In generally speaking, there is no better way to discover a country than do it all by yourself. By now, the most independent way to travel in Vietnam is driving a motorbike along the Vietnam territory. Traveling by motorbike offers much more fun, private and totally mobility than all the others. Anyway, if you are starting to imagine your Vietnam motorbike tour then this article shall help you make it come true.
I. WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM A VIETNAM MOTORBIKE TOUR?
Westerners when thinking about a Vietnam motorbike tour are usually divided into 2 opposite schools. The first one is that Vietnam motorbike tour is a stupid and rash idea. The roads are wild and bad, the traffic is always chaos and the drivers are mostly inexperienced. The other sees it a precious chance to discover better Vietnam as you can go deeper in the local communities, seek for the wild and beautiful sceneries which most of the people missed out and it is the best way to get from one to another.
The truth is, fortunately, somewhere in the middle. It is adventurous enough to satisfy the experienced travelers but also is able to be handled by the inexperienced ones. But the reasons why Vietnam motorbike tour is the best haven’t stopped there. Vietnam is a vertical country which is stretching thinly from North to South. It allows you to set up a straight itinerary from one top of the country to the other without missing out any attractions.
In reality, you should consider not only the good side but the downside also. In exchange for the exciting adventure of the Vietnam motorbike tour is the grueling days of driving the motorbike in long distance. It really takes a strain on you, in both physically and mentally. Your rump hurts and your back aches so bad that you will have to rest a while every couple of hours, your hands cramp up, sweat and dirt cover your face and you are drained from concentrating too long.
Unlike cars, motorbike can’t protect you from the harshness of weather. Sometimes, it rains so hard that you can’t even see anything ahead or the wind is so strong that it can blow you off the wheel. After all, it is just a part of an adventure, but maybe the most memorable ones.
II. VIETNAM MOTORBIKE TOUR: THE FACTS OF BIKING IN VIETNAM YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW
1. Traffic in Vietnam is chaotic
If there is something that can impress you at the very first moment setting your foot on the cities of Vietnam, it is definitely the traffic. And in case you haven’t been to Vietnam before, traffic in Vietnam is chaotic. There are countless videos on the internet about how terrifying it is when walking to the other side of the road. You can find here five tips for crossing the street in Vietnam.
But it is the look from a pedestrian and going for a Vietnam motorbike tour means you have to directly participate in the traffic. Most of the scooters don’t have rearview mirrors and the drivers don’t usually aware of what is behind them; 12-year-old children drive electric scooters are really common here; buses and large vehicles speed up on the crowded, rush-hour streets anytime they have space (even just a little). I have some tips which might help you to arrive at your resting place unharmed at the end of the article, so don’t miss it.
2. Infrastructures are not always good
The traffic infrastructure in Vietnam is getting better, especially in the major cities and highways between provinces. But driving around the cities or sticking with the big roads is not how Vietnam motorbike tour means to be. You will find more “hidden gems” deep in the mountains, the solitary roads which haven’t been repaired for a long time. The infrastructures at those places are usually bad with small, winding roads and holes in every scale.
3. There are terrains which can always surprise you because you have never seen them before
When your Vietnam motorbike tour reaches the small villages or communities located deep in the mountainous area, you will have the feeling that Vietnamese are truly masters of biking and “why the hell have they not been ranked on the world’s top biking yet?” When I traveled from Lao Cai City to Bao Ha Commune, Lao Cai Province on a motor-taxi, I shocked because the driver, with me and a quite heavy backpack on an old Honda Dream, conquered the 5-meter-long steep road just 2 meters away from the cliff. To be honest, I have never felt so close to the death like that before. Don’t be worried, you won’t have to face that hard level of terrains on your Vietnam motorbike tour because only the really experienced local drivers know these kinds of routes and it is really rare, though.
The more common thing which you have to notice is the endless and repeatedly curved roads. The roads in the mountainous area usually stick with the mountains, makes it looks like a Sine graph. There are blind spots in every curve which make it extremely dangerous. Pay attention to observing, slowing down and using honk to announce your existence then you will be alright.
4. Outclassing the three above, Vietnam motorbike tour is worth to try
I don’t want to spoil because it is better for you to explore it by yourself, but it is my duty to warn you about the threats you might meet. Therefore, don’t think too much about the three facts above. It as a part of the adventure and the rewards are waiting for you. Vietnam motorbike tour will be one of your most memorable experiences, you have my guarantee. Enjoying being the only person (or group) on the road, stopping by anytime you want to capture a wonderful picture, conquering the challenging routes which you rarely have a sight of traveler and visiting the friendly, non-tourism minority ethnic communities.
