Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: 5 Suggested Routes

Last updated March 2017 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

INTRODUCTION | ROUTES & MAPS | RELATED POSTS

Riding from Saigon to Hanoi by motorbike is probably the most popular road trip in Vietnam, and it’s unquestionably one of the best ways to experience the country. For years, travellers simply took the most obvious route: Highway 1. Today, however, thanks to ambitious road building programs, there are far more scenic, pleasant and less trodden ways to ride between the country’s two main cities. Having ridden south to north on numerous occasions (the first time, predictably, on Highway 1), I’ve put together the following 5 suggested motorbike routes from Saigon to Hanoi, so that travellers who are planning this road trip have more of an idea of the kind of options available to them.

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: 5 Suggested RoutesNew roads have opened up exciting & scenic routes for riding between Saigon & Hanoi

[Back Top]


SAIGON TO HANOI: 5  SUGGESTED ROUTES


ABOUT THESE ROUTES:

The main objective of these routes is to get from Saigon to Hanoi on good roads, passing good scenery, and avoiding traffic-clogged arteries, such as Highway 1, as much as possible. New roads are constantly being constructed, thus improving journey time and opening access to more parts of the country. The suggested routes below are based on my own experience of riding south to north. I’ve designed each route to suit the needs of different travellers; based on scenery and/or time frame. For each of the 5 routes I have: given it a name, written a short description and bullet points of essential information, illustrated it with an image, and plotted it on a map. The route maps include markers containing links to any Vietnam Coracle guides that are relevant to the route, where you’ll find more detailed information about that particular section of the road trip. For other useful resources that will help you plan your Saigon to Hanoi road trip, such as expenses and weather, see Related Posts.


THE ROUTES:

Click a route from the list below to view the map and read the details:

[Back Top]


1. THE CLASSIC:

  • Total Distance: 2,770km
  • Average Duration: 2-4 weeks
  • Road Conditions: paved rural & coastal back-roads, new & old highways
  • Navigation: mostly simple, some tricky bits in central areas
  • Scenery: coast, highlands, mountains, limestone, cities, villages, cultural sites

IMAGE: The Classic route between Saigon and Hanoi

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: The Classic Route


DESCRIPTION: Weaving a course between coast and highlands, The Classic route is equal parts beach and mountain. Quiet, stunning coastal roads in the south and central provinces yield to a mighty landscape of limestone karsts on the Ho Chi Minh Road in the north-central region. Popular towns and sights, such as Mui Ne, Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, the Hai Van Pass, Phong Nha Caves and Ninh Binh are all covered; but so too are off the beaten path areas, such as the beaches around Quy Nhon, the coastal back-roads north of Hue, and the Western Ho Chi Minh Road. It’s the perfect balance of must-see sights and hidden gems. Zoom in on the map below and click the map symbols for links to my guides to specific locations. Enjoy the ride!


ROUTE MAP: red pins mark major towns, all other markers are links to my guides to specific areas.

  • [View this map in a separate window HERE]

[Back to Routes]


2. THE BEACH BUM:

  • Total Distance: 2,050km
  • Average Duration: 10 days-3 weeks
  • Road Conditions: new coastal highways, paved rural back-roads
  • Navigation: fairly simple, some tricky bits on the central coast
  • Scenery: coast, beaches, fishing villages, farmland, beach towns, cultural sites

IMAGE: The Beach Bum route between Saigon and Hanoi

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: The Beach Bum Route


DESCRIPTION: Echoing Vietnam’s curving coastline for nearly 1,300km, this is the route to choose if you enjoy sand between your toes, playing in the surf, and the sound of the sea at night. Avoiding Highway 1 for most of its course, The Beach Bum route uses jaw-dropping new coast roads and rarely-ridden coastal back-roads to take you to countless deserted beaches, sleepy fishing villages and hedonistic beach towns. Calling in at established beaches, such as Mui Ne and Nha Trang, this route also covers up-and-coming coastal regions, such as Phan Rang, Cam Ranh and Quy Nhon, where the sand and sea are almost completely undisturbed. When the beaches lose their gloss in the north-central provinces, this route takes to the hills along the Ho Chi Minh Road, for a good dose of limestone magic, including the caves at Phong Nha. Zoom in on the map below and click the symbols for links to my guides to specific beaches and coast roads. Enjoy the ride! 


