Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: 5 Suggested Routes

Last updated March 2017 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle


Riding from Saigon to Hanoi by motorbike is probably the most popular road trip in Vietnam, and it’s unquestionably one of the best ways to experience the country. For years, travellers simply took the most obvious route: Highway 1. Today, however, thanks to ambitious road building programs, there are far more scenic, pleasant and less trodden ways to ride between the country’s two main cities. Having ridden south to north on numerous occasions (the first time, predictably, on Highway 1), I’ve put together the following 5 suggested motorbike routes from Saigon to Hanoi, so that travellers who are planning this road trip have more of an idea of the kind of options available to them.

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: 5 Suggested RoutesNew roads have opened up exciting & scenic routes for riding between Saigon & Hanoi

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The main objective of these routes is to get from Saigon to Hanoi on good roads, passing good scenery, and avoiding traffic-clogged arteries, such as Highway 1, as much as possible. New roads are constantly being constructed, thus improving journey time and opening access to more parts of the country. The suggested routes below are based on my own experience of riding south to north. I’ve designed each route to suit the needs of different travellers; based on scenery and/or time frame. For each of the 5 routes I have: given it a name, written a short description and bullet points of essential information, illustrated it with an image, and plotted it on a map. The route maps include markers containing links to any Vietnam Coracle guides that are relevant to the route, where you’ll find more detailed information about that particular section of the road trip. For other useful resources that will help you plan your Saigon to Hanoi road trip, such as expenses and weather, see Related Posts.


Click a route from the list below to view the map and read the details:

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  • Total Distance: 2,770km
  • Average Duration: 2-4 weeks
  • Road Conditions: paved rural & coastal back-roads, new & old highways
  • Navigation: mostly simple, some tricky bits in central areas
  • Scenery: coast, highlands, mountains, limestone, cities, villages, cultural sites

IMAGE: The Classic route between Saigon and Hanoi

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: The Classic Route

DESCRIPTION: Weaving a course between coast and highlands, The Classic route is equal parts beach and mountain. Quiet, stunning coastal roads in the south and central provinces yield to a mighty landscape of limestone karsts on the Ho Chi Minh Road in the north-central region. Popular towns and sights, such as Mui Ne, Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, the Hai Van Pass, Phong Nha Caves and Ninh Binh are all covered; but so too are off the beaten path areas, such as the beaches around Quy Nhon, the coastal back-roads north of Hue, and the Western Ho Chi Minh Road. It’s the perfect balance of must-see sights and hidden gems. Zoom in on the map below and click the map symbols for links to my guides to specific locations. Enjoy the ride!

ROUTE MAP: red pins mark major towns, all other markers are links to my guides to specific areas.

  • [View this map in a separate window HERE]

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  • Total Distance: 2,050km
  • Average Duration: 10 days-3 weeks
  • Road Conditions: new coastal highways, paved rural back-roads
  • Navigation: fairly simple, some tricky bits on the central coast
  • Scenery: coast, beaches, fishing villages, farmland, beach towns, cultural sites

IMAGE: The Beach Bum route between Saigon and Hanoi

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: The Beach Bum Route

DESCRIPTION: Echoing Vietnam’s curving coastline for nearly 1,300km, this is the route to choose if you enjoy sand between your toes, playing in the surf, and the sound of the sea at night. Avoiding Highway 1 for most of its course, The Beach Bum route uses jaw-dropping new coast roads and rarely-ridden coastal back-roads to take you to countless deserted beaches, sleepy fishing villages and hedonistic beach towns. Calling in at established beaches, such as Mui Ne and Nha Trang, this route also covers up-and-coming coastal regions, such as Phan Rang, Cam Ranh and Quy Nhon, where the sand and sea are almost completely undisturbed. When the beaches lose their gloss in the north-central provinces, this route takes to the hills along the Ho Chi Minh Road, for a good dose of limestone magic, including the caves at Phong Nha. Zoom in on the map below and click the symbols for links to my guides to specific beaches and coast roads. Enjoy the ride! 

ROUTE MAP: red pins mark major towns, all other markers are links to my guides to specific areas.

