Hanoi Motorcycle Tour

Table of Contents

Introduction

If you have a day to spend in Hanoi there are so many things that you might like to do. We have put together this list and route to help you get the most out of your day. We also feel that the best way to do this is, like any local, on a motorbike. You can either rent and self drive a bike from us or you can ask us to arrange a guided tour at minimal extra cost. 

How long will it take?

We recommend that you take around 4 – 5 hours to drive the whole loop. There are lots of places to stop and things to do so you need to manage your time. However, you are never far away from our office to return the bike. 

This route will take about 2 hours of driving time. The time it takes you to cover the whole route is up to you and depends on how many times you stop and for how long. Obviously, there is no need to stop at every location and you can easily skip a few places to make this a half day tour. 

Equally, you can stop at every place, have coffee, coconut juice, noodles, shrimp cakes etc… and take the whole day. It really is just up to you. On our tours, you can choose to spend a half day or full day. Just let us know in advance. 

Skill Level Required

You do need to be familiar with driving a scooter and be able to control it well, if you plan on self guiding. As  pillion, our drivers can take almost anyone, but prefer people who are more relaxed on the bike.

As a Driver

Generally, driving in Hanoi is not as difficult as it looks. If you have some experience of driving back home and also a license you should not find it too difficult after the initial shock. 

Things that you need to be aware of are: 

  • People driving very close to each other. 
  • People pulling out in front of you from side turnings
  • People driving the wrong way on streets
  • People being busy on their phones or carrying things
  • Large vehicles / in particular their blind spots

 

Overall, the speed of traffic in Hanoi is low and you will have time to adjust to any conditions. Try not to make sharp sudden movements and everything should be fine. 

As a (Pillion) Passenger

The main thing here is to relax and roll with the bike. Our guides are skilled drivers with many years of experience. Make their lives easier by being relaxed and shifting your weight a little when cornering as well as using your core strength to maintain position when they accelerate or brake, which they will do gently. 

Also, try not to distract them when they are driving and ask them to look at things or answer questions immediately. They could well be focussing on a hazard if they do not respond.

Route Map

Route Itinerary

Rentabike Vietnam // Your Hotel

You can make your way to our office at 54 Hang Tre, or we can collect you from your hotel.

The tour begins at Hang Tre and we can also drop you off at your hotel after.

We begin by driving along Lo Su St and past Ba Kieu Temple to Hoan Kiem Lake.

Hoan Kiem Lake / Ho Guom Lake

(This is pedestrianized on weekends. Be warned. Take the orange route on the map to avoid the barriers.)

Hoan Kiem Lake is also called Ho Guom which means ‘lake of the returned sword’ and it is named after the tale of emperor Ly Thai To who was given a holy sword by a turtle in the lake. He used the sword to fend off the chinese invaders and once battle was done he threw it back into the lake. Hence, lake of the returned sword.

As you drive around the lake you will see The Huc bridge in bright red and Ngoc Son temple on a small island. Thuy Ta is a very famous cafe and worth a visit.

If it is early morning / evening you are likely to see locals exercising by the lakeside.

After a lap of the lake, we leave on Trang Tien street and head to Hanoi Opera House.

Hanoi Opera House

A classic piece of architecture left over from the French colonial period. The Opera House was built in 1911 for classical concerts and ballet. The square in front has been the site of many speeches and meetings of the communist and socialist party but is now better know for the New Year’s Eve countdown.

We continue on this road to the end where we find the National History Museum

National History Museum

Originally built by the French to collect cultural and historical artifacts during their renovation of northern vietnam. After independence it became the History museum that we know today.

From here we need to take a large road Tran Quang Khai to get to Chuong Duong Bridge. We will, however, see the longest mosaic mural in the world on the walls of the dyke that protects Hanoi from flooding of the Red River.

Chuong Duong Bridge

The bridge was completed in 1985 and is a major route for traffic to the west and NW of the country. The reason we take this is because it allows us a great view of the more historic Long Bien Bridge and also helps us get in the right direction to take the ramp from Long Bien Bridge down onto Banana Island.

We follow the dyke road to the Long Bien Rail Bridge.

