:46 PM

      Hi Jun,

      Good to hear that you enjoyed your ride in northern Vietnam – even though the weather wasn’t that good.

      For Laos you should look at Laos GPS Map – the guy is known as the Midnight Mapper and is famous for mapping all of the country specifically for motorbike rides. For Thailand take a look at the Golden Triangle GT Rider website.

      I hope this helps,


  132. Robert Duckworth says:
    April 12, 2016 at 12:02 PM

    What an informative and interesting blog you have created!
    Have saved your site for future reference. I have started a blog. My first one, and not being a pro, it looks a bit messy. Will persevere! .
    Good luck with everything.

    1. Tom says:
      April 12, 2016 at 1:14 PM

      Thanks, Rob. And good luck with your own blog.


  133. Duong Chien says:
    March 24, 2016 at 2:43 AM

    Hello Tom,

    Have read many useful blogs on your websites. Hope to see you in Hanoi. Your website is NEW Vietnam guide book.

    Thank you

    Duong Chien

    1. Tom says:
      March 24, 2016 at 2:48 AM

      Hi Duong Chien,

      I have sent you an email about advertising your motorbike tours and rentals on my website. Please reply by email:

      Thank you.

  134. Gary says:
    March 9, 2016 at 1:36 PM

    Hi Tom,
    First i would like to say what an amazing site….. but! it has caused me a major headache. I was planning on travelling by motorbike from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh but now find that my plans are expanding, i would like to visit the north now which wasn’t on my list.. The maps you provide are invaluable and i am planning my route on Google maps also, any thoughts or info on a route to Sa Pa from Hanoi would be appreciated so i can link it in with some of the Northern routes.
    Thanks again, keep up the good work.

    1. Tom says:
      March 10, 2016 at 1:09 AM

      Hi Gary,

      Sorry to have complicated your plans! 🙂

      Yes, the northern loops are great so, if you have time, definitely try to ride some of them.

      From Hanoi to Sapa there are many alternatives. You could take Highway 70 all the way, or Highway 32 which goes via The Harvest Route, or you could go via Highway 6 and Highway 12 which would include the Sin Ho Scenic Loop at the end.

      A reader recently wrote to me to share this route to Sapa from Hanoi which is also a good one.

      I hope this helps,


  135. Sabrina says:
    February 18, 2016 at 7:07 PM

    Hello Tom,

    My husband and I are going to be in Vietnam for 18 days in June and want to spent a good portion in the north. We’re planning on taking the Sleeper Train to Sapa, and want to explore from there. We’re thinking about spending around 4 days in the area. We’re a pretty adventurous couple…and so I’m quickly finding too many things to do and wish we could stay in Sapa longer, but of course need to take in other areas in Vietnam as well. I’m curious about riding motorbikes up to Tram Ton Pass to check out the scenery and waterfalls…BUT, am also interested in trying to ride motorbikes to Ha Giang Province. We’re also going to be there from Thurs-Sun…so we’ll potentially be able to see the Bac Ha market on Sunday before we catch the sleeper train back to Hanoi on Sunday night. We’re trying to make the most of our trip and want to do as much as possible, but don’t want to feel rushed or not leave any cushion for accidents/weather/getting lost/etc.. Should we skip the Tram Tom Pass and spend 2-3 days driving to Ha Giang Province and back to Sapa…and spend the last day (Sunday) in Sapa and Bac Ha?

    Thank you so much! I’ve been looking at your site and your adventures seem right up our alley of what’s interesting to us.


    1. Tom says:
      February 19, 2016 at 12:24 AM

      Hi Sabrina,

      If you only have Thurs-Sun in the north I suggest you either spend a couple of days in Sapa and then a couple of days riding the Sapa to Ha Giang Loop, or spend one day in Sapa either side of the two day ride on the Sapa-Sin Ho Scenic Loop.

      Either of these itineraries is possible with around 4 days, but the latter is by far the easiest to follow and the shortest. The scenery is spectacular on both, so don’t worry about that. Both road trips are also off the beaten path (although Sapa itself is firmly on the beaten path).

      Bac Ha Sunday Market is a fascinating spectacle but it is also overwhelmed with tourists these days, so it’s not a great loss if you miss it. You could time your road trip to coincide with one of the markets in the smaller towns on either of the loops – Sin Ho has a Sunday market, for example.

      I hope this helps,


      1. Sabrina says:
        February 24, 2016 at 4:55 AM

        Thanks Tom,

        After asking the question, I found your loop to Sin-Ho and think it’ll be perfect! We will do it in 2-3 days, and will do some markets on Sunday. It’s hard to avoid of the tourist hot spots with limited travel time. This is our first time to any country in Asia…so I think anywhere we go will be an experience! Ha! There’s so much to see everywhere.

        Thanks for your advice…we’ll be referencing your blog up until our trip in June!

        Thanks, Sabrina

        1. Tom says:
          February 24, 2016 at 5:00 AM

          Sounds like a good plan 🙂 I hope you enjoy it!


