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Vietnam forum

motorbike trip vietnam

Posted by dwcurran5 on 22/7/2010 at 02:49

I am looking to travel with a mate on motorbikes in vietnam from siagon to hanoi along the coastal road and then back to siagon thro the trial and mountains using minsk bikes, does anyone have any guide/info on the best way to buy the bikes routes roads, and anything we should watch out for. we will be starting in october so if anyone has any bikes let me know cheers

#1 dwcurran5 has been a member since 25/6/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by flederfauz on 31/7/2010 at 12:56

Have you ever been to Viet Nam? If so I am sure you won't get this idea. So some people are stupid enought to do it i absolutely can not recommend it. The road along the coast is highway 1 the busiest road in viet nam. A lot of trucks and busses. They speed and overtake without taking care about oncoming traffic or anything smaller then them. The road is dirty and dusty like hell and incredible dangerous. No Vietnamese would ever get the idea to go highway 1 form sgn to ha noi.
Riding a motorbike in viet nam is really one of the greatest experiences. But not on a crowded highway. if you want to go by motorbike take the small roads. E.g. through the central highlands (e.g. the old ho chi minh trail) anyhow the landscape ther is much nicer.
If you drive far distances you see accidents all the time. If you don t believe. Have a look at all the white outlines of motorbikes on the road. The polices draws these lines around the parts after an accident.
If you go please take the small and not so busy roads. On far distances you can send your bike by train or bus.
Hope that helps
Best regars

#2 flederfauz has been a member since 31/7/2010. Posts: 1

Posted by dorjeb on 31/7/2010 at 15:21

Hey Hey!

My friend and i just finsihed a 2 month trip, From Saigon To Hanoi on Motorbikes. Absolutely amazing journey, would highly recomend it. I agree with "flederfauz". Try to avoid highway 1 as much as possible. It is probably the most full on road in the world, crazier than any road in India even, theres not much to really see on it except dust and trucks. If i were you i would stick to the Ho Chi Minh Highway until you get to say Hoi an, then follow highway 1 until you get up to Hue, then get back on the Ho Chi Minh Highway again (the HCM highway was the newest road in the whole of Vietnam, not much traffic at all, and incredible scenery). You really dont need minsks in Vietnam unless you are travelling into the NorthWest, i would recommend just buying/renting something like a Honda Wave, everyone knows how to fix them plus there about 30 million of them in Vietnam.
Have fun Riding!

#3 dorjeb has been a member since 11/7/2010. Posts: 4

Posted by 69bertie on 31/7/2010 at 16:23

And don't forget October is top month for typhoons, heavy rain, landslips..... enjoy.

#4 69bertie has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 90

Posted by dwcurran5 on 31/7/2010 at 18:00

Thanks Guys for your info, we have decided not to take the coastal road but to do the mountains and trial instead but your info has been very helpful

#5 dwcurran5 has been a member since 25/6/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by mckayb on 2/8/2010 at 18:27

I left Hanoi 2 days ago, and am now in Vinh . The first day I did Hanoi to Thanh Hoa on Highway 1 which was really good. You get used to 2 buses bearing down on you in both lanes. Simply lean over to te shoulder!

Today I did Thanh Hoa and got to Vinh 2 hours ago. I did most of it on Ho Chi Ming Trail which was amazing, then cut over to Vinh. Tomorrow I want to make it to Dong Hoi on Highway 1. Should be OK!

I wouldn't say don't make the trip. 2 days in and it has been extremely rewarding and the best way, in my opinion to see Vietnam. I haven't seen another foreigner since I left Hanoi. This being said, you do need some confidence, and on high alert at all times. Do whatever feels the safest and most comfortable. I opted for the Semi-automatic Honda Dream whhich is real easy to ride. I value my life above all else.


#6 mckayb has been a member since 4/2/2010. Location: Canada. Posts: 23

Posted by 69bertie on 7/8/2010 at 09:18

you do need some confidence, and on high alert at all times.

So true, One reason on long journeys I like to be pillion, let the driver do the steering so I can concentrate most of the time on the countryside. There are lots of born idiots on Vietnam roads. The worse ones being those that just launch themselves off the pavements straight onto the road without even looking to see what is coming.

