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

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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:

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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RELATED POSTS:

        •  Expenses for a Road Trip:

        •  23 Differences from South to North Vietnam:

        •  Weather in Vietnam:

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

  1. Roy says:

    Hi Tom,

    I am visiting Vietnam from mid June to the end of July, I wish to do uncle ho’s road from Saigon to hanoi, but I am a rather beginner biker, also I was wondering about the weather during this time and I ask for any suggestions you might have.

    • Hi Roy,

      Weather at that time of year will be quite similar all over the country: hot and humid in the mornings, clouding over towards the afternoons, and some heavy tropical downpours. Therefore, you should plan to do most of your riding in the first part of the day, so that you can avoid the rains.

      For much more details of the entire Uncle Ho’s Road route, see this guide.

      Tom

  2. Jan says:

    Hey Tom,

    my friend and me want to make a 2.5 week long motorbiketour through Vietnam during July and August. As these months are in the middle of the rain season we are struggeling in doing this. In some blogs they highly recommend not to go during this time. Did you experienced a motorcycletour through Vietnam in this time? Is there a special “rain season tour” you would recommend? We were even thinking about travelling to an other country in Asia to make a motorcycle tour but the rain season might be in whole Asia, isn’t it?

    It would really help us to get information out of first hand.

    • Hi Jan,

      It should be fine to ride during those months – the weather at that time of year is pretty similar all across the country: dry, bright, sunny and very hot in the mornings, then getting more humid and cloudy in the afternoons followed by heavy tropical showers. Just try to do most of your riding in the first part of the day.

      Tom

  3. Mike VA says:

    Hi Tom, I’m right in the middle of my “The Big One” road trip. I’m currently in the central provinces of Vietnam and heading south. Today I had to ride for an hour through the pouring rain and it wasn’t an experience I want to repeat every day. I checked the forecast and it says thunderstorms every single day for the central provinces. Is this just a reality I have to face? Are there certain times of day to avoid the rain, like riding in the mornings only? I have unlimited time and tend to travel very slowly. I thought I’d stick around for another month or two, but if its constant bad weather maybe I’ll shorten the rest of my trip. I’ve already done the rest of the country extensively and had little to no rain the entire time so I’m a bit unprepared for this, I thought the rainy season didn’t start for another month in the central and south regions. Any help you can give me on how to avoid rain going forward would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Mike,

      Sorry to hear that. It’s strange, because I’m riding central Vietnam right now too, but I’ve had good weather.

      It’s quite normal to have an hour of heavy rain at this time of year, wherever you are in the country. In general, the rains comes in the afternoon, so you could ride earlier in the day to avoid it.

      But it depends where you are, really. If you want the least rain and you’re heading south, I’d suggest sticking to the coast, and in particular picking up and following the coastal back-roads in this route – it should be lovely at this time of year.

      Tom

  4. Davis Carter says:

    I love your site and have wanted to do this trip since I found it last December. I have a few questions that I hope You can answer.
    First, Due to Time constraints I will only have time to go from Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang. Is this Something I could do in 10 days or should I plan at least two weeks?
    Second, Going in late July, early August, would the weather be better to start in Hanoi and go down to Da Nang instead of going from Saigon to Da Nang?
    Again, Thank you

    • Hi Davis,

      The weather will be pretty similar across the nation at that time of year – hot, humid, sunny in the mornings, getting cloudier in the afternoons with heavy tropical showers – so there’s no real reason to choose one route over the other.

      Yes, 10 days is enough time to ride Saigon to Danang, but if you can get two weeks instead, definitely do that – the more time you have, the better your road trip will be.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  5. Nicolas Schepers says:

    Hi there,

    Thanks for all these routes! I’m looking into them as we’re travelling by bicycle in Vietnam now 🙂

    Your routes all seem to head a similar route from Dong Hoi onwards, going more inland rather than sticking to the coast. Any particular reason for that? Is the coastal stretch between Dong Hoi and Hanoi too busy?