  136. Sylvain says:
    February 13, 2016 at 3:24 PM

    Hi Tom,
    I really appreciate your work on this website.
    I just got back from a trip following your southeast loop itinerary through Mui Ne and Dalat. It was an amazing experience.
    Thanks for sharing your tips about riding in Vietnam.
    All the best,

    1. Tom says:
      February 14, 2016 at 1:49 PM

      Hi Sylvain,

      Thanks so much 🙂 It’s always great to hear from someone who’s followed one of my routes and enjoyed it 🙂

      I hope you’ll have many more amazing road trips in Vietnam.


  137. Mick Albert says:
    February 2, 2016 at 1:09 PM

    Hi Tom,
    thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I originally was going to travel by bus to the usual tourist spots but came across your website and that inspired me to rent a bike for 20 days and try and complete the Ho Chi Minh highway and most of the coast. I really liked the idea of camping along the way so I brought my bike swag with me. I decided I wanted to do this ride without a guide and also without anyone else. That way I would not only challenge myself but also experience the Vietnamese people. Having no friends with me I was able to do what I wanted but best of all was the interactions with the Vietnamese people as I had nobody else to spend time with. I have to say this was the best trip of my life. For me I needed a big dirtbike to not only enjoy the scenery but also the ride. I hired a Suzuki DR650 from Flamingo travel who shipped the bike to Saigon and I was to return it to their Hanoi shop. They are a first class company and supplied me with a fully prepped bike and comprehensive parts and tools list. Thanks to your maps and stories I did the coast from Saigon to Cam Ranh. Then headed inland to Dalat and onto Nha Trang. I stayed off the A1 as much as possible and traveled from Nha Trang all the way to Hoi An. At this stage I decided to head inland again all the way to Kon Tum. This road was amazing and took me 2 full days to complete, camping in the mountains. Loved it. From Kon Tum I started the HCM hwy and headed north until I decided to head back to the coast and onto Denang. Riding the Hai Van Pass a few times I then returned to the HCM hwy. I had to travel the same road to the HCM hwy as I didnt want to miss any of your “best bits HCM hwy” map. I had to miss out on Hue as I was running out of time. Khe Sanh to Phong Nha and continued north until near Vinh I headed back to the coast. I traveled some 4000kms in 20 days arriving in Hanoi. I have to say the weather was perfect for 18 days without any rain which was a surprise but the last 2 days the temperature dropped from a perfect 24 degrees to 6 degrees and rain. I had planned to do Halong Bay but the weather was just to cold for me and flew back to Saigon for the remainder of my holidays. I have you to thank for the experience of my life. I am now planning to ride the north in October when the weathers warm. Vietnam has changed my life and I am grateful. Thankyou.

    1. Tom says:
      February 3, 2016 at 12:08 AM

      Hi Mick,

      Fantastic to hear that your Vietnam road trip was such good fun and, by the sound of it, a life-changing experience!

      Sounds like a great route you took – covered a lot of miles for a relatively short time. I hope you come back soon to explore the north – there are many more great rides ahead of you in that area 🙂

      Let me know when you are in the planning stage of your next trip.


      1. Mick says:
        February 3, 2016 at 12:18 PM

        Yeah, will do. I already have the dates(26th Sept to 7th Oct) but will extend maybe a week, because I’d like to visit Hue and also spend a few days at Phong Nha.

  138. Edna says:
    January 27, 2016 at 6:25 AM

    I greatly appreciate your effort in doing this site. This is super organized, full of great info, tips and opinions. Although I haven’t made my trip yet (coming up in March), I feel having some good insights about Vietnam. I learn so much. Can’t wait to follow many of your suggestions in my trip.

    Great work.
    Cheers, Edna

    1. Tom says:
      January 27, 2016 at 10:11 AM

      Hi Edna,

      Thanks, it’s great to hear that my site has fueled your enthusiasm for your Vietnam trip. I hope your exploration of Vietnam meets your expectations 🙂


  139. Raine says:
    January 21, 2016 at 7:49 AM

    Hi Tom,
    I was just reading your page on Vietnamese street food. Everything looks so good! While I would love to try them all, I’ve limited time unfortunately. Is there anything that you would particularly recommend to try/visit around the Rex Hotel area?
    Many thanks again for the awesome website!! Have a great day!! 🙂

    1. Tom says:
      January 21, 2016 at 8:14 AM

      Hi Raine,

      District 1 (where the Rex Hotel is) isn’t that great for street food because it’s the smartest part of town. However, the food stalls inside Ben Thanh Market are always full of locals and the food is good. There’s also a new ‘Street Food Market’ outside Ben Thanh Market that offers ‘tourist-friendly’ versions of classic Vietnamese street food. Although neither of these represent the best street food in Saigon, they are still both good introductions to Vietnamese street food.

      I hope this helps,


  140. Ian says:
    January 18, 2016 at 11:04 PM

    Hi Tom,
    Following my trip to Hanoi, motorbike to Lao Cai and 6 days up north Sa Pa and Dong Van to Meo Vac in Apr 15 it looks like my cousin and I will be back in Mar 16!! Yippee!
    We’ll use Flamingo again for hire and take two weeks to go SGN to HAN then get a few days with friends in HAN before doing some more touring around the NW this time.
    I love your guides, esp your 2014 2 month tour, a question or two though; if we wanted 4 or 5 days beach stops early on before heading in-land for the HCM road do you think it’s doable? If so what beaches in early March do you think? We’d probably treat ourselves to nice hotels before doing guest houses the rest of the trip.