III. PLAN THE ITINERARY FOR YOUR VIETNAM MOTORBIKE TOUR
1. Calculating the distance between destinations in your Vietnam motorbike tour
Even though the territory of Vietnam allows you to make a straight route from one head to the other without missing attractions, it is still a large country. Therefore, you need a clear plan for itineraries. Spending time on research about the destinations of Vietnam, any towns or villages on the way and the distance between them will help you avoid being exhausted because of driving too long or you can’t make it to the next resting place before nightfall. Besides, designing your route through a couple of towns or villages will make you don’t have to worry much about supplies such as fuel, water, food, medicine and also make it easier to find a mechanic in case your vehicle broke down.
2. Vietnam motorbike tour costs you longer than you think
Vietnam motorbike tour is not a short trip, or in a more accurately saying, it’s not as short as you think in the first place. The reason is that roads in Vietnam are quite difficult (well if you don’t know why it is difficult, please read what I wrote above). Furthermore, driving in long distance drains your stamina really brutally. You usually have to slow down for taking pictures, contending with the traffic in major cities, getting lost in the middle of nowhere and the most common is for you aching ass.
Base on my experience, the distance you should travel in 1 day is around 300 kilometers and it might drop depended on your health condition. Of course, you can go further in one day but it is not recommended as you will be really tired the next day – which is really dangerous for driving.
Because it might take longer than you think, you should consider extending your VISA to avoid legal troubles. Check out our Vietnam VISA article for instruction and help.
Don’t forget to add the remote area on your Vietnam motorbike tour. Besides the most prominent destinations which are world-scale famous, there are many places that are still uncharted, isolated and somewhat dangerous. Those are the best routes in the country and also are the main reason makes Vietnam motorbike tour the best way to discover the country.
IV. RECOMMENDED VIETNAM MOTORBIKE TOUR ROUTES
1. Ho Chi Minh Trail – One of the most popular Vietnam motorbike tour routes
The popular Vietnam motorbike tour of Ho Chi Minh Trail is the highway system connects Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh City in the south. Ho Chi Minh Trail is originally the logistical route was created during the Vietnam War. It provided supplies, in form of manpower and material from the North to the battlefield in the South. An itinerary which leads you across every part of Vietnam, from the majestic mountains, the year-round misty passes, the adventurous highlands, and the tranquil beaches and white sand. As it is a highway system, you can easily find the way in and out so feel free to take a look at every destination around.
Otherwise, you can increase the challenging level in the more authentic Ho Chi Minh Trail for your Vietnam motorbike tour. Try out the old Ho Chi Minh Trail over the Annamite mountains into Laos and offers tons of beautiful mountainous landscapes, off-road routes, and friendly minority ethnic group’s villages. It is a quite tough itinerary which fits with experienced motor drivers.
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour in Ho Chi Minh Trail
To be honest, it is really hard to point out the best time to start this Vietnam motorbike tour due to the complicated terrain and the fact that it stretches vertical from north to south. But, there are 2 options for you to choose from:
– Option 1 (April to June): In my opinion, it is basically the best time to travel to Vietnam in general. The Spring rains are about to end in April and sunny weather will dominate until late June. Sometimes you will counter a sudden rain but it is just like a shower which lasts a while. At this time, the temperature is not too hot to strike you with sunstroke due to driving all day long and the mist on the high mountains dramatically reduce make your Vietnam motorbike tour a lot safer. The downside is that it is the peak season of tourism. That means most of your destinations are likely filled with (too many) people, high expenditure, and scams.
– Option 2 (September – February): This option is recommended for the popular Ho Chi Minh Trail only. At this time in the year, the weather is less harsh, attractions have fewer tourists, and the expenditure is far cheaper. But in exchange, the mountainous area (which takes a large proportion of your route) is mistier, makes it dangerous for the inexperienced drivers and even the experienced ones if they are careless.
Length: About 1,180 kilometers from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City
Time costs: Be prepared for at least 2 weeks. It might cost you to 3 weeks depending on your schedule, the number of destinations and other incidents.
2. Hanoi – Tam Dao: The most popular Vietnam motorbike tour route
Tam Dao is a small, misty town located on the mountainside of Tam Dao Range. The weather here is quite chill makes it an ideal place to escape the heat of Hanoi. To arrive in Tam Dao, you have to conquer a misty, winding and slope pass which is 1.3 kilometers long. It is short but really tough that you should pay a lot of attention and control your speed carefully. You will need a strong motorbike to make it and absolutely say no with scooters.