    Thanks!
    Cheers,
    Nicolas

  6. Cameron Davies says:

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks so much for how hard you work on this website- it is invaluable. Visiting Vietnam has always been a dream of mine and your guide has convinced me to do it by bike and to extend my visa. My girlfriend and I now have about 6 weeks to do the Big One from Hanoi, picking up our bike on Tuesday.

    We’ve just done sapa, so were planning on heading south. Given the traffic (and your comments that the area surrounding Hanoi isn’t great) what is the best way out of Hanoi? If there is a particularly nice place north of the city we would happily go there first. Is there a convenient way to get our bike out of the city on a bus/train that might be best? Otherwise we’ve heard Ninh Binh is nice.

    If it’s okay with you, I will probably ask you some more questions once we’ve got on the road! It is really kind that you give everyone a detailed reply.

    Cheers again,
    Cameron.

    • Hi Cameron,

      For leaving Hanoi I would go west on the Thang Long Highway – you can follow the route laid out in this guide.

      Pu Luong Nature Reserve (also covered in this guide) is a better place to stop than Ninh Binh, in my opinion. Ninh Binh is quite nice but touristy; Pu Luong is gorgeous and not touristy, and there are beautiful homestays.

      To reduce the amount of traffic you will face leaving Hanoi, try to leave about 11.30am – this should give you two hours of lighter traffic (because of the lunch hour) to get out of the city. Alternatively, leave very early in the morning (4.30am) or late a night (after 7pm).

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Cameron Davies says:

        Hi Tom,

        Thanks so much for that. We headed to Pu Luong national park and it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The QL15 south from there is completely spectacular too, what a road.

        We are currently in Tan Ky for the night. We will probably head to the waterfalls southwest of here that are on The Big One route. I know Phong Na is the next major stop. It is just over 300 km from there to Phong Na, which is a big driving day. Is there anywhere on the way you think is particularly worth stopping for and staying a night? Or do you think the riding is good enough that doing it all in one day is sensible?

        Thanks again for the brilliant guide,
        Cameron.

        • Hi Cameron,

          Yes, you could do those 300km in a day – it’s pretty good riding. But for places to stop and stay along the way take a look at sections 7, 6 & 5 of my Ho Chi Minh Road guide here.

          Tom

          • Cameron Davies says:

            Hi Tom,

            Been having an amazing time on the route so far. Especially Western HCM road. We are in Hoi An and looking to leave in the next couple of days. The Big One route takes us inland and then back out to Quy Nhon for the coastal riding. What’s the main reason for going inland from Hoi An? Is that section down towards Kon Tum, and is Kon Tum itself, particularly special? Or do you think it might be worth taking the highway straight down to save some time? Also, of all the beaches and stops from Quy Nhon down to Ninh Van, are any absolutely must-see and are any maybe worth missing? Sorry for all of the questions!

            Cheers, Cameron.

            • Hi Cameron,

              You don’t have to go back inland: you can follow the Coast Road route south from Hoi An all the way down. As long as you stick to the roads in this guide it’s a really fun coastal route – there’s loads of good scenery and quiet, good roads. Just read the few paragraphs and map in that link at you’ll see what I mean.

              There are lots of highlights on that coastal route, but the ones that stand out are: Vung Ro Bay to Dai Lanh Beach via the Ca Pass, the Nui Chua Coast Road, and the Dragon’s Graveyard. And Cam Lap is a wonderful place to stay.

              I hope this helps,

              Tom

              • Cameron Davies says:

                Hi Tom,

                We are coming to the end of our trip which is sad but it has been incredible. We left Phan Thiet at 6am and hope to get to Ben Tre this afternoon. Do you know if it’s possible to put our bike on the ferry from Vung Tao to Co Gong? It would cut out a lot of driving. If not, I guess we have to drive almost all the way up to Saigon. We want to spend a couple of days in the Mekong Delta. Can you recommend any must-see places or rides that we should do? We probably have 3 days maximum.

                Thanks again for all your help!

                Cameron.

                • Hi Cameron,

                  I’m pretty sure you can’t do that. But there’s a bike ferry from Vung Tau to Can Gio that leaves in the morning. (The ferries to Saigon and to My Tho and Ben Tre don’t take bikes either).