Just be aware that in and around HCMC for sure that the Police are very active nowadays. My partner managed to get my motorbike confiscated for a month (straight onto the waiting lorry), two weeks ago now. Going too fast (yes, they do have radar guns here) and riding in the wrong lane (that was 30km north, out of HCMC). She said they were doing a roaring trade!

Ride safe and have a great trip.

#7 69bertie has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 90

Posted by mckayb on 7/8/2010 at 20:34

Thanx for the tip about the police around HCMC!

I was on Ho CHi Minh Trail yesterday about 20KM outside of Dak Glei and my bike broke down. I thought I was walking 20 KM back to Dak Glei pushing my bike. It was the worst. Then an SUV stopped and the guy fixed my bike..I offered him 200,000 Dong for his service and he refused to take it. I have found the Vietnamese ppl to be extremely nice off the tourist trail. This is just one example of their generosity and kindness. Last night I was getting into Kom Tum real late and the lights on my bike dont work. It was pitch black (I know, dumbest thing I have ever done to be honest), and a guy on his bike rode right besdie me for the remaining 20 km into kom tum to light the rode up for me. A lot of ppl have told me they were real rude, but I have found the opposite.

Watch out for dogs randomly running out onto the road as well ;) I also saw a snake slither across the highway today as well!

#8 mckayb has been a member since 4/2/2010. Location: Canada. Posts: 23

Posted by dwcurran5 on 8/8/2010 at 01:39

Thanks for amyones comments

#9 dwcurran5 has been a member since 25/6/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by mckayb on 8/8/2010 at 11:19

I wouldn't say that Highway 1 has no good scenery. There are stretches of it (particularly coming into Danang from the north and the stretch between Tuy Hoa and Nha Trang), that are beautiful and great riding. Yes there are tons of trucks and buses, but I really dont mind them. As for the dust, just make sure you have glasses and even a bandana. Your face WILL be dirty at the end of the day, but then again I wouldn't recommend doing this trip if your a princess. I think the journey is truly badass on a bike. Best feeling leaning into your turns along Highway 1 between Tuy Hoa and Nha Trang.

Cheers and ride safe :)

#10 mckayb has been a member since 4/2/2010. Location: Canada. Posts: 23

Posted by 69bertie on 10/8/2010 at 09:33

Saw it when it was first broadcast. :-) Even Clarkson came a cropper, falling off his bike. No sign of the backup crews though! The show had to go on!

mckayb: Have you had good luck with the weather or been caught in any heavy downpours? If so, how did you come through? Yes, ridng in the dark isn't exactly recommended, not just for the broken covers, potholes etc. though. If it gets very late at night, you might end up being knocked off your bike and robbed.

#11 69bertie has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 90

Posted by mckayb on 10/8/2010 at 11:32

I've been lucky with the weather..it started raining one day..i just pulled over and smoked cigs with a few locals to wait it out. Other than that it hasn't really rained. Maybe a sprinkle here and there, but for the most part the weather has been good.

Are there stories of that happening to ppl??

#12 mckayb has been a member since 4/2/2010. Location: Canada. Posts: 23

Posted by 69bertie on 10/8/2010 at 21:57

All I know is that my Vietnamese partner always suggests getting home before 10pm. Not just her though. Even my other friends like to be home before the streets get too quiet. As one friend said...it gets dangerous. I've even been warned to keep to the more populated areas rather than go down back streets if coming home late. I haven't come across any real problems but I do know when I got a puncture quite late, near HCMC airport, I was well aware of various, er.. undesirables hanging around while it was fixed. It was even suggested that sometimes they throw nails down to make sure you'll get a puncture and have to stop. Whether true or not. I no longer go down quiet back streets! Certainly things like throw over bags are an easy target for ride-by thieves.

As for potholes and the like, you have to look out for the tree branch with the leaves attached. Honest!!! It's sometimes the only warning you'll get that there is even a hole. Unlit barriers are another hazard. I saw a motorbike rider in HCMC (down by the docks) ride straight into one. He was lucky, more shaken than bruised, shame about the bike.