    We hired CRF250L up north last year but not really sure that’s necessary this time, although my 100kg plus might work better on a bigger bike, what do say?

    Thanks buddy.

    1. Tom says:
      January 19, 2016 at 10:55 AM

      Hi Ian,

      Yes, 100kg is quite a load! But some passengers weigh that much so in theory it shouldn’t be a problem if you want to use a smaller bike like mine.

      Yes, I think a few days on the beach in the south before heading to the Ho Chi Minh Road is doable. You’re spoilt for choice really. Perhaps it’s a good idea to browse my coastal routes archive and my beaches archive (some of these posts overlap) to get a feel of what’s available. Quy Nhon is a pretty good place to hold up by the beach for a few days, especially as it’s not far from the mountain road (Road 24 which starts just south of Quang Ngai) which I usually recommend taking up to meet the Ho Chi Minh Road at Kon Tum. If you’re looking to splash a little cash for a good resort then AVANI Quy Nhon is a good option.

      I hope this helps,


  141. Dan Marriner says:
    November 28, 2015 at 10:49 AM

    Hi, Tom the website is GREAT!!!
    We have just finished your Mekong Delta loop and included phu quoc…
    Then we followed your camping the ocean road guide and we are now in Nha Trang heading to Dalat for a few2/3 nights then we plan to go Hannoi and do your Extreme north loop…
    We have a couple of issues we are trying to resolve. Firstly we hired a almost brand new 125 airblade from Ho chi. and we have to get it back by the 13th to fly on the 14th of dec. (A great bike although you sound like a Yamaha fan!)
    We have discovered that although easy to get on the train to the north as a passenger, the bike can arrive between 4/7 days behind us there is only a 36 hour bus ride with the bike to resolve this issue. We are now thinking to leave our bike at our Nha trang hotel and fly to Hannoi to extreme North and will hire another bike to do it on…
    So the questions are: one, do you know any magic solution to get our bike to Hannoi quick? Trucking etc. Or if not can you tell us if we will find a bike as easily as Ho chi (we paid 180 U.S for the airblade) for the month, the guy didnt ask us for license but he has our passport. We have been fine travelling with one passport and copy of the other for hotel guest house etc. But, not sure what we will do if a Hannoi bike rental wants the other? Lastly, we have 15 days to do this in so we think a quick look at Dalat followed by a flight to Hannoi for north loop is the best use of our time but we may choose to delete Dalat and attempt to get from Nha trang to North loop on the bike and then train bike and plane ourselves back to Ho chi, but this maybe difficult and pushing it especially for the pillion wife. Your thoughts on these questions will appreciated as is all the hard work you do to help so many have such fun! Cheers, Dan and Aya.

    1. Tom says:
      November 29, 2015 at 7:33 AM

      Hi Dan and Aya,

      Following on from the email I sent yesterday and after you checked the weather in the north, yes, it does sound like you should stay in the south.

      If I were where you are now and had the time you have left, I would: take the coastal back-roads from Nha Trang north to Quang Ngai (zoom in close to the relevant areas of this route map to find the roads). From Quang Ngai I would take Road 24 up to Kon Tum. From Kon Tum I would take the Ho Chi Minh Road all the way to A Luoi. From A Luoi I would take Road 49 down to Hue. (For details about the Quang Ngai-Kon Tum road and the Ho Chi Minh Road check this guide). From Hue I would take the coastal back-road to the Hai Van Pass and over the Danang/Hoi An (all this is covered in this guide). Then you can either train or plane it back to Saigon.

      The above is good for a week’s trip. Again, bear in mind that the weather could still turn cooler and perhaps more rain as you travel north of Nha Trang.

      I hope this helps you with making a decision.


      1. Dan Marriner says:
        November 29, 2015 at 12:18 PM

        Hi Tom fantastic we will follow your directions and perhaps leave the North till mid next year when we plan to be back. We are loving Vietnam! And want you to know you are not only helping many have great holidays but you are also very good for the vietnamese tourist industry / economy! If you ever decide to ski or board or motorbike Japan / Hokkaido let us know and we will try to return the hospitality! (You got the email) :~) All the best Dan and Aya

        1. Tom says:
          November 29, 2015 at 12:23 PM

          Thanks Dan and Aya,

          It’s always great to hear from people who’ve had a positive experience in Vietnam with the help of my blog 🙂

          I hope you do get a chance to come back for the north – it’s well worth it!

          I’d love to get up to Japan some time soon – it’s been over 10 years since I was there – so I’ll definitely let you know when I do!

          Enjoy the next leg of your trip,


  142. Sabrina says:
    November 25, 2015 at 9:45 PM

    Dear Tom,
    I JUST found your amazing site just before my 3 week trip (12 Dec-5 Jan)! Thankfully I’ve made only a few reservations so I can experience Vietnam a bit like you do. I’ll be alone at Christmas and western New Year and wondering, at this late date, where I should hang (preferably in different places). Con Dao (instead of Phu Quoc)? Elsewhere?
    Sabrina from Chicago

    1. Tom says:
      November 26, 2015 at 1:12 AM

      Hi Sabrina,

      It depends what you’re looking for: Con Dao is very peaceful and quiet (no parties), whereas Phu Quoc has more visitors and the beginnings of a bar scene. To help you decide, take a look at my comparison of the Con Dao and Phu Quoc here.

