First published January 2018 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle
INTRODUCTION | GUIDE | MAP | RELATED POSTS
Saigon to Hoi An is one of the most popular long-distance road trips in Vietnam. There are several fantastic routes (of which I have no particular favourite) between these two destinations. But most people find themselves deciding between a mountainous (western) route, or a coastal (eastern route). Of the latter, there are two commonly held misconceptions: 1. that you must take Highway 1 (QL1A) most of the way; 2. that it’s a busy and not very scenic route. Thanks to new coast roads and small back-roads, neither of these are true. You can now ride from Saigon to Hoi An (and beyond, to Hue and Dong Hoi) along the coast on generally quiet and scenic roads, with a total distance of 1,425km: only 350km of which are on Highway 1. What’s more, even the sections that are on Highway 1, happen to be some of the most scenic stretches of the entire south-north main artery. At the right time of year, this coastal route is a highly satisfying, salty, sunny, sandy, scenic, and feel-good ride.
GUIDE: COAST ROAD: SAIGON TO HOI AN & BEYOND
ROAD TRIP DETAILS:
- Total Distance: 1,425km
- Duration: 4-10 days
- Route: coast roads (avoiding Highway 1) from Saigon to Hoi An & beyond [MAP]
- Road Conditions: new highways, back-roads, some rough patches, light traffic
- Scenery: empty beaches, arid coastal stretches, fishing villages, beach towns
As with all the motorbike guides on this website, the main focus of this coastal route is to stay on good, scenic roads as much as possible, and to avoid horrible, busy highways. Obviously, this means it’s not the most direct or the fastest way from Saigon to Hoi An and beyond. When it comes to deciding which route you want to take between these two destinations, it will depend on a number of factors, such as the duration of your stay, time of year, your preference of scenery, and the purpose of your trip. Personally, I don’t have a favourite route, but if you’re looking for sun, sea and sand, the following coastal route is definitely the one for you. The best time of year is between March and October, when there’s a lot of sun and sporadic tropical downpours. The southern dry season (November-May) is also good, although conditions can get cooler, wetter and grayer anywhere north of Nha Trang from November to March. You could spend as little as 4 days to as many as 10 days riding this route, depending on how often you want to stop and how many hours you’re prepared to spend in the saddle each day.
ABOUT THIS MAP & GUIDE:
Note that this is not a full guide: rather it is a detailed, annotated route map followed by a short image gallery illustrating the kind of roads and scenery along this coastal route. The map below shows the entire 1,425km route from Saigon to Hoi An and Dong Hoi (only 350km of which is on Highway 1). I’ve included map markers for major towns along the way (the red pins), good beaches (the blue parasols), several accommodation options which I have reviewed (the orange beds), and specific sections of road (the green motorcycles). The majority of these map markers contain links to other Vietnam Coracle guides for more details: If you click on a map marker, a dialogue box will open which contains a link to one of my guides, or a section of one of my guides, which will have more information about that particular place, or accommodation, or section of the route.
The Coast Road: Saigon to Hoi An & Dong Hoi | 1,425km
View in a LARGER MAP
The following images are all taken along the coastal route between Saigon and Dong Hoi as outlined in the map above. Read the captions below the images to find out exactly where they were taken.
View of the Mui Dinh Coast Road snaking along the arid, rocky cliffs between Ca Na & Phan Rang
View from the road of Mon Beach, just south of Tuy Hoa city, in Phu Yen Province
Taking in the sand dunes in Vietnam’s desert, just south of Phan Rang on the Dragon’s Graveyard Road
View from the Hai Van Pass between Danang & Hue, one of the most famous stretches of coast road
Relaxing on a beach near Ke Ga lighthouse, on the Ocean Road between Saigon and Mui Ne
View from the road of Dai Lanh Beach between Nha Trang & Tuy Hoa, in Khanh Hoa Province
Wooden fishing boats drawn up on the sand on the long, empty beaches between Hue & Dong Hoi
The long, empty sands of Hon Gom Sandbar, in Khanh Hoa Province, north of Nha Trang
Floating fish farms & fishing boats on the turquoise waters of Vung Ro Bay
Checking the view in the mirror on the Nui Chua Coast Road, between Phan Rang & Cam Ranh
More empty beaches on the coastal back-roads between Hue & Dong Hoi, on the central coast
View from the Hai Van Pass of Lang Co Beach, in Thua Thien Hue Province
Stopping to take in the views of Cam Ranh Bay at the top of the Nui Chua Coast Road