Long Bien Bridge

This was built between 1899 and 1902 by Daydé & Pillé of Paris. You can see many places where it has been repaired after receiving bomb damage during the many wars that it has survived through. Only half of the original structure remains.

It is also possible to stop and get some great photos and if you are lucky you will be there to see a train crossing.

You may also want to take the STEEP ramp down to Banana Island to explore. If you do this be careful and take the southern ramp and not the steeper northern side ramp.

Then, you continue on the bridge to Long Bien Station. There are some cafes here that make for very good trainspotting locations and chances are you will get good photos.

Banana Island (Optional)

There are some small lanes and a few spots to stop for refreshment. There are also a couple of nudist spots where you will see older gentlemen swimming and basking. Watch out!

Most of this route is now concrete, however the section past Hai Co Temple is a little narrow and can be muddy so avoid this if you are not a skilled driver. It is easy to take the concrete path.

Dong Xuan Market

As you head westwards on this route, you will pass the Dong Xuan Market. The market dates back to before records began but the original building was completed in 1889. It is an extremely crowded area so you will need to be careful driving through this. 

Hang Dau Water Tower

Sometimes called Quan Thanh Roundhouse, the building has a history of over 130 years. The tower served as the main water supply to Hanoi city and is located at the intersection of 6 streets. The tower is no longer functional and you can take a guided tour, if you wish.

Our routes at this time are mainly one way. Don’t let that deceive you though and  be aware of oncoming traffic from all angles.

B52 Lake

We now follow Quan Thanh St which is also one way and pass the Botanical Gardens. This is a very peaceful and cool area due to the shade of the trees. We then take some smaller alleys where you will see real Hanoian life on the street. We arrive at Ho Huu Tiep where you will see the remnants of a B52 Bomber.

This plane was shot down with a surface to air missile on 27th Dec, 1972 whilst carrying out a bombing raid on Hanoi and Hai Phong. The plane crashed into Huu Tiep Lake where it has remained ever since.

Then, more alleyways to take us to the museum of the victory over the B52.

B52 Victory Museum

A great place to stop if you are a military buff. There is one main building which holds displays on the vietnamese revolution starting from the First Indochina War. Outside this building is the wreckage of a B52D and other air defense equipment. 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

We retrace our route a little along Doi Can Rd and then head towards Ba Dinh Square where we can see Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum and the National assembly. It is not possible to stop the bike here, for security reasons, but you can park a little ways away and walk over to get some nice photos. 

Truc Bach Lake

After seeing the mausoleum we head north and begin our lap of Truc Bach Lake. This lake used to be part of the Red River but was separated by a dyke in order to allow fish breeding. Unfortunately, it now has the title of ‘most polluted lake in Hanoi’.

As you head north along Thanh Nien St you will see the memorial to celebrate the capture of the american pilot John McCain who was wounded and landed in the lake after bailing out of his damaged aircraft on a bombing raid over Hanoi.

You will also see the Tran Quoc Pagoda on the West Lake side of the road and the West Lake Shrimp Cake restaurant and Ice Cream Parlour on the Truc Bach Side. These are all great places to stop.

Ngu Xa - Truc Bach

As you follow the road around the lake you will come onto Ngu Xa which is a small village that is famous for the construction of bronze bells for pagodas. Nowadays, the area is more well known for the local delicacy Pho Cuon (rolled rice noodles) which local hecklers will shout you invites to their restaurants. 

You can follow the lake road past the many restaurants and cafes or you can wind your way through the central streets. You will come out at Chau Long market which is an interesting stop.

Our route takes us all  along the lake to the Swan Boats, which you may want to have a go on.

Phan Dinh Phung St

Possibly the most beautiful street in Hanoi, especially in the Autumn as it is tree-lined and shady. There are many people here selling flowers and fruits as well as taking selfies.

You will see the old gates to the Imperial Citadel here before you turn to take Nguyen Tri Phuong Rd which runs through it.

Flag Tower

You are now at the Hanoi Flag Tower (built from 1805 to 1812), which was left intact by the French due to its use as a vantage point. 