#13 69bertie has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 90

Posted by jungleanimal on 16/8/2010 at 07:19

I just come back from an exalting motorbike tour in Vietnam and I can tell you that, yes, it is quite dangerous, but if are a careful and skinful rider u wont have any big problem. The south-north route is the best one after Dalat until Hue, after its little boring but still amazingé The most beautiful place was thew mountaneous area around Sapa . Far safer than the crazy trffic that has invaded pretty much all the country. This place is still quiet. However if you want to add the adjectives "wild" or "untouched" to your trip, you should only go to Sapa an then look around. If you like real free riding in remote beautiful roads, you have to get out Sapa region then get to the Chinese border, maybe explore Ha Giang province if you have enough time. ha Giang province has the higest CHAIN of mountains in Vientam. (not the higest MOUNTAIN, which is fagsipan). Riding throught Ha Giang or the remotes areas that you can reach FROM Sapa is really smooth and realxing. But the only problem is that you will need a guide since people can rarely speak more that 3 words in English, maps are imprecise, etc. I had a guide that was kinda the step brother of the owner at my hostel in Sapa. He wasnt bad but we could comunicate very clearly and I felt at some points, when I was dealing with a street sealer for a blanket, that he kinda took the side of the street seller, convincing me that I should bargin lower, Once at my hotel two local people told me that that I had paid almost 10 times to expensive for my blanket (which was handmade and very nice). An other time, far away in the mountains, we arrived exhausted IN THE NIGHT at a tiny guest house. There was only 2 rooms available (for us, i felt) and the price was incredibly high : i could have a 4 star hotel in Hanoi for the same price: 600 VND per person !. Again, the guide didn't feel like he had to help us bargining but instead insisted that it was an ok price because there was no other places around. But why did HE drove us there ?? Anyway, just after I departed, i heard that there is a western motorbike-tour guide in Hanoi. I dont know who can introduce u to him, but I guess you can check out with your hostel. Four Swedish guys that I met when I was going to take my bus to Laos (after I sold my bike to that same place I bought it) told me they just came back from a 4-day tour in Sapa surounding and he was very nice and professional.
Anyway, as I said before, you dont neeed guides to cross vietnam by motorbike except if you want to discover the minorities in the North and do really wild riding, or maybe in Na Trang, too, coz there are some frenzy trails there as well. Except that Vietnam is very safe on bike : just follow Ho Ci Minh trail or take Highway 1 directly Hanoi-Saigon or vice versa.

good luck buddies

#14 jungleanimal has been a member since 16/8/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by 69bertie on 21/8/2010 at 20:42

And re the nails being spread....... http://www.vietnamnews.com.vn/Politics-Laws/Law-Justice/202671/Motorbike-mechanics-caught-spreading-nails.html

#15 69bertie has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 90

Posted by gdansk on 1/10/2010 at 01:49

Hi all

Any fresh info? Please share your expirience.

I'm going to do my trip in November.


#16 gdansk has been a member since 8/7/2010. Posts: 19

Posted by latrishames on 1/10/2010 at 11:48

Motorbikes in Vn are exciting but also adventure if ur not familiar with the Vietnamese riding style.
As ppl in the North are more careless but skillful when riding motorbikes, u should be more careful if you ride somewhere within or near Hanoi. The weather is also a concern as it will be cold in the next few months (in the North) with wind (sometimes its quite strong). If you plan for a journey in the South, weather is no problem as its warm all the time.

Hope you have a great trip!


#17 latrishames has been a member since 1/10/2010. Posts: 1

Posted by williamducles on 23/11/2010 at 17:08

I will avoid motorbikes if i follow latrishames instructions.

#18 williamducles has been a member since 23/10/2010. Posts: 19

Posted by tomasp19 on 27/1/2011 at 23:25

I'm looking into doing a motorcycle trip of this sort (from HCMC to Hanoi) with a couple of friends. As I am a student though the only time I can do it is during the summer, probably during the month of july or august.

Do you guys think it's a good idea to do it during this time? Would it be raining too much?

