Thank you!

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38 Responses to Thank you!

  1. Israel Aharon says:

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

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

    • Hi Israel,

      With 7 weeks on the road you should have plenty of time to get used to riding a motorbike in Vietnam. However, you should be extremely careful on the roads, especially in big cities. Unfortunately, by far the busiest part of any north-south route is leaving Hanoi. But after the first day, the traffic will be much lighter and you should start to feel more and more confident and comfortable on the roads.

      It terms of weight, the bike should be able to handle it fine, as long as it’s in good condition. Automatics are easier to ride for a first timer because there are no gears and no foot brake. But if you are used to driving a manual car then perhaps you will feel more at home with a manual motorbike. Take a look at the recommended and trusted bike rental companies listed in the right sidebar and bottom of this page (and every page of my website). Try contacting any of them – Flamingo, Dragon Bikes, Tigit, Rent a Bike and looking at the kind of bikes they have. You can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me.

      Age shouldn’t be a problem either – my parents are in their 70s and they come on road trips with me every year. But again, don’t underestimate the danger of Vietnam’s roads – take it very slowly and carefully. You might feel quite vulnerable for the first couple of days, but providing you stay safe, you will start feeling much better after that.

      Riding pillion with a prosthetic leg could be an issue, but I’m sure you are used to making adjustments for specific situations. You might be interested to watch a recent BBC program about a group of physically challenged people riding and driving across Vietnam – you can watch it here.

      I think if you are not interested in beaches and you are first time riders you should consider the Uncle Ho’s Road route, and maybe combine it with the Classic and the Easy Rider routes once you are south of Hue for some variety. This is because these routes are relatively easy to follow and spend most of the time on the Ho Chi Minh Road which is generally less busy.

      Remember that December/January can be quite cold and bleak in many areas from Hue to Hanoi. South of Nha Trang the weather should be good at that time of year.

      I hope this helps,


  2. AL says:

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

  3. Huyen (Kathy) says:

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

    • Hi Kathy,

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

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

      Happy travels!


  4. Ronke Bearzi says:

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

    • Hi Ronke,

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

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


  5. Daniela Perafan says:

    Hi Tom,

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

    Thank you !

    • Hi Daniela,

      Thanks, I’m glad you like my site.

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

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

      I hope this helps,


  6. Simon Visser says:

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

    • Hi Simon,

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

      I hope this helps,


  7. Scott Harkess says:

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

    • Hi Scott,

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

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

      I hope this helps,


  8. Scott says:

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

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

    • Hi Scott,

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

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

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

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

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

      I hope this helps,


    • Jay says:

      Hi all.

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

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


      • Hi Jay,

        I’m glad you have enjoyed reading my posts.

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

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

        I hope this helps,


  9. Joanne says:

    Hi Tom,

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

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

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

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


    • Hi Joanne,

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

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

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

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

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

      I hope this helps,


      • Joanne says:

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

        • Hi Joanne,

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

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


  10. Mohd Othman says:

    Hi Tom,

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

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

    Mohd Othman

    • Hi Mohd,

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

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

      I hope this helps,


  11. Julius Marlow says:

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

    • Hi Julius,

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


  12. John Gordon says:

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

  13. Susan Decker says:

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

    • Hi Susan,

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


  14. Erik Christensen says:

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

    • Hi Erik,

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

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

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

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


  15. David and Lucy Edwards says:

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

    • Hi David and Lucy,

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

      I hope you enjoy Saigon and its food scene,


  16. Jerrard says:

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

    Keep up the great work 🙂

    • Hi Jerrard,

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

      I hope this helps,


  17. Tom Gordon says:

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

    • Hi Tom,

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

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

      Email me anytime if you require any more route advice.


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