  • [View this map in a separate window HERE]

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  • Total Distance: 1,880km
  • Average Duration: 10 days-2 weeks
  • Road Conditions: highways & paved mountain roads
  • Navigation: simple & straightforward for the majority of the route
  • Scenery: agricultural plateaus, mountains, limestone, minority villages, war vestiges

IMAGE: Uncle Ho’s Road: the Ho Chi Minh Road from Saigon to Hanoi

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: The Ho Chi Minh Road

DESCRIPTION: Surely one of the most evocative road names in the world, The Ho Chi Minh Road is now a fully paved passage from the south of Vietnam to the north. Uncle Ho’s Road might be the shortest route in this list, but it’s also the most mountainous; following the Truong Son Range, which forms the jagged, high-peaked spine of Vietnam. From vast agricultural plateaus, where tea and timber grow in equal number, to the ragged edge of the frontier lands along the border with Laos; from teetering passes above roaring rivers on the western branch-road, to the limestone wonderland at its northern ‘neck': you’ll bear witness to some of the most dramatic scenery Vietnam has to offer. Sparsely populated for much of the route, some thriving cities (such as Buon Ma Thuot) and charming towns (such as Kon Tum) offer human interaction, as do the multitude of ethnic minority hamlets lining the way. Geological wonders abound, punctuated by war vestiges with hauntingly familiar names, like Khe Sanh. Enjoy the ride!    

ROUTE MAP: red pins mark major towns, all other markers are links to my guides to specific areas.

  • [View this map in a separate window HERE]

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  • Total Distance: 4,180km
  • Average Duration: 3-6 weeks
  • Road Conditions: highways, new coast & mountain roads, paved back-roads
  • Navigation: requires regular map checks & occasionally asking locals
  • Scenery: coast, rivers, limestone, mountains, minority villages, cities, cultural sites 

IMAGE: The Big One: the scenic route between Saigon and Hanoi

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: The Big One Route

DESCRIPTION: If time is no object, and you want to see everything there is to see between Saigon and Hanoi, both on and off the beaten path, The Big One has it covered. This meandering route zigzags up the country on mountain passes, coastal back-roads, the Ho Chi Minh Road, and new national highways, to create a road trip of epic proportions. Taking in all the best beaches in southern and central Vietnam, twisting through remote valleys in the Central Highlands, corkscrewing through limestone forests on the Western Ho Chi Minh Road, and following shimmering rivers from source to mouth; this is the definitive south to north route. Major towns and tourist hotspots, such as Nha Trang, Dalat, Hoi An, Phong Nha Caves and Ninh Binh, are woven into this itinerary to balance all the off-the-grid exploration. Don’t forget to zoom in on the map below and click the symbols for links to my guides to specific regions and sights. Enjoy the ride!

ROUTE MAP: red pins mark major towns, all other markers are links to my guides to specific areas.

  • [View this map in a separate window HERE]

[Back to Routes]


  • Total Distance: 2,230km
  • Average Duration: 2-4 weeks
  • Road Conditions: good highways, some back-roads
  • Navigation: easy to follow, a couple of tricky bits on the central coast
  • Scenery: mountains, farmland, coast, cities, fishing villages, cultural sites

IMAGE: The Easy Rider route between Saigon and Hanoi

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: The Easy Rider Route

DESCRIPTION: Specifically designed for travellers who want a less complicated (but no less scenic) passage from south to north, The Easy Rider route sticks to good-quality roads on a relatively direct route from Saigon to Hanoi which is easily navigated. Switching from coast to highlands on several occasions, this route threads an arcing path through some of Vietnam’s most attractive eye candy: Dip your toes in the southern waters of Mui Ne, Nha Trang and Quy Nhon; escape to the cooler climes of mountain towns such as Dalat and Kon Tum; enjoy the cultural delights of Hoi An and Hue, connected by the Hai Van Pass; and gaze in awe at the limestone dreamscape of the Phong Nha Cave system and along the Ho Chi Minh Road. This is a good, time-saving alternative to The Classic route. Make sure you zoom in on the map below and click the symbols for links to my guides to specific sites along the way. Enjoy the ride!

ROUTE MAP: red pins mark major towns, all other markers are links to my guides to specific areas.

  • [View this map in a separate window HERE]

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        •  Expenses for a Road Trip:

        •  23 Differences from South to North Vietnam:

        •  Weather in Vietnam:

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Selected Resources for Travellers & Expats:  What's this?