ROUTE MAP: red pins mark major towns, all other markers are links to my guides to specific areas.

  • [View this map in a separate window HERE]

[Back to Routes]


3. UNCLE HO’S ROAD:

  • Total Distance: 1,880km
  • Average Duration: 10 days-2 weeks
  • Road Conditions: highways & paved mountain roads
  • Navigation: simple & straightforward for the majority of the route
  • Scenery: agricultural plateaus, mountains, limestone, minority villages, war vestiges

IMAGE: Uncle Ho’s Road: the Ho Chi Minh Road from Saigon to Hanoi

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: The Ho Chi Minh Road


DESCRIPTION: Surely one of the most evocative road names in the world, The Ho Chi Minh Road is now a fully paved passage from the south of Vietnam to the north. Uncle Ho’s Road might be the shortest route in this list, but it’s also the most mountainous; following the Truong Son Range, which forms the jagged, high-peaked spine of Vietnam. From vast agricultural plateaus, where tea and timber grow in equal number, to the ragged edge of the frontier lands along the border with Laos; from teetering passes above roaring rivers on the western branch-road, to the limestone wonderland at its northern ‘neck’: you’ll bear witness to some of the most dramatic scenery Vietnam has to offer. Sparsely populated for much of the route, some thriving cities (such as Buon Ma Thuot) and charming towns (such as Kon Tum) offer human interaction, as do the multitude of ethnic minority hamlets lining the way. Geological wonders abound, punctuated by war vestiges with hauntingly familiar names, like Khe Sanh. Enjoy the ride!    


ROUTE MAP: red pins mark major towns, all other markers are links to my guides to specific areas.

  • [View this map in a separate window HERE]

[Back to Routes]


4. THE BIG ONE:

  • Total Distance: 4,180km
  • Average Duration: 3-6 weeks
  • Road Conditions: highways, new coast & mountain roads, paved back-roads
  • Navigation: requires regular map checks & occasionally asking locals
  • Scenery: coast, rivers, limestone, mountains, minority villages, cities, cultural sites 

IMAGE: The Big One: the scenic route between Saigon and Hanoi

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: The Big One Route


DESCRIPTION: If time is no object, and you want to see everything there is to see between Saigon and Hanoi, both on and off the beaten path, The Big One has it covered. This meandering route zigzags up the country on mountain passes, coastal back-roads, the Ho Chi Minh Road, and new national highways, to create a road trip of epic proportions. Taking in all the best beaches in southern and central Vietnam, twisting through remote valleys in the Central Highlands, corkscrewing through limestone forests on the Western Ho Chi Minh Road, and following shimmering rivers from source to mouth; this is the definitive south to north route. Major towns and tourist hotspots, such as Nha Trang, Dalat, Hoi An, Phong Nha Caves and Ninh Binh, are woven into this itinerary to balance all the off-the-grid exploration. Don’t forget to zoom in on the map below and click the symbols for links to my guides to specific regions and sights. Enjoy the ride!


ROUTE MAP: red pins mark major towns, all other markers are links to my guides to specific areas.

  • [View this map in a separate window HERE]

[Back to Routes]


5. THE EASY RIDER:

  • Total Distance: 2,230km
  • Average Duration: 2-4 weeks
  • Road Conditions: good highways, some back-roads
  • Navigation: easy to follow, a couple of tricky bits on the central coast
  • Scenery: mountains, farmland, coast, cities, fishing villages, cultural sites