                  It’s not a pleasant ride to get to Saigon and then out the other side to Ben Tre (go on QL50 via Go Cong – it’s much nicer).

                  You might even consider leaving your bikes in Vung Tau and taking the ferry direct to My Tho/Ben Tre – it’s a Greenlines fast boat: you can Google it. Then you can pick your bikes up again on the way back and ride into Saigon.

                  Otherwise, you’ll just have to grind it out for a day (but then you’ve got to ride back into Saigon from the Delta too).

                  With just a couple of days in the Delta you can’t really get into the good parts, so just take all the little back-roads around Ben Tre – they’re great for exploring.

                  Tom

  7. Tyler Schultz says:

    Thanks so much for the tips! I just finished the Classic Route and had a phenomenal ride. Made my way down to Con Dao for a few final days of relaxation before the trip is through.

    Thanks again!

    Tyler

    • Hi Tyler,

      Thank you. Great to hear you enjoyed the Classic route and managed to make time for beaching too 🙂

      Tom

    • Arvils says:

      Hi your blog is great. I come to Hcmc on Saturday my plan was to drive the clasic route to Hanoi, but now I doubt if I should drive your route back ways to Dalat. Tigit rental also recommend driving dis route instead of Mui ne? I’m not so much into touristy places. Those I want to avoid. I want to spend a maximum of 16 days for a trip to Hanoi and then I have 10 days back to North Vietnam. What would be your recommendations?

      • Hi Arvils,

        Well both Mui Ne and Dalat are tourist areas. But the ride to Dalat and Mui Ne is very different. Both are decent rides, but if you go to Mui Ne you’ll be mostly along the coast (see this guide), and if you ride the Dalat Back Roads you’ll be mostly inland in the mountains. However, because of your limited time (16 days is not long to ride from Saigon to Hanoi) I would suggest riding to Mui Ne because you can do that in one day, whereas the Dalat Back-Roads are longer – still possible in one day, but more time on the road. Or just go on the Saigon-Mui Ne train with your bike.

        From Mui Ne remember to avoid the police by following the red line in this guide.

        I hope this helps,

        Tom

  8. Mikael Englund says:

    Hello,
    Really nice work you have made with this guide, it is really great information about everything you could possiblt think of.
    Im going to Saigon late September this year for one month and want to rent a bike and go up to Hanoi.
    Which route would you recommend me to take?
    The Beach Bum or The Classic? I want to see as much as possible but also be able to spend a few days here and there to rest and explore the stops.
    Thanks in advance.

    Mikael

    • Hi Mikael,

      With one month you can choose either of those routes. September should be a good month to ride them, too.

      Personally, I would probably choose the Beach Bum at that time of year, because if the weather’s good the coastal scenery is great in September, and then you get some mountain scenery after Phong Nha.

      However, you could turn inland from Hue (on QL49 to A Luoi) and meet the Ho Chi Minh Road heading to Khe Sanh and then to Phong Nha, which is the Western Ho Chi Minh Road – one of the most scenic mountain routes in the country. See sections 4-5 of this guide.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Mikael Englund says:

        Thanks for youre answer.

        Seems like renting a bike from a good company is the deal i will go for.

        Is it easy to navigate the routes? Im planning to use google maps and some kind of papermap aswell. I guess a decent raincoat and rainprotection for the bags is good to have with you.

        Guess i will try The Beach Bum and go for Ho Cho Minh road from Hue to Phong Nha and then up the coast again.
        I can only find a road named Ho Chi Minh Trail on google?

        Cheers

        Mikael

        • Hi Mikael,

          Yes, a rain coat is a good idea and big plastic bags for your luggage – but some of the rental companies will provide waterproofs for you and luggage carriers, too.

          For more about which maps to use and how to use them see this guide. You can’t just rely on one map (whether online or printed) – instead you should cross-reference between my maps, google maps, and paper maps.