The most poignant moment in the structure’s history is 10th Oct, 1954 when the national flag was raised to signify Hanoi Liberation Day.

Military History Museum

Cheek to jowl of the Flag Tower is the Military History Museum which is currently one of only 6 National Museums. Home to thousands of exhibits detailing the military struggles of the country as well as impressive outdoor displays military hardwear, it is a must visit site. 

Train Street

As we turn 180 degrees and head back for the centre of hanoi we follow Dien Bien Phu St and then Tran Phu St to one of the many train crossings in Hanoi. It is here that you can stop and drink at one of many cafes whilst the train whistles past very close to you. 

St Joseph's Cathedral

Now, back in Central Hanoi, the roads are smaller and busier so a tricky ride over to St Joseph’s Cathedral in the centre. This is the centre of Catholicism in Vietnam and has survived intact since its construction in 1888. It also served as a hiding spot for vietnamese revolutionary soldiers. 

From here it is easiest to go north on Ly Quoc Su street  to get back on route to Rentabike Vietnam on Hang Tre. You will skirt the northern part of the lake and if there is time you can visit the old quarter. By now, you should be familiar with the bike and much more comfortable in the tight traffic which is a must for driving in the old quarter. 

Rentabike Vietnam - Hang Tre

You are now just a stone’s throw away from Rentabike Vietnam, Hang Tre. Just remember to approach our shop from Lo Su St because Hang Tre is one way northwards. 

Cafes on Route

Hanoi is well known for being a city of cafes. You will see many small family run extablishments alongside the heavy hitting big names. Along with this are some more quirky places that are a treat to experience. Here are some that we think are worthy of a pit stop. 

Thuy Ta - Cafe and Ice Cream

Situated directly on Hoan Kiem Lake, this is a great palce to relax at the end of the tour.

Cafe Hoa Xa

This little gem offer fantastic views of Long Bien Bridge and you may get a stunning shot of the train. 

Cafe B52

A good spot to stop and get refreshments whilst you view the remnants of the B52 bomber in the lake. 

Ma Xo Cafe

Great views over Truc Bach Lake as well and good coffee and snacks. 

Railway Cafe

One of so many cafes that have sprung up along the train tracks. Stop here for good coffee and a hair raising experience as the train flies past. 

Cafe Giang

The original ‘Egg Coffee’ cafe. You can get this local take on the drink here as well as other coffee and custard based delicacies. 

Restaurants on Route

There are many fantastic places to stop and eat local delicacies or delicious new takes on foreign food. Here are just a few of our favourites that represent the tip of the iceberg. 

Quán Cơm Tay Cầm - Bún bò Huế

A great food stall on a food alley where you can get the well-known and delicious Hue Beef Noodles. 

Quán Ngon Bảo Lâm

A typical vietnamese restaurant, however, it has a great location on the banks of the Red River overlooking Banana Island and Long Bien Bridge.

Phở Cuốn - Ngũ Xã

There are a slew of small noodle restaurants here so you can take your pick. Pho Cuon is large sheets of rice noodles wrapped around beef, lettuce and coriander. It is served with a fish sauce dip that is considered as essential the rolls themselves.

The Hanoi Social Club

A very interestingly designed cafe/restaurant which serves a range of local and western dishes. There is a great atmosphere and the food choices are delicious. 

Phở Tư Lùn Ấu Triệu

A traditional rice noodle soup restaurant that serves all day. This is one of the oldest and most well respected noodle shops in Hanoi. Definitely with dropping in. 

Hanoi Motorcycle Tour

Driving around the city on a motorbike like the locals do is THE best way to get a real feel for life here. There are also so many places to stop and fantastic sights to see that it is impossible to list them all in this blog. 

Added to this, the cityscape is in a state of constant change and new interesting cafes, restaurants and sights are being added all the time. Our best advice is to get out there and explore. 

 

Quick Connect

Daily

Total

Rider (XR 150)

$140

Rider (CRF 300)

$180

Rider (CB 500X)

$180

Rider (GS 1250)

$280

Pillion

$120

Damage Waiver

$20

Private Room

$40

Support Vehicle*

$150

* All prices given are per rider except for the support vehicle. The support vehicle is free for groups of 7 or more, otherwise the cost is shared across the group. 

