Vietnam Coracle: Thank You Page

Thank you!

Thanks for subscribing to Vietnam Coracle. Your interest in my site is much appreciated. I hope you enjoy reading and keeping up to date with all the latest content.

Tom |

Thank you, Vietnam Coracle

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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. Rick Woollett says:
    April 10, 2024 at 12:41 AM

    Hi Tom,
    We will be first time travellers to Vietnam this coming December/ January for 4 weeks.
    Flying into Hanoi, staying 5 nights in the old quarter and then heading to Hai Giang to do the 3 day two nigh Hai Giang loop, any information on this would be great. Neither of us ride so we will need a tour that provides rider/guide.
    From there back to Hanoi for a few days, then we plan on doing a 3 day 2 night Halong Bay Cruise.
    Again any recommendations would be great.
    From there to Hoi An for 6 nights, then onto Ho Chi Minh. We have been told by friends that we should do a 3 day Mekong Delta tour, any thoughts on this would also be appreciated.
    Kind Regards
    Rick and Mary

    1. Tom says:
      April 10, 2024 at 10:57 AM

      Hi Rick,

      For the loop, please refer to my Ha Giang Loop Guide.

      For Ha Long Bay, it’s better to pay more and get more, rather than pay less and be disappointed – search online for some mid-range to luxury cruises for 1-2 nights.

      For Mekong Delta tours, I don’t really have any recommendations because I generally write about independent travel rather than tours.



  2. Rob Atkinson says:
    March 25, 2024 at 5:14 AM

    Start by saying thankyou for all your efforts I’ve had many hours of viewing!!!
    I am going to explore the north west departing Hanoi
    Can u please recommend a route up thru Mai Chau
    To down bien Phu and sapa, my cang chai
    It’s hard to know which would be a more scenic less traffic route, any help is appreciated mate
    Even a general idea would help me a lot
    Thanks again and you are appreciated!!!!

    1. Tom says:
      March 26, 2024 at 10:15 AM

      Hi Rob,

      For the northwest, take look a the following guides and stitch them together as you like with some extra link roads: Limestone Loop, Harvest Route, Extreme Northwest Loop, Sin Ho Loop, and section 4 of the Trans-Northern Belt Road.



  3. Sandra Collins says:
    March 14, 2024 at 4:22 AM

    Hi Tom,
    Thank you for answering me back! We talked to our tour operator who lives in Saigon. He thinks March is the best time to go for dry weather throughout most of the country. We scrapped outside Sapa ( too much time on the loop), Con Dao (not right time of year)and we are starting in Hanoi-3 nights, then on to Ninh Binh for 2 nights, then on to Halong Bay on the Ylang luxury cruise 3 days/2nights on lan ha bay and cat ba. Explore cat ba National park. Return to Hanoi and fly to Dong Hoi to Phong NA National park. Our tour operator told us to stay inside the park as the town is crowded and a lot of back packers and tourists.
    He recommend we stay at Phong Nha lake house which I see you have for upscale home stays. While the property looks nice it is a pretty boring view of a lake. Was wondering if the other upscale properties like the victory villa’s, etc are just as nice, good food on the Son River with a view of the limestone karsts? If not, we will stay with the lake house. From there we go to Hue and Hoi Ann and then Saigon/Delta with a wrap up at Amanoi luxury property for R&R. We have 3.5 weeks and are older adults so this seems reasonable Any advice would be great on the Phong Na home stay! Have gained such valuable info from your site!

    1. Tom says:
      March 15, 2024 at 2:32 PM

      Hi Sandra,

      Sounds good. Yes, March is generally a good time of year to travel the whole country, however there is still the possibility of grey, drizzling days in the northern half of the country.

      Yes, I would say that Victory Villas is better than Lake House because of the views across the river and limestone karsts.



      1. Sandra Collins says:
        March 15, 2024 at 4:07 PM

        Thanks Tom! We will have our tour operator look into Victory Villa’s

  4. Stephen Hedman says:
    February 28, 2024 at 7:32 PM

    I just met a gentleman in Starbucks, and we talked of travel. He wrote down your website on a scrap of paper. Any hiking trips throughout Cambodia. I’m due for an adventure.The temples and jungle there look interesting.
    Thank you. Stephen Hedman

    1. Tom says:
      February 29, 2024 at 12:19 AM

      Hi Stephen,

      My website is only about Vietnam, not Cambodia, so I can’t offer you any advice about hiking there.



  5. Amanda Lindsay says:
    February 11, 2024 at 11:15 AM

    Hi Tom, absolutely delighted to find this site through Lonely Planet, but my only complaint it makes it even more complicated to book my trip as you have so many amazing recommendations that i would love to see !! I am therefore having difficulty in finding information on a Ha Giang Loop tour, by open top 4 wheel drive and private driver. Can you suggest ? We are at the mature stage in life and would therefore prefer private room and homestay rather then dormitory/hostiles. Any suggestions?thanks SO much. Amanda

    1. Tom says:
      February 16, 2024 at 1:48 AM

      Hi Amanda,

      Firstly, go to my newly updated Ha Giang Loop Guide. In the guide go to Overview & Details > About This Loop > Motorbike Rental & Tours. In this paragraph there are recommendations of tour companies, such of which will be able to assist you with your request. For open-top car tours, you might want to contact Style Motorbikes and Flipside Adventures.



  6. Sandra Collins says:
    January 19, 2024 at 6:41 PM

    Hi Tom,
    I stumbled on you blog on trip Vietnam TA site. What a fantastic source of information about everything Vietnam!! We are seriously planning on going to Vietnam for the 1st time. We would be using a high end trip advisor/tour operator (Asia Desk) we have traveled with them before to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos for 3 weeks 6 years ago in Nov/December and it was fantastic.
    We are “older travelers” who are luxury travelers. We are thinking of 3-3+ weeks in Vietnam and would like to see the whole country as we are from the Charlotte,NC, so it’s a very long trip, and we are only going once.
    We hate crowds, but realize Vietnam has crowds of tourists, will sacrifice that for the beauty of the country, food, people, etc.
    1) We have been to India and one of our friends who just came back from Hanoi said it was incredible polluted and it was hard or them to breathe, similar to Mumbai/Delhi. Is that only a certain time of year?
    We are thinking of starting our tour in Hanoi, the north looks beautiful) Sapa, Dalat, Ninh Bin, Tam Croc, Hue, Hoi Ann, cruise on luxury boat for 3 days in Halong Bay to kayak, see caves, etc. then HCM and the delta. we are looking to finish our trip for about 5 days to relax in an uncrowded beach w/beautiful water-we were thinking of Can Dao at the Six Senses resort or Song Saa in Southern Cambodia. My hubby’s only request is that there is snorkeling, kayaks and a hobie cat. We saw that was not a good time to go to Con Dao from your blog. We need calmer seas and less wind. If the Maldives were closer we would have flown there (been there before) but it is very far away from Vietnam. Is there anytime that most of the country would be nice and very little rain and not sweltering.
    I am sure I missed some areas that are very nice (sorry for any misspellings) and would greatly appreciate your thoughts on destinations in ietnam (we love nature, culture, etc) and what time of year would give us the best option of exploring the country. By the way, we looked at Pho Quoc also for a relaxing beach destination.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!
    Thank you,

    1. Tom says:
      January 21, 2024 at 10:59 AM

      Hi Sandra,

      Thanks for your message.

      Before deciding on where to visit and what to do in Vietnam, you should familiarize yourself with Vietnam’s complex and little understood climate. What time of year you visit will determine where you go in the country. See my Weather Guide.

      For example, choosing between Phu Quoc and Con Dao will be determined almost entirely by the time of year.

      The same is true with northern and central Vietnam – those areas have some of the most spectacular landscapes, but also some of the wettest, coldest weather at certain times of year.

      Hanoi is very polluted. But it is also very charming and interesting. With 2-3 days in the capital, pollution shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

      If you really what to avoid touristy areas and crowds, you will want to skip places like Hoi An, Sapa and Ha Long Bay, which are among the most popular destinations in the country. However, a luxury cruise on Ha Long Bay is still a memorable experience; and almost everyone enjoys Hoi An despite the crowds; and Sapa town is a tourist-trap, but beyond the town are good hikes and villages and amazing landscape.

      It’s best if you either: decide what time of year you are visiting and then plan your destinations accordingly; or decide which destinations you want to visit and then play your time of year accordingly.

      Try using the subcategories on my site, typing key words in the search box in the top right corner on any page, and browsing my Vietnam Coracle Map to get more of an idea of what there is to see/do in Vietnam. Then you can email me with more specific questions.



  7. GROC MARIELLE says:
    January 8, 2024 at 3:37 PM

    bonjour Tom, voici 2 ans que je prépare notre road trip moto au Vietnam, et vos multiples articles, cartes et conseils, m’ont beaucoup aidée, nous partons à 5 motos, 10 adultes (HONDACB500 louées chez TIGIT) du 27/02 au 15/03/2024; notre parcours avec vos meilleures routes !!!!
    – HCM/CHAU DOC 2 nuits
    – CHAU DOC /CAN THO 1 nuit
    – CAN THO/ PHU MY 1 nuit
    – PHU MY/MUI NE 2 nuits
    – MUI NE/DALAT 2 nuits
    -DALAT/LAK LAKE 1 nuit
    – LAK LAKE/TU NHAM 1 nuit
    – TU HAM/T’măng Đeeng Homestay 1nuit
    – T’măng Đeeng Homestay/ HOI AN 3 nuits
    – HOI AN/HUE 2 nuits
    5 nuits à PHU QUOC
    merci encore

    1. Tom says:
      January 10, 2024 at 2:07 AM

      Hi Marielle,

      Thanks for your message. It’s great to hear you are about to go on your road trip. I hope you enjoy it.



  8. Al Finnell says:
    January 1, 2024 at 10:00 PM

    do you know about the guac fruit which grows on a vine? What zones does it grow in? Do you have seeds?

    1. Tom says:
      January 2, 2024 at 6:05 AM

      Hi Al,

      I think you’re probably referring to the Gấc fruit. It is a large, slightly spiky, orange fruit. In general, it is not eaten but used as a dye for other foods. For example, xôi (sticky rice) is often coloured orange by using the gấc fruit.



  9. Taylor Bazley says:
    December 20, 2023 at 6:00 PM

    Thanks Tom for putting together such incredibly helpful information! I’m planning to do your Golden Loop tour but I can’t find anywhere to reserve the guesthouse you recommended in Prao in advance. Would you typically just show up? Is there risk to not having a place to stay?