#19 tomasp19 has been a member since 27/1/2011. Posts: 1

Posted by Doctorlazlojamf on 14/5/2014 at 02:43

Hi, so I wonder if anyone here can give me some advice.
I am currently sitting at a bar in mui ne. My 110cc Honda win is in a local shop. I am currently trying to find my way to Hanoi. I am having a kickstand replaced (the centering kickstand, no, i do not even know what the proper name for it is). I also asked them to look at the bike and tell me if anything else needed to be replaced. I recently walked by the bike and saw they had replaced all kindsa **** that, actually, probably didn't need to be replaced.
I bought the bike in HCMC for 6,500,000 from a shop that refurbishes used motorbikes. I got a rack added, and that cost 200,000. I got a small blue card with the owners name on it. It is a Vietnamese name. I speak no Vietnamese. Today would have been my fifth day riding a motorbike. Ever. And this is my first time in Vietnam.
I had no serious problems adapting to HCMC traffic, and have managed my trip by driving carefully, being alert, and being lucky, I guess. However, I have lost both my traveling partners somewhere on highway 60 on my way to Phan thiet. I do not know exactly how to get to delat, which freeways to take etc.
So my question: should I 1. Pay for the repairs, reclaim the bike and continue the trip, despite the obviously fake license and lack of experience, 2. Leave the bike at the shop, take the first bus outa town and hope they can sell it for more than they charged me for repairs, 3. Pay for the repairs and try to sell it (to another backpacker or a local, either way is bastardly, probably), or 4. Pay for the repairs and leave it, somewhere for somebody to pick up, for free. Or 5. Something else my ignorant ass hasn't thought of.
This may not just help me out, it may help out any inexperienced, over enthusiastic traveler who might decide to do the same thing. I should also say that I have very limited funds and have to leave Vietnam by June 6th.
Thanks for reading.

#20 Doctorlazlojamf has been a member since 14/5/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by cronolegs on 17/5/2014 at 21:13

I run a motorbike shop in Ho Chi Minh and have posted some advise on here several times

Travelling Vietnam by motorbike is a great thing to do. It is the only way to get off the tourist route as well.
Being a narrow lengthy country, the tourists all go by bus and train up the coast whilst the motorbikes have the freedom to jump inland to the cambodia/laos border areas where the beautiful mountain roads and hidden gems are.
The top gear episode is fun to watch - but they cheat and cut out the real mountain roads!

You are driving illegally. This is no problem within Vietnam as the police do not usually stop foreigners and if they do it is only a 5-10 dollars slip of money and you are on your way again.
It is a problem back in your home country because any insurance you may have is completely invalidated. If you drive in Vietnam you are not insured.

Is it dangerous? - Honestly depends on the rider. Vietnam is a country where you can drive as slowly or as fast as you like. If you do the coastal route you can drive incredibly slowly and still make your destinations. I think with a bit of common sense you should survive!

Bikes - The normal bikes backpackers buy are Honda Wins (manual), Waves (semi), Dreams (semi)

I highly encourage people stay away from buying from other backpackers. On the occasion I do pick up a backpacker bike it is usually in the mechanic shop for 2 days and has a significant amount of money spent on it before being ready to be sold. You do not want several days of your journey cut out because you gambled and bought a backpacker bike. It actually makes me angry that these "write-off" bikes continue to circulate amongst backpackers because people are stupid enough to buy them.
Go to a store - there are many with white faces who speak English, and try and get at least some western standards!

With my company you actually get Vietnamese phone support as well as a translated document of Vietnamese to English motorcycle parts.
On occasion where customers have struggled with their biking holiday I have bought the bikes back from the customer by internet methods and had the bike shipped back to me, allowing the customer to continue their holiday motorbike free!

Rainy season arrives around July.
I personally enjoy travelling the rainy season more as it remains to be hot and all the rivers flood creating spectacular scenery and big waterfalls.
You do have to be prepared to get wet and watch the news for cyclones each day!

My website is http://www.tigit.co.uk
I am on trip advisor.
Any questions let me know!

#21 cronolegs has been a member since 12/4/2014. Posts: 6

Posted by Kong1977 on 11/6/2015 at 23:47

Hi chronolegs,

Do you also sell motorbikes?

I might have some people who wants to buy 2 bikes.

Thanks in advance,


#22 Kong1977 has been a member since 20/1/2013. Posts: 7

Posted by IndigoTraveller on 21/2/2017 at 08:45

Hey there, I recently spent 2 months in Vietnam and motorbiked the entire length of the country. I made a video with the top 10 tips you need to know before you go to Vietnam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvvMi_o-4rk

Feel free to check it out. Cheers, Nick

#23 IndigoTraveller has been a member since 21/2/2017. Posts: 2

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