      I hope this helps,


  143. Magdalena says:
    November 15, 2015 at 4:40 PM


    Firstly, thanks a lot for your wonderful job, it’s undoubtely the best web site about travelling to Vietnam! Thanks to you we decided to go to Con Dao (instead of Phu Quoc) in February but still haven’t made a decision about accomodation. So, I’d like to ask you for advice 🙂

    I’m wondering which of the two options – Con Dao Camping or Con Dao Seatravel Resort would you recommend? The first one is cheaper but, what results from pitcures made by other travellers, is located nearby the jetty (or something what looks like a long, big deck or catwalk or pier) where ships moor. I’m wondering whether it may be disturbing because of noises? And what about the view? Doesn’t this ‘thing’ spoil the view? How far I can understand from pictures, location of the Con Dao Seatravel Resort is better but is it worth to pay twice more? Moreover, the second option has very bad reviews on Tripadvisor and the first, despite it’s location nearby the jetty, is highly recommended so I totally don’t know what to think 😛

    Thanks a lot and greetings from Poland!

    1. Tom says:
      November 18, 2015 at 1:38 AM

      Hi Magdalena,

      Yes, both those options are good. Con Dao Camping is good value for money: it’s right on the beach, clean and simple accommodation. You’re right that it’s near the new jetty, but Con Dao is still so quiet that it probably won’t disturb your peace. There is a little bit more of a backpacker (or ‘flashpacker’) atmosphere at Con Dao Camping than the other beach options.

      Seatravel is romantic and quiet. The rooms are large and the beach is great. However, as you say, there have been many bad reports about it on TripAdvisor. But personally I have never had a negative experience there, and on my last visit it seemed to me that the owners were trying hard to improve their reputation. The rooms and beach are nicer than Con Dao Camping, and it’s quieter too, but of course it’s more expensive.

      Personally, if I’m going to spend $70-80 on a room on Con Dao (the price of Seatravel) I choose a sea view room at Con Dao Resort everytime. This is because the sea view and the beach there are unbeatable. The rooms are plain but spacious. It’s not a very attractive building and breakfast is quite average, but there’s a pool and large gardens to walk in: me and my parents love it 🙂

      I hope this helps you make a decision.


  144. Tricia says:
    September 21, 2015 at 8:55 AM

    After reading your travel stories around the country, I will do my best to get out and see more of this beautiful country. Thank you… Tricia

    1. Tom says:
      September 21, 2015 at 9:18 AM

      Hi Tricia,
      That’s great to hear. I hope you enjoy doing it as much as I do. Good luck!

  145. Ariel says:
    September 1, 2015 at 10:29 PM

    Hello Tom,
    Wonderful website. My wife and I are planning to come to Vietnam at the end of Nov this year for 2 weeks and we want to stay 2 nights @ Mr Si s home stay while visiting Hanoi.

    Do you have information how to get from Hanoi to this home stay or region (if the home stay is not available)

    Also do you have any other methods of contact for verifying the availability of the homestays, haven’t had much luck by phone.

    We are truly looking for an authentique quiet and humbling experience. Everything you have described makes us feel the sensations, sights, smells.



    1. Tom says:
      September 3, 2015 at 9:34 AM

      Hi Ariel,

      Mr Si’s homestay is now Les Bains de Hieu Ecolodge (check the comments at the bottom of this article). It still looks marvellous to me, but obviously not quite as ‘rustic’ as before. Things change quickly in Vietnam! 🙂

      However, if you’re looking for something a bit more ‘real’, Pu Luong Nature Reserve is dotted with other great homestay options. You can try Mr Ba’s homestay (not far from Mr Si’s), or just go to Mai Chau for a night, get your hands on the map of the nature reserve (the one I mention in the article) and work something out on the spot. Travel to Pu Luong Homestays is probably easiest via Mai Chau anyway. Local buses leave Hanoi to Mai Chau as it’s popular route for travellers.

      I hope this helps.


  146. Yaniv says:
    August 29, 2015 at 8:44 PM

    Hi again Tom,

    So I did my homework 🙂 and read all your North Vietnam reports.
    They looks great and are loaded with helpful tips and details.
    thanks for that. great site. you have here.

    so I consider to combine the motorbike loops if possible.

    so Q#1:
    I’m getting to Sapa by train, so i plan to rent a bike in Sapa,
    and then, do the loop of Sin-Ho, and then going east.
    The thing is, how am i going to pull it off if ? I mean, I rent the bike in Sapa,
    It’s kind of a long loop until Cao-Bang or even further, to Lang-Son.
    So, do you suggest i rent the bike in Sapa, and just do this huge loop ?

    are the bikes in a good condition to bear such long tour ?
    any recommended places to rent a bike in Sapa ? any tips ? 🙂

    about the weekend markets.
    I like photography and authentic places, costumes and colorful markets.
    Have you seen some really off the beaten track places, villages that
    can provide some good photos ?

    last question – i have around 20 days for the motorbike trip.
    do you think it’s enough ?
    if i do have some extra time left, what would you suggest me doing ?

    thank you

    1. Tom says:
      August 31, 2015 at 6:39 AM

      Hi Yaniv,

      I would recommend renting your bike from a bike company in Hanoi: they can deliver the bike to you in Sapa and pick it up at your end point too. Try contacting Flamingo Travel or Rent a Bike Vietnam for more details about this. These two rental companies keep their bikes in good condition, so they will be ready for such a long loop. Also, they will give you a contact number so that if anything goes wrong while you are on the road they will be able to help.