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

  1. John says:

    Tom, first of all, great guide! You’ve created a wealth of information here that has become a key resource as I plan my upcoming Vietnam motorcycle tour. Thank you.
    Do you have a guide on your preferred safety gear for the climate (helmet, boots, gloves), rain gear recommendations, and other essentials you like to have in your kit for long rides? It would be great to hear what your experience has taught.

  2. Tim says:

    Hi Tom!

    First of all thanks for all the work you put in and all the detailed information you share! I’m currently riding your classic tour and love it so far!!

    I’m currently in quy nhon and am going to make my way up to hoi an via kon tum but one question, do you have any advixe how to find suitable hotels/hostels/other places to stay the night on your route away from the big cities (red marks)? I have no idea how to do it and the ride from quy nhon to kon tum is a bit to long for my taste to do on one day

  3. Fraser says:

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the detailed routes! I was thinking of doing the big one in Jan/Feb of 2018 but from Hanoi to Saigon. Whats with the huge time differences? Would 3 weeks be riding everyday compared to 6 weeks with days off at certain points?


  4. Christofer says:

    Hi Tom!

    Im flying to Saigon september 14 and was planning on doing the classic route, im flying back home october 8 from Hanoi, so I hope it will be enough time :)

    I was wondering what places along the way you would recommend to stay more than a day, maybe even 2-3 days? since most of the stops will just be over the night before keep on the ride.

    I was also wondering what places that I just cant miss to visit along the way up to hanoi?

    Tnx really mutch for this amazing guide, love your site!

    Keep up the good work, and sorry for my bad english ;)

    Greetings from Sweden

  5. David says:

    Hi Tom,

    I’m loving these scenic routes. Great post. My friend and I are arriving in Hanoi or Ho Chi Min this weekend. My question is which route do you recommend taking in terms of north to south (Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh) or south to north (Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi)? What are the positives and negatives of each of these 2 directions? We are looking to get the Honda XR 150 from Tigit or Fung.


  6. Jacira says:

    Hi Tom, I am really enjoying reading gthrouhallthe parts of your extensive website. At the moment I am in Quang Ngai teaching. I finish here early August and plan to take part of your big One route on. I have a Honda SuperCub 50cc. Your advise: will it be enough to take me around most places in Vietnam? What parts do I need to be wary of? I would like to go as far as Ha Giang……

    Thank you for your help.


  7. Giorgio says:

    Hi Tom,
    thank you so much for this amazing guide! Me and my girlfriend are planning a motorbike trip from Hanoi to Saigon, and i was wondering if you know a good place where to buy a motorbike and what i should check before to buy, as well as what kind of documents i need.

  8. Luke says:

    At first I would like to thank you for your blog and the work you put on.
    I plans to arrive in Vietnam at the beginning of January for 25 days (where I have an evening out on the 25th of the afternoon in Saigon)
    I plan to travel from Hanoi to Saigon with a classic route supplemented with halong bay (possibly shortened) and additionally when I get to Saigon on a trip to Phu Quac island (If I stay at least 5 days to fly (I assume 7 days))
    How do you think this is real assumption? Is it better to drive to Saigon and then sell motorbikes and take public transportation to the island?
    I think I’ll be driving every day
    what do You think about it?

  9. VV says:

    Hey Tom,
    Thank you so much for this. This is really useful I am completely following your maps for the journey I am going to start in a couple of days. :D
    However, I needed your opinions on one thing. What places/cities/routes would you recommend during about 500km journey between Dong Hoi and Hanoi for taking rest for a night or to break down the journey into a couple of shorter ones?
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

  10. Cale says:

    Awesome blog Tom. This has been super helpful and really ignited my passion for the trip.

    I’ll only have about 13-14 days and am thinking of doing the Beach Bum route. Any suggestions on where I should focus my time and good places to stop for overnight?

    Many thanks!

  11. Charlotte says:

    Great articles all very helpful

    Can anyone advise if it’s realistic to come into vietnam from cambodia via the crossing Hoa lu and then travel up to the crossing into Laos via dak rang on what looks like the main road the 14.

    we get a 15 day visa and wanted to do this journey at the end of this month.

    Will this be feasible in the time given and interesting along the way? Also current weather and road conditions?