    Thanks for your information!


    1. Tom says:
      December 22, 2023 at 7:57 AM

      Hi Taylor,

      Unless you’re travelling on a public holiday (or maybe a weekend), there shouldn’t really be any need to book the guest house in Prao in advance. There are several guest houses in the town now.



  10. Gerb says:
    December 14, 2023 at 3:22 AM

    Hi team,

    I’ve been using Vietnam Coracle for 5 years now and keep recommending it to others because the content is so good, although the website itself was a bit hard to navigate sometimes. But I must say it has become incredibly professional now! The design is beautiful, it’s easy to navigate, it shows the vast amount of the content and it invites further reading. I’m very impressed.


    1. Tom says:
      December 17, 2023 at 11:35 AM

      Hi Gerb,

      Thank you so much for your kind words about the website, I’m very happy to hear that you enjoy it and can see that we are always trying to improve it.



  11. Don pulley says:
    December 11, 2023 at 4:38 PM

    Hi there, firstly I want to thank you dearly for putting all of this together I am in ho chi Minh City now just bought a motorbike and will be living out of your maps for the next 3 months but I had a question I know it sounds stupid but when I follow your “route” on Google maps is it possible to get following turn/route directions to stay and “lock” on the route itself??
    do I just follow with the Google maps “blue circle” at road junctions?
    I apologize if I’m not asking correctly.
    Thank you in advance.
    I will definitely donate!!

    1. Tom says:
      December 17, 2023 at 11:16 AM

      Hi Don,

      My apologies for the slow reply.

      To get my google maps to show the route offline, please follow the directions below:

      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.



  12. Michael Brookman says:
    December 4, 2023 at 4:49 PM

    Planning a motor Ike trip from Hanoi to Tuyen Quang, Son Duong specifically to meet and visit a long time online friend. A native of Son Duong who teaches English in primary school. Have advised her on English language for some years. Curriculum is more focused on formal grammar so I advised more on typical daily conversation in English. She’s a foodie and tells me I must come for the good Viet cuisine. 🙂 Cheers.

    1. Tom says:
      December 5, 2023 at 8:22 AM

      Hi Michael,

      Great! I hope you enjoy your trip – it sounds like a promising one.



  13. Veronica Von Bernáth Morra says:
    November 24, 2023 at 9:23 AM

    Very interesting article. I am thinking most people are doing visa runs? How is this trip to spend some time in Cambodia? Would I find English speaking people? Do you think I could hook up with a Cambodian Tour? I am 75 and very active but the lack of language intimidates me. Thank you also for all the other interesting info. Veronica B. Morra

    1. Tom says:
      November 26, 2023 at 7:50 AM

      Hi Veronica,

      I think you are referring to the Vietnam to Cambodia by Boat guide. Most of the passengers are travellers, not doing visa runs. For the boat journey there will be people who speak English. For tours in Cambodia, I can’t help you because I’m based in Vietnam.



      1. Veronica Morra says:
        November 26, 2023 at 12:30 PM

        I really appreciate your answering.
        I have been living in DaLat for almost
        4 years. Love Vietnam . I really enjoy
        Vietnam Coracle. Wish I had know
        about it sooner… Glad to have access now!

  14. Chris Huynh says:
    November 11, 2023 at 12:07 AM

    I came upon your site while researching plants and flora of Vietnam. I am completely captivated. Wonderful travelogue and beautiful photos. Keep up the great work!


    1. Tom says:
      November 11, 2023 at 4:37 PM

      Hi Chris,

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m very happy to hear you’re enjoying the site.



  15. Jake says:
    November 7, 2023 at 7:43 AM

    Hey Tom,

    I travelled to Vietnam for 1 month and bought a budget bike back in 2018. It was actually great and rarely broke down, even in comparison to my friend’s rented bike. However, I’m pretty confident I was just lucky. This aside, your blog was my sole source of information and it was invaluable, so thank you!!

    This time I’m coming back with my girlfriend and we will both get a bike so I’m keen for something just as reliable. We are actually travelling south to north for 3 months (with a 5-6 week stop in Da Nang). In your experience would it still make sense for us to purchase a quality bike as renting would cost us around $600 if I’m correct? Or would you still recommend renting for the many benefits you’ve mentioned in your articles?

    1. Tom says:
      November 7, 2023 at 9:26 AM

      Hi Jake,

      Good to hear that you’re coming back to Vietnam and have lots of time.

      Yes, I would still advise renting over buying in your case. But, as you do have more time, it does give you the opportunity to spend some time looking for a good bike to buy. However, I would personally suggest that renting still have more pros than buying.



  16. Kim McCaskill says:
    October 26, 2023 at 4:26 PM

    I’m so excited to start reading your articles about Vietnam! We are planning our trip for March 2024. I have a question that I can’t seem to find an answer to: Do you know if they burn the fields in the Pu Luong areas each March? We recently canceled part of our trip to Luang Prabang because of all the reports of the horrible smoke. I found Pu Luong as a substitute for Luang Prabang and I hope they have better practices as far as the burning.
    Many thanks for all your help and knowledge!

    1. Tom says:
      October 27, 2023 at 9:20 AM

      Hi Kim,

      Yes, that’s a good question. Certainly the practice of burning crops fields is still ongoing in Vietnam. However, I have rarely experienced it to be anything like as bad as in Thailand.

      I’m not sure exactly what time of year the ‘burning season’ is in Pu Luong. I think it would be best to email some of the accommodations to ask for more information about that.



  17. Roberto says:
    October 21, 2023 at 6:35 AM

    hi Tom,
    I’m planning a trip to Vietnam for next feb24.
    I’ll travel with my son (Luca, age 21), we are thinking to cycle from north to south (or viceversa).
    I’d like to rent a bike locally. Any suggestion?

    let’s be in touch


    1. Tom says:
      October 22, 2023 at 9:04 AM

      Hi Roberto,

      I don’t have any specific recommendations for bicycle rental in Vietnam, but I know that cycling is an increasingly popular pursuit for travellers here, so I think just a bit of googling around will produce a few good results.



  18. Mark Millar says:
    September 23, 2023 at 10:38 AM

    Just moved to HCMC for work and I’ve found this to be be invaluable!

    1. Tom says:
      September 25, 2023 at 3:40 AM

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks, that’s great to hear. I hope you enjoy living and working in HCMC.



  19. Tran Khanh Tuyet says:
    September 20, 2023 at 3:03 AM

    This is for Tom.
    I can’t say that i am envious of you who chose to make Vietnam your home. In 1956, after being in London for about a year I begged my father to send me home. Vietnam, not London or England was my HOME for a Vietnamese child aged 15-16.
    Now, at age 83 being away from Vietnam since 1968, I can’t say North California is not my home, but the chosen living away from Vietnam is rather…
    Thus, your newsletters simply help as if I have continued traveling to beautiful places of my dream when the war ended.

    Thank you,

    1. Tom says:
      September 20, 2023 at 11:00 AM

      Hi Tuyet,

      Thank you for your kind words. I am happy that my articles can perhaps provide you with some contact with Vietnam from your ‘home’ in North California. It has certainly been a tumultuous century for Vietnam and its people.

      All the best,


  20. Luis Mendes says:
    September 15, 2023 at 5:05 PM

    Hello there,
    I’ll be traveling from south to North Vietnam and find your articles very useful.
    Keep up the amazing job, congrats

    1. Tom says:
      September 17, 2023 at 8:01 AM

      Hi Luis,

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m very happy to hear you’ve been enjoying your Vietnam trip and that my work has been useful to you.



  21. deb sussman says:
    September 11, 2023 at 4:37 AM

    Hello, i just found your site while looking for passenger ferries in Vietnam. I am looking forward to a great trip to southeast Asia . looking forward to lea thanks deb

    1. Tom says:
      September 12, 2023 at 3:11 AM

      Hi Deb,

      Thanks. I hope you enjoy your trip!



  22. Howard Krieger says:
    August 16, 2023 at 12:14 PM

    Hi Tom, I just came across your site and having toured solo through Vietnam several times can’t wait to dive in to all the in-depth articles, culture and photography presented here. Thanking you and your team of contributors for all your hard work in presenting this material. Best.

    1. Tom says:
      August 17, 2023 at 7:33 AM

      Hi Howard,

      Thank you for your kind words – I appreciate it. I hope your planning goes well!



  23. Neil Hunt says:
    August 11, 2023 at 5:30 AM

    Hi Tom
    Thanks for your informative articles on the web. I am planning to arrive HCMC March 2 in 2024. I aim to self-ride motor bike for around 4 weeks. Some time with a tour group and some on my own. Previously spent around 10 days Hani area so likely to not head up that far. As the trip gets closer, I will be looking for ideas.

    1. Tom says:
      August 12, 2023 at 12:48 PM

      Hi Neil,

      That’s great. I hope the planning goes well!



  24. Nguyễn-Khoa, Thái Anh says:
    August 5, 2023 at 10:25 PM

    We, Vietnamese, would like to thank you, Ben, the writers and contributors to Vietnam Coracle. We appreciate your work, care, passion, and dedication. My paternal family is from Huế, but born and raised in Saigon, I’m amazed of your and Ben’s constancy, your beautiful photos are a sight to behold and the dishes sure make my mouth water!
    We live in Oakland, California and am glad that Ben is also from the Bay area. If you and Ben or any of the writers visit the San Francisco Bay area, please give me holler, we’d like to invite you to our home and enjoy our cooking.

    1. Tom says:
      August 6, 2023 at 11:33 AM

      Hi Nguyễn-Khoa & Thái Anh,

      Thank you for your kind words – they mean a lot.

      Certainly, it would be wonderful to join you for some home-cooking if we’re ever in the Bay area.

      Thanks again.



  25. Francesca says:
    July 7, 2023 at 9:49 AM

    Hello! I am so happy i found you before my upcoming trip to Vietnam with my teenager son in August! I still do not know what to do and what to see. We only have 14 days in Vietnam, arriving from 2 days in BKK to Hanoi and leaving from Ho Chi Minh.

    Would you recommend 3 nts/4 days in the north region (panhou, Ha Giang…?)?
    Do you know anything / recommend about Ha Long bay tours or cruise?
    It would love to hear any recommendations if you have.

