The Coast Road: Saigon to Hoi An & Beyond

First published January 2018 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle


Saigon to Hoi An is one of the most popular long-distance road trips in Vietnam. There are several fantastic routes (of which I have no particular favourite) between these two destinations. But most people find themselves deciding between a mountainous (western) route, or a coastal (eastern route). Of the latter, there are two commonly held misconceptions: 1. that you must take Highway 1 (QL1A) most of the way; 2. that it’s a busy and not very scenic route. Thanks to new coast roads and small back-roads, neither of these are true. You can now ride from Saigon to Hoi An (and beyond, to Hue and Dong Hoi) along the coast on generally quiet and scenic roads, with a total distance of 1,425km: only 350km of which are on Highway 1. What’s more, even the sections that are on Highway 1, happen to be some of the most scenic stretches of the entire south-north main artery. At the right time of year, this coastal route is a highly satisfying, salty, sunny, sandy, scenic, and feel-good ride.

Coast Road: Saigon to Hoi An & BeyondTake the coastal route from Saigon to Hoi An & Dong Hoi: a 1,425km ride, only 350km on Highway 1

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  • Total Distance: 1,425km
  • Duration: 4-10 days
  • Route: coast roads (avoiding Highway 1) from Saigon to Hoi An & beyond [MAP]
  • Road Conditions: new highways, back-roads, some rough patches, light traffic
  • Scenery: empty beaches, arid coastal stretches, fishing villages, beach towns


Coast Road: Saigon to Hoi An & BeyondThe Coast Road passes dozens of great beaches & stays off busy highways as much as possible


As with all the motorbike guides on this website, the main focus of this coastal route is to stay on good, scenic roads as much as possible, and to avoid horrible, busy highways. Obviously, this means it’s not the most direct or the fastest way from Saigon to Hoi An and beyond. When it comes to deciding which route you want to take between these two destinations, it will depend on a number of factors, such as the duration of your stay, time of year, your preference of scenery, and the purpose of your trip. Personally, I don’t have a favourite route, but if you’re looking for sun, sea and sand, the following coastal route is definitely the one for you. The best time of year is between March and October, when there’s a lot of sun and sporadic tropical downpours. The southern dry season (November-May) is also good, although conditions can get cooler, wetter and grayer anywhere north of Nha Trang from November to March. You could spend as little as 4 days to as many as 10 days riding this route, depending on how often you want to stop and how many hours you’re prepared to spend in the saddle each day.

Coast Road: Saigon to Hoi An & BeyondNew coastal routes & old back-roads make it possible to stay close to the ocean & avoid Highway 1

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Note that this is not a full guide: rather it is a detailed, annotated route map followed by a short image gallery illustrating the kind of roads and scenery along this coastal route. The map below shows the entire 1,425km route from Saigon to Hoi An and Dong Hoi (only 350km of which is on Highway 1). I’ve included map markers for major towns along the way (the red pins), good beaches (the blue parasols), several accommodation options which I have reviewed (the orange beds), and specific sections of road (the green motorcycles). The majority of these map markers contain links to other Vietnam Coracle guides for more details: If you click on a map marker, a dialogue box will open which contains a link to one of my guides, or a section of one of my guides, which will have more information about that particular place, or accommodation, or section of the route.

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The Coast Road: Saigon to Hoi An & Dong Hoi | 1,425km

View  in a LARGER MAP

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The following images are all taken along the coastal route between Saigon and Dong Hoi as outlined in the map above. Read the captions below the images to find out exactly where they were taken.