    Two people on a Honda win (previously travelled vietnams coastline by bus for a month)

    Any help appreciated thanks

  12. Quinten De Smet says:

    Hi Tom,

    First of all, what a wonderful blog! It helped me a lot with the planning of the trip :)
    I will go to Vietnam in late September, early October.
    I’ll fly to Hanoi, and from there i will go to Saigon (The Big Route with probably some detours)
    I was wondering if i should go to Sa Pa (north of Hanoi). It is a detour of 300km, but i don’t know if it’s the correct time to go to the north in october.



  13. Emanuel says:

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the great article!

    Im going to be landing in Saigon in July and plan on traveling up to Hanoi within about 2.5-3 weeks. A few questions:

    1) I’ve never really driven a motorbike before (I’ve driven a moped if that helps) but Im a pretty fast learner. Im going to be going with my girlfriend as well, and plan on sticking her on the bike with me. What would you say on a scale from 1-10 is the level of danger in this situation? And is there any route safer than the others?

    2) If we only have about 17-21 days, would that mean only staying in one place per day, and having to ride everyday? Or would we be able to stick around in a certain place for a few days.

    3) Lastly, if we plan on doing lets say half the trip by bike, and the other half by quicker means of transport, would any of the following be feasible (in your opinion): to start driving from Saigon up until about Hoi An and sell my bike there, taking train/bus etc from Saigon to Hoi An and buy a motorbike in Hoi An and bike all the way up to Hanoi and sell in Hanoi, or neither?

    Thank you very much in advance!


  14. Rike says:

    Hey Tom,
    wow, this comment section is exploding! :) More greetings from “Life’s a Beach” just south of Quy Nhon – what a gem! Took the wooden bridge mentioned in another comment to get back on 1A and then 1D after a visit of Ghen Da Dia – 2000 D for bicycles, great option to avoid some kms – and also fun: )
    Thinking about cutting inland from here before getting back on the coast for Hoi An like you suggest in most route options. I just wondered: Can you tell me for what reason you go north for quite a bit after Quy Nhon and then west instead of taking the seemingly more straightforward connection, QL19 from here to Pleiku?
    Just the nicer road? Or anything on the coast to check out that I’m missing? I’m on the bicycle, so especially with all those climbs, looking to avoid all unnecessary detours :)
    Thanks for taking the time!

  15. Jason says:

    Hi Tom,

    Awesome post! Question for you. My friend and I will have ~3-4 weeks in Vietnam in mid-July/early-August and I was wondering whether motorbiking from HCMC to Hanoi would still be doable/safe/fun during the rainy season? Would you recommend the Classic route? Thanks for all the great info!


  16. Dan says:

    I notice none of the maps contain Sapa. Is it not worth it after seeing everything before?

  17. Mark says:

    Hey Tom, I’m at “Life’s a Beach” now as I head North, I’m one of the many many people here who are getting great value out of your route guides, can’t thank you enough!

    It seems you haven’t published a more detailed guide on the area between the Hon Gom Sandbar and around Hoi An, so I thought I’d share my thoughts. is a little wooden bridge that I saw off to the side following your route, and crossed just for fun. They charged me a 3,000 Dong toll (each way…) and there was a sign suggesting 1,000 might have been more appropriate. I can’t vouch for the quality of the roads to get there from your route (and cutting out the QL1A bridge), but this was a treat and well worth checking out to consider putting your suggested route over it next time you’re in the area.

  18. Petr Baru says:

    Hi guys, how can I use the map? I want to use it in my phone like navigation, but I could not find any option how to do that. When I try to make it on my own, it always find me other route.

    Thanks Petr

  19. dust7878 says:


    Do you have any recommendations on a route between Hanoi and Cat Ba Island, via Hai Phong. I’ve seen multiple people advising against it online.

    Google seems to recommend either QL5B which looks like a brand new major expressway that would probably have lots of truck traffic or AH14, which I imagine would have less traffic due to QL5B.

    What are your thoughts?