          Tom

          • Mikael Englund says:

            Hi again Tom,

            Planning for full here, i think i will stick with The Beach Bum and do a little Ho Chi Minh Trail from Hue.
            I have a question, what do you think if going further up to Ninh Binh and from there to Cat Ba Island and back to Hanoi.
            Is this still possible in one month or?

            Thanks in advance

            /Mikael

            • Hi Mikael,

              Yes, you can do that, but it gets quite industrial after Ninh Binh because that’s the Red River Delta which is one of the most densely populated regions of the country. It’s not a particularly pleasant ride, but perhaps you can utilize some back roads to make it more interesting.

              Tom

              • Mikael says:

                Hi,

                Maybe i probably should skip that part then.
                Would really like to squeeze in an island along the way. Is there any islands along the coast you could pop out to with the motorbike on a ferry?

                // Mikael

  9. Mez says:

    Hi Tom
    Amazing site & excited to say we are about to start Hanoi to HCMC! Thank you for the tip on Style bikes, they’ve been ace to us.
    We are planning to start with Hanoi to Haiphong. I’ve done my best to scroll through the comments but can’t see owt on this route? It looks like it is possible to avoid the highways by going north out of Hanoi. Any tips?
    Chúc Mùng Nām Mói
    🙂

    • Hi Mez,

      There are a number of routes, but in general it’s quite a bleak road to travel – mostly industrial suburbs and highways You can take the direct routes – QL5B or AH13 – they’re probably the quickest, but not nice. Otherwise, you can weave through on back-roads. But personally I think it’s best just to get it done.

      Also, bear in mind that if you’re riding today, there’s likely to be increased traffic because of the Tet holidays – probably less trucks, but many more ‘leisure’ vehicles. Be careful. And the same goes for popular tourist sites, such as Halong Bay – they will probably be packed for the next week.

      Good luck,

      Tom

  10. Gareth says:

    Hey,

    These articles are so helpful! I was wondering if you could help me out, I’m trying to work out a route from Dalat to Qui Nhon but going through the mountains and avoiding Nha Trang. Could you suggest a route and do you think it is possible to do it with just one night break or it would need 2? Thanks!!

  11. Justin says:

    Hey Tom!

    Awesome article and amazing information, thank you so much. My wife and I are thinking about doing a motor bike trip sometime this year. She’s not 100% comfortable on a bike and we just got back from Bali where we travelled for 2 weeks on a motor bike. We both rode on the same bike, but only day trips. We would store our luggage at our hotel/stay and venture out during the day so we didn’t have much to carry.

    Would you suggest a possibility for a couple to travel on one bike and packing light? Or would you highly suggest two separate bikes for more packing room. Also, one bike would increase our weight and the amount of work our bike has to do. Do you think this is a reasonable way to travel? Thank you!

    • Hi Justin,

      If you’re planning on leaving your luggage at your accommodation and then making days trips on your bike, then there’s no reason to rent two bikes instead of one.

      Some of the places you might consider basing yourself in and then making road trips out for the day include, Phong Nha, Hoi An, Dalat, Mui Ne/Phan Thiet.

      If you were going to travel two on one bike with a light packing load that would also be fine as long as your bike is in good condition and has adequate power. Also note that some of the recommended motorbike rental companies on this page offer various luggage carriers. However, over long distances in one day it would be a little more tiring for the driver with the extra weight.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  12. Yael Goudsmit says:

    Hello Tom,

    What an amzing job you did! Finding your site makes investigating how to make the trip very interesting and easy.

    We are near Ben Tre staying in an amazing hotel Mango Home Riverside (worth a visit). After trying out Honda CBF out from HCMC to the delta we dicided to drive up to Dan Nang starting on the 22nd of Jan. There is a coastal route and a rural one. We would like to take the most scenic route possible in 2 weeks. We will stay at your suggested Juliets Villa Resort & Ana Andara which look amazing! For for the rest everything is open. We do not want to drive more than 4 hours a day with some 3 spare days to stay somewhere. You have seen it all. Which route can you recommend:

    – from Ben tre to Juliets Villa Resort
    – from Dalat to Da Nang
    – should we go more up the the Van Hai Pass and go back?
    – any more amazing hotels along the way?