Mui Dinh coast road, Ca Na to Phan Rang, VietnamView of the Mui Dinh Coast Road snaking along the arid, rocky cliffs between Ca Na & Phan Rang

Bai Mon Beach, Vung Ro Bay, VietnamView from the road of Mon Beach, just south of Tuy Hoa city, in Phu Yen Province

Mui Dinh Cape, Ninh Thuan Province, VietnamTaking in the sand dunes in Vietnam’s desert, just south of Phan Rang on the Dragon’s Graveyard Road

Fishing canoe, Quang Nam coast, near Hoi An, VietnamA fishing canoe on the long empty beaches of Quang Nam Province, just south of Hoi An

View from the Hai Van Pass, VietnamView from the Hai Van Pass between Danang & Hue, one of the most famous stretches of coast road

Relaxing on Ke Ga Beach, VietnamRelaxing on a beach near Ke Ga lighthouse, on the Ocean Road between Saigon and Mui Ne

Dai Lanh Beach, VietnamView from the road of Dai Lanh Beach between Nha Trang & Tuy Hoa, in Khanh Hoa Province

Wooden fishing boats, Cua Viet Beach, near Hue, VietnamWooden fishing boats drawn up on the sand on the long, empty beaches between Hue & Dong Hoi

Vung Ro Bay, VietnamView from the Ca Pass of the fabulous Vung Ro Bay in south-central Vietnam

Beach in Phu Yen Province, VietnamView from the road of Xuan Hai Beach, just south of Quy Nhon on the central coast

Hon Gom Sandbar, Khanh Hoa Province, VietnamThe long, empty sands of Hon Gom Sandbar, in Khanh Hoa Province, north of Nha Trang

Floating fish farms on Vung Ro Bay, VietnamFloating fish farms & fishing boats on the turquoise waters of Vung Ro Bay

Me and my motorbike on My Canh Beach, Dong Hoi, VietnamMe and my motorbike, Stavros, celebrating our arrival at My Canh Beach, in Dong Hoi

View from the Nui Chua Coast Road, Ninh Thuan, VietnamChecking the view in the mirror on the Nui Chua Coast Road, between Phan Rang & Cam Ranh

Coast road north of Quy Nhon, Binh Dinh Province, VietnamAn empty stretch of coast road just north of Quy Nhon city, in Binh Dinh Province

Empty beaches near Dong Hoi, VietnamMore empty beaches on the coastal back-roads between Hue & Dong Hoi, on the central coast

Colourfully painted fishing coracles near Tam Ky, Quang Nam, VietnamColourfully painted fishing coracles on the long sandy beaches south of Hoi An, Quang Nam Province

Lang Co Beach, Thua Thien Hue Province, VietnamView from the Hai Van Pass of Lang Co Beach, in Thua Thien Hue Province

Empty coast road north of Quy Nhon, VietnamA long, straight section of empty coast road between Quy Nhon & Quang Ngai, on the central coast

The top of the Nui Chua Coast Road, Cam Ranh Bay, VietnamStopping to take in the views of Cam Ranh Bay at the top of the Nui Chua Coast Road

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

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14 Responses to The Coast Road: Saigon to Hoi An & Beyond

  1. Noemi Rav says:

    Ps: I mean 18 days minus 3-4 days in Saigon equal 14 days on the road

  2. Noemi Rav says:

    Hi Tom,

    You are ‘responsible’ for 5th trip to Vietnam this summer, first time at that time of year. Your blog pops into my mailbox regularly and the last post was one too many to resist! So, thank you again for sharing your passion.

    Two questions for you: I’ll be in Saigon for 18 days starting early July, renting a scooter and heading north, possibly as a loop coast/inland. I have friends in Hoi An but concerned 14 days (minus the 3-4 days in Saigon) might be too short to push up there and not be constantly on the saddle. Ideally I’d like to ride every couple days and find cool discovery spots in between (food is a big focus).
    – Which itinerary would you recommend to get a taste of coast and inland? (It’s my first time in that central part)
    – is there any significant difference between weather between Saigon and Dalat, and further up between Nha Trang and Hoi An?

    Thanks again!!


    • Hi Noemi,

      The weather at that time of year will be quite similar all along the coast: hot and humid with tropical downpours in the afternoons. In Dalat it will be much cooler, particularly in the evenings, but also quite wet.