    Dustin from Canada

  20. Cezar Biegun says:

    First of all, as I told you via messenger your blog is an absolute legend. I am glad I found it myself before I realised you’re recommended in LP guide too, congrats! We’re cruising through Vietnam using your tips n tricks and we’re planning our route everyday using your maps (mix of classic and beach bum). We do not take a lot of organised trips and people we meet usually speak little or no English so I have several questions to ask and maybe we get answer here from you or one of readers. So…
    1. What on earth are all these huge huge nets on stilts on rivers?
    2. What’s up with all these abandoned/empty hotels by the sea some 7km south of Vinh Moc tunnels? There’s like 2 completely abandoned resorts and 5 maybe 6 still operation but empty hotels here. Looks a bit post-apocalyptic.
    3. Follow up question. Roadside hotels/motels that cost 200-250k with breakfast and are almost empty – how do they survive?
    4. Who is eating frogs/crocs/snakes/lizards? Is it just prank food for tourists commonly found in big asian cities? Beijing and Bangkok are full of crickets/scorpions/bugs and other theoretically edible stuff. Or is it for locals too? Because we never come across any place serving let’s say snake or lizard unless it’s an eatery designed for tourists. We’ve not found dog meat yet but I guess we’re not north enough yet (Phong Nha tonight).
    5. Is there a reason why left lane is slower than middle or second from left? Slow trucks almost always take left lane and buses and other trucks must take over from the right.

    I think that’s it for now haha.

    Thanks again and good luck on your future travels!


  21. Chops says:


    Just wanted to start off by saying this site is amazing and appreciate all the work and effort you’ve put in. We’ll be going back to Nam next week and this will be the first time outside of the south. We are planning to do a slightly modified (adding Da Lat) Beach Bum route from the north to south and wonder if I was being overly ambitious about our schedule/timing. Currently we land 03/02 (from the states) and need to be in Saigon by 03/18. To save some time we figured we’d take the night train from Hanoi to Dong Hoi since it seems like the longest stretch (503km) without anything significant in between (planning on going to Phong Nha Caves from Dong Hoi). Just a few questions if you don’t mind

    Are we going to miss anything worthwhile by taking the train instead of riding to Dong Hoi?
    What about Sapa and Ha Long Bay? From reading around March wasn’t the best month to go experience these spots in addition to the 2-3 needed for each
    Is 16 days a stretch to make it down to Saigon? We are currently estimating 40km/hr average?
    Besides the major cities is there anything else we should check out?
    Currently planned:
    Dong Hoi
    Hoi An
    Quy Nhon
    Nha Trang
    Da Lat
    Mui Ne
    Anything we should just skip in general? Added Quy Nhon there since Hoi An to Nha Trang was going to be another 500km ride.

    Any advice, recommendations, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for all your time and keep up the great work!

    -Best Regards,

  22. Adam says:

    Hi Tom, I am currently cycling around Vietnam and have been for the last six months. I’ve done the Delta and followed your route for camping the Ocean road and also the HCM route from Pleiku to Danang. Your info has been most helpful and I thank you.
    Today I shall cycle into Hanoi and I am thinking about exploring the mountains to the NE and NW of Hanoi again using your routes as a guide. How doable do you think it is on bicycle? How do the climbs compare with Hai Van Pass and the two passes from Qui Nhon to Pleiku, plus the climb from Mai Chau to Hoa Binh ?
    Cheers for any useful info you can give me.

  23. Chris says:

    Hi tom, love the work keep it up brother! I’ve travelled vietnam before and done biking in parts as well but never the whole thing. i plan on doing so this summer and i was just wondering what the policing is like? what are my chances of getting caught illegally and can you just bribe the police? and lastly would you recommend starting from south to north or north to south or is it the same experience? looking forward to heading back from you, Peace.

  24. Nathan Kessel says:

    Thank you so much for the fantastic guides!!!
    I’ve settled on the Classic route and am in Da Lat right now, but have a few clarifying questions:
    When do you think is the best time to check out the three beaches between Nha Trang and Quy Nhon? Can they be done while driving to Quy Nhon?
    The route to Hue to Phong Nha looks really long, and the route from Phong Nha to Ninh Binh looks near impossible to complete in one day– how long do you think these drives would take? Is it necessary to find a place to sleep between Phong Nha and Ninh Binh?
    Thank you again– I’m really excited being able to do this fantastic route you’ve shared here!

  25. Reut says:


    THANK YOU so much for this detailed maps and information!!
    I can’t decide which route to take, the first one or the last one.

    We are landing in 26th of January in Saigon.
    We booked a hotel in there, also in DaLat (28th).
    Planning driving from Saigon to DaLat to all the beach road.
    We only booked a hostel in Phong Nha (6th of February) because we want to do the cave treks, and then booked a hotel in Hanoi (11th).
    We have a flight from Hanoi in the 15th of February.