    I will book trough your links :-).

    Thank you so much in advance!

    Kind regards, Yael

    • Hi Yael,

      I’m glad you like Mango Home – it’s a great place.

      There are lots of potential routes to choose from.

      If you only want to ride about 4 hours a day, from Ben Tre to Dalat go can follow this route: Ben Tre to Saigon – take QL50 all the way, it’s much better than the more direct route on Highway 1, even though the last 20km is still horrible. Then from Saigon to Juliet’s Villa and Dalat, follow my Dalat Back Roads routes.

      From Dalat to Danang, you can either choose to stay in the mountains and take QL27 to Lake Lak and Buon Ma Thuon then follow the Ho Chi Minh Road (section 2 to 3) or the Road East of the Long Mountains or you can take QL27C from Dalat down to Nha Trang and then follow my Coast Road route to Hoi An.

      For places to stay, LAK Tented Camp is great if you’re staying in the mountains, about 4 hours from Dalat. On the coast, there are lots of places – you can see the places I’ve reviewed and where they are by looking at my Vietnam Coracle Map.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  13. Liam Clancy says:

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks or the wonderful set of info. My only question is this: with 13 days on the road which rout is best?

    Thanks so much,
    Liam

    • Hi Liam,

      With 13 days you should really consider shortening any of these routes: either by starting somewhere else or finishing somewhere else.

      For example, if you rent your bike from any of the recommended companies on this page, they can arrange pick up and drop off in places other than Saigon and Hanoi. So, for example, if you were travelling south to north, you could pick your bike up in Phan Thiet or Nha Trang and drop it off in Dong Hoi or Vinh. This way you would have more time to ride, and less distance to cover. (You would, of course, need to pay extra for this service).

      But if you must ride the entire length in 13 days it makes sense to take the shortest route, which is Uncle Ho’s Road.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  14. Kendall says:

    Hi Tom,

    Great info and really helpful articles!
    We are looking at taking 3 months to travel from Saigon up to Hanoi in July, August and September.

    Do you suggest just taking longer to do your suggested routes or try to cover more ground?
    We want to see the main cities but also see a lot of the off the beaten path stuff.

    Thanks
    Kendall

  15. Marijn says:

    Hi Tom, all these routes look very good. From some friends I have heard that the routes along the coast are very heavily used by big trucks. Is this correct? If so, how is the traffic along the easy rider? I was also wondering how accomodation is on that route. Would you recommend booking hostels and such up front? Me and my girlfriend are starting the trip on the 25th of february.

    Thanks a bunch!

    • Hi Marjin,

      All my routes try to start off busy main roads as much as possible, but sometimes you simply can’t avoid them, especially when entering and exiting large cities. But the coastal route stays off the main artery of Highway QL1 for the vast majority of the way. There’s a common misconception that the coastal route sticks to the highway: this isn’t true. Please take a look as this guide for details.

      In general accommodation is available everywhere in Vietnam, even in remote areas you can usually find at least one nhà nghỉ (local guest house) – read more about that here. As for booking in advance, this is only really necessary if you are staying in a popular destination, particularly on weekends or public holidays, or if you want to stay in a specific resort/hotel.

      One area where there really is only one hotel for 250km is the Western Ho Chi Minh Road – read more about that here.

      Also, take note of weather conditions – February/March can still be quite wet and cold anywhere north of Danang.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Marijn says:

        Hi Tom!

        Thanks for the tips! That’s good to hear.
        Yeah we heard about the Hanoi traffic we are planning to get a scooter cab to guide us out of the city!

        One more question I had, would you recommend boking our bikes beforehand? Or will there be plenty choice at the time of arrival?

        Marijn

  16. Greta says:

    Hello! Thanks a lot for the routes! We are planning to do the Beach Bum and were wondering is it easy to find accomodation along the way or should we plan in advance where we are going to stay?

    • Hi Greta,

      Yes, there’s plenty of accommodation on that route, especially in the towns and beach communities. But even in more off the beaten path areas there’s almost always local guest houses called nhà nghỉ in Vietnamese – read more about that here.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  17. Thib64 says:

    What are the best landscapes to see between the beach boom road and the uncle ho’s road? And about the historical sites? And which one is the less touristic?