      There are lots of good off the beaten track villages and markets on this loop: Sin Ho has a Sunday market, and so does Muong Khuong. Colourfully dressed ethnic minorities dominate the region, so you will encounter lots of authentic markets, villages etc along the way. The Sunday Market at Bac Ha is the biggest, but it is very touristy these days.

      I think 20 days is enough. But I think if you are going to ride the Sin Ho Loop, the Sapa to Ha Giang route, the Extreme North Loop, and the Northeast Loop, you will have plenty of things to do and places to see to fill all your 20 days 🙂

      Have a great trip,


      1. Yaniv says:
        August 31, 2015 at 7:14 PM

        Hi Tom,

        Your reply was very helpful.
        already contacted the 2 motorbike renting agencies you recommended.
        I appreciate the time you take to reply and strangers around the world who need a good advice or a tip from experienced guy.
        Thanks a lot 🙂


  147. Mishi says:
    July 18, 2015 at 10:34 AM

    Hi Tom,

    Great website & blog. I love your concept to help visitors get the most out of Vietnam.
    I stayed in Hanoi about 10 years ago, did the usual trail of Halong Bay & Sapa hill station.
    This time Im meeting up with my boyfriend for a long weekend in Hoi chi Minh City. He lives in Jakarta, myself in Dubai. We have 3 full days + Tuesday morning.
    If you have time I would really appreciate some help to make the most of our trip.
    We plan to hire a motorbike and see as much as we can without totally over doing it. As I mentioned both us is live in pretty hectic cities. I miss anything Green/nature/animals/waterfalls/culture/temples since living 12 years in the wonderful but concrete playground of Dubai! So Im interested to see the monkeys, but not sure if there is one national park or a few ?? Its not clear when I read. I would also love to see some rice or coffee fields. We have however booked our accommodation for the 4 nights in Hoi chi minh, which of course limits our options as we need to head back to the city each day. Not sure if that was the best idea. Regards to food I am a Vegan. What the hell am I going to eat Tom? lol. Although Im happy to live on white rice & the green veg (if there is something Kulung like in Indonesia) so my partner can enjoy fresh fish & sample some street food.

    Many thanks & blessings to you

    1. Tom says:
      July 20, 2015 at 1:28 AM

      Hi Mishi,

      Well, considering you don’t have much time in Vietnam, and that you need to be back in Ho Chi Minh each night, your options are limited.

      You can easily drive to Can Gio and back to Ho Chi Minh in one day. Can Gio is just south of Ho Chi Minh, and there are lots of monkeys there! 🙂

      Your other choice for a national park is Cat Tien, which is 150km northeast of Ho Chi Minh. There’s a Gibbon Trail here, but you will not be able to drive there and back in one day – you would have to stay overnight at Cat Tien.

      Coffee and tea plantations are even further than Cat Tien so you probably won’t have time to do that either.

      You could drive to Ho Tram and Ho Coc beaches for the day. There are rice fields there too. But again, you will need to leave early in the morning to make the day trip there and back.

      You can also drive to the nearest towns in the Mekong Delta and back in one day. Places like My Tho and Ben Tre are about 3 hours’ drive fom Ho Chi Minh. Here you’ll find rivers and rice fields and fruit plantations.

      Regards being a vegan in Vietnam, you need to write down the word ‘vegetarian’ in Vietnamese: cơm chay. Then you have a better chance of finding food that you can eat 🙂

      I hope this helps,


  148. Bunty says:
    July 9, 2015 at 2:45 PM

    I must say that I keep coming back to this site to get more and more information about Vietnam and riding there. My best friend and I are visiting Vietnam to do a road trip from HCMC to Hanoi in September and we’re planning on taking Highway 1 pretty much the whole way up. That is, unless anyone has a better suggestion?

    Thanks again for all your input. It is advice we are planning on taking quite seriously!


    1. Tom says:
      July 10, 2015 at 4:08 AM

      Hi Bunty,

      I don’t recommend that you stay on Highway 1 most of the way from HCMC to Hanoi. If you do that you will miss some of the best countryside in Vietnam, and you will also have to deal with more traffic on the roads.

      The best way to see Vietnam on a motorbike is to stay off Highway 1 as much as possible.

      I suggest you take a look at my Route Map and click on some of the links to guides that interest you, and start building your itinerary from there. Also, browse my Motorbike Guides Archives for some of the more interesting back-roads and loops.

      Then, when you have a clearer idea of what you’re itinerary will be, email me and I can give you some more detailed advice.