    Which route will be the best? You think we will be able to do it withing 20 days overall?

  26. Kristina says:

    Hi Tom!

    Love reading your website! My husband and I are planning a trip to Vietnam (south to north) in February. He wants to rent a motorcycle from Hoi An to Hue for part of our trip, what would be the best company to rent from? Motorvina has good reviews online, thoughts?? He’s an expirenced rider here in the US. Also can you take a look at our itinerary and let us know what you think of it, if it’s too much or tiring to do in little time…

    Saigon 2/10-2/12
    Flight to DaNang take taxi to
    Hoi An 2/12-2/14
    Motorbike to
    Hue 2/14-2/16
    Hanoi 2/16
    Overnight train to
    Sapa 2/17-2/20
    Overnight train
    Hanoi 2/21
    Bus to
    Halong Bay/Cat Ba Island 2/21-2/24
    Bus to
    Hanoi 2/24 then take flight back to Saigon 2/24-2/26

    Thank you so much for your time!

  27. Pingback: A Mad Tea Party between Hội An and Nha Trang – Be mo' in motion

  28. Matt says:

    Hi Tom

    If one plans to navigate using Googlemaps, GPS on a phone. How good is reception generally to rely on this?



  29. Ana Nabais says:

    Hi Tom!

    It’s awesome that you give us all this information.
    I have already read a bunch of your articles to make some decisions.
    But i still have some doubts.
    I’m going with 4 girlfriends (we are portuguese) to Vietnam from February 25 to March 11.
    We arrive at Hanoi and we have to departure from Ho Chi Minh.
    We are planning the trip and we are thinking about: stay 2 days in Hanoi, go to Sapa (a friend told me about the night train), then Halong Bay (i know its not the perfect weather in the North but we have to go to Halong BaY!!) – maybe a tour of 2 days and one night; then go down to Hoi An (everybody talks very good about Hoi An); then we were thinking about the Pongour Waterfalls, then Con Dao for 2 or 3 days by plane probably from Ho Chi Minh or some city around (i read your article about Con Dao and Pho Quoc and i think Con Dao is more our thing because of the WOW factor!), and then end at Ho Chi Minh, spend there 2 days and come back. What do you think? Is it surrealistic for a 2 weeks trip? Is that somewhere awesome that is missing? I’m sure there are a lot, but one or two that you think is mandatory maybe! We are not going by motorbike, just bus, train or plane. Motorbike in Con Dao and maybe if we stop on our way down in Ninh Binh (i heard its very beautiful ride in this area). What do you think?

    I’m sorry for the big testimony!

    Thank you so much,

  30. Pingback: 23 Differences from South to North Vietnam » Vietnam Coracle

  31. Yotam Martin says:

    Hi Tom,
    I can’t really tell how much i have got from your website in only few days.. that’s amazing.

    Wish you can help me on this:
    I’m trying to put Google Maps to navigate me while driving on the different routes that you created so it will tell me directions so I wont miss any turns on the way…


  32. Glenn says:

    Hey Tom.

    Great website! Loads of useful info on here. My girlfriend and I land in Saigon on 1st December and plan to ‘loosely’ follow your classic route so cheers! Keep up the great work Sir. :)

  33. Dave Edwards says:

    Thanks for making your maps exportable – I like to have the terrain base map, plus add any other bits I fancy. I’ve now got some of your maps ready to go for tomorrows trip, though I can’t help getting the feeling that I’m funimentally cheating doing this. The experience comes from getting lost and figuring out how to get by anyway.

    Are you based in Vietnam?

  34. Great site! Could you point out the point on the Ho Chi Minh Highway with out a filling stationwould be cool to know as I’m doing it in a few weeks? Once again Great work!

  35. Michael says:

    I have 3 weeks to go from Saigon to Hanoi on motorbike. I would like to do the classic route, but not sure how much time to spend in each place (mui ne, nah trang, hoi an, caves….) or how long it takes to drive from place to place. I was wondering if there is a sample itinerary for the classic route? Thank you.