    Thank you


    1. Tom says:
      July 10, 2023 at 1:20 AM

      Hi Francesca,

      Yes, Ha Giang is a fantastic part of the country and well worth visiting if you have the time.

      I don’t know much about Ha Long Bay boat tours, but I do know that you get what you pay for: the cheap tours are very disappointing, so it’s better to spend a bit more money and get a better experience.

      Bear in mind that 14 days isn’t really a lot of time, so you should consider focusing on 2-3 areas, rather than the whole country: for example, Ha Giang, Ha Long Bay and Hoi An.



  26. Mike says:
    June 21, 2023 at 11:27 PM

    Hi Tom,
    I’m new to Vietnam Coracle so excited to be on board. I’m looking to travel to Vietnam again in July for two weeks for the first time in Ten years. I’m looking for inspiration so will read with great interest. Have previously visited Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Mekong Delta & Hoi An, so interested in new opportunities such as Hue and maybe other places I have yet to explore.

    1. Tom says:
      June 23, 2023 at 9:02 AM

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your message. Great to hear you will be returning to Vietnam. I hope you find some useful information on my site to help you plan your trip



  27. Harry Vandborg says:
    June 13, 2023 at 6:32 PM

    Wow love your writing!
    Never been to Vietnam but in the 80s spent 9 months backpacking mainly India, but also Nepal,Burma,Thailand.
    Since been to Laos twice,Cambodia twice, Myanmar.
    Planning another trip 2024 has to be around October November hoping to go back to best of Laos,Cambodia, Myanmar, (my friend has not been to these places, but we did Sri Lanka 2016)
    So really looking forward to out of the way places in Vietnam). Your loop sounds amazing but maybe not the best time of year for us?
    Look forward to your future articles.

    1. Tom says:
      June 16, 2023 at 9:48 AM

      Hi Harry,

      Which ‘loop’ are you referring to? There are lots of loops on my website.



      1. Harry Vandborg says:
        June 17, 2023 at 3:10 AM

        I was referring to the Muong Long loop.

        1. Tom says:
          June 17, 2023 at 6:32 AM

          Hi Harry,

          Yes, the Muong Long Loop will probably be quite rainy during that time of year. Some of the northern routes are OK in October.

          For more about weather conditions at different times of year in Vietnam, see my Weather Guide.



  28. Josh Casey says:
    May 12, 2023 at 4:12 AM

    Hey, lived on and off in Vietnam for years, so nice to have actual motorbike route overlaid onto google maps instead of scribbled on the back of napkins! I’ve been up north on bikes so many times and can never remember where I went so this is very useful to plan and work things out. Very nicely done, great content, appreciate it a lot!

    1. Tom says:
      May 12, 2023 at 6:02 AM

      Thanks, Josh. Good to hear you’ve had some good riding in Vietnam!



  29. Phoebe says:
    April 18, 2023 at 7:05 PM

    Hey Tom,
    firstly, I love Vietnam Coracle! It’s so helpful and a nice and authentic alternative to other Vietnam Travel Platforms out there, so thank you! I am travelling to Vietnam this month for a bit over two weeks, but won’t be visiting the North. Which cities/activities do you most recommend in centre and south Vietnam?
    Thank you so much and best wishes from Germany!

    1. Tom says:
      April 23, 2023 at 9:47 AM

      Hi Phoebe,

      I’m glad to hear you enjoy the site.

      That’s quite a broad question, so it’s difficult for me to answer without knowing more information. I think perhaps you could browse my guides by region and select ‘The South’ and ‘The Centre’ subcategories to get more of an idea about what those regions are like. Then, contact me again once you have narrowed your itinerary down a bit. For example, it depends if you’re looking for beaches or mountains, cities or countryside, culture or entertainment, well-trodden sites or off the beaten path etc.



  30. Andre says:
    March 1, 2023 at 12:49 AM

    Hi Tom,
    I found you on lonely, planet, guidebook, towards the end of this year. I plan on spending six weeks traveling around Vietnam on a small scooter. I’m glad to have found your site to help me along the way. Thank you.

    1. Tom says:
      March 1, 2023 at 4:12 AM

      Hi Andre,

      That’s great. Thank you. I hope my website will help you plan and enjoy your road trip in Vietnam.



  31. William P. Sensheimer says:
    February 26, 2023 at 10:47 AM

    Hi Tom, I happened to come across your Vietnam Coracle while doing some research. I am looking forward to discovering new things. Thanks for including me in your group. I wish you all the time a good trip and the discovery of more interesting gems.

    1. Tom says:
      February 28, 2023 at 3:09 AM

      Hi William,

      Thank you! I hope you enjoying reading this website.



  32. Rex Eaton says:
    February 23, 2023 at 7:52 PM

    I’ve enjoyed your material over the past years Tom. Time long overdue for me to subscribe. Best wishes with your travels and writing in this amazing country!

    1. Tom says:
      February 24, 2023 at 3:19 AM

      Thanks, Rex. I hope you continue to enjoy the site.



  33. Rob Fitzpatrick says:
    December 27, 2022 at 2:30 PM

    Hi Tom

    Big fan of the blog – fascinating and compelling reading, thank you for your work! Already thinking ahead to a trip over xmas 2023 and we’re (two adults, a 19 yo and 14yo) thinking of flying into Ho Chi Minh for a few days and then taking a train to Phan Thiet for a week or so. We were in Phu Quoc (at Ninila) just before lockdown and have always longed to return to Vietnam. We’re very open to other suggestions at this point!

    very best


    1. Tom says:
      January 1, 2023 at 4:18 AM

      Hi Rob,

      Thanks for your kind words.

      That time of year is great for Phu Quoc, particularly Ong Lang beach (where Ninila is) and Long Beach (stretching south of Duong Dong, the island’s main town), and also Ganh Dau (in the northwest of the island) and Vung Bau beach. There are so many places to stay. Check out my Phu Quoc Beaches guide and Phu Quoc Hotels Reviews archive for more details.



      1. Rob Fitzpatrick says:
        January 6, 2023 at 9:06 AM

        thanks for the reply, Tom. We actually were in PQ end of 2019, so that’s why I’m now looking at Ho Chi Minh / Phan Thiet over Dec/Jan 23/24. I’ll keep reading!

  34. Anh Nguyen says:
    December 20, 2022 at 6:04 PM

    Love your article on Bun Rieu Cua Oc. I’m planning a trip to Phang Rang in January 2023 for Tet. Can’t wait to eat at the restaurant and many other restaurants. We are know for our seafood because of location. And f you get a chance to travel to Phang Rang, I strongly suggest you try Banh Xeo and Banh Can. I highly recommend it. Thank you for your article. Very detailed and superb photography. Keep up the awesome and good work!

    1. Tom says:
      December 21, 2022 at 3:15 AM

      Thanks, Anh.

      Yes, I love Phan Rang – especially around Tet time of year. I also enjoy the bánh căn and bánh xèo there. The coastal roads directly north and south of Phan Rang are fantastic. If you haven’t already, take a look at Dragons’ Graveyard and Nui Chua Coast Road.



  35. Duncan says:
    December 1, 2022 at 1:48 PM

    Hi there Thom, Today I did my first hike in Con Dao National Park based on your excellent article about hiking in this area. After reading your experiences I decided to stay here a bit longer and focus on doing as much as possible of the five trails you posted. So that’s awesome! Also I saw your article about the ferry to Can Tho. I’ll be using this ferry to explore the Mekon Delta. Thank you for that one also. So the donation I just did, is well deserved. Keep up your good work!

    1. Tom says:
      December 2, 2022 at 1:46 AM

      Hi Duncan,

      I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your first hike on the island – I hope you like the other ones too.

      Regarding the ferry from Con Dao to Can Tho, I think it’s on a reduced schedule now – just once a week. However, you should be able to easily find the current information at the Mai Linh office on the seafront road in Con Son town.

      Also, the ferry service to Tran De (Soc Trang province, Mekong Delta) is currently operating daily – check at the Superdong office in Con Son town.



  36. Philippa says:
    October 30, 2022 at 8:45 AM

    Hi, planning to be in Vietnam in January 2023. Will be wanting to take the ferry from Vung Tau to Con Dau. I read they go Mondays, Wednesdays, Friday’s and Sundays but when I go to the ferry schedule, it only shows Saturdays, if anything at all. Makes it difficult to book hotels, trips etc if I don’t know when I can travel.

    Any ideas please?

    1. Tom says:
      October 31, 2022 at 1:45 AM

      Hi Philippa,

      I’ve written a full guide to the Vung Tau-Con Dao Ferry on this page.

      Unfortunately, the schedule changes regularly according to seasons and weather conditions. January is the windy season, so it’s possible there will be fewer sailings then. But also, January is Tet Lunar New Year – the busiest time for domestic travel – so that means they might put on more sailings. However, they usually only release the ferry schedule ever two months.

      The best thing to do would be go to the ticket office in Vung Tau when you arrive, or if you have specific dates and want to plan your trip in advance, you should consider flying.



  37. DUC D LE says:
    October 26, 2022 at 5:25 AM

    Hi Tom:
    One of my high school classmate (class of 1975) just sent me some photo on his recent trip on Truong Son Dong road.
    They are awesome!
    Do you have any writing on Truong Son Tay road?
    Thank you.
    Duc in Anaheim, California

    1. Tom says:
      October 26, 2022 at 7:33 AM

      Hi Duc,

      Yes, sure: here’s my guide to the Truong Son Dong Road.



    2. Tom says:
      October 26, 2022 at 7:40 AM

      Oh, and for the Truong Son Tay (usually referred to as the Western Ho Chi Minh Road), take a look at section 5 of my Ho Chi Minh Road guide or this route.



  38. Tad Beatty says:
    September 15, 2022 at 4:36 PM

    Hi Tom,
    I’ve never been to Southeast Asia, but I’m planning a motorcycle trip from Hanoi to Singapore. Looking for advice on places to avoid, good routes, things like that. I don’t want to over a planet, but I don’t want to miss the good stuff either…

    Happy to contribute photos and content to the website if you’re interested.

    Thank you,


    1. Tom says:
      September 19, 2022 at 4:15 AM

      Hi Tad,

      Sounds like a good road trip.

      As for advice about routes and everything else, that’s what this website is all about. You can browse dozens of suggested motorbike routes all over Vietnam in my Motorbike Guides Archive. And for other motorbike-related advice, check out my Resources Archive.