IMAGE: The Easy Rider route between Saigon and Hanoi

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: The Easy Rider Route


DESCRIPTION: Specifically designed for travellers who want a less complicated (but no less scenic) passage from south to north, The Easy Rider route sticks to good-quality roads on a relatively direct route from Saigon to Hanoi which is easily navigated. Switching from coast to highlands on several occasions, this route threads an arcing path through some of Vietnam’s most attractive eye candy: Dip your toes in the southern waters of Mui Ne, Nha Trang and Quy Nhon; escape to the cooler climes of mountain towns such as Dalat and Kon Tum; enjoy the cultural delights of Hoi An and Hue, connected by the Hai Van Pass; and gaze in awe at the limestone dreamscape of the Phong Nha Cave system and along the Ho Chi Minh Road. This is a good, time-saving alternative to The Classic route. Make sure you zoom in on the map below and click the symbols for links to my guides to specific sites along the way. Enjoy the ride!


ROUTE MAP: red pins mark major towns, all other markers are links to my guides to specific areas.

  • [View this map in a separate window HERE]

[Back Top]


RELATED POSTS:

        •  Expenses for a Road Trip:

        •  23 Differences from South to North Vietnam:

        •  Weather in Vietnam:

[Back Top]

This entry was posted in Features & Guides (Home), Motorbike Guides, Popular Guides, Resources, South to North and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

391 Responses to Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: 5 Suggested Routes

  1. Ane says:

    Hi Tom.
    My boyfriend and I will travel to Vietnam in January, where we will buy a motorbike to ride from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi in a spand of 3-5 week. We are seeking the most pleasant route where there wont be to much traffic and in generel easy to drive. Therefor we would like to ask you, which one you would prefer. As we can see on your site, it seems like the “Easy Rider” is the best pick. Is that the best pick?

    Best regards
    The Danes

    • Hi Ane,

      In general, all my routes try to avoid busy main roads as much as possible, but sometimes there is no other choice but to ride on a highway. Also, road conditions can be unpredictable in Vietnam: a road that’s in good condition one year, might be in bad condition the next. Just bear this in mind as you make your preparations. But, yes, you’re right: the most suitable route for you is probably the Easy Rider. However, Uncle Ho’s Road is also fairly easy to follow.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  2. Joachim Brurok says:

    Hi Tom.

    First of all, thanks for making it easier for the rest of us to make some sense of what to expect doing a trip like this.

    Me and my girlfriend is currently in (November 6th) HCMC and contemplating if we should make south/north or north/south. We have absolutely no time pressure and can therefore easily take a train/bus to Hanoi and go from there. We are gonna take our time doing the big one(no less than 6 weeks) and would like you opinion on how weather conditions in that time frame and what would be best.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Joachim,

      On balance, I would probably start in the north at this time of year and head south. But you should expect some pretty bleak weather in the central regions, particularly around Phong Nha and Hue, and maybe even as far south as Nha Trang. But there’s no way of avoiding this during Nov/Dec. Whereas, this is the beginning of the dry season in the south, so you’ll hopefully be saving the sunniest, driest section until last.

      None of this is for certain though – the last 2 years weather patterns in Vietnam have become increasing unpredictable.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  3. Ellie Copter says:

    Hello Tom,

    Really great to see all these routes, thanks for being so helpful! I will travel through Vietnam on my bicycle and I wonder which one you think is best for cycling? My main concern is the roads not being too busy. Would be great if you didn’t mind sharing some thoughts on this 🙂

    • Hi Ellie,

      It’s difficult to say, but probably a combination of the Classic, Beach Bum, and Uncle Ho’s Road. For example, Uncle Ho’s Road is very light traffic between Kon Tum (central) and Pho Chau (north). But that route is also the most mountainous, so it will be very challenging on a bicycle. On the other hand, the Beach Bum is probably the flattest route.

      Although all my routes try to stay off busy main roads as much as possible, some sections – especially in and out of large cities – it’s unavoidable.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Ellie Copter says:

        Hi Tom,

        That was helpful, I think we will mainly follow the classic route perhaps with a few detours. We’ve also been looking at your camping the south coast route and I wanted to let you know that we went to Sonmy camping ground and it was all closed down so you might want to take that one off. Longson Muine on the other hand is lovely and we’re so glad for your map otherwise we wouldn’t have found it. We also met another cycling pair who are using your maps. You really have done a great job of your website, so useful!