  36. Jurally says:

    Hi Tom!
    First, thank you so much for your very useful info and definitely you have an awesome website.
    I am planning to visit Vietnam and explore it by bike. I never experience riding a motorcycle but I think that’s not a problem for I can make myself prepare prior to that. My concern are; I just noticed you used a Yamaha Nouvo Automatic (correct me if I’m wrong) for the whole course of your travel -how did it go? Is it reliable compare to a semi or manual? How many times did you stop for a day to fill the small tank? Are there a lot of gas station and bike repair shop in case it need so along the road? That’s all for now…
    Hope to hear from you soon and good luck to your next venture. Take care!



  37. Jason says:

    This is incredible. Thank you so much for helping all of us out.

    My wife and I are doing the trip in February. We bought motorcycles a few months ago so we can learn to ride in Canada and not try to learn in the hectic Vietnamese traffic. We are looking to have a full 3 weeks in Vietnam and are thinking of doing the Classic Route. I’ve heard some people take their bikes on a train in the North towards Hanoi to save a few days. Do you have any experience with that? We were hoping to do a quick tour of Sapa, but are stretched for time so any time we could save would be great, but we also don’t want to miss the “must-see” areas on the route.

  38. Dan says:

    Hi Tom,

    First off, your site is amazing man – so many great tips and detailed info. So helpful, thank you!

    I’m currently planning a trip from Saigon to Hanoi, but unfortunately haven’t got much time, with only two weeks to squeeze it in. I’m torn between the Classic and Easier rider route and need some advice – which do you think is best in this time frame? Am I missing out too much by going for the easier-rider (Goden loop, coastal road north of Quy Nhon, Western Ho Chi Minh Road, Ninh Binh) or would it be a stretch to fit in? I don’t mind putting in in the extra km’s if need be.


  39. Kai says:

    Hi Tom

    Firstly, thank you for all the useful information on your website. It has really aided me and my gf in the planning of our bike trip of Vietnam. We are aiming to go from Hanoi to HCMC but we need some advice in which route to take. I wanted to visit the north before heading south and we were torn between doing the NW ( Sapa – Sin ho – Son La – Moc Chau – Mai Chau) or whether we should head to the NE (Sapa – Ha Giang – Cao Bang – Ban Gioc waterfalls – Ba Be lake) before travelling down towards Ninh Binh. Which would you recommend? And what are the main differences between the NE and NW of Vietnam?



  40. Charlie says:

    Hi Tom.
    I travelled with some friends through Vietnam in May. Thank you very much for the guide, its helped as a lot. It’s an amazing journey that I recommend everybody to do it.
    In addition to this I would like to recommend Cat ba, and if you are going to sapa to take the AH14.
    The roads are quite well. If you take the loop between Hue and Phong nna, be aware of taking fuel in some bottles just in case. You never know

    Great post, i will recommend this place

  41. Felix says:

    Hi, thanks for you routes. Me and my girlfriend are currently doing the classic one.

  42. Mike B says:

    Hey Tom,

    Hope all is well. I have already started my journey from Hanoi to Saigon and at the moment I am in Hue. After driving a lot, I do plan to stay here for a few days to rest up. It’s actually big country and you can do a lot of driving here!…haha.

    I wanted to say thank you because your website has been very invaluable to me. I have been wanting to come to Vietnam since I was a kid and your information has helped make it an even better experience then I had originally conceived of.

    I am following ‘The Big One’ since I have an adequate amount of time in Vietnam. I have gone off your trail at times since I am a interested in the history of the Vietnam War and I wanted to visit some of the old sights of the conflict. Otherwise, I am on the trail and the sights have been amazing throughout the north of Vietnam. It really is an absolutely beautiful country and the Ho Chi Minh Road is one that must be taken. Those mountains and views…wow.

    Now I will be continue ‘The Big One’ into the South and I can’t wait for what lies ahead. If your route south is as pleasant as the route that I followed north, then I’m sure it won’t disappoint…haha.

    Take care Tom and thanks again for the sight. There is so much great information that I’ve even shared it with other fellow motorbike travelers who didn’t know about it. Take care!


  43. Joe says:

    I reversed the Classic Route in Google Maps. It took 30 mins or so to realign the route so I thought I’d share the link to save people some time.

  44. Chris says:

    Hi Tom!