  39. Janice figueroa says:
    September 6, 2022 at 11:03 PM

    Visiting Vietnam in October
    Loved. Your Advice and information

    1. Tom says:
      September 7, 2022 at 5:07 AM

      Thanks, Janice.


  40. keith scott says:
    August 29, 2022 at 7:33 AM

    Party of 3 will be visiting Vung Tau next week.
    Would like a tour of the Australian army area of operations Nui Dat & the Long Tan memorial.
    Any recommendations would be appreciated.

    1. Tom says:
      August 29, 2022 at 12:17 PM

      Hi Keith,

      I’m afraid I don’t have any good contacts for tours of the ANZAC area. However, I would suggest you pop into one of the many Aussie and Kiwi bars on Phan Chu Trinh Street in Vung Tau (Belly’s, for example) and ask there – I’m sure they’d be able to help.



    2. Chris Blacket says:
      September 13, 2022 at 4:59 AM

      Agree with Tom. Pop into Belly’s Wateringhole on Phan Chu Trinh in Vung Tau there is a group of Veterans there that run tours to the area and all profits go to the orphanage and old people’s home. Plenty of hotels, try Tom’s hotel booking site. Have a great trip.

  41. Frans says:
    August 5, 2022 at 2:57 PM

    We are planning a cycling trip Hanoi- to Ho Chi Min in February 2023. Estimated distance 2600 kms. Follow the coast line and avoid mountains. Any tips? How to extend a visa since such a trip will be in excess of the standard 30 day visa period??

    1. Tom says:
      August 6, 2022 at 11:41 AM

      Hi Frans,

      Yes, sure, take a look at my Coastal Routes Archive for lots of ideas and routes.

      To extend your visa, you’ll have to leave the country and come back in again – try the Cambodia or Lao border crossings.



    2. Tad Beatty says:
      September 15, 2022 at 4:38 PM

      Hello Frans,

      I am planning the same trip starting late January/early February. What are your exact dates? Would be fun to connect.
      We are then heading from Ho Chi Minh through Cambodia, Thailand, down to Singapore. Hoping to do all of it on a scooter.

  42. Lorna says:
    August 1, 2022 at 9:33 PM

    Hello friends thank you for this great resource. I bicycle. Pedal. I learned of your guide through another cyclist. Now am happy to see I can subscribe. I look frwd to your informative posts. I hope my return to biking SE Asia comes soon.

    1. Tom says:
      August 1, 2022 at 11:32 PM

      Hi Lorna,

      Great, thanks. I hope you enjoy the new posts.


  43. Lavoie Garry says:
    July 31, 2022 at 11:29 AM

    I am planning with 2 friends doing on motobike the hochiminh road on november 2022 starting in Hanoï. I am looking for a agency offering a guide service for the trip and a good motobike renting agency. Do you have any suggestion?
    Sorry for my poor english! (:

    1. Tom says:
      August 1, 2022 at 12:04 PM

      Hi Garry,

      You could try contacting some of the motorbike rental companies that I recommend on this page.



  44. Mary Wilson says:
    July 12, 2022 at 1:48 PM

    Just in first stage of planning our trip! What do you suggest clothing wise and footwear ? Thank you

    1. Tom says:
      July 13, 2022 at 4:26 AM

      Hi Mary,

      Clothing and footwear depends entirely on what time of year you are travelling, where you intend to go, and what you intend to do.

      Take a look at my Weather Guide to get an idea of conditions in different parts of the country at different times of year.



  45. leon dolle says:
    June 23, 2022 at 3:28 AM

    living in Vietnam since november 2019 so due to covid not been able to explore. Your articles will certainly put me on the right track.

    Leon Dolle

    1. Tom says:
      June 24, 2022 at 6:45 AM

      Hi Leon,

      Thanks. I hope you get the chance to start exploring more soon.



  46. Pars Patel says:
    June 19, 2022 at 3:54 AM

    Just found out about your web site and the great service you are providing. We plan to visit Vietna (first time) in November this year. We never take organized/group tour anywher we go and so happy to find Vietnamcoracle as we plan our off beat itenirary. We certainly plan to book all our hotels/local travel thruogh you web link. Looks like to visit Ha Giang, Moc Chau we may need to use local drivers. Any recommendations will be helpful ( nt sure if you ever respond to the emails sent to you through thismediuml.
    With great sense of appreciation,

    Pars Patel
    1 615 424 0438
    Brentwwod/Nashville TN USA

    1. Tom says:
      June 21, 2022 at 1:14 AM

      Hi Pars,

      Thanks for your comment.

      To visit Ha Giang, you can take a bus from Hanoi to Ha Giang city. Then, if you don’t want to ride a motorbike yourself or ride pillion on a motorbike, you can find a car and driver to hire for a few days. I recommend you contact QT Motorbikes in Ha Giang – check their website and send them an email. They can advise you about getting the bus from Hanoi to Ha Giang and on hiring motorbikes, cars, drivers.

      I hope this helps,


  47. Val Pohio says:
    June 2, 2022 at 8:24 AM

    Hi Tom
    Totally awesome site, even though I don’t ride a bike. Until I read Lonely Planet and saw your address, I was finding it confusing to get info about this part of VN. Your info and images are helping to clarify things, not to mention increasing our desire to see this part of the world for ourselves. We are two keen photographers from NZ, hoping to capture some of the spectacular landscapes and so wondered if you could tell me if we get to say, Ha Giang, would it then be possible to hire a driver and car to travel the loop and other areas or do we need to do this in Hanoi? I would prefer that local operators benefited from our tourist dollars if possible. I know you are the bike guru, but hopefully you can give me some idea.
    Warm regards

    1. Tom says:
      June 2, 2022 at 10:10 AM

      Hi Val,

      Thanks for the message and kind words about my site.

      Yes, it’s definitely possible to hire a car and driver to take you on multi-day excursions. In the main cities or tourist centres in the northern mountains, such as Ha Giang and Sapa, it should just be a matter of asking at your hotel reception. However, it’s always worth asking at a few different places before you decide which one to go with: work out a daily rate before you go and make sure they know you want to be as flexible as possible with your route and stopping wherever you like etc. Just give yourself some time (say, a day or two) to make the arrangement.

      I hope this helps,


  48. steve says:
    May 30, 2022 at 5:59 AM

    Back to Southeast Asia after 2 years,,,the last 3 bike trips around VN seem like a dream now, like those misty Karsts in the North.
    That sense of adventure pulls us again, but it is tinged with a new unknown.
    Although double vaxxed, what lies out there? Is it safe yet to go out to the ”middle of nowhere” we loved?
    Is the mid July 2022 to soon?….,decisions

    1. Tom says:
      May 31, 2022 at 2:02 AM

      Hi Steve,

      I’m happy to write that the simple answer to your questions is: Yes! Everything is open, everything is fine, travel is good. Come now.



  49. peter dunbar says:
    April 1, 2022 at 5:48 AM

    Outstanding information mate. I hope to convince my wife to do join me on some of those routes. Winter travel up there should be interesting?

    1. Tom says:
      April 1, 2022 at 12:15 PM

      Thanks, Peter.

      Yes, there’s always a good part of Vietnam to visit at any time of year. For more about weather and where/when to go take a look at this guide.



  50. Tom Baum says:
    March 14, 2022 at 1:24 PM

    Hi Tom

    I have visited Vietnam, mainly for work, on many occasions and am longing to return after 2.5 years away!! I have to visit SE Asia anyway in April and wanted to add a few days in Hanoi to see friends. I am fully vaccinated and boosted but am still unclear whether it will actually happen and how difficult visa/ border controls will be. Any sense from what you hear on the ground. I have both a UK and a EU passport.

    1. Tom says:
      March 14, 2022 at 2:31 PM

      Hi Tom,

      Unfortunately, there is currently no more information about what will be required to enter Vietnam or how the reopening will be handled. It is very strange indeed. But, as it stands, the nation is still due to reopen tomorrow, March 15.

      However, I would thing that by April the situation will be much clearer, and hopefully you will be able to pop over to Hanoi for a few days without much hassle.



  51. Samuel says:
    December 7, 2021 at 4:47 PM

    Hi Tom, I have been visiting Vietnamcoracle, since last two, your blog is too good, I love reading it, I have been planning to visit Vietnam, due to covid I had to postpone it.
    Please keep updating and write new articles.

    1. Tom says:
      December 9, 2021 at 3:45 AM

      Hi Samuel,

      Thank you, that means a lot to me.

      I hope you are able to travel to Vietnam soon – perhaps 2022.



  52. Abbie says:
    December 6, 2021 at 10:26 AM

    I just wanted to say that I came across your website while researching Vietnam as I am considering moving here to teach next summer, and it is probably the most amazing website I have ever seen. It is so incredibly useful for me (I am from the UK and turning 22 the same as you when you came out) and I am so grateful you have created this. I am excited to read more of your posts! Thank you so so much!

    1. Tom says:
      December 7, 2021 at 1:08 AM

      Hi Abbie,

      Thank you for your very kind words. And I’m happy to hear my site has been useful for you so far.

      I hope it’ll give you more good reasons to move to Vietnam and that you’ll enjoy your time here.



  53. eddie mcGowan says:
    November 29, 2021 at 5:50 PM

    Tom – thoroughly enjoy all your Vietnam blogs – especially while I’m a Covid exile back in UK from my new home in Hanoi. I am a cyclist rather than a biker but I find your maps – and routes – and journeys, as ideal for bicycles as motorbikes. One thing I am looking for though is an interpretative map that has the ability to show vertical profiles along identified routes (similar to what you get with some UK OS maps – like Anquet, etc) – Have you come across any such maps for Vietnam at all ??
    Eddie McGowan

    1. Tom says:
      December 3, 2021 at 4:14 AM

      Hi Eddie,

      Apologies for my slow reply.

      I don’t know of a specific map like that, but a lot of cyclists I know simply use Google Maps and switch to the ‘terrain’ view which has contour line etc so you can sort of gauge the steepness of inclines.



  54. Huu says:
    November 24, 2021 at 4:09 AM

    Hi Tom,
    I’m Vietnamese, i like the articles made by foreigners writing about our country. I enjoy seeing the way you discover the places, people and things in VN.
    Keep try,
    stay health in this Covid time!


    1. Tom says:
      November 24, 2021 at 4:31 AM

      Hi Huu,

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoy my website.