It is the most popular Vietnam motorbike tour among the Vietnamese traveler community. Basically, every Vietnamese traveler did this tour and most of it is their very first tour. It is a short route from Hanoi which can be proceeded within one day and challenging enough to excite the drivers. This Vietnam motorbike tour is the best for people who are really limited in time or want a little adventure at the start of their tour
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour to Tam Dao from Hanoi
The best time to visit Tam Dao is from April to September as Tam Dao is an awesome choice to escape the heat of Northern Vietnam’s summer. Even though, beware of the rain as it makes the road slippery. Another option is to visit Tam Dao in the winter (November to February) but we don’t recommend it for the inexperienced drivers due to the dangerous dense mist on the way.
Length: About 80 kilometers from Hanoi
Time costs: It only takes you a couple of hours to arrive in Tam Dao. But there are rooms to make your trip more exciting as you will find it in our Tam Dao essential travel guide
3. Hanoi – Dien Bien Phu – A Pa Chai
Dien Bien Phu is the capital city of Dien Bien Province, which is located at the western tip of Vietnam and shares the border with both China and Laos. Hiding on a flat valley and be surrounded by mountain ranges, Dien Bien Phu was the toughest fortress of France colonies in Indochina, as it was considered unbreakable before was crushed by Vietnamese army on May 7, 1954. Dien Bien Phu offers many sites of ruin from the battle once shocked the world, the majestic and endless mountains, pristine forest, and off-road routes which lead you to the hidden natural landscapes. If you are experienced, don’t miss the chance to conquer the Pha Din Pass – the highest pass of Vietnam.
Keep heading into the remote area in the west from Dien Bien Phu for 250 kilometers and you will arrive in A Pa Chai – the western tip of Vietnam’s territory. The way to A Pa Chai is getting better, but be prepared because the terrain makes the roads really hard to drive and heavy rain might cause severe mudslide and flood.
This Vietnam motorbike tour is not for newbies, as you will have to travel in the long distance on the mountainside with winding roads and a lot of high passes. The way to A Pa Chai is also dangerous and you should check the weather carefully 2 weeks in advance. But after all, it’s worth for a memorable adventure.
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour to Dien Bien
The best time to visit Dien Bien is from November to February, as from November to December is the festival season of local ethnic groups in Dien Bien. January to February is the time when the Kachnar flowers bloom (Vietnamese call it Hoa Ban), create the spectacular white and purple color cover vast of the forest. But beware of the mist on the mountains and some high spots on the way.
Length: About 450 kilometers from Hanoi to arrive in Dien Bien Phu City
Time costs: It costs you about 14 hours or longer depending on your schedule from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu City.
4. Hanoi – Nghia Lo – Mu Cang Chai: Vietnam motorbike tour for paddy lovers
You love the pictures of golden paddy fields climb layer by layer to the top of the hill? Then this Vietnam motorbike tour is just for you. Nghia Lo has one of the biggest paddy fields in Northwest Vietnam and Mu Cang Chai is famous for its spectacular ladder paddies and the charming Buckwheat flowers which attract countless of tourists every year.
Like other mountainous destinations, the Vietnam motorbike tour of Hanoi, Nghia Lo, Mu Cang Chai features the pristine forest, winding roads and the Khau Pha Pass – one of the Four Passes of Northwest Vietnam. You can also go deeper into the remote area of Nghia Lo or Mu Cang Chai to visit the minor ethnic groups’ villages. But always keep in mind that there will be a lot of dirt road and challenging terrains.
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour to Nghia Lo and Mu Cang Chai
There are 2 periods of time that worth your visit and it definitely pays off.
– Option 1 (From September to October): Put this route on top of your list, because it’s when the paddies are preparing to be harvested. The golden color of the full growth paddies covers the whole valley, make it one of the most beautiful sceneries ever. To be more accurate, you should be here within September 15th to October 10th. The paddies won’t completely change its color if you show up too early and too late will result there is no more paddy to see anymore.
– Option 2 (From May to June): Besides the beauty of paddies, Mu Cang Chai also has the beauty of no paddy at all. When the heavy rains of summer come and the fields are filled with clear water, the whole valley turns into a gigantic mirror that reflects the sun. And it’s spectacular, again.