      1. James Pinero says:
        February 3, 2016 at 7:33 AM

        Met your Dad today on the bridge. Any suggestions for a move to a beach before the holiday? Up or down the coast… thanks

        1. James Pinero says:
          February 3, 2016 at 7:47 AM

          Close by I meant to say

        2. Tom says:
          February 3, 2016 at 9:10 AM

          Hi James,

          Yes, Dad told me he met you. He said you were keen to get off the beaten track, so perhaps you might try Lagi:

          Lagi is a fishing town on the beach about 50km south of Phan Thiet. There are local buses that ply between Phan Thiet and Lagi. In Lagi you can stay by the beach at Ba That Resort for a couple of nights and in town at local guesthouses. Lagi town has decent street food and a large fishing fleet. You could say it’s like a smaller Phan Thiet. You could also go to Coco Beachcamp which is just a few kilometres out of Lagi.

          I’ve written a bit more about Lagi is Section 1 of this guide, and also Day 1 of this guide.

          I hope this helps,


          1. James Pinero says:
            February 3, 2016 at 9:20 PM

            Thanks very much, I think I will head there before the holiday

  149. Laurence says:
    June 19, 2015 at 3:43 AM

    Hello Tom, i’m a fellow viet-canadian circus artist. I really love your site and i’m impressed by all the detailed informations. I more of the outdoorsy adventurous type. I’ve been living in Hanoi the past year. I’m heading down Central between Hoi An and Nha Trang for 2 weeks. I have a tent, been roadbiking a lot in the north, i know the camping situation in VN. Do you have other sweet spots or suggestions (beach or forest) like the one in Dalat 😉 ??

    1. Tom says:
      June 19, 2015 at 9:55 AM

      Hi Laurence,

      Camping spots in Central Vietnam? If you stick to the coastal back-roads between Hoi An and Nha Trang you’ll find plenty of places to camp (unofficially, of course) near the beach. To find the back-roads zoom in on the relevant region of this map

      Hon Gom Sandbar, north of Nha Trang, has a tiny village near the tip. If you avoid weekends, the beachfront restaurants will let you pitch your tent on the sands – it’s a beautiful spot.

      Also, the beaches around Quy Nhon are good. South of Quy Nhon there are loads of pretty coves, some with informal accommodation – again, if you ask they might let you pitch your tent. Try asking Haven Guesthouse.

      Most places will ask for a small fee to camp on their grounds of course.

      I hope this helps,


  150. Martin says:
    May 14, 2015 at 1:46 PM

    Thanks for maintaining such an amazing and informative blog. There is so much to take in!

    I am also from the UK, although I have been living in Tokyo for the last 3 years. While I had one in the UK, I don’t have a motorbike here in Japan and I miss it very much. I’m considering coming to Vietnam for a month to ride around, but I haven’t really done a holiday like this before so I’m a bit apprehensive (as well as not being able to speak the language very well). Would you mind if I emailed you some questions about doing this sort of thing? You definitely seem to be the man to speak to!

    Thanks again for the webiste, it must be so useful to so many.


    1. Tom says:
      May 15, 2015 at 2:15 AM

      Hi Martin,

      Thanks. A month is a great amount of time for a road trip in Vietnam. You’re welcome to email me anytime with more questions.


  151. Guillermo says:
    April 21, 2015 at 5:01 AM

    Hello we are in mui ne at the moment with our motorbikes and our next stop will be dalat, wich route would you recomend, QL28 or DT716?
    Thank you!!!
    Ps: you have an awesome page!

    1. Tom says:
      April 21, 2015 at 8:53 AM

      Hi Guillermo,

      Thanks. I assume the road you refer to as DT716 is what Google Maps now labels QL28B? This is the road that goes via Dai Ninh Reservoir. If you haven’t already seen it then take a look at my guide to the Southeast Loop which has pictures, a map, description and video of both the routes you are thinking about taking.

      QL28B is more direct and, as it meets Highway 20 to Dalat at a later stage, it cuts out the time you have to spend of that highway – which is a good thing because it’s a relatively nasty highway.

      However, the mountains and jungle and more impressive on QL28. But, as this road meets Highway 20 at Di Linh, then you have to drive 80km on that highway to Dalat.

      Overall, I’d take QL28B because you get both beach and mountains (the first 40km from Mui Ne goes along the sea and past the sand dunes, before heading into the mountains). Note that there are parts of this road that are a little bumpy, but it’s not too bad at all.

      Ideally, do it as a loop and take one route up and the other down, as I’m suggested in the guide I mentioned above.

      Have a great trip,


      1. Guillermo says:
        April 21, 2015 at 12:08 PM

        Thank you very much!!! I would do the hole loop but we are heading to hanoi so we dont have enough time to loose an extra day (we have almost a month, but there are some places in the north we really want to get lost!!) Thank you for the advice, i think we will take the QL28 just for the scinery!!
        One more time, Awesome page!!!

  152. Ishay says:
    March 26, 2015 at 5:15 AM

    Hi Tom,
    Wonderfull web site, thanks for that.
    I will arrive to Hanoi next Tuesday to start my trip on my push bike from Hanoi to Sigon.
    I”m looking for very detailed map of OCM highway to Have it in hand and to load into my garmin Gps as well, can you please help me with it.
    While in Hanoi, where would you recommend to stay for 2-3 night and where I can meet and get the best information from other travelers.

    1. Tom says:
      March 26, 2015 at 8:00 AM

      Hi Ishay,

      If you want to meet other travellers in Hanoi then stay anywhere in the Old Quarter. There are lots of cheap and decent guesthouses and lots of fellow travellers. I can’t recommend a particular place to stay – check the trusted guidebooks – Lonely Planet etc – to find out what they suggest.