  55. Trish says:
    November 29, 2020 at 10:40 AM

    Hi Tom,

    Just realized who you are, I don’t know how I missed it. Hope you’re well?
    Anyway followed your Saigon to Muine ride in the opposite direction on a bicycle in May of this year and loved it. Great recommendations and a beautiful quiet route.
    Now looking at continuing the route from Phan Theit, I can take my bicycle on the train and do the rest of the ride to Nha Trang using the campsites you have recommended.

    Thanks for saving me from COVID confinement!!


    1. Tom says:
      November 30, 2020 at 12:40 AM

      Hi Trish,

      Thank you. Great to hear you’ve found the site helpful.

      I hope you enjoy the ride north of Phan Thiet too – the Sand Dune Highway, the Dragon’s Graveyard and Nui Chua are three of the most scenic coastal rides anywhere in Vietnam.

      Please note that some of the campsites may not be operating any longer, as things change quickly in that region.

      I hope you enjoy it,


  56. Vaibhavi Rao says:
    May 26, 2020 at 2:43 AM

    Your style writing is beautifully vivid and gripping . I aspire to become an author in the space of travel . Lately I have been writing , but it comes across as the writing of an amateur . I am inspired to build this skill and so I have been reading a few blogs . I haven’t come across many like you . The piece you wrote on Bo Bla made me get goose bumps . Its articulate and its rustic and beautiful . I read about the first sketch in Saigon . I am really hoping that one day I can reach somewhere close to your level of art . This is a stroke of luck of pure sign that nature is supporting me in my endeavor .

    1. Tom says:
      May 26, 2020 at 3:02 AM

      Thank you for your kind words. I hope you are able to write about your travels too.


  57. Markus says:
    January 3, 2020 at 3:22 PM

    Hello and thank you very much for this really amazing site! I couldn’t agree more with the other people posts that how much value you have created with your writings!

    It’s been 5 years since my last visit to Vietnam and then there was nowhere near as good online guides as your website. It’s been really helpful for lots of things on our (my wife and 4 years old son) journey in Vietnam now. Thank you and keep up the great work!

    1. Tom says:
      January 4, 2020 at 12:13 AM

      Hi Markus,

      Thank you. I’m really glad to hear that. I hope you continue to enjoy your travels through Vietnam.


  58. Emyr Parry says:
    November 24, 2019 at 4:40 PM

    A fabulous resource! Well done. I can’t imagine how much time you have put into this.
    Anyway, we are visiting for 4 weeks in Feb/March 2020, and I am currently reading as much as I can for ideas of where to go and what to see and do. Once again, well done and thanks.


    1. Tom says:
      November 25, 2019 at 5:24 AM

      Hi Emyr,

      Thank you, it’s great to hear you’re enjoying my site. I hope your trip planning goes well.


  59. Richard CHANTRILL says:
    July 16, 2019 at 9:26 AM

    Wow … what a fantastic resource. Thanks Tom, a magnificant effort putting all this together and making it available. I am heading to Vietnam in November of this year. I am meeting a friend in Hanoi and we are doing a 6 day ride in Hà Giang. After that, I had been thinking of doing a short trip to Laos but after looking at Vietnam Coracle I am increasingly thinking that I should stay in Vietnam and do some of the roads you reported on in the Southern Dry Season guide. I have around 6 days from the 9th – 15th of November – is this a good time do you think – is it still raining at this time or would the wet season have finished?

    Kind regards


    1. Tom says:
      July 17, 2019 at 4:56 AM

      Hi Richard,

      At that time of year it should be OK anywhere south of Nha Trang, but there will still be rain around, because November is a transitional month between the rainy and the dry seasons. In general, the weather should be fine, but there’s always the chance that you might get unlucky and coincide with one of the last typhoons of the year hitting the south-central regions.

      If I had 6 days on a motorbike at that time of year in the south, I’d probably focus of the coastal roads between Nha Trang south to Vung Tau, and/or on the roads up to and around Dalat. You’ll find all of those marked on my Southern Dry Season map and guide.

      I hope this helps,


  60. Vincent Masi says:
    May 14, 2019 at 12:23 AM

    Hi Tom,

    Planning my first trip to Vietnam, and your site is fantastic! I am spending some time in the north, and am contemplating doing the Sapa Sin Ho loop. Are there directions on your site to direct me how to download your map(s) onto my google maps? I couldn’t find them, so I thought I would ask. Again, many thanks, Vince.

    1. Tom says:
      May 14, 2019 at 2:11 AM

      Hi Vincent,

      It depends on your device – and it may or may not work. But what you need to do is export the map to KML and then upload that file to the app on your phone. Then you should be able to follow the route on your phone in real time. I suggest googling something like ‘how to export a google map to KML using (device name)’

      I hope this helps,


  61. Zac says:
    April 22, 2019 at 10:46 PM

    Tom. Brilliant site, well done. Its guys like you with the energy and drive to set up and operate these sites that make life easy for the rest of us.
    Just moved to Dong Hoi to live, operate a small tourist information site, so I will search your site for all references to DH and surrounding area.

    1. Tom says:
      April 23, 2019 at 4:06 AM

      Thanks, Zac.

      I think they only places you’ll find anything about Dong Hoi are in this coast road guide and section 5 of this guide.

      I hope you enjoy life in Dong Hoi,


  62. Kimball A. Thomson says:
    January 15, 2019 at 4:58 AM

    My goodness, what an excellent site!

    One question: Have you visited D’Ran or Dran, as I have alternately seen it. Apparently 40 km from Da Lat through dramatic terrain.

    1. Tom says:
      January 16, 2019 at 1:30 AM

      Hi Kimball,

      Yes, QL20/QL27 goes east of Dalat through D’Ran – it’s a very scenic road – there’s a bit more about it here.


  63. Justine says:
    November 21, 2018 at 9:29 PM

    Wow…just Wow. This is such a valuable, thoughtful, comprehensive, and well organized piece of work! This is a loving tribute to your adopted home, and I’m looking forward to checking out tons of your suggestions on our motorbike ride the northeast in December/January. I’m so impressed, and so thankful for your putting together this guide.

    1. Tom says:
      November 22, 2018 at 2:40 AM

      Thanks, Justine. I appreciate your message and it’s great to hear you’re enjoying my site.

      I hope you have a great time in the northeast.


  64. Gary says:
    November 5, 2018 at 5:52 PM

    Hi Tom

    Love your blog!

    I’m travelling around south east Asia for 5 weeks Jan-March.

    The current plan for the Vietnam leg of the trip has us arriving in Hanoi in the 1st week of March (after 2 weeks in the south).

    I’ve had conflicting advice on Hanoi/Halong Bay at that time of year…

    Some suggest it is likely to be cool & wet – in which case, we might stick to the south and Hue/Hoi An (deferring Hanoi/Halong until a future visit).

    Others suggest it’s not too bad in the north in early March, and try to encourage us to book our Halong/Bai Tu Long cruises now.

    Another option – if it is really hard to predict the weather in early March months in advance – would be to book the Hanoi hotel but not book any Halong/Bai Tu Long cruises until we get a better idea of the weather trends a week or so beforehand…

    …what are your thoughts?

    1. Tom says:
      November 7, 2018 at 4:22 PM

      Hi Gary,

      Yes, it is difficult to know for sure what it will be like in March – I’ve been there in March twice and had bleak, grey weather one time, but clear, dry weather the other time.

      So, if it were me, I would book the Hanoi hotel and play the Halong trip by ear once you get there.

      But you’re doing the right thing by leaving the northern part of your Vietnam trip to the end, when there’s a higher chance that the weather will be better.

      I hope this helps,


  65. Lockie says:
    October 7, 2018 at 11:07 AM

    What a fantastic resource you have put together here! I am an Australian lucky enough to have dec and jan off each year. I have been to Vietnam a few times now , but never done the motorbike adventure. I have now had my Australian motorbike license for 10 months, ride everyday to work, now I am ready. What I would like to do is do some adventures north of Hanoi nut I am a little worried about the weather. I would be leaving Hanoi on the 10 December and get back to Hanoi 2 weeks later. It’s not the cold weather that would worry me, nut the idea of snow, mist and fog? Not too sure.

    After the north I would take the Ho Chi Minh road and end in Da Nang. This is option 1.

    Other option is to go south from Hanoi via Ho Chi Minh road and end up at Plieku. Then make my way across the border into Cambodia and get to Siem Reap, one of my favourite places. After Siem reap off to Ho Chi Minh. Trouble here is that I have not seen much info on this route to Siem Reap, the conditions of roads etc.

    I have 5 weeks foe my adventure. What do u think?

    Thx again for you site, it is amazing!11

    1. Tom says:
      October 8, 2018 at 2:34 AM

      Hi Lockie,

      It’s likely to be quite cold in the northern mountains at that time of year, especially on the high passes on a motorbike. Mist, fog and cloud is always an issue in those highlands, at any time of year, so there’s not much you can do about that. Personally, I avoid that area during the winter because I don’t like cold. But lots of riders do visit those northern mountains in December/January and love it. In fact, it’s one of the peak times of year for riders in the north.

      Your second option is OK, but I don’t know about the road conditions to Siem Reap either.

      In general, at that time of year, the best weather is anywhere south of Nha Trang. So if I was going to choose between your two suggested routes during your dates, I would go for option 1 and ride the northern mountains. Just remember to pack some warms clothes.

      I hope this helps,


  66. yarden says:
    September 1, 2018 at 12:37 PM

    Hi Tom. I bumped into your beautiful and interesting site just now. So much amazing detailed info .
    we want to get to pu luong in mid september. we are a family of 2 adaults and 2 kids age 11 and 13 so we will not use bikes…
    Do you know any other option to get there?
    can you get somewhere with a bus or local driver and then have a guide take us trekking?

    1. Tom says:
      September 2, 2018 at 3:06 AM

      Hi Yarden,

      You should be able to arrange transportation to Mai Chau from Hanoi pretty easily, either through your hotel or any Hanoi-based travel agency. Then I would hire a car and driver from Mai Chau (again, you could use a Hanoi travel agency for this) to take you into Pu Luong Nature Reserve and from homestay to homestay.

      I hope this helps,


  67. Zane Mills says:
    June 21, 2018 at 1:47 AM

    Hi Tom

    Thinking about getting out of Ho Chi Minh, and ride my motor bike one way back down the coast to Ho Chi Minh. over 3 or 4 days.

    Whats the best way to get to somewhere (Train or whatever) and then enjoy a one way trip down the coast, I just thinking about saving time as I only have 4 or 5 days.