Length: About 320 kilometers from Hanoi in total
Time costs: You can make it within a day from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai and it costs about 6 hours from Hanoi to Nghia Lo
5. Hanoi – Lao Cai – Hoang Su Phi: Conquer the longest pass in Northern Vietnam
I bet you know about Sapa, right? If you don’t, you should read the Sapa Essential Travel Guide before read any further about this Vietnam motorbike tour. And if you do, then your first stop is Sapa.
Sapa is a well-known destination features the charming paddy fields, friendly minority ethnic villages, the famous Red Dao Herbal Bath and the rooftop of Indochina – the Fansipan Summit. Don’t be rush in Sapa. Take your time to explore this wonderful town with our 16 things to do in Sapa. Hoang Su Phi is quite alike to Mu Cang Chai, which features one of the most stunning paddy sceneries in the country.
This Vietnam motorbike tour offers the opportunity to conquer O Quy Ho Pass – the longest pass in Northern Vietnam. O Quy Ho Pass has the breathtaking panoramic view and a fair share of danger. You will wander on the winding road lie perched over the abyss, a number of small streams and waterfalls which provide the clean water from underground.
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour to Sapa and Hoang Su Phi
The paddy beauty of Hoang Su Phi is available from September to October and from May to June (just like Mu Cang Chai and Nghia Lo above), Sapa is always welcome you and the best time to visit O Quy Ho Pass is in the summer as it will be covered with colorful wildflowers. Therefore, the best time for this route is from May to June. Otherwise, you can also choose the period from September to October as well to counter the golden rice fields but the cool breeze and mist on O Quy Ho Pass are the great dangerous potentials.
Length: About 500 kilometers from Hanoi to the final destination of Hoang Su Phi
Time costs: You can take it slowly for 4 days to a week for this Vietnam motorbike tour. Even though, you might want to spend a couple days more in Sapa so be prepared.
6. The Road of Happiness: Go North! This Vietnam motorbike tour is heading to the frontier
The Highway 4C (or the Road of Happiness) is 20 kilometers of winding road located at the northern Ha Giang Province. It connects the city of Ha Giang, the Dong Van karst plateau Geopark and Meo Vac Commune, and is the only road which crosses over the 1,200 meters high Ma Pi Leo Pass. Hundreds of hairpin turn over precipices which lead you to the remote, mysterious places will challenge even the experienced drivers, so the beginners are certainly not fit its requirement.
You can find more information about The Road of Happiness and the whole Ha Giang in general in the Ha Giang Essential Travel Guide
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour to Ha Giang
The best time for a trip to Ha Giang is from April to July and from September to November
Length: About 3300 kilometers of round trip
Time costs: You should spend at least 3 days for this trip
7. Hanoi – Moc Chau – Ta Xua – Bac Yen: Kind of the best flower-watching Vietnam motorbike tour
This Vietnam motorbike tour is really popular and is considered as the best flower-watching route in the Northern. Featuring the adventurous steeps, breathtaking vast of forest covered by flowers and the valley of rice fields hiding behind the mist, you will definitely love it, like anyone came here before.
The highland of Moc Chau offers the elegant white color of Chinese plum’s flowers, the stunning green tea farms, the “white-stoned” pass of Thung Khe Pass and the challenging Pha Luong Pass. But the fun part is just about to begin because after conquering Pha Luong Pass, you will head to Ta Xua Peak with the amazing panorama view above the cloud, which will wait for you behind 230 kilometers of zig-zag uphill. And the last is Hang Dong Peak, Bac Yen, which is above 2,000 meters high.
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour to Moc Chau, Ta Xua, and Bac Yen
The best time to do this Vietnam motorbike tour is in the Spring, from January to March, as it is when the Chinese plum’s flowers bloom. That’s why they consider it as one of the best routes for watching flower after all. The weather in Spring in Northern Vietnam is chill, so beware the appearance of thick fog in certain times in the day.
Length: About 300 kilometers from Hanoi to the final destination of Hang Dong Peak
Time costs: Due to just driving from one place to another, feel generous to spend 3 days for this Vietnam motorbike tour
8. Sai Khao – Muong Lat: Vietnam motorbike tour to a really, really remote area
Unlike the eights above, this time we head to the south, to an absolutely no tourism area of Thanh Hoa Province. This route is new, not popular and is known mostly among the Vietnamese motor travelers. Sai Khao is a really poor village located somewhere deep on the mountain ranges of Thanh Hoa Province. The way to Sai Khao is insane with endless uphill and downhill on dirt, small roads which only wide enough for 2 motorbikes can manage to cross over, and the only thing between you and the abyss is a simple bamboo-made fence.