        • Hi Ellie,

          Thank you for the update about Sonny – I went passed a few months ago and it was closed then too. I thought I had already written a note about it in the camping guide, but I guess not.

          I hope you enjoy the Classic route. There’s been a lot of rain north of Nha Trang, especially around central regions. I just got back from Danang and Hue and I didn’t see the sun once 🙁

          Tom

  4. Liam Ashworth says:

    Awesome post! Appreciate the incredible amount of details you included.

    Can you tell me why the HCM to Hanoi (South to North) route direction is more popular than travelling from Hanoi to HCM? What is the reason for this?

    Thank you! Liam

    • Hi Liam,

      There isn’t really a good reason for that – sometimes it depends on weather and time of year, but any of these routes can be ridden in either direction – it makes no difference.

      Tom

  5. Colin says:

    Hi Tom,

    I’m having trouble figuring out where I can stay overnight on the leg of the HCM Trail (Classic Route) Between Ninh Binh and Phong Nha. What/where do you recommend for accommodation?

    Cheers
    Colin

    • Hi Colin,

      Take a look at sections 6,7,8 of my guide to the Ho Chi Minh Road here. There are suggestions of places to stay on the Ho Chi Minh Road between Hanoi and Phong Nha which you can use.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  6. Gerlof says:

    Hey Tom! Your website is my main source of inspiration for my trip to Vietnam next week. I am planning on doing the classic route but from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh. One of the reasons I am doing it by motorbike is to have the possibility to meet locals and have a few breakdowns hehe :). Do you think the classical is suitable to get off the main roads and meet locals?

    Thanks!

  7. Ken says:

    Hi Tom,
    Wow thank you for all this information. I’ve been researching a cross-country Vietnam route for a while now and stumbled upon your site. It is by far the most comprehensive I’ve found on the internet.

    I’ve decided on following your “Classic” Saigon to Hanoi route in January, but I will be doing it on a bicycle. So my question is, for a fairly experienced bike tourist, would it be safe/advisable/legal to follow this route on a bicycle? Also, I prefer to wild camp unless I’m within big cities, is it going to be difficult for me to do that along this route?

    Thanks again!

    • Hi Ken,

      Yes, it’s fine to follow the Classic route by bicycle – it’s legal and the route tries to stay off busy main roads as much as possible, although sometimes there’s no avoiding it. There are some very steep climbs, but if you’re an experience cyclist, I’m sure that won’t be a problem.

      One things you might consider, is to take one of my Back Roads to Dalat instead of the route to Dalat that’s included in the Classic route. Also, another option for part of the ride is the Road East of the Long Mountains, instead of the Ho Chi Minh Road or the coastal route for the south-central section.

      Wild camping is fine when the opportunity presents itself, but it depends entirely on where you are. For example, wild camping on the Western Ho Chi Minh Road is easy because it’s very rural and there’s nobody about. But in more populated areas it can be difficult to find an appropriate place to camp. See my Camping Archive for some more details. And when you can’t camp, you can almost always find a nhà nghỉ (local guest house).

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Ken says:

        Great this is good to hear! I’ll check out the Dalat and Long Mountain alternates as well. Another thing about wild camping, is it safe? Are there certain provinces you wouldn’t recommend camping?

        Cheers!

        • Hi Ken,

          It’s safe if you use your common sense and camp sensibly. Try not to be visible from the road and don’t draw attention to yourself. If someone does see, obviously it will arouse curiosity or in some cases suspicion. In these situations, try to ask permission to camp there the night. In rural Vietnam, people are still extremely friendly and hospitable to foreign travellers. In some provinces there is still a risk of UXO – so don’t go blazing an untrodden path through the jungle and digging any holes in the ground. You just need to use your common sense, really, and you should be fine.

          Tom

          • Ken says:

            Good to hear. Generally i’ve experienced that people are kind and I don’t expect anything different from the Vietnamese. Though I can’t say UXO is something I’ve ever encountered before, so it’s certainly a concern for me.

