It took 5 weeks, 3,000km and a bike. I wanted to share Elliott’s solo motorbike road trip in Vietnam (Saigon to Hanoi). But he is too busy to share everything. Instead, I will share half of the itinerary, Danang to Saigon.
Scooter or motorbike is the best way to discover Vietnam. It implies taking a few risks. But the rewards are worth more than the risks. I honestly recommend you to do this trip.
If you can’t do Saigon to Hanoi, try Saigon to Danang. Or at least go to a city (Da Lat, Mui Ne, Hoi An) and rent a motorbike. Drive around the area to explore. It’s a bucket list item!
General Itinerary and Overview
- Duration: 3 weeks for half of Vietnam (Saigon to Danang)
- Note: although it depends on how long you have, how long you want to stay in each city, how many “off-the-main-road” villages to explore, what you want to see, etc.
- Usual period per city: 1-2 nights, depending on your arrival in the city.
- Arrive in the morning, stay for 1 night.
- Late in the city, stay for 2 nights.
- Really enjoy the city, stay an extra night.
- # of Travellers: solo or in pairs. It’s difficult if you travel in huge groups.
Saigon to Danang General Itinerary
Saigon – Mui Ne – Da Lat – Nha Trang – Quy Nhon – Kon Tum – Hoi An – Danang
- Rush for time : skip Mui Ne
- Have more time:
- Go down to Can Tho and the Mekong Delta (Before Saigon)
- Vung Tau for seafood (Between Saigon & Mui Ne)
- Hue for delicious Hue cuisines (After Danang)
General Recommendations About Motorbike Road Trip in Vietnam
- Invest a little more and stay in a good hotel with good bed. It makes a lot of difference to your body when you’re on the motorbike the whole day.
- Crossing the road: just cross. Walk at a regular pace and BE CONFIDENT. Then just cross the road. It takes a while to get the hang of it.
- Vietnam ice coffee is a life-saver on hot sunny days
- Be wary of monsoon seasons! The climate in the South, Central and North of Vietnam is vastly different. They have monsoon seasons differently, so take note of that.
- People are very friendly, even if they don’t speak the language. Don’t worry about that.
- The mountain areas in central Vietnam are one of the best roads for a motorbike road trip.
- Cellular network is generally good and stable. But always have offline map as a backup.
- Pack light. Very light. Fucking light.
All the things you need to know about motorbikes.
Rent or Buy Motorbikes?
You have a few options:
- Buy a motorbike second hand. Sell it in the last city you are in.
- Rent a motorbike, one-way.
If you are renting, check if they can rent one-way bikes for inter-city trips.
Things to Check for Motorbikes (Buy/Rent)
- Flat tires
- Gears (semi-automatic or manual)
There are 2 popular options: Honda Win (most popular) or Yamaha NVX 155cc (more expensive). Give them a go.
If you’re doing a long trip (half or whole of Vietnam), get the more expensive one. If you’re doing something simple like Saigon to Mui Ne, Honda Win is good to go.
Trevellers Tips for Buying Motorbike in Vietnam
Saigon and Hanoi are popular places to buy and re-sell your motorbikes.
If you start in Saigon, you can buy bikes. There are many travellers doing similar motorbike road trips all over Vietnam. They usually start or end in Saigon. Hence, you can buy them second-hand at good prices, since they are eager to let go of their motorbikes.
When you are done with your trip, you can sell it to eager travellers or to motorbike shops. The latter does not always give good prices, since they have the upper hand.
Things You Should Have on Motorbikes
- New helmets. Buy it there. (if you’re doing a long trip, a personal helmet is recommended. If it’s a short trip, you can use whatever helmet they provide.)
- Phone holders (you need the map to navigate around)
- Gloves (you don’t want to get sunburnt)
- Cord to tie your belongings. They should provide. (you’ll soon learn to balance your bags)
Tips About Motorbikes, Driving and Riding
- The duration on google maps is accurate.
- Longest journey: Kon Tum to Hoi An (302km of mountain roads), 6.5h with rest stops
- TAKE BREAKS. Do not ride for 6.5h non-stop. You will get burnt with awkward tan lines.
- Vietnam Central Highlands and mountain roads are the highlights. The sight is worth everything. Do the inland journey instead of the coast.
- Fantastic roads: QL14B / DT670 / QL27C / QL28B
- Watch out for buses. And Trucks. The local drivers can be quite intimidating and scary. Especially when they are overtaking one another on mountain roads. WATCH OUT!
- Also, watch out for animals. They don’t care about roads.
- When it’s very cold, driving behind the bus can give you some warmth. It will shorten your life with the exhaust, but you will feel better and much warmer.
- Shout out to QL27C from Da Lat to Nha Trang. It’s a stunner. The view is to die for. (Honestly, many roads in the mountainous area of Da Lat is to die for.)
About Driving Licenses
In general, the sellers don’t care too much. If you have a Europe license, you can drive a motorbike. If you have an Southeast Asian license, it’s generally fine.
However, the police do. They will catch you for a random violations. You typically have to pay 500,000 dong. The money is a form of bribery. They will not report you anyways. They keep the money. I (Lisa) was caught once.
- No helmet
- Not bring license
- Going too fast
They will catch you if you look like a foreigner. That’s the sad truth. And there is pretty much nothing you can do about it.
Here’s a list of my favourite food in Saigon, after living there for 3 months.
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie at beautiful destinations. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always dreamt of.