Let’s say that your experience when conquering this route is legendary, that even the experienced drivers would feel like their driving skills had passed through a revolution. So that means there is no room for newbies to try this out. The infrastructure of Sai Khao is getting better, but it is still bad. So, prepare for weak electricity, lack of clean water and really simple meals. It is like the most real adventure as you can ever ask for.
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour to Muong Lat, Sai Khao
Consider visiting Sai Khao from April to June, as you will avoid the heavy rains and the harsh weather of this remote area. Beware of rain, as checking weather forecast 2 weeks in advance is necessary. Rain, even small, will cause to slipped mud road which is really dangerous.
Length: About 400 kilometers from Hanoi to the village of Sai Khao
Time costs: It costs you 3 hours for 160 kilometers from Hanoi to Thanh Hoa City; about 5 hours for more than 200 kilometers from Thanh Hoa City to Muong Lat Commune; and half of the day for 40 kilometers from Muong Lat Commune to Sai Khao.
9. Danang – Hai Van Pass – Lang Co: Vietnam motorbike tour to one of the most charming beaches
This Vietnam motorbike tour is for people who want to spend their time more effective when being in Danang. Lang Co is one of the most charming beaches in the world, and it is just 30 kilometers far from Danang City. Standing between you and that lovely beach is the longest pass of Vietnam – the Hai Van Pass. Hai Van Pass rises from the mist to the South China Sea, divide the Vietnam territory in half and offers the extremely stunning view. The part of 1A National Highway on Hai Van Pass is one of the most iconic roads in the world with spectacular sea view and adventurous hairpin turns.
The best part of this Vietnam motorbike tour is that there is a straight tunnel opened beneath the mountain which frees you from the big vehicles. That means there are only travelers you will meet on the way. For detailed information about Hai Van Pass
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour to Hai Van Pass
The best time for this route is from April to July, as it is when the beaches are warm enough for swimming and the storm season hasn’t come yet.
Interesting Fact: When coming to the middle part of Vietnam, you won’t have to worry about the thick fog on the high mountains as well as the chill breeze of winter anymore. It is the result of Hai Van Pass blocking all the cool winds from the north, which dramatically changes the weather of Vietnam.
Length: About 30 kilometers from Danang to Lang Co
Time costs: Spend your time to enjoy the delicious and cheap seafood in Lang Co Beach. You can come back to the city in no time
10. Ho Chi Minh – Pleiku (Gia Lai): Vietnam motorbike tour to the highland of the Southern
Vietnam motorbike tours in the Central Highland of Vietnam might not feature the same tough level as in the north, but it doesn’t mean they are less exciting, as this tour is a prominent example. Gia Lai has the Phoenix Pass, or better known as the Death Pass, features the extremely dangerous, short and consecutive turns. At present, even though the infrastructure has been upgraded and gotten safer, the pass is still challenging.
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour to Pleiku City
For safety, you should do this tour during the dry season (from November to April) for avoiding the slipping roads caused by rains. November to December is the time Gia Lai is covered by the color of ripening rice and Tree Marigold. It is also the festival season of the local. Another option is to visit Pleiku City in March to watch the blooming of Coffea flowers
Length: About 600 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City to Pleiku City
Time costs: It costs you 2 – 3 days of moving for this trip. Don’t be rushed, there are many things to see.
11. Ho Chi Minh – Dalat: Vietnam motorbike tour to the little Paris of Vietnam? Why not?
You read about Sapa, right? Then you will know that they call Sapa as Dalat of the Northern. Now, it’s time for the real and authentic Dalat. Check out Dalat the Essential Travel Guide. (If you are a beginner, you should read it as it’s your adventure.)
Your challenge in this Vietnam motorbike tour waits for you in Bao Loc Pass. It is a really high pass with a nearly endless uphill (if you start from Ho Chi Minh City) and the amazing view of tropical forest turning into pine forest along your way. Somewhere near the summit of Bao Loc Pass has a beautiful waterfall made from an underground stream penetrated through hard rock. Besides of enjoying the view, you should also beware of large trucks carrying food from Dalat down to the southern provinces.
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour to Dalat
The best time to visit Dalat is anytime in the year. Because like visiting grandparents’ house as they always have something to feed you whenever you come, Dalat has its beauty year-round for you.
Length: It is about 300 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh to Dalat.
