Have you seen the movie The Motorcycle Diaries? If not, you should go see it because it narrates Che Guevarra’s story before becoming a revolutionary leader. It also showed his travels across South America using a motorbike. You might be wondering why I mentioned this movie.
It is because this article is related to motorbikes, Vietnam motorbike routes in particular. Some of the pleasures of riding a motorbike are witnessing and passing through scenic trails and, for adventurous souls, some long, winding and rocky roads.
We would list all of those roads in this article and some info on what you will see there, the distance and other essential things you need to know. In that way, if you decide to go on a motorbike road trip here in Vietnam, you would have an idea of where to pass through. The roads included here also vary in distance, and it’s up to you to choose how long your road trip is going to last.
Note: If you visit small villages while riding a motorbike across Vietnam, it is important to know that they can be more traditional/conservative, so dressing modestly will be appreciated.
VIETNAM MOTORBIKE ROUTES
In this article, I will show you two different ways to enjoy motorbiking around Vietnam. First, we will discuss the long-distance Vietnam motorbike routes which will cover the entire country from north to south or vice versa. Then the short-distance routes can be done in a day or less than a week.
Saigon to Hanoi By Motorbike (or vice versa)
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi are both popular destinations among tourists, that’s why if you’re on the fence on where to go, you could visit both through motorbiking.
This section of the article is dedicated to various Saigon to Hanoi motorbike routes. Including the usual road that motorbikers take is the road for people who are fond of seeing beaches and a route passing through Ho Chi Minh City’s road, so don’t worry if you can’t decide where you’ll go because we already created an outline for you.
Before we go further, our first tip for you is that if you are planning on riding around Vietnam for less than two months, renting a motorbike would be more practical. Also, make sure to rent motorbikes from reputable companies. You can do advanced research or a background check of some sort to see if a company provides high-quality motorbike rentals.
Now that you are more knowledgeable about what to do first before having your motorbike adventure. Let us present you with the first Vietnam motorbike route that you could take, which is the standard way.
The common way, also known as the classic route, is equal parts mountain and beach, perfect for motorbikers looking for both land and natural aquatic sceneries, including numerous impressive temples. You will get to witness jaw-dropping limestone karsts while passing by Ho Chi Minh road. Some other sights and towns include Nha Trang, Hoi An, Mui Ne, Dalat, Phong Na caves, Hai Van pass, and Ninh Bin. You will pass by beaches along Quy Nhon and north of Hue.
- length in distance: 2,770 km
- time to finish: 3-4 weeks (if you like speed), 4-5 weeks is the sweet spot
- best time to go: January is the best month to explore this route as the country’s southern end experiences a dry season during this time.
CHECK OUT: Hoi An travel guides
Along the Beach
We all know that Vietnam is a coastal country surrounded by scenic beaches, and it would be a shame to not experience motorbiking along the coast.
By choosing this route, you can also enjoy hearing the cool and calm waves, getting sand in your toes or having a dip before moving forward on your journey. Another great thing about this route is that not many people use it, and because of that, you’ll get to have a full serene experience. Some of the beaches are already well-known, such as Nha Trang and Mui Ne. However, most of the coastal regions are yet to be discovered.
The downside of this route is the number of trucks, some parts, especially nearing the tourist hot spot, expect a heavy flow of honking big trucks.
- length: 2,050 km
- time to finish: 3-4 weeks, driving on the coast gives you a better road; hence, the trip could be faster
- best time to go: January/February (dry season)
Ho Chi Minh City’s Road
Ho Chi Minh city’s road, also known as Uncle Ho’s road, is the most mountainous road on this list. Bypassing through this route, you will get to see agricultural plateaus where there’s an abundance of tea and timber.
You will also see rivers and limestone formations, some of the breathtaking sceneries Vietnam has to offer. If you are interested in Vietnam’s culture, you can interact with people as you pass by some of their cities (Buon Ma Thuot) and towns (Kon Tum). Ethnic hamlets line the way as well.
- length: 1,880 km
- time to finish: 4-6 weeks, going up and down and zig-zag through the mountainside takes time
- best time to go: January (dry season)
Short-Distance Vietnam Motorbike Loops
Even though these routes are short, there is a lot of scenery to take in, memories to be made, and stopovers to do. For Hai Van Pass, some of the places you could go to include Hue, the fishing village, Lang Co beach, Danang and marble mountain.
For the Ha Giang Loop, there’s Lu Cu flag tower, Ma Pi Leng Pass, and Ban Gioc waterfall. And for the DT-153 road, there’s Pha Long road where there’s a rustic market during the weekends, as well as My Phu river.
