Hello. I was hoping this could be a good place to get some help from experienced travelers. I am planning a trip from Ho Chi Mihn City to Hanoi by bike. I will be flying into Bangkok and then out of Hanoi. So I was wondering if anyone has suggestions of a route between Bangkok and Vietnam and also any sort of tips/experience/warnings/suggestions on the journey from HCMC to Hanoi. The trip is planned for January 16th thru February 27th or possibly a little longer. I have not travelled in SE Asia so all info is greatly welcomed and appreciated.
#1 Collin has been a member since 6/10/2007. Posts: 2
Welcome to Travelfish Collin
My first question would be bicycle or motorbike?
If you're doing it by motorbike, let me know as we've got a researcher in-country doing six months in Vietnam by motorbike, so he undoubtedly will have some advice.
There is one story on the site, Buying a touring motorbike in Vietnam which is a good primer.
Regardless of travelling by bike or motorcycle, the most important thing is your route, and the number one rule, whenever possible, avoid Highway One. While it's probably the best road in the country it is also, by far, the most heavily trafficked. Motorbikes are low in the pecking order, bicycles are down there with goats and chooks -- you will be expected to yield on every single occasion.
Before I write more, if you could let me know if you're doing it by bike or motorbike and I'm frame my answers accordingly.
We were planning to do it on bicycle, but we are not set in our plans. I have been looking at the motorbike option. We have done several long bicycle trips in the US, recently Seattle to San Francisco, which is why we were looking at that option. We are definantly into the idea of alternative modes of travel and getting away from the beaten path. We want to keep any and all options open and let the journey lead us. So any suggestions are great. I would love to hear about the trip in progress, it sounds like a blast.
#3 Collin has been a member since 6/10/2007. Posts: 2
The motorbike route has so far been focussed on the Central Highlands and central Vietnam's coast. The highlands has made for great biking as there is very little traffic and it's particularly scenic. On the coast however, it's been a bit of a toss up -- while it is possible to do almost the entire coast on secondary roads (thus avoiding Highway One) because he's there to review tourist destinations, he's spent a fair amount of time on it -- and it's not always a great road to ride on. That side there's been some great side trips -- from Nha Trang down and around Cam Ranh Bay was spectacular and also Da Nang's surrounds, very pretty.
You can rely on a town with some kind of guesthouse or cheap hotel at least every 60-100km, pretty much throughout Vietnam, so if you're cycling, you'd be unlikely to have to camp out.
One option you could consider would be to head south from Saigon into the Mekong Delta -- it's one of the most beautiful parts of the country -- and it's totally flat. You could spend a couple of weeks cycling around there, then chuck the bikes on the roof of a bus, back to Saigon then bus again up into the Central Highlands - eg Buon Ma Thuot -- from there cycle north through Pleiku and Kon Tum, continuing north on Route 14 through Phuoc Son eventually ending up in Hoi An, from where you could first pop north to Da Nang and surrounds, then head south along the coast (backroads, or bus/train again) to Nha Trang and Cam Ranh.
That's just one example off the top of my head -- and doesn't even consider the north -- if you are going to cycle, consider making use of the bus and train networks to transport your bike to skip the long boring bits and instead spend more time enjoying the highlights. The cost to ship bikes from A to B (including motorbikes) is very reasonable.