            Thanks again for all your help and keep up the great work!

  8. Timo Mager says:

    Hey Tom.

    we´ll go to vietnam in the end of november for 28days.
    do you think its to less time for “The Classical”-Road + “The High Roads” ?

    best wishes and thanks for this awesome blog!
    Timo

    • Timo Mager says:

      + we want to make a relative slow trip…stoping here and there, maybe staying some more days here and there…
      i´m afraid that we´re planing to much for too short time.

    • Hi Timo,

      I think 28 days is a nice amount of time to ride the Classic route and take your time by stopping wherever you like for a day or two. But if you try to add the High Roads routes too then it might not be enough time. This is because the High Roads route is much more mountainous and the road conditions much more unpredictable and therefore the riding is slower.

      I would recommend riding the Classic route, taking your time and staying where you want, and then just see if you have enough time for the High Roads at the end. If not, it’s still a great ride on the Classic route.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  9. Wesley Peters says:

    Hey Tom!

    Thank you for this wonderful resource! I was wondering if there was a blend of the Beach Bum Route and the Uncle Ho Road that could be done in roughly 14 days? I am planning to do this in early October if that helps.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Wesley,

      Yes, you can do that. There are lots of east-west route linking the Beach Bum with Uncle Ho’s Road. For example, you could take QL19 from Quy Nhon on the coast up to Pleiku on the Ho Chi Minh Road.

      Bear in mind that 14 days is not very long to complete a Saigon to Hanoi road trip, so you might be better off following a shorter route, such as the Easy Rider or just Uncle Ho’s Road. Also, October tends to be quite wet and miserable in the central regions, like Danang, Hue, Phong Nha.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  10. Jon says:

    Amazing resource, thank you.

    I am interested in the easy rider or classic and will go ASAP. I am comfortable on a motorbike and have done the loops in central Laos but unsure of the mountainous roads in the rain now around Da Lat. I would like to go there with a stop in Cat Tien, or La Gi if I start on the coast which seems a bit further to get to Da Lat, but not sure if the road to and out of Da Lat to Nha Trang is recommended this time of year?
    I can skip Mui Ne as I’ve been there and want to avoid cops so if it seems safer this time of year solo, I can stick to the coast and do the back road you mention. Any thoughts on this? Thank you!

    • Hi Jon,

      Both routes you mention should be OK at this time of year, because most of them are in good condition so they shouldn’t be too badly affected by the heavy rains. If you go to Cat Tien on any of the routes that should be fine, or road QL55 from Lagi to Bao Loc and then up to Dalat should be fine too.

      I hope you have a good ride,

      Tom

  11. Daniel Stroud says:

    Hi Tom,

    Just reading through your blog its been amazingly helpful as many people have already stated! We are 2 28 yr old males with a decent amount of riding experience we have planned a route and amazingly its very close to the beach bum route you have provided above traveling from Hanoi to ho chi minh along the coast line we have 10 nights 11 days to complete this trip do you think this is enough time?

    Who would you recommend sorting a bike from in hanoi?

    Also do you recommend any places along this route as a must do?

    Regards,

    Dan

    • Hi Dan,

      For recommendations of which companies to rent a bike from check out the first section of this guide.

      Be careful that your route is the same/similar as the Beach Bum route, because when you zoom into my map you’ll see that very little of it is on Highway QL1A: most of the route is on quieter, more scenic back-roads. For some more information about the southern half of the Beach Bum route see this guide.

      As for places to stop, see and stay along the way, click the map markers on the Beach Bum route map and the Coast Road route map and then follow the links to my guides to those specific places.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  12. Jessica Yeh says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I really appreciate the thoughtfulness that you put into your article.

    I do have one question: I want to visit Ha Long Bay, and was thinking of taking a detour on the Classic Route and go from Hanoi –> Ha Long Bay –> Ninh Binh. Alternatively, I would take a bus to Ha Long Bay and back, and start on the regular Classic Route. What do you think? Thanks!