      The Ho Chi Minh Road is easy to follow. If scenery matters to you (and you’re not overly concerned about cycling up big hills) then make sure to take the Western branch of the Ho Chi Minh Road from Phong Nha – the Eastern branch is dull in comparison but it is a lot easier to cycle.

      For a map and guide of the central section of the Ho Chi Minh Road have a look at my guide here.

      For other advice on which maps to use have a look at this.

      Also you could check with Flamingo Travel in Hanoi – I think they are developing a GPS system for motorbike rides around Vietnam.

      Have a great trip,


  153. Nancy says:
    February 27, 2015 at 6:10 PM

    Hi Tom,
    Love your website! I am planning my first trip to Vietnam for about 3 weeks: Aug 20-Sept 11 with my 19 year old daughter. From SF, I plan to fly into & out of Hanoi. I’m having difficulty deciding in which order to see places.
    I want to visit:
    Hanoi, Halong Bay (2 night boat trip), Hue, Hoi An, Sapa, Dalat, Bac Ha (because of your article), Laos-Luang Prabang (elephants), Not sure if I can fit in HCMC/Mekong Delta, Angor Wat
    Also, is it easy & safe to hire a guide for each of the places once I get there or should I try to arrange it beforehand?
    Your suggestions or guidance would be much appreciated!

    1. Tom says:
      March 1, 2015 at 8:49 AM

      Hi Nancy,
      I’ve sent you an email.

  154. Gene says:
    February 21, 2015 at 5:25 PM

    Hi Tom.
    super blog. information overload. lots of reading to do.
    do you have any info on ha long bay please? i want to know what kind of cruise to book & for how long.

    1. Tom says:
      February 25, 2015 at 7:16 AM

      Hi Gene,

      Halong Bay is great but there’s no denying it is jammed packed with tourists these days.

      Most people do a 2 day tour (with one night spent on the boat). They’re easy to arrange in Hanoi, rather than doing it in Halong City.

      There’s loads of competition for these tours so prices can be very low, but standards can also be very low too. In general, you get what you pay for: if you go cheap then you may be disappointed; pay a little more and you’ll get a lot more from the tour.

      I reckon on between $100-150 all inclusive tour from Hanoi. I can’t recommend any particular tour company, but make sure you check the reputation of the company before you book the tour.

      Good luck,


  155. Charlie says:
    February 15, 2015 at 2:19 PM

    Hi Tom,

    Such a great resource you’ve created, really useful thank you. I’m heading to Hanoi with my girlfriend in mid-March and we’re hoping to get a bike (Honda Rebel 250) on the train up to Lao Cai and loop back to Hanoi. She’s not so confident on a bike so will be on the back. Do you think that this a reasonable route for 8 days?

    Anything we’re missing? I don’t want to be spending all day on the bike to be honest – not much fun for the passenger! So hoping this route means we can take it easy and not feel too rushed.

    Thanks again for the info, love the site. Cheers,


    1. Tom says:
      February 16, 2015 at 5:30 AM

      Hi Charlie,

      Happy to hear that you find the website useful.

      March is a pretty good time for this route.

      These are all great roads but they are very mountainous and therefore pretty slow for driving. You’ll probably average 30km an hour, plus all the stops to take in all the great scenery. I would estimate, depending on your riding stamina, about 4-5 days riding for this route. That’s assuming you’re taking it at a leisurely pace and making the most of the journey. So that would give you at least 2-3 days of staying put in one place.

      I noticed your map doesn’t include the Ha Giang Extreme North Loop – this should not be missed. Check it out here.

      Also bare in mind that the more time you have on these road trips the better. Things don’t always go according to plan: bad weather may hinder progress, or landslides may close roads, or new roadworks may slow you down, or quite simply some bits of the journey may prove too alluring to pass by in just one day.

      I hope you have a fantastic trip.


      1. Charlie says:
        February 17, 2015 at 11:20 AM

        Hi Tom,

        Yeah it seems a shame to miss the extreme north loop but I don’t think we’ll have the time (or perhaps Ba Be will have to go amiss instead). I’ve also noticed in your guide that the road between Lao Cai and Xin Man is closed so this will probably add a day to our journey to Xin Man (unless it’s re-opened, I’ll check with bike rental people – EasyRider, they’ve been great so far!). Will update as I find out!

        Thanks again,


        1. Tom says:
          February 18, 2015 at 2:28 AM

          Hi Charlie,

          If you are going to miss out either the northern loop or Ba Be I would leave out the latter – although both are great destinations.

          There’s only a small section of the road (about 20km) that was still unmade when I last visited (Oct 2014). The section is just north of Bac Ha after you turn east to Xin Man. It’s passable if you are on a motorcycle (not a scooter) but if it’s been raining this short section is hellishly muddy and very slippery – especially with a pillion. They’ve been upgrading it for years, so maybe it’ll be finished by the time you get there.