Hai Van Pass
This short Vietnam motorbike route, yet the famous coastal road, was featured in Top Gear’s Vietnam special TV show and for a good reason. Passing through this route, you will see a vast number of mountains and seas that seem endless.
Because the route is short, it is perfect for casual travellers who want to glimpse how motorbiking in Vietnam feels like. There are also many cheap motorbike rentals there, so there’s no need to worry that you’ll run out of motorbikes to rent.
- location: Da Nang
- length: 21 km
- time to finish: four to five hours but if you took more than six hours, it’s better to rest for the night because we only have our optimal vision for six hours when driving a motorbike
- best time to go: When planning to have a motorbike road trip, make sure to avoid rainy/typhoon season, as well as the winter season due to poor visibility from the fog. North Vietnam experiences the winter season from December to February. The dry season is during September, so it’s best to pass through this route at that time.
TRAVEL TIP: Da Nang travel guides
Ha Giang Loop
This route is considered an extreme motorbike loop that’s why beginners aren’t really advised to start on this route if planning to drive themselves.
Ha Giang is the northernmost province in Vietnam. It is filled with valleys, mountains, rivers and curvy roads, perfect for adventure-seekers. Another interesting fact about Ha Giang is that it shares a 270 km border with Yunnan province, located in Southern China. The whole motorbike drive takes about 20 hours that’s why you need to look for accommodation. But don’t worry because you’ll see a lot of those along the way, as well as ATMs and convenience stores.
If you don’t want to drive yourself, you can always book a tour where they provide a very experienced local driver while you enjoy the view as a back seat passenger.
- location: Dong Van
- length: 400 km
- time to finish: two days to one week
- best time to go: October through April
DT 153 is a road that connects Lao Cai and Ha Giang. This is the least known road among the routes listed above. It consists of a few rough patches, and there are some narrow roads, but a bike or even a car could still pass through.
The ride is all worth it, though, because you’ll see terraced rice fields, waterfalls and limestone peaks. By choosing this road, you’ll also get to pass through several mountains and river gorges, heading towards Bac Ha‘s market town.
- location: Lao Cai
- time to finish: One whole day but it’s better to rest for the night after six hours of motorbike driving
- best time to go: April, preferably early in the morning to fully appreciate the view and sceneries
PLACES TO AVOID MOTORBIKING IN VIETNAM
Even if motorbiking using these routes should be avoided, you can still visit through other means of transportation or via tours. Some stopovers are worth seeing, and you might probably like them.
If you are from Hanoi going to Halong Bay, you could check out the Phy Yen mountain town, Lu Long pass, Sapa, and finally, have a coffee at Nam Thi river bank. For motorbiking along the borders, you can see Thac Ba lake, Mai Chau valley, and Pu Luong nature reserve.
Hanoi to Halong Bay
Riding on a motorbike from Hanoi to Halong bay is possible but doesn’t really make sense because you need to leave your motorbike in town to enjoy Halong Bay. Another con of motorbike travelling is that it’s hazardous because tons of massive tour buses keep on passing by and honking as they drive by.
Aside from that, it is also a very long trip and could take you three and a half to four hours one way. The alternative for this route is for you to buy a bus or tour ticket.
Along the Border of Laos/Cambodia
Taking this route for motorbike riding is not advisable because the roads are almost non-existent. Crossing Laos’s border using the Sop Hun/ Tay Trang and Na Maew/ Nam Xoi routes are not encouraged because they are either not possible or using a motorbike when the crossing is costly. The roads are also muddy, so the journey might be quite hazardous.
RELATED POST: Laos-Vietnam border crossing
As you can see, there are many Vietnam motorbike routes to choose from depending on your road or scenery preference and the level of adventure you are looking for. Before you finalize your motorbike road trip, there are some tips that you need to remember.
First, you need to do your research well on the route that you’re going to choose. Make sure that you would come there when roads are passable, or there are no upcoming typhoons and if it’s not overly windy. Then, you should only pack light and bring the essentials.
Wear comfortable clothes appropriate for motorbiking and take necessary rests, don’t exhaust your eyes and body because it is dangerous to travel via motorbikes if you are exhausted.
Stay hydrated, and also bring a raincoat/poncho with you just in case. Try to eat during non-peak hours to avoid long lines. Now you know everything that you need to know about motorbiking in Vietnam.
I hope you found this article about Vietnam motorbike routes helpful and that we’ve helped you decided which is the best route for your next Vietnam adventure. If you have any questions, leave us a comment below.