    • Hi Jessica,

      I would take the bus there and back instead – riding a motorbike between Hanoi and Halong Bay is not a very fun trip. So just do Halong Bay separately and then start your road trip after that.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  13. Rachel says:

    Hey! I was recommended your site after posting on Reddit about motorbiking in Vietnam. My husband and I are going next year. He’s going to be there for about 20-22 days and I’ll be there for at least a couple of weeks longer. The initial plan was to do the motorbiking after he left but as I’ve been looking at it more and more, there’s so much that we want to do and see in both the south and north that will require traveling quite a bit anyway… So, I’m wondering, in your opinion, is Saigon to Hanoi possible within 22 days with several stops in between for things like Ha Long Bay, a night or two in Saigon, and maybe a couple of nights on one of the Islands? Along with obvious stops in between to enjoy the scenery and do some other random shit? Which route would you recommend?

    Either way, when he leaves, I plan on motorbiking around northern Vietnam and your site has been a huge help with putting that portion of the trip together.

    Thanks,
    Rachel.

    • Hi Rachel,

      Yes, 22 days is just about enough time to ride Saigon to Hanoi. It’s probably best to follow the Classic route with your time frame. And it’s best to do Halong Bay as a day/night trip from Hanoi, rather than riding there.

      You can make a rough estimate of time etc by working out the average distance per day based on the total distance of the Classic route. For example, the Classic route is 2,770km, so that’s an average of 130km a day over 3 weeks, which is a nice pace to keep up. But of course if you stay anywhere for more than one night you will need to make up the distance the next day. In general, on the roads in Vietnam your average speed will be only around 40km an hour, not including any stops.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Rachel says:

        You think the Classic would be easier to do in that time frame than, say, the easy rider? I figured that 40kmph would be about the average travel speed from reading some of the stuff here and watching some videos, so that would mean that we’d have to ride for about 3.25 hours a day on average, which is perfectly fine, I’m just worried that we *may* end up cutting it close if we end up making extra stops or shit happens, you know? 22 days is the absolute max that he could be there and since there are a few things more touristy things that we want to do, such as Ha Long Bay, and we are both inexperienced when it comes to traveling internationally and motorbiking… I just want to make sure that we get to see as much as we can and still have time to relax a bit and not have to worry about time too much.

        • Hi Rachel,

          Yes, the Classic or the Easy Rider should be OK.

          But, with your time-frame and little experience, perhaps it’s best to send (or pick up) your bikes somewhere along the route – that way you won’t have to cover so much distance. Also it depends what time of year you are travelling?

          Yes, it’s probably 4 hours RIDING time, but that doesn’t include stops for anything – food, photos, gas etc.

          Tom

          • Rachel says:

            We’re going April/May. We might be changing our plans slightly and I might be arriving first. The plan would be for me to fly into Hanoi, get a bike, and make my way to Laos. From what I’ve been reading, motorbiking in Laos is easier than in Vietnam, so it would give me a chance to get used to riding on less difficult roads and, of course, the opportunity to see Laos as well. I would come back to Vietnam near Saigon to meet the husband when he flies in and we would continue from there.

            That way at least one of us has some experience before doing a long road trip in Vietnam and I could better asses whether we should do as you suggested or if I think that we could manage the entire trip in that time frame.
            I don’t know how much experience that you have with Laos but if so, do you think that this might be a good idea? I wasn’t planning on Laos initially because of time but the more that we’ve talked about it, the more comfortable he’s getting with the idea of me staying for a longer period of time (I might end up being in the area for more like 3 months or more without him).

            I apologize for so many questions! This is our first big trip and we’re really, really excited and I want to get it right, you know?

            • Hi Rachel,

              April/May is a good time of year from a north-south/south-north trip.

              The roads in Laos are much quieter than Vietnam, but the network of paved roads is nothing like as extensive as Vietnam and crossing borders with your bike can sometimes be a hassle.

              If you’re worried about getting used to riding in Vietnam, I would strongly suggest not starting your road trip from Hanoi or Saigon, where the traffic is chaotic and exiting the city is usually an awful ride. Instead either send your bike to a smaller city and start there, or simply rent your bike from somewhere like Danang in the first place.