          1. Charlie says:
            February 28, 2015 at 8:05 PM

            Hey Tom,

            Thanks for the advice, that’s good to know. I think we’re going to have to cut it down further in the interest of keeping the pillion sane… We’re getting a flight down to Phu Quoc for some R&R after the biking. Do you reckon it’s possible to do this - – and be back in Hanoi on day six? Is the QL2 a reasonably good road? Anything worth seeing on the way back to the city? Hopefully it’s doable – 500 odd kilometres. Thanks again, huge help! Best,


            1. Tom says:
              March 1, 2015 at 8:19 AM

              Yes, that’s a very comfortable amount of time to do this route in. QL2 is
              OK but a little dull. You could still go to Ha Giang and skip the north
              loop by staying on QL34 (also very scenic) then hooking up with QL3 back to
              Hanoi. Perhaps it’s best to leave that leg of your ride open until you
              reach the end of DT177 and then see how’s it’s all going – make the
              decision from there.


  156. kate says:
    January 25, 2015 at 11:39 AM

    Hi Tom,

    Thank you for all informations, very helpfull!

    Just 2 questions:
    We are a couple with a motobike. Do you know if it’s possible to bring the motobike on the ferry boat? (And maybe the price!).

    Then, there are ferry boat from Vung Tau every day? Every two days?…

    Thank you


    1. Tom says:
      January 25, 2015 at 1:04 PM

      Hi Kate,

      It’s not possible to put a motorbike on the boat between Saigon and Vung Tau. However, the ‘back road’ between Saigon and Vung Tau is in great condition and takes between 2-3 hours to ride (read more about it here). Or you could rent your motorbike from Vung Tau at Ned Kelly’s Bar, just across the road from where the ferry docks.


  157. Christobel says:
    December 18, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    I am visiting Vietnam in August 2015 for 18 days and seriously considering returning the following year to see more of Vietnam as an independent traveller. However I do have some reservations as I am a single mature woman who just might be susceptible to scams etc. I can see that one can travel the country a lot cheaper than an organised tour. I wonder if there is someone ‘out there’ who might be interested in joining up?

    1. Tom says:
      December 22, 2014 at 6:23 AM

      Hi Christobel,
      Vietnam is still a pretty safe place for female travellers, off all ages. There are scams here and there (as there are in most industrializing countries people travel to) but they are mostly in the big cities and very touristy areas. Check your guidebook for a list of common scams and you should be absolutely fine in Vietnam. However, a travelling companion is a good idea, so hopefully someone will respond to your comment on above.
      Good luck,

  158. Alan Murray says:
    December 1, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    I’ve read many of your articles with interest, especially the recent series on your travels to the far north.
    However, I wonder how many of your readers will actually follow some of the routes you have described in such detail. I spent 6 days in the area recently and saw less than a dozen ‘foreigners on bikes’.
    In contrast, I wondered if you might consider a series of articles on ‘short trips by motorbike from Saigon’? I think more people would make use of these. I have made a number of interesting trips around Thanh Da and Can Gio which involve multiple ferry crossings. If I can master Google Maps as well as you have I could send some suggested itineraries.
    Keep up the good work – obviously a labour of love!

    1. Tom says:
      December 4, 2014 at 12:23 PM

      Hi Alan,

      Quite a lot of people drive those remote routes, and the numbers increase every year, as gradually travellers and expats in Vietnam become more adventurous and want to experience something more off the beaten path, rather than going to Mui Ne and Hoi An over and again. I often receive emails from travellers asking advice on areas such as Ha Giang, because there’s still not much written about it out there.

      Yes, you’re right, I have been planning on a series of day/night motorbike trips from Saigon, but there are so many other things I want to do that I haven’t got around the writing it up yet. I’m not a big fan of Can Gio – for me the best trip within relatively easy reach of Saigon is Ho Tram/Ho Coc, no matter what kind of budget you’re on.

      Thanks for your interest in my site. Yes, I suppose you could say it’s a ‘labour of love’ 🙂


    2. The Tattered Tailor says:
      January 27, 2016 at 2:59 AM

      I actually found this article more helpful then any other ive read. I plan on following his exact route from HCMC to Hanoi. This article made me ralize how possible and easy and beautiful it will be.

      1. Tom says:
        January 27, 2016 at 10:22 AM

        Thanks! I hope you enjoy your road trip from south to north.


  159. Alyssa Maddalozzo says:
    May 2, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Hello and thank you so much for this blog!
    My boyfriend Ben and I arrived on Monday (HCMC) and have since been around to many of of your recommendation. Ben has bought a 125 bonus which he plans on stripping down and rebuilding on Monday for our trip up North, we are very excited!

    Part of the reason for this holiday is to see if we want to live here. Ben has numerous meetings set up next week, he is a chartered surveyor. We want to explore areas to live in and was hoping you could recommend some nice spots. We are not into mod cons, more shop houses/alley houses.

    Many thanks,
    Alyssa and Ben

  160. Geoff Manasse says:
    June 6, 2013 at 1:58 AM

    What a wonderful website. I’ve been traveling to and in Vietnam for 12+ years and I found many new ideas of places to visit and food to taste for me here.
    I particularly liked what you had to say about the food. Some of the food smells are far from western palates. There are good restaurants and bad ones and seeing where the crowd goes is usually a good indicator. And if you end up getting invited for a meal in a home, there is no guarantee the host will be a good cook. However the cultural exchange will be worth it. You just need to try it.