Time costs: Don’t be mingy with Dalat, ever! Although you can make it to Dalat in a day, spending at least 3 days for this trip to be considered enough
12. Ho Chi Minh – Nha Trang: The best beachside Vietnam motorbike tour? Sign me in!
This is a nice and easy route for everyone. Featuring the best coastal towns in the country like Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, and Cam Ranh, you will have an amazing leisure trip. Feel free to take a turn for swimming or enjoying the stunning view on the beaches, you are going through the best beaches of Vietnam.
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour to Nha Trang
April to July will be the best for swimming and avoid storms.
Length: It is about 450 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh.
Time costs: A week, I guess. Phan Thiet, Cam Ranh, and Nha Trang feature more beautiful beaches and attractions than you can explore within a week. Check our travel guide for those destinations before consider your time.
13. Ho Chi Minh – Dalat – Nha Trang: Nha Trang again. But this time is more mountainous
You’ve known the route Ho Chi Minh – Dalat already. But this time, add Cat Tien National Park into your itinerary. Cat Tien National Park offers an interesting chance for bird-watching and camping site.
Best time for Vietnam motorbike tour to Nha Trang
April to July is the best
Length: It is about 440 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh.
Time costs: This Vietnam motorbike tour is somewhat less interesting than the one above it. Spending 4 days will be enough.
14. Ho Chi Minh – Mui Ne – Dalat – Dong Nai: The rounded Vietnam motorbike tour
This tour is like a summary of Vietnam motorbike tour for people who are limited in time, features both mountainous and coastal landscapes. You will visit the coastal city of Mui Ne before heading toward the north to Dalat and Cat Tien National Park. Kind of the reverse version with some changes of the above route, right?
Best time for this Vietnam motorbike tour
April to July, again.
Length: It is about 546 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh to the last destination of Cat Tien National Park.
Time costs: This Vietnam motorbike tour is pretty similar to the above. So, it’s 4 days
15. Ho Chi Minh – Ca Mau: Vietnam motorbike tour is different
The first time in this entire list, we go to the lowland. Ca Mau is the last province of Vietnam in the south, features the biodiverse mangrove forest, dense canal systems and the interesting lifestyle of the Mekong Delta.
Best time for this Vietnam motorbike tour
This Vietnam motorbike tour requires a calculation. The dry season (from December to April) offers dry weather and easy for driving by motorbike, but the sceneries are not so worth the effort. The rainy season offers the stunning sceneries, but your journey will also include countless sudden rains which make you completely wet and then disappear before you finish wearing the raincoat.
Length: It is about 310 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh to Ca Mau City
Time costs: This Vietnam motorbike tour is actually about exploring the whole Mekong Delta. So, it will cost you about 3 – 4 days to complete. You can find many suggestions for this route in 18 best itineraries for Mekong Delta Tour
V. PREPARING FOR YOUR VIETNAM MOTORBIKE TOUR
1. Have a good bike for your Vietnam motorbike tour
This is the first and most important thing that you can ever think about for the main reasons: safety, enjoyable and overall cost. Vietnam is the kingdom of motorbikes. Therefore, you can easily buy a good second-hand motorbike for from VND 4,000,000 at the backpacker quarters in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Another more economical option is renting, which will cost you about VND 200,000 per day for a standard Honda.
Even though, how good your vehicle serves you also depend on how you treat it. You should change oil for your bike every 1000 kilometers (or once per 300 kilometers based on the terrain and your bike’s condition). Washing your bike, oiling and tightening your chain, checking lights, breaks, tires are small things which can save your life one day and they don’t cost much.
A little advice for couples who are reading this Vietnam motorbike tour guide. Don’t just hire/purchase 1 motorbike as you think two of you on a motorbike wandering over the country is a romantic idea. It’s not, and believe me, it is terrible. 2 people and your luggage make it cramped, your butt and your back ache terribly and your motorbike will be damaged for heavy carrying in hard terrain. Therefore, it is the best if everyone has a motorbike to drive.
a. Buying your own motorbike
The main reasons for you to purchase a motorbike are that you know about motorbike enough to evaluate it, or you want a cool motorbike that can be customized for you, or you plan to travel in Vietnam for more than 1 month.
Find a second-hand Honda Win to purchase for VND 4,000,000 or higher is not a tough task when scouring the backpacker areas or traveler’s forums. But considering your seller, as travelers usually want to sell their motorbike as fastest as they can, regardless of condition, quality or value for money. Finding process might cost you a couple of days and you will likely have to spend money for maintenance (Both before and during your trip). It might not cost you much money, but time is what you can gain back. Some of the companies guarantee to buy back your vehicle after it’s done with your business, but in most of the time, you will end up having to find the buyer like the other travelers you met at the beginning.