    Love the Vietnam Coracle and has inspired me to do more.

    Thanks Mate

    1. Tom says:
      June 21, 2018 at 2:37 AM

      Hi Zane,

      It depends on how much you want to ride. I would either send your bike on the train to Nha Trang and ride back down to Saigon on the Coast Road, or send your bike to Phan Thiet and ride back down to Saigon on the Ocean Road.

      I hope this helps,


  68. Alberto says:
    June 7, 2018 at 12:53 AM

    Hi Tom,
    I got your guide recommended from another bike rider on my way thru Vietnam. He told me that he copied your maps me pins in his I tried everything to do the same with my phone (iPhone) but couldn’t work it out how.
    THANKS for all the nice advices and your work behind it. It’s so good!

    1. Tom says:
      June 7, 2018 at 2:18 AM

      Hi Alberto,

      Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip.

      Sorry the maps didn’t work for you – it’s probably an Apple compatibility issue. I’m currently working to try to create a map app for Vietnam Coracle that would be a solution to this kind of problem.


      1. Alberto says:
        June 7, 2018 at 7:43 AM

        Thanks for your quick answer and I’m looking forward to your map.
        Regards Alberto

  69. Maddie Stow says:
    April 8, 2018 at 11:56 AM

    Hi Tom,

    We love reading your site and last year took your recommendations for accomodation in Ho Chi Minh – The Myst ( out of this world) and Lasenta – Hoi An – also impressive.
    This year we are booking the Impressive hotel in Hanoi . Then heading back down to the Lasenta for two nights (train from Hanoi to Da Nang.)
    We have another 6 nights in that area unplanned. We are not bike riders but would like your recommendations for this area.
    We had thought Lang Co but can’t find much on the area.
    We wanted to stay within 100 kmish of Da Nang.
    Love to hear your advice.

    1. Tom says:
      April 10, 2018 at 5:42 PM

      Hi Maddie,

      Great to hear that you enjoyed The Myst and Lasenta.

      Lang Co is OK – there are some very high-end resorts, such as the Banyan Tree, which is nice but expensive. But I prefer to go a little further to Dam Cau Hai Lagoon. Vedana Lagoon Resort is great for a couple of nights on the lake. And you could combine that with a couple nights are The Pilgrimage near the Royal Tombs by Hue, or Villa Hue in Hue City. Those are all fabulous accommodations. I’ve stayed there with family and friends and really enjoyed them and the local surrounds.

      I hope this helps,


  70. Nils says:
    April 3, 2018 at 8:07 AM

    Hello Tom, once Congratulations to your beautiful website. I want to the Beach gate of Saigon after huế driving with my wife. I can of Beach route to Ho Chi Minh route drive? by which city from I come best to Ho Chi Minh route?

    Greeting Nils

    1. Tom says:
      April 4, 2018 at 1:51 AM

      Hi Nils,

      Do you mean which are the best roads that connect the coast with the Ho Chi Minh Road? If so, there are lots to choose from: for example, QL49 from Hue to A Luoi, or QL14B/QL14E from Danang/Hoi An to Thanh My/Kham Duc, or QL24 from Quang Ngai to Kon Tum.

      I hope this helps,


  71. Danissh Perumal says:
    February 28, 2018 at 4:18 PM

    Hi Tom,

    Thank you so much for your wonderful share on vietnam road trip. Im going to hanoi on 6th March for road trip to saigon in 12 days. Ive did my planning on where to stay and t daily travelling distance based on google maps. I have few questions and hope you can help me with it.

    1. Is that reliable to depend on google maps for estimation?
    2.At the max i will b travelling 350 km in a day. Is it possible to complete in single day time and not going till sunset?
    3. How is the road safety and is it dangerous?
    4. If my bike break down at any point how easy is it to get it fixed?
    5. Getting local phone line is worth it? How is the gps connectivity throughout the journey. I have not decided which route to take but just by finding it in google maps my journey will b around 2,500 KM. I did saw ur post on 5 route but i need to study it.

    Hope you can give me some info on those matters and really appreciate your support.

    1. Tom says:
      March 1, 2018 at 6:33 AM

      Hi Danissh,

      You can’t trust Google for time estimations or routes – it does not take into account road quality. If you use Google to plan your route you will miss a lot of good roads and scenery. All the routes on my website are designed to be the most scenic, with the least traffic, and staying on good quality road surfaces as much as possible – I suggest you browse through my Motorbike Routes Archive to work out which routes you want to follow, and build your itinerary from that.

      It’s definitely worth getting a local SIM card – they only cost around $5 and using data on the road will help you a lot – using GPS with Google Maps.

      350km is a long ride for one day in Vietnam. In general, your average speed will be about 50km an hour, but in the more mountainous regions it will be even less than that. So to ride 350km in one day you will need to start early in the morning. It gets dark at around 6pm in most places in Vietnam.

      The cities and highways can be dangerous in Vietnam, especially because the local driving culture is quite chaotic. But once you are in the countryside the roads are quite quiet and relatively safe. Again, my routes try to stay on quiet roads and avoid busy main highways as much as possible.

      In Vietnam you’re never that far from a motorbike repair shop. Look for the word ‘sửa xe’ which means mechanic.

      I hope this helps,


  72. Dana says:
    February 18, 2018 at 4:09 AM

    Hi Tom,

    I use your website as a resource for my bicycle (push bike) trip from south to north. So far I’ve made it as far as Phong Nha and plan on continuing to follow DHCM all the way. I’m wondering if the same brutal hills will follow me all the way, or does the landscape kind of flatten out a bit from here (Phong Nha) on North? It’s pretty crucial to know the topo when it comes to cycle touring and strategy.


    1. Tom says:
      February 18, 2018 at 4:24 AM

      Hi Dana,

      Glad to hear you’ve made it so far.

      Yes, to a certain extent the worst of the hill climbs are behind you. However, there’s still a pretty brutal 80km or so just after Phong Nha, after which the general topography flattens out a bit. But it’s certainly not easy. However, if you’ve made it this far I would imagine that in general you will have no problem continues along this route to Hanoi. Remember also that the weather may get colder as you get further north.

      Good luck,


  73. Terry says:
    February 1, 2018 at 8:25 AM

    Hi Tom
    I’m in your debt for this wonderful resource as I’m planning a motorbike trip in March from Hanoi to Saigon and onto Phnon Penh. Just wondered if I should do the Saigon to Phuc Quoc loop that takes you back to Saigon (and catch the bus from Saigon to Phnon Penh) or do one side of the loop (which one) and take the bike from Phuc Quoc to Phnon Penh if I can or at least the border?

    Terry from Australia

    1. Tom says:
      February 1, 2018 at 11:08 AM

      Hi Terry,

      I think you can take the bike across the border at Ha Tien (which is also where the ferries go to Phu Quoc), so I would take the westerly route from the Saigon to Phu Quoc guide and then take it from there. For more about Ha Tien see this guide.

      I hope this helps,


  74. Surinder Mann says:
    January 27, 2018 at 2:43 PM

    Hi Tom,
    Just this morning I thought of traveling to Vietnam for three weeks coming March, and was lucky to hit your site which is very informative and useful, though I still need to go through all the emails and your responses to them,
    I intend taking a road trip and have the following queries please and seek your assistance.
    1. Which route covers the maximum ‘must see places’ in Vietnam; as well as covers the mountains as well as the beaches.
    2. I am quite comfortable riding a bike, but is there any chance of getting a car or a camper for the trip.
    3. Is it convenient to find home stays, back packers hostels along the route, or is hotels the only option. I prefer these to hostels.
    4. I would be traveling solo, how safe would that be.
    5. Is there a possibility to find like minded travel partners for the road trips,.
    6. What kind of comfortable budget must one be planning on a three week trip.
    7. Which bike would you recommend which is stable on the road and has power as well.
    8. Does one need an international driving licence for riding a bike.
    My apologies , if that was too much to ask, may have some more as well 🙂
    Thank you for the good job you are doing in assisting the travellers with your experience.
    Surinder Mann

    1. Tom says:
      January 29, 2018 at 3:10 AM

      Hi Mann,

      For a choice of routes take a look at my 5 Suggested Routes from Saigon to Hanoi. Some of them cover the mountains and the coast. And then for the northern mountains, take a look at my Northern Routes Archive.

      At the moment, foreigners are not allowed to rent cars.

      In the bigger towns and cities you can always find lots of hotels and hostels, but in smaller places you can find ‘nhà nghỉ’ – these are local Vietnamese guest houses – you can read more about them here.

      Yes, travelling solo in Vietnam should be fine. It is still a very safe country to travel in. Just take all the normal safety precautions you would when travelling in any other country and you should be fine.

      You will probably meet other riders on your road trip and in the towns you stop at. You can also post on the Vietnam Back Road Facebook page if you want to find other people to travel with.

      I’ve written a guide to expenses for a motorbike road trip in Vietnam here.

      There are lots of bikes to choose from. Personally, I use an automatic scooter, which is fine for all the routes on this website. But some people prefer a semi-automatic, or a bigger bike that can also go off-road. Try contacting some of the trusted and reliable motorbike rental companies listed in the right sidebar and bottom of every page of my website to see what bikes are available. Try Rent a Bike Vietnam, Tigit Motorbikes, and Dragon Bikes. You can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me.

      Technically you need a local driving license to ride in Vietnam, but in reality very few foreigners riding in Vietnam have one. You can ask for more information about this from the rental companies too.

      I hope this helps,


  75. Israel Aharon says:
    December 1, 2017 at 10:43 AM

    Hello Tom,
    I just bumped in your extraordinary site on Vietnam. Thanks for the time you spend so we can enjoy all the knowledge that you accumulated over the years.
    Just to make a long story short: We are a couple with 130 years of combined life experience (ha ha ha). We travel the world for the last 4 years with our Landcruiser which took us in most remote places. However, we cannot travel in Vietnam as our car has a right hand wheel which is not allowed in Vietnam.
    Here comes in the bike. Both of us have no experience with riding a motorcycle even very little as a back sitter. We have no licence. My wife is rushing now to get her licence for 125cc. I cannot get a licence as I am amputee above the knee (left leg) . I am 85 kg 184 cm height, my wife is 65 kg 168 height. Our plan is to ride for 7 weeks from South to North starting on December 20,2017
    1. What is the semi-automatic or automatic motorbike that you would recommend and the company to rent from in Ho Chi Minh and return it in Hanoi area?
    2. Bothers me that sitting in the back with a prosthesis might be difficult. Any comments if you have some experience on this issue?
    3. Any comments on our lack of riding experience in regard to riding in Vietnam?
    4. Which route (from the 5 recommended) would you recommend considering our riding skills (or maybe lack of skills) and time frame? We are more interested in scenery and local culture less in beaches.