    • Hi,

      Do you mean which route is the most scenic: the Beach Bum or Uncle Ho’s Road?

      If so, it depends what kind of scenery you prefer: if you like coastal scenery, then the Beach Bum is best; if you like mountain scenery, then Uncle Ho’s Road is best.

      Uncle Ho’s Road has less tourist hotspots than the Beach Bum.

      For historical sits, if depends what kind of sites you’re looking for: there are more war-related sites on Uncle Ho’s Road, but there are more pagodas, temples, and shrines on the Beach Bum.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  18. Nathaniel says:

    Hey Tom,

    I’m planning on going to Ha Noi in either January or February to do ‘The Big One’ to Saigon – Is this a good time of year (Jan/Feb) to be doing it?

    Thanks

    • Hi Nathaniel,

      It’s not a particularly good time of year, because the weather conditions, especially in Central Vietnam are usually quite bleak at that time of year. It can also be surprisingly cold anywhere from Hue northwards. But in the south, especially anywhere south of Nha Trang, Jan/Feb is the best time of year for dry, warm, sunny, bright days. So if you can, it’s advisable to start in the south and end in the north at that time of year, because that way there’s more chance the weather will be getting better by the time you get further north.

      But despite the weather conditions, lots of riders choose to do road trips during Jan/Feb and love it.

      For more about weather see this guide.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Nathaniel says:

        Hey,

        Thanks Tom.

        So if you were going to recommend the best time of year to do South to North (or North to South) when would you recommend I do it?

        What time of year would make sense to start to get the “best” weather all the way through?

        Thanks,
        Nathaniel

  19. Thib64 says:

    Hello, thank you for your help,
    According to you what is the best loop if we have 15 days?
    And what is the best loop for people who are looking for adventure?

    Thx

    • Hi,

      Well, the routes on this page aren’t loops, but with 15 days (which isn’t a particularly long time for a south-north road trip), you should stick to the shorter routes, such as Uncle Ho’s Road, the Beach Bum, or Easy Rider.

      However, the route that will take you most off the beaten path is the Big One, but to ride this route you need a lot more time.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  20. Will says:

    Hi Tom,

    Brilliant stuff mate, appreciate the information & feedback.

    Planning an April trip to Vietnam & Thailand – will have ~10 days in Vietnam. I’ve been reading about these motorbike trips and it looks fantastic, but do you think it’s worth trying to do with only 10 days? We’ll be starting in Hanoi and moving south. Another option I’ve been contemplating is bus-ing or train-ing with the bikes to Hue or Hoi An and then just doing the leg from there to Ho Chi Mihn City. The only other thing to consider is that we’re trying to see Ha Long bay at the top of the trip as well.

    Thanks for you time in advance – all the best!

    • Hi Will,

      No, that’s not really enough time to ride north to south. You can ‘do’ Halong Bay as a day or day/night trip from Hanoi on a tour – there’s no point riding there.

      Then you could pick your bikes up in Hue or Danang (just fly there – the budget airlines are cheap) and start your road trip from there all the way down to Saigon – following one or mixing several of the routes on this page. All the good, reliable, reputable rental companies have offices in either Hue or Danang, and also in Saigon, so you can rent the bikes in one city and drop them back in the other. For my recommendations of rental companies read this.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Will says:

        Thanks for the idea/feedback. Love that.

        We were hoping to ride Hai Van Pass (do you agree that’s a must do?) so will probably go with Hue. Do you not think it’s worth buying a motorbike in Hue as opposed to renting? We do have a couple days planned in Ho Chi Mihn at the end.

        • Hi Will,

          It’s really not worth buying a motorbike for short term rides in Vietnam anymore. I discuss the pros and cons here.

          Yes, the Hai Van Pass is good, but compared to other great roads in Vietnam, it’s not a must. I’ve written a guide to the Hai Van Pass here, and a list of 25 of the Greatest Riding Roads in Vietnam here.

          Tom

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