      14 days is OK, but it’s probably a good idea to put your bike on the train from Saigon to somewhere like Mui Ne or Nha Trang and start there instead (or you can get your rental company to ship in there in advance for you to pick it up). For more about sending your bike on the train from Saigon to Mui Ne this this.

      This would give you time to head up the coastal road outlined on this page from Mui Ne to Quy Nhon, then you could head inland to meet the Ho Chi Minh Road from Plieku or Kon Tum all the way to Kham Duc or Thanh My and then head back down to the coast again for Hoi An. For more about this route see sections 2 & 3 of this guide.

      I hope this helps,


  3. chessie says:

    i only recently learned to drive a motorbike (while traveling in Vietnam, which has quickly become my favorite country, & i can see why you moved here) – your blog is giving me all kinds of good ideas, just wanted to thank you for these posts – & the detailed maps accompanying them. so far my longest trip has only been from Hoi An to Hue (& back to Da Nang a few days later to return the bike – i did travel part of the way up further towards Dong Hoi but didn’t have enough time to do the whole Phong Nha spelunking thing & wanted to save that road for when i do…) & traveling over the Hai Van Pass was magical – can see why everyone waxes poetic over that road, & on my way back to Da Nang i even saw a couple having their wedding photographs taken along one of the “selfie strips” where everyone pulls over to take in the view! i’m hoping to try one of your Saigon-Hanoi routes next time i visit – if i can get a good helmet-cam so i’m not pulling over every 5 minutes to snap photos…
    my favorite bikes rented thus far have been Nouvos – pleasantly surprised to see that’s what you drive – anyway enough fanboy babble from me – keep up the great posts, perhaps i shall see you & Stavros on the road someday!

    • Hi Chessie,

      Thanks, it’s really great to hear that you’ve been enjoying my website and that you like Vietnam so much.

      I hope that you get lots more chances to go on road trips all over the country and see even more of what Vietnam has to offer.

      And, yes, perhaps Stavros and I will bump into you one day 🙂


  4. greg says:

    Hi, I love the information you provide and thank you for doing such an excellent job. I am planning on riding from HCM to Hanoi with a friend. We will be renting the Honda Winner 150cc and leaving on Feb 27th with arrival in Hanoi no later than March 8th. We are considering taking a train to Mui Ne and bypassing the ride out of HCM. We have talked with a guide and he recommends we start out trip in Danang. We would like to ride the beach route but want to know if we are pushing it by trying to complete the ride in 10days?? Also what are your feeling about starting in Danang and missing everything south? Aside from us paying the rental fee of the bikes our guide will be charging us $130. US per day per person. Do this sound reasonable. Thank you for your guidance g

    • Hi Greg,

      10 days is not really enough to ride from Mui Ne to Hanoi – it’s doable but you will probably need to cover more than 200km each day, which again is doable but not particularly relaxing and especially not if you’re not used to riding in Vietnam.

      The north and the south are very different: in very general terms, the south is more about the beaches and the north is more about the mountains. However, at that time of year the weather will probably still be quite grey and cool north of Danang, whereas as south of Danang it’s good. So take that into consideration when making your decision.

      Perhaps it’s best to start in Nha Trang and head to Danang – most motorbike rental companies should be able to arrange for you to pick up your motorbike in Nha Trang and return it to Hanoi.

      $130 per day is OK. As a yardstick: when I travel with my family and we hire a driver it costs $100 per day, including the driver’s food and accommodation, and gas.