Where to buy a motorbike?
1, Travel Swop forum
Address: 14 Hang Chinh Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Hotline: (+84) 912 333 818 Customer support 24/7
– B2-00.01 Sarimi, 72 Nguyen Co Thach, An Loi Dong Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City
– No. 25, Alley 5/34A Tran Phu, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
– 15 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Cam Le District, Danang
Bookings number: (+84) 120 769 5132
Breakdown support: (+84) 962 603 603
Crash / Emergency support: (+84) 128 875 8055
– Office: No. 13 Ngo Huyen Street, Hoan Kiem Dist., Hanoi
– Warehouse: No. 99 Bac Cau Street, Long Bien Dist., Hanoi
– Saigon Minsk: No 07, Bui Vien Street., District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
– Hanoi: (+84) 904 253 491
– Hanoi: (+84) 965 936 677
– Ho Chi Minh City: (+84) 122 565 6508
b. Rent a motorbike for your Vietnam motorbike tour
You should rent a motorbike as it’s seemed a better choice (and less costly in many ways). Rental companies spend a lot of money on maintenance as well as have strict policies on protecting their properties because they need to use them over and over again. All you have to do is finding a reputable company and choose the vehicle you like (with the help of the company if you need). Some companies establish their base across the country, allow them to drop the vehicle anywhere you need and emergency services for unwanted accidents. The price for renting a motorbike is around VND 200,000/day
But it’s not perfect. As it is not your asset, you always have to be careful in maintaining the vehicle’s condition and it might reduce your satisfaction in some respects. You also can’t customize it as freely as you want.
Where to rent a motorbike?
– B2-00.01 Sarimi, 72 Nguyen Co Thach, An Loi Dong Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City
– No. 25, Alley 5/34A Tran Phu, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
– 15 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Cam Le District, Danang
Bookings number: (+84) 120 769 5132
Breakdown support: (+84) 962 603 603
Crash / Emergency support: (+84) 128 875 8055
Address: 116 Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, Nha Trang City
Phone number: (+84) 120 757 8716
Address: No. 15, Alley 12, Dang Thai Mai, Hanoi
Phone number: (+84) 904 392 423
– Office: 66 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
– Warehouse: 162 Tran Quang Khai Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
– 30A Do Quang Dau, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Phone number: (+84) 243 926 0938
– Hanoi: (+84) 912 214 554
– Ho Chi Minh City: (+84) 986 751 020
Address: 182 / 5A De Tham, Ho Chi Minh City
Phone number: (+84) 909 283 280
2. Gears up for your Vietnam motorbike tour
a. Find for yourself a good helmet
The first reason is Vietnamese law require everyone on the motorbike has to wear a helmet. The second reason is that traffic in Vietnam is crazy and you need something reliable enough to protect your head. Ask for a helmet at the place you buy/rent your motorbike and they will give you a decent one (sometimes it’s free). A new good helmet costs around VND 400,000 – 500,000 and a high-quality helmet can be found in specialized shops selling traveling equipment only with much more expensive price.
b. Can you be stylish in your Vietnam motorbike tour?
Say goodbye with the image of wearing flip-flops, short pant and T-shirt in your Vietnam motorbike tour. The weather is harsh and you will suffer of not be prepared. The plain and coastal towns are hot in summer while the mountainous areas and highlands can get cold and wet. Northern Vietnam has cold winter while the southern part is likely to hot all the time. The high mountains can suddenly appear thick fog and rains.
Therefore, you should prepare for traveling through several weather conditions per day. Putting in long pant, warm shoes and a waterproof jacket will protect your health (and maybe a scarf for winter in the northern provinces). You might want to consider a waterproof suit (it includes a pant and a jacket) when traveling through humid areas.
c. How to pack your luggage right?