    Thanks a lot for you prompt response if possible as we fly on December 20

    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,


  76. AL says:
    October 17, 2017 at 5:14 AM

    Hi Tom
    I live in a little place call Maple Ridge in British Colombia Canada.
    I have travelled thru many many countries but never did keep any diary or journals, and then one day i was surfing the net and happen to hit your website…..WOW……(that was about a month ago).
    I have really enjoyed reading about your trips and “adventures” next thing I am planning to make a trip to Vietnam.
    How crazy is that. I will keep you updated. My trip will probably be in Feb 2018.
    Truly inspirational. THANK YOU

    1. Tom says:
      October 17, 2017 at 9:11 AM

      Hi Al,

      Thanks for that, it’s great to hear that you like my site and that you’re planning a trip to Vietnam.

      I hope you have fun planning your adventure.


  77. Huyen (Kathy) says:
    October 4, 2017 at 3:38 AM

    Hi Tom,
    So so glad i stumbled across your page. My name is Huyen, but I go by Kathy since I was 14 years old. I am Canadian Vietnamese. I left Vietnam since I was 5 years old and escaped the country as boat people with my family. I will be going back to Vietnam literally in 10 days. I have been back there a couple of times, but the first time I just stayed mostly in Hai Phong, in the North of Vietnam at my Dad’s place, then flew into Saigon (Ho Chi Minh). I did swung by Ha Noi for a day, Ha Long Bay for half of a day as well as Nha Trang and Vung Tau for a day each and I also went with friends at the time so I didn’t really get to experience much. This up coming trip is big deal for me and will be an epic trip for me. I will be there for a little over three weeks. This time around I am traveling alone and I am planning to go from the Saigon all the way up to the North to Sapa. Hope it will be enough time do visit all the places that I planned to hit. Reading through your blogs on your site I feel like i have a tour guide. I have done extensive research for this trip and i have to say your site is awesome! Keep it up and thank you for loving Vietnam and for sharing all that you know. Where about are you located by the way. Do you have a youtube channel or a Facebook page as well by chance?
    Looking forward to reading more of your experience and adventure.
    To the love of travelling,

    1. Tom says:
      October 4, 2017 at 3:24 PM

      Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for your message. It’s great to hear you like my site, and that you’ll be coming back to Vietnam again soon. I hope you enjoy your travels across the country – I’m sure you will.

      I’m located in Saigon, but I move around a lot for research (and for fun too, of course). Sure, I have a Youtube channel here and a Facebook page here, although I’ve been pretty bad at adding new videos lately 🙂

      Happy travels!


  78. Ronke Bearzi says:
    July 29, 2017 at 8:06 AM

    Hello, Tom!
    My name is Ronke, and I live and work in Hanoi since 2015.
    Having a strong sense of adventure, I try as much as I can to travel around the country to explore its hidden gems.
    I needed to let you know that I’m infinitely grateful, and needed to thank you immensely for your travel guide which I now regard as my personal holy travel resource!
    My wish is to meet you in person! You sound like an amazingly adventurous person, a fond quality, and what a talented writer your are! Ok, you got it, I’m your biggest fan! I’m writing this comment on Ong Lang Beach – Mango Bay Resort, thanks to your guide to exploring Phu Quoc by motorbike!
    Thank you so much!

    1. Tom says:
      July 30, 2017 at 9:16 AM

      Hi Ronke,

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s great to hear that you’ve enjoyed reading my site and that you’re now enjoying the many charms of Mango Bay 🙂

      I hope you continue to have fun exploring Vietnam, and perhaps we’ll bump into each other on the road some day.


  79. Daniela Perafan says:
    June 12, 2017 at 6:25 PM

    Hi Tom,

    Your website is very usefully for our plans. We would like to go to Vietnam in December. Around december 26. From Panama City. What is the best area for this time of the ayer, Nort or South ?

    Thank you !

    1. Tom says:
      June 13, 2017 at 12:41 AM

      Hi Daniela,

      Thanks, I’m glad you like my site.

      December in Vietnam is best in the south, because that is the dry season. In the north it will be winter.

      For more about which areas are best to visit at which times of year, take a look at this guide.

      I hope this helps,


  80. Simon Visser says:
    March 13, 2017 at 4:00 AM

    I have my own bike from Australia, If I get a tourist visa can I just roll through the border or will they disallow the bike?
    I don’t want a local bike.

    1. Tom says:
      March 13, 2017 at 1:50 PM

      Hi Simon,

      I’m not sure about that. Usually getting out of Vietnam across the border with a bike is fine, but getting into Vietnam with a bike is more difficult. However, I don’t have that much experience of this particular scenario, so perhaps you could post your question on the Vietnam Back Roads Facebook page to see if anyone can help you there.

      I hope this helps,


  81. Scott Harkess says:
    February 8, 2017 at 9:13 AM

    Hi and thanks for a great website and information. I am arriving into Ho Chi MIn 14/03/2017 for my first visit to Vietnam. I will most likely take the train to Danang or onto Hanoi. I have a 30 day tourist visa and am travelling solo. I am not sure what is best whether I should try to rent a motor bike in Danang and ride to Hanoi to tour the northern region of Vietnam or rent a bike in Hanoi and spend more time in the north. I love mountain scenery, but not sure what is best. Do you have any suggestions? I hope to come back in future, so what I miss this time around will try to complete another time. Being my first visit, I am no doubt an underling in Vietnam, so not sure really. Thanks for your assistance.

    1. Tom says:
      February 8, 2017 at 10:19 AM

      Hi Scott,

      There is a lot of mountain scenery either way. However, although the north has the biggest and most spectacular mountain scenery in Vietnam, because it is your first time in Vietnam, I would suggest that you start your road trip from Danang and head inland first and then north. This way you will avoid having to confront the chaotic traffic of Hanoi on your first day on the road: the traffic getting out of Danang is much less intense, and it’s very easy to get to the mountains from there.

      I suggest you rent your bike in Danang (try Tigit Motorbikes or Rent a Bike Vietnam – they both have offices in Danang) and take Road QL14B west to Thanh My. Here you can join the Ho Chi Minh Road heading north to A Luoi, Khe Sanh, Phong Nha, and then all the way to Hanoi, or head west from Ngoc Lac or Cam Thuy if you want to continue riding to the mountains in the northwest. If you follow this route you will have lots of great mountain scenery, and good, fairly quiet roads to ride. (See sections 3-8 of my Ho Chi Minh Road guide) And then, as you say, the next time you come back to Vietnam you can ride the northern mountains.

      I hope this helps,


  82. Scott says:
    December 15, 2016 at 3:28 AM

    Hi Tom
    Your content is fantastic. I am planning (1st time to Viet Nam) 3 weeks in January 2017. Flying in and out of Da Nang. I will happily follow any leads you have in terms of bike rental and accommodations, etc during my trip.

    I am reading all your pages but any direct advice will be much appreciated and I will try to get you some commission$.
    Thanks Buddy!

    1. Tom says:
      December 19, 2016 at 4:04 AM

      Hi Scott,

      Good to hear you’ll be coming to Vietnam soon.

      For bike rental in Danang, check out Rent a Bike Vietnam and Tigit Motorbikes – they both have offices in Danang. There are links to both of them in the right sidebar and bottom of all my pages. You can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me.

      The weather in January can be a little cool and rainy in Danang. In general at that time of year it’s best to travel in the south of the country: anywhere south of Nha Trang is the dry season with good weather conditions. So take a look at my southern guides to get an idea of the kind of routes you could ride. For more information about weather read this.

      Also, a popular road trip from Danang is the Golden Loop.

      Sure, it would be great if you could book some of your accommodation through my site, then I make a small commission (at no extra cost to you). For more details please read this.

      I hope this helps,


    2. Jay says:
      January 15, 2017 at 12:21 PM

      Hi all.

      I am similar to this post. I arrive in Hanoi on Jan 19 and travel south.
      I have been traveling thailand for the last 30 days. I have a backpack. Any tips on how to mount this on a bike so i can ride more comfortably without having it on my back.

      Simliar to this post as i will be booking accomadations off of your links. Site is amazing and as well made me feel quite comfortable after readin all the scary opinions about biking Vietnam.


      1. Tom says:
        January 15, 2017 at 1:11 PM

        Hi Jay,

        I’m glad you have enjoyed reading my posts.

        Yes, you can strap your backpack to the back of your motorbike using bungee cords. Or when you rent or buy motorbikes from the three companies that I recommend (Rent a Bike Vietnam, Tigit Motorbikes, and Style Motorbikes) they will usually include a metal rack on the back of your bike or saddles bags. You can find links to all three of the rental companies in the right sidebar and bottom of all my pages. You can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me.

        That would be great if you can book some of your accommodation through my website. Thanks.

        I hope this helps,


  83. Joanne says:
    October 17, 2016 at 11:06 PM

    Hi Tom,

    This site is amazing. So much information. There is so much to see and this is causing me to have a hard time deciding where to go on my upcoming trip (first time!) to Vietnam. I was wondering if you could help?

    The original idea was the my husband and I were going to meet our friend from New Zealand in Hanoi and travel to Saigon by motorcycle. We arrive in Hanoi on Dec 27th and we are there for about 16 days so the more we thought about this the more I decided biking the whole way in so little time might not be the best idea. So I wanted to share what we are thinking our itinerary will look like so far and get your feedback, if you don’t mind, on what we should add or leave out. We are pretty open and up for a bit of adventure as well.

    Dec 27: Arrive in Hanoi and get oriented- that evening take the night train to Sapa
    Dec 28: Find bikes and begin the loop tour you recommend here
    Dec 30: Make our way back to Sapa and take the night train back to Hanoi
    Dec 31: Spend NYE in Hanoi (Not sure if this is a good spot for this- we are open)
    Jan 1 or 2: Get down to Hue
    Jan 2 or 3: Find bikes and take the Hoi Van Pass to Hoi An
    Jan 4: Hang out in Hoi An
    From there I am not sure if we should go to Nha Trang abd Dalat or go inland a bit or how we should travel there. Recommendations would be lovely. We eventually have to end up in HCM for our flight home on Jan 11th so there is time to fit a couple places in. I have read mixed things about trying to fit the Mekong Delta in with so little time, as well as Halong Bay but if there is anything that you think we will regret missing please let me know.
    Last thing- is it very important to book accommodation ahead of time? I am assuming because of the time of year we are going that it is but if we can leave some things a little more open that would be awesome.