    First of all, awesome website. Especially this page is helping me A LOT for planning my bikeride.
    I’m doing the Classic, although from Hoi An to Hue I’m taking the high pass :)

    My only concern is HCMC – Da Lat. Is this doable in 1 day? Or is it possible to take my bike with me on a train? I assume it’s hard to buy a good bike in Da Lat.

    Also, the timing is still very hard to plan. Is January a good month or would July or even October better?

  45. Kevin Williamson says:

    Hi Tom.
    I used your web site for information and routes for a 3 week trip around south Vietnam. The information from your site used was never ending. It made what could have been very difficult trip a great trip. I will be back again next year for 4 weeks and looking at your north to south routes. Great keep it coming.

  46. Katie says:

    Me and my boyfriend are looking to do the ‘easy rider’ route in a few weeks. However, I am struggling to find towns which we could use as a stop off point between Hanoi and the Cuc Phuong National Park. Do you have any suggestions of where to stay? The same with the route from cuc phuong national park and phong nha. As they’re such large distances between each I was hoping to get your opinion on where you stayed/where is accessible. Thanks so much! For newbies like us, your route has pretty much planned our whole trip for us :)

  47. Tom says:

    Hi Tom,

    Me and a friend are heading off to Thailand on the 2nd May, then going through Cambodia and Vietnam, and then finally onto Indonesia. We have 30 day visas for Vietnam, however we have still set aside around 3 weeks in Vietnam. Overall, which of these routes did you find the most enjoyable, and which would you most recommend for an inexperienced rider? We’ve heard some bad stories regarding Highway 1, so ideally we would like to avoid this as much as possible.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,

  48. RaT says:

    Hi Tom,

    just wanted to say “Huge Thank You” for all your previous posts (as this one combines many of them into single one).

    We spent 2 months on Vietnamese roads, starting in North West – Dien Bien Phu and ending on Ha Tien border crossing with Cambodia.

    Your website was our guide and without it we would never discover many beautiful spots and amazing roads connecting them into unforgettable journey !

    Riding in Cambodia is little bit different, less tarmac & more dirt, less traffic, little bit more corrupted cops ;)

    Few little tips from us – Check Quan Lan island – accessible from Van Don ( Cai Rong ), next time you pass around Cana, take snorkel gear with you and just few kms south of the town ( opposite the eateries on main road ) jump to the water, coral wonderland will swallow you :)

    Keep posting !


  49. Joe says:

    1. You mention Saigon to Hanoi quite a few times, are there any particular benefit of doing this direction rather than north to south?

    2. I was looking at your “Saigon to Hanoi – The Scenic Route”, it seems to be quite close to both #1 and #5. Are either of these adapted from the Scenic Route? Which would you recommend for first time long distance riders?

    3. The image for Uncle Ho’s Road looks really nice. Do you know if that particular road is in either route #1, #5 or the “scenic route”?

    Thanks a lot for this article, it’s really useful for our planning.

  50. Unnamed traveller says:

    Great Post!

    I have around 3 weeks to spend in Vietnam. I am not a huge fan of beaches but like good landscapes, food and parties. Which route would you personally recommend among the five?
    Also, is it possible in Vietnam to get a bike from Hanoi and leave it at Ho Chi Minh City?


  51. Dan Andrews says:

    Such a great post Tom, I have so many memories of Vietnam and this brought them all back. Would love to follow some of these in the future! I did a 3 week ride south through the Mekong + Cambodia in 2008 and it’s one of my favorite trips ever :)

  52. Tom says:

    Excellent info as ever Tom. I’m in Cambodia at the moment and heading to HCMC in two days to start a ride up to Hanoi. I’ve been inspirered by your site and this new info is very welcomed and perfectly timed! Thanks, Tom

  53. Andy says:

    Hi Tom

    Love the article – i’ve been saying for years now I will do this. Just told my wife I am going to do it …. she didn’t actually say no!! I have a few tips for tourists to VN on my blog too at

  54. Simon says:

    This is superb Tom, I think maybe we could make this a feature on our facebook page Vietnam Backpacker Sales or even on my travel agency website for all the backpackers travelling by bike. We see a LOT of people buying and selling bikes on our site, so this would be very very helpful to them.

    Contact me to discuss in more detail.


  55. Brent says:

    Awesome post mate, really love the information and detail you go into to provide to everyone very beneficial.

    Do you ever venture / cross boarders into Laos or Cambodia on your bike?

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