Consider packing as lightest as you can because it is harder to drive when heavy carrying. You can be amazed at watching a Vietnamese driver carrying the whole kitchen with a pan filled with boiled oil on the stove like nothing but do not think about trying to copy it. Also, remember to ask for a couple of elastics when purchasing or renting your motorbike as you will need them to secure your luggage and cover your stuff with plastic or raincoat to keep them stay dry and clean.
d. Purchase a pair of goggles and a mask
They’re optional, but after starting your trip, you will understand how important they are. Wind, dust, and bugs are really common things on the way. There are days which dust and dirt blind your eyes and cover your mouth; on other days, breezes on the mountain are so dry and cool that it chaps your face and so strong that it makes you can’t see. The mask also protects your nose from sinusitis.
e. Have a set of multi-tool and duct tape
It can save you in the worst situations. If your vehicle breaks down at nowhere which there is no mobile signal nor mechanic around, you or someone passed by still can help you to fix something
– Paper registration: Always ask the leaser/seller for the paper registration. It is really important so don’t lose it. It is the proof of your ownership of the bike as well as a compulsory requirement for you to sell your bike later.
– Driving license: You will need an international driving license for motorbikes to avoid troubles with the police.
4. Food & water
Even though you can get supplies and meals in the towns you passed over, it is necessary to store some food and water in your luggage. They are for the situation that you can’t make it to the resting place due to weather or something.
5. A Vietnamese phone
A Vietnamese phone with Vietnamese sim is vital for your Vietnam motorbike tour as you can use them for calling emergency services and purchasing 3g service for navigation and weather checking.
VI. ASSUMING COSTS FOR A VIETNAM MOTORBIKE TOUR
– Motorbike purchasing: >VND 4,000,000 (it is a better choice if you plan to use your motorbike for more than 1 month)
– Maintenance: VND 1,000,000 – VND 3,000,000 and even higher depending on your bike’s condition
– Frequented maintenance for ensuring safety: it is mostly the cost of purchasing oil
– Motorbike renting: VND 200,000/day in average
– Accommodation: VND 200,000/night in average for a decent room in local hotels
– Fuel: VND 60,000 – VND 100,000 per day (assuming you travel about 300 kilometers per day)
– Food and drink: VND 100,000 – VND 200,000 per day (might vary depending on you)
– Other: about VND 100,000/day for enjoying your trip. Sometimes you will need a self-reward after a long day driving.
VII. TIPS YOU MIGHT NEED IN VIETNAM MOTORBIKE TOURS
1. Keep calm all the time
You will have to counter really annoying situations when driving. Sometimes it is some teenagers burst speed and instantly cross over your bike, sometimes a looking-innocent madam signal to turn left and then suddenly turn right, and sometimes people behind you press their honk like crazy because you don’t move when the red light counts on 10. No matter what is going on, keep your patient and solve it nicely.
2. Never try to drive in the night, ever
Driving at night is dangerous, whether it is in a major city, a small town or in the middle of nowhere. Vietnamese drink beer and alcohol in the later afternoon, after work and they usually end up drunk when driving home. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to avoid those drunken drivers, the accident will happen. In small towns, it’s even worse, as teenagers are usually hot-headed and they might blame you for the responsibility.
3. Check your map carefully
Unless you are in the major cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, Google Map is not reliable enough for you to totally lean on. My tip is learning to calculate the distance as it’s shown on the map. It will make you harder to get lost.
Another thing you should notice is that you should research the way carefully when being in major cities, as sometimes Google Map leads you to the one-way streets or motorbike-banned streets.
4. Use honk every time you take over another vehicle
Being in Vietnam and you will learn. Vietnamese use honk as an effective tool to tell everyone their existence, as drivers don’t usually look at their rearview mirrors (most motorbike in Vietnam even don’t have them). Therefore, using honk to make the drivers in front of you notice you before taking over is a compulsory task.
5. Check kickstand
Some modern classes of motorbike can’t start its engine when the kickstand is till established. But that feature doesn’t exist on the motorbikes I mentioned above. Anyway, you have to check it, for your safety
6. Use back-brake
Many new models of motorbike feature disc brake at the front wheel for the instant stop while back wheel doesn’t have it. The instant stop is dangerous that it is not recommended to use in many cases.
7. Watch the others
It basically means you shouldn’t do something if no one else does it. For example, some junctions in Hanoi don’t allow you to go straight from one side to the other but allow you to do that from the opposite. If you notice that no one around you do something, it’s better that you shouldn’t do it either.
8. Avoid large vehicles wearing properly wen visit temple/sacred places
Covering your shoulders and covering your knees with pant are compulsory when visiting sacred places
9. Ask people if you want to take a photo of them
No matter what your purpose is, the Vietnamese don’t like to be taken a photo without their permission. Sometimes, things get complicated if you take a photo of a military facility or sensitive place/event. If you want to take a picture of someone, just ask them politely and they will mostly be fine with it.