    Any help you can give would be super appreciated! Thank you so much.


    1. Tom says:
      October 19, 2016 at 1:09 AM

      Hi Joanne,

      That’s a lot to fit into your time in Vietnam, but it is possible, as long as you don’t mind being on the move all the time. Something you should bear in mind is that, although finding a motorbike to rent is fairly easy, it can sometimes take a bit of time to get everything settled – negotiating prices, bikes, and leaving some sort of collateral, such as a copy of your passport. So, if possible, try to arrange your bikes a day before you set off on them.

      That goes for the rest of your travel arrangements, like trains, planes and hotels, because this is a peak time of year for foreign tourists in Vietnam. Try to book as much of the above as possible before you get to Vietnam – it will make your tight schedule easier to deal with.

      With the time you have and considering everything else you’ll be doing on your trip, I don’t recommend taking a side trip to the Mekong Delta.

      After Hoi An, I would suggest taking a train down to Nha Trang. From here you can motorbike down the Ocean Road back to Saigon. You can arrange your motorbike in advance from Tigit Motorbikes (there’s a link to them in the right sidebar of this page) and return the bike to them in Saigon. Or if you want to zig-zag between the coast road and the mountains around Dalat, take a look at this route.

      If you’d like to support my website, may I ask that you book your hotels through this site? It’s exactly the same process (and price) as booking through Agoda, but if you making a book I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) which goes straight back into this website. All you have to do is start your hotel search or booking through any of the Agoda search boxes or links on my site, or just click here which takes you to the Vietnam Agoda page. You can read a bit more about this here.

      I hope this helps,


      1. Joanne says:
        October 21, 2016 at 6:36 PM

        Hi Tom,
        Thank you for your reply.
        Yes it is a lot. It’s difficult to know what to take out.
        Do you think considering it will be late December that Sapa will be worthwhile? Or even if it is will it be worth riding the loop?
        The routes from nha trang to Saigon look awesome. Thanks for the tips. I assume the ocean road is shorter than the one through Dalat so with timing i am sure we will go with that.
        I can definitely try to book all of my hotels through here. I’m more than happy to support! The sites a great help.

        1. Tom says:
          October 22, 2016 at 12:15 AM

          Hi Joanne,

          Yes, Sapa may be quite cold and grey in December, but on the coast in the south it will be nice. I just depends if you mind cold weather or not 🙂

          The ride from Nha Trang south on the Ocean Road is good at that time of year – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.


  84. Mohd Othman says:
    July 7, 2016 at 8:31 AM

    Hi Tom,

    I intend to ride my CFR250 from Singapore to China and spend more time in Vietnam, from August to September 2017 next year. Appreciate very much if you could provide me some information on motor bike shops available along the way. I’ll be riding solo and just started planning, hope to cover some interesting routes provided by you, before i proceed to Mong Cai. FYI i will start from HCMC to Hanoi.

    I might need to change my tires there, because my last experienced three weeks in Thailand it lasted less than 4000km on my sports bike. Your feedback is very important for my planning. Hope to hear from you soon. Many Thanks and I’ve already subscribed..

    Mohd Othman

    1. Tom says:
      July 8, 2016 at 3:23 PM

      Hi Mohd,

      I can’t recommend any specific bike shops, but of course there are a lot of them in HCMC and Vietnam in general.

      Try contacting some of the motorbike rental places in Vietnam and asking their advice. You could also post your question on the Expats Ho Chi Minh Facebook page – you might find some answers there.

      I hope this helps,


  85. Julius Marlow says:
    May 23, 2016 at 1:57 AM

    Hi Tom
    your newsletter was passed on to me by a good mate who lived for years in Nha Trang and recently returned to Adelaide. He motored all over central VN and sent me some interesting stories of his travels. I recently spent a week motorbiking along the Mekong down in the delta. I have plans at some stage to do route 14, Dalat then Nha Trang.
    Keep up the good work. yes…i have subscribed..!!

    1. Tom says:
      May 23, 2016 at 2:00 AM

      Hi Julius,

      Thanks for subscribing. Great to hear that you’ll be coming back to Vietnam soon for some more riding – there’s so much good riding in Vietnam that you can keep coming back again and again 🙂


  86. John Gordon says:
    May 9, 2016 at 9:13 PM

    Vary interested in the traveling the HCM Road next time I’m in VietNam.

    1. Tom says:
      May 10, 2016 at 1:35 AM

      Hi Gordon,

      That’s great. Take a look at my Ho Chi Minh Road guide for more information.


  87. Susan Decker says:
    April 7, 2016 at 3:18 PM

    Love your site! I had the pleasure of traveling to Vietnam last year and stayed for a whole month! This was my first international trip! I am very lucky to have a sister in-law who grew up in Vietnam. Beautiful Country, amazing food and found the Vietnamese people warm, loving and some of the most resourceful talented people I’ve ever witnessed! I had the pleasure of avoiding the tourist traps and was introduced to the real culture of this beautiful country. Travelled from all the way South to the middle of Central…and so looking forward to returning to continue from where I left off and travel all the way North. Thank you for bringing attention to this beautiful Country. I really enjoyed reading your spot on perspective!!

    1. Tom says:
      April 8, 2016 at 1:31 AM

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks! Great to hear that you had such a positive experience of Vietnam when you were here, and that you managed to get off the beaten path too. I hope it won’t be too long before you get the chance to return for a northern itinerary – there’s lots more to see and experience there 🙂


  88. Erik Christensen says:
    March 30, 2016 at 6:29 AM

    Tom oi
    I just notice your site this morning, and I have only read the Phan Ranh – Cam Ranh route yet.
    I fully agree that this is an extremely nice route, which I have taken 3 times during since October 15. The reason that is not well known, is that the road from Khanh Son, Khanh Hoa to Tan Son, Ninh Hoa is not on any Google Maps, and I remember in October when asking the locals in the Khanh Son area, if I could drive that way, they said no! Irrespective of the no, I went through down to AH1 without any problems. Last time I went that way was in February during/after heavy rain, and the road that disappeared into the river many places, however, they worked hard to repair it. My next tour there will likely be in 3 weeks.
    I like what you are writing, however, there is one thing I was puzzled about, namely you call it the Cai River. According to my information then the Cai River starts in Dak Lak and ends in Nha Trang at the Tran Phu Bridge. The river ending in Cam Ranh is Dinh River. Furthermore the route you describe is Khanh Hoa and Ninh Thuan, the border somewhere between Khanh Son and Tan Son, easily to note, as the quality of the road all of a sudden improve in Ninh Thuan – I am always driving anti-clock wise, as I come from Nha Trang.
    I am like your efforts to describe the various routes – I have a few without description, as I like to drive around taking photos of mainly the people and special landscapes.

    1. Tom says:
      March 30, 2016 at 6:40 AM

      Hi Erik,

      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed reading the guide and it’s good to hear that you have ridden the River Road from Cam Ranh to Phan Rang before.

      The road from Tan Son to Khanh Son is now shown on Google Maps but it only appears as a small road, not a main road. This usually happens when an existing road is upgraded to a larger, better surfaced road, such as this one: it takes Google Maps a little while to catch up! 🙂

      I’m surprised you had heavy rain in February – that area is famous for being dry in the winter months.

      Yes, there are a number of different rivers in Vietnam called ‘Cai’. But the Cai River in my guide starts in the hills behind Cam Ranh and then flows into the sea at Phan Rang. The road follows the Cai River most of the way – especially between Tan Son and Khanh Son.


  89. David and Lucy Edwards says:
    February 13, 2016 at 2:29 PM

    Hi Tom,
    Found your site whilst researching Saigon for a weekend ‘visa run’ from Bangkok, where we are both teachers. It’s great, and really useful and informative. Looking forward to getting down to Chicken Corner and trying it out.
    Keep up the great work
    David and Lucy

    1. Tom says:
      February 14, 2016 at 1:47 PM

      Hi David and Lucy,

      That’s great! Glad to hear you enjoy my site. I hope you’ll like ‘Chicken Corner’. There’s a great bún mắm near the chicken too, if you’re not too full 🙂 Plus, you shouldn’t miss cơm tấm while in Saigon. I know Thailand has its own excellent desserts, but if you want to try it here then take a look at chè.

      I hope you enjoy Saigon and its food scene,


  90. Jerrard says:
    February 12, 2016 at 1:59 PM

    Hi, fantastic blog, really good information..
    Just a question, was looking at flying into Hanoi and catching a train to Lao Cai. I am really impressed about the Sapa route, so I intend on doing that. How is the transport from Lao Cai to Sapa?

    Keep up the great work 🙂

    1. Tom says:
      February 12, 2016 at 3:58 PM

      Hi Jerrard,

      Yes, transport from Lao Cai to Sapa is good and very regular. There are minivans from Lao Cai train station to Sapa that meet the train. It takes around 40 minutes to get there. Or you can easily take a taxi, or organize transport through your Sapa hotel, if you’ve booked a room in advance.

      I hope this helps,


  91. Tom Gordon says:
    February 8, 2016 at 2:11 AM

    Hi Tom,
    Just spent some time on your site – recommended by a friend, it is an awesome source of info. and great pictures!!
    We are taking a motorbike trip to Hanoi area in November and will most likely do the Northern Loop as you have laid out. I really can’t wait to eat at the Noodle House and meet Duyen! We have done trips prior to this in Thailand and Cambodia and have always wanted to visit Vietnam, something tells me it won’t be my last trip here.
    Thanks so much for this great source! I have subscribed to your newsletter.
    Tom G.
    Agawam, Massachusetts USA

    1. Tom says:
      February 8, 2016 at 2:39 AM

      Hi Tom,

      Great to hear you’ve found my site useful. I’m confident you’ll enjoy your road trip in Vietnam – might be a bit chilly in the far north in November, so pack some warm clothes! 🙂

      Duyen and the noodle house are still there in Ha Giang city, but a reader wrote me to say that the place has been refurbished – the food is still the same though.

      Email me anytime if you require any more route advice.