              I’ve written more about sending your bike on the train and recommendations of renting/buying bikes in my Resources Archive.

              Tom

  14. Ryan says:

    Hi Tom,

    Just to echo everyone in the comments your blog is excellent and I’m nearly using this solely to plan my trip in Vietnam!

    I’ve booked my flights to Saigon and I arrive in the city late hours on the 27th of October and leaving from Hanoi on the 2nd of December giving me plenty of time to get all the way up. I’ve decided to rent a bike from one of the companies that you recommend so I’ll give you a little mention.

    I’m really torn between taking “The Big One” or the “The Classic”. I plan to be on the road for about 4 weeks of my visit as I’m meeting a friend up in Hanoi at the end, I’ve gave a few days to see the sights in Saigon as well. The Classic gives me what I think is a comfortable 98KM a day to ride. Is this what you class as comfortable? The Big One however is 150KM a day which I think is do-able but I’ll be aching! Since I’ll probably visit Vietnam probably just the once, do you think it’s best to go with the shorter route and enjoy a more relaxing journey or push myself to see everything possible?

    What will the weather be like as I make my way up at that time? I’ve seen there can be a little bit of rain (hopefully) in the centre, warm/hot in the south and a lot cooler in the north.

    One of my worries is the Police. I won’t be licensed so if I got stopped is it a worrying experience? Do you know what they expect as a bribe? I’m okay with confrontation but I’d like to be prepared for it. I’ll be a solo rider till I meet up with people making the same sort of journey.

    Cheers!

    • Hi Ryan,

      Yes, 100km a day is a very nice, comfortable, leisurely pace. You don’t have to stick only to one of the routes: for example, you can mix and match the Classic with the Big One – there are crossover points so it wouldn’t be difficult to do that, and with 4 weeks on the road you’ll have enough time to chop and change a bit.

      Weather-wise, it’s not the best time to ride south to north. The south will be at the end of its rainy season, but the central provinces will probably be pretty wet during November. Hanoi might even be getting fairly cool by the time you get there. Expect some rainy days everywhere north of Nha Trang.

      A standard fine for the police is roughly 200,000vnd (about $10). If you get stopped, turn off your engine, hold your keys, smile, take it easy, and eventually take the cash out of your pocket (make sure there’s only about 200,000vnd in there in the first place). Then they should take that and let you go. Be careful of Mui Ne – read the first few paragraphs of this guide and take the alternative route (in red) to avoid the police.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  15. anna says:

    Hey Tom,

    Is there a safe / direct / easy way to ride from HCMC to Ban Loc? It looks like most of it is on QL20 which looks like a major road.

    Cheers,

    Anna

    • Hi Anna,

      Do you mean Bao Loc? If so, then you can follow any of the three routes in the map in this guide as far as Bao Loc. They try to stay off busy main roads as much as possible.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • anna says:

        Oops. I definitely meant to Bao Loc.
        We’ve decided to drive from HCMC to Bao Loc and then Da Lat and get to the coast from Da Lat to Nha Trang (Skipping the coast from HCMC – Nha Trang)

        Is HCMC to Bao Loc drivable in a day?

      • Mohamad Saleh says:

        Hi Tom,
        Is it possible to save the maps you’ve provided in goggles my maps app. Are you able to share the map with me so I can save it in google my maps app so I can activate directions right away.

        Thanks let me know 🙂

        • Mohamad Saleh says:

          Sorry I forgot to add Im hoping to be sent number 3. Uncle Ho’s road. Thank you.

          P.s sorry im posting my question as a reply but I cant find the post comment option on my phone.

        • Hi Mohamad,

          To get any of my Google Maps on your phone follow these steps: Open the map you want; click the three vertical dots (usually next to the map title in the top left corner); click ‘Export to KML’. Then upload that KML file to your Maps.me app. You should then be able to follow the route map on your phone with your GPS location always showing. However, directions are not enabled, but this shouldn’t be necessary.