BMW 1250 GS

Engine Type

air-liquid cooled, twin cylinder, DOHC, boxer engine

Displacement

1255 cc

Bore X Stroke

102.5 mm x 76 mm

Ignition

FI

Fuel System

fuel injection

Compression Ratio

12.5:1

Starter

electric

Gearbox

6-speed

Front Suspension

BMW Motorrad Telelever; stanchion diameter 37 mm

Rear Suspension

single-sided swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever

Front Brakes

dual disc brake, floating brake discs, diameter 305 mm, 4-piston radial calipers

Rear Brakes

single disc brake, diameter 276 mm, double-piston floating caliper

Front Tyres

120/70 R19

Rear Tyres

170/60 R17

Wheelbase

1514 mm

Seat Height

850 mm

Ground Clearance

790 mm

Kerb Weight

249 kg

Fuel Capacity

20 litres

Dimensions

2207 mm (L) x 952.5mm (W) x 1430 mm (H)

Honda XR 150 motorcycle rental

Engine Type

air cooled, OHC, single cylinder

Displacement

149 cc

Bore X Stroke

57.3 mm x 57.8 mm

Ignition

CDI

Fuel System

20 mm piston valve carburettor

Compression Ratio

9.5:1

Starter

electric with kick starter backup

Gearbox

5-speed

Front Suspension

telescopic fork, 180 mm axle travel

Rear Suspension

single shock swing arm, 150 mm axle travel

Front Brakes

dual piston caliper, 240 mm disc

Rear Brakes

mechanical drum

Front Tyres

90/90 19

Rear Tyres

110/90 17

Wheelbase

1362 mm

Seat Height

825 mm

Ground Clearance

243 mm

Kerb Weight

129 kg

Fuel Capacity

12 litres

Dimensions

2091 mm (L) x 811 mm (W) x 1125 mm (H)

Honda CB 500X motorcycle rental

Engine Type

liquid cooled parallel-twin four stroke

Displacement

470 cc

Bore X Stroke

67 mm x 66.8 mm

Ignition

PGMI – FI

Fuel System

fuel injection

Compression Ratio

10.7:1

Starter

electric

Gearbox

6-speed

Front Suspension

41 mm SFF-BP USD Forks

Rear Suspension

Prolink Mono with 5 stage pre load adjuster

Front Brakes

dual 296 mm discs with 4 piston calipers; ABS

Rear Brakes

240 mm disc; ABS

Front Tyres

110/80R19M/C (59H)

Rear Tyres

160/60R17M/C

Wheelbase

1445 mm

Seat Height

830 mm

Ground Clearance

180 mm

Kerb Weight

199 kg

Fuel Capacity

17.7 litres

Dimensions

2,155 mm (L) x 830 mm (W) x 1,410 mm (H)

Honda CRF 300 motorcycle rental

Engine Type

single cylinder, DOHC, liquid cooled

Displacement

286 cc

Bore X Stroke

76 mm x 63 mm

Ignition

Full Transistor Digital

Fuel System

PGM-FI electronic fuel injection

Compression Ratio

10.7:1

Starter

electric

Gearbox

5-speed

Front Suspension

43 mm telescopic upside down

Rear Suspension

Prolink Mono with 5 stage pre load adjuster

Front Brakes

256 mm disc, 2 piston caliper

Rear Brakes

220 mm disc, single piston caliper

Front Tyres

80/100 21

Rear Tyres

120/80 18

Wheelbase

1455 mm

Seat Height

880 mm

Ground Clearance

285 mm

Kerb Weight

142 kg

Fuel Capacity

7.8 litres

Dimensions

2230 mm (L) x 820 mm (W) x 1200 mm (H)

Tourist

One-Way

Expat

Pricing

N/A

N/A

Guide

$120/day

N/A

N/A

Damage Waiver

$0/day

N/A

N/A

Security Deposit

N/A

N/A

Required Docs

passport

N/A

N/A

Mileage Limit

unlimited

N/A

N/A

Touring

N/A

N/A