      I hope this helps,


      • Greg Bodnar says:

        Tom, Thank you for your insight. I love reading your blog. It looks like the guide wants to start our trip in Danang and go north. I guess we will forgo the beaches for more mountain scenery. We will also have a more relaxing ride without pushing to many KM a day. If any more questions come up I will definitely contact you. All the best. Ride on !!! Greg

  5. Beatrice A says:

    Hi Tom
    First off, I should say that your blog is outstanding! I really appreciate for your detailed and informative share. Your blog has information that I couldn’t find any other websites. Thank you so much 🙂
    I’m visiting Vietnam from 19th of January to 2nd of February, in and out from Da Nang. My initial plan for this trip is scooting around little bit of Vietnam, but no fixed plan regarding where to head. Thanks to you, I could get the dimmest idea of routes I want to take. (Da Nang to Saigon on the coast line, Saigon to Da Nang on the inland route which was suggested from your blog.) As I have 14 days in Vietnam, my plan is to spend 10 days on the road (round trip to Saigon from Da Nang) and spend 2-3 days in Saigon.
    Your blog had all the necessary information I need for this motorbike trip (Even infos about swimming pool! I always check out pools whenever I visit new places. One of the reasons why I want to stay in Saigon for at least 2 days.), but I have a couple of questions if you don’t mind answering.
    First one is about motorbike. The smallest motorbike I rode was a scooter and the biggest motorbike was Honda cb600F. I’m debating over which motorbike I should rent: Honda Blade 110cc or Honda XR 150cc. I feel like 110cc wouldn’t be powerful enough for me, but at the same time I’m not planning to enjoy the speed for this trip. It’s more about enjoying the scenery on the way. In that case, do you think 110cc is sufficient enough for me? (Not to forget, it’s cheaper.)
    Also, it may sound a bit foolish, but I was wondering if it’s safe to go on a motorbike trip on my own. I’m pretty small Korean woman, which I believe puts me in to different position than of yours. I’m not worried about riding motorbike itself as I have done it in Korea, Philippines, Guam, and Amsterdam-Germany/Belgium. I presume going on a motorbike trip in Vietnam would be similar to the one I had in Philippines, but that time I was with friends and I could speak the language. I’m not concerned about big cities like Da Nang or Hanoi, but small towns or remote areas on the way. In your opinion, do you think I should be concerned about overall safety? (In regards of rape, burglary, etc)
    Looking forward to your reply and thank you for taking your time!

    • Hi Beatrice,

      Yes, certainly a Honda Blade is sufficient to cover any of the routes that are on my website. However, some people do prefer the XR because of the extra power etc. but it’s definitely not necessary, unless you’re planning to go off-road of course.

      I don’t think you need to be worried about travelling as a solo Korean woman in Vietnam. Vietnam is still a lot safer and more hospitable country to travel in compared to many Western nations. Just take all the normal precautions you would when travelling anywhere else and you should be fine. One difference might be that, because you are Asian, you may get treated a little differently from ‘white travellers’. For example, you will probably be mistaken as Vietnamese occasionally, and people might just assume that you speak the language. This is more likely to happen in remote areas than in more cosmopolitan places where tourists often go.

      I hope this helps,


  6. Sven says:

    Hi Tom,
    it is possible to avoid the 25 Km just in front of Tam Ky. There are ferrys that connect Tam Hai island with the mainland. We made this part on july, when we startet from Hoi An via Quang Ngai to ride the road east of the long mountains, wich was fantastic. You can just ride on the ferry and then over the island and go back on the mainland with another very small ferry. Thats very funny.
    Thank you Tom for your great work!!
    Me and my familie and friends made a lot of your suggested tours, north, south, central…. and we loved them all.
    Thanks for your inspiration!

    Best regards Sven

    • Hi Sven,

      That’s great! Thanks. I did try to do that last summer, but I was told there weren’t any boats. I’ll definitely persevere next time.

      Thanks for the tip, and it’s great to hear you enjoyed riding around the country last July.


  7. Marie Marange says:

    Hi Ton, im going to do the road trip Ha Tien .
    So many things to do . Thank you for your great job . For the last one you’ve posted right now i’m really exited to do it in the future
    We have on your website so many informations and plans and so many ideas ….
    Do you have a road tripto go to Ca Mau ??? Take a flight first and rent scooter . hanks a lot again

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