          I hope this helps,

          Tom

  16. jeon su man says:

    Hi Tom!
    this is great site!
    i living in vietnam but im not vietnamese. i married with vietnamese women.
    now i living in Danang city but i want to go Saigon by my car.
    actually yesterday i drived from danang to Quang ngay but i back to danang again because i thought it too stress to drive to saigon by car. so i give up but today i found your site and im thinking try to go saigon again.
    would you give me some tip which route is less traffic and also can some nice scenic place?
    thanks you Tom!

    • Hi Jeon Su Man,

      Take a look at the map in my Coast Road guide – this route stays off busy highways as much as possible along the coast all the way to Saigon. But sometimes you do have to go on Highway 1 for an hour or so.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  17. Curtis says:

    Hi Tom

    Just wondering if you have individual guides for each of the 5 routes? I’ve used your guides for Northern Vietnam which were awesome!

  18. Tan says:

    Hi Tom,

    Quick question, did you experience any issues with cops in Mui Ne? I was told by travelers and saw some sites online mentioning that cops there will stop tourists and ask to see a Vietnamese license. They do this to all tourists since they know they can get a bribe. I was thinking of biking from sailing to mui ne but I really don’t want to go through this. Let me know if you suggest I go to Mui Ne.

  19. Daniel says:

    Hi Tom,

    This website is absolute incredible, I will arrive in Saigon early March and will be looking at doing “the big one” route you have here. My only worry is that I am travelling with my girlfriend and hoping to travel on just one bike, do you think that is doable bare in mind we will have 2 large backpacks (approx 15kg each) plus my camera bag full of equipment at 10kg?

    Cheers!

    Daniel

    • Hi Daniel,

      Yes, it’s possible but you will need to rent a large bike with a luggage rack and/or bike boxes – most rental companies offer this. Alternatively, you and your girlfriend can put your stuff into one backpack and send the other one up to the rental company’s office in Hanoi and pick it up there when you finish your trip and return your bike to the shop. Again, most of the rental companies offer the buy-back guarantee these days so this should be an option. Try contacting the rental services I recommend in the right sidebar and bottom of all my pages: Flamingo, Tigit, Rent a Bike, Dragon Bikes. You can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  20. Darran Martindale says:

    Tom firstly congratulations on a great site. Its left me in no doubt that Im making the trip but just got to decide which route to take.
    I am planning an overland trip this summer from the UK to Saigon which will now culminate in one of your suggested routes but North to South.
    We will probably reach Vietnam (Hanoi) late July and have about 16-18 days to make the trip.
    Weather at that time of year in mind, which route would you suggest we take.
    Many thanks in advance.
    Daz

    • Hi Darran,

      At that time of year, most of Vietnam experiences similar weather conditions: hot and humid with daily tropical showers.

      With 16-18 days it’s probably best to take the Classic or the Easy Rider. These routes will give you a bit of mountains and coast.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Darran Martindale says:

        OK Tom thats great.
        Next question. The motorbike shops that have the banners on this site. Do they have branches in Hanoi as that is where we plan to start and if they come recommended by you thats good for me.
        Daz

        • Hi Darran,

          Yes, most of the motorbike rental places recommended on this site have offices in Hanoi. Flamingo Travel, Rent a Bike Vietnam, and Tigit Motorbikes all have offices in Hanoi.

          Tom

          • Darran Martindale says:

            Tom
            We’ve decided to give the Classic a go but not before having a week in the North West first.
            This will leave us a 2 week window to ride Classic as w’eve managed to get 23 days now.
            Where would you recommend we visit on route as must not miss places.
            Any suggestions of places to eat and lay our heads would be great.
            We are 2 guys in our 50s like a beer at the end of the day etc.
            Many thanks Daz

            • Hi Daz,

              Two weeks is OK, but bear in mind that the Classic route is 2,770km so you will need to average around 200km each day.

              For more detailed information about places to see, stay and eat along the route, click on the yellow motorbike markers or the beach markers on the Classic route map, then click the links in the markers which take you to my guides to those specific areas, which include accommodation information etc.

              I hope this helps,

              Tom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *