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Highland Flyer | 15 Days

lanterns in Hoi An

Tour Info

This route will take you from Hanoi, down the Ho Chi Minh Highway, along the border with Laos and then Cambodia as you pass through the central highlands. This is a much more mountainous route, with only a brief visit to the coast, where you get to see many artefacts left over from the war and meet a diverse range of local ethnic people. Anyone who likes to travel through the mountains and the narrow winding roads that you find there will love this route.

Highlights

Itinerary

helmet on a Honda XR 150, on the Hoa Binh Lakeside Road

We take the longer, more scenic route to get out of Hanoi and get used to the bikes. Following the Red and then Black Rivers before heading into the hills. We enter the lush Pu Luong Valley and stay in the more remote area away from the crowds. 

arriving in Pu Luong Nature Reserve

This is one of our longest days but it is not a difficult one. We head out of the nature reserve and then dead South along the QL15. we can take a couple of detours on smaller roads, time permitting but this is very much a day of getting to our destination. We end up in the tiny town of Tan Ky which is the start of the Ho Chi Minh trail. Our hotel is the biggest in town, very easy to find, and we eat in local restaurants on the roadside. Note: The food is good and clean.  

wee Mai Chau mountain pass

We are now on the HCM Highway proper and things start to get more spectacular. It is a very long run down to Phong Nha so we have to be up and at ‘em early. So, an early breakfast and it is on the road toute suite. We follow the highway along the border with Laos and then around lunchtime we head a little West, more into the hills. There are lots of switchbacks as the road winds its way through the hills and this makes for great driving. 

take the time to find some gorgeous swimming spots between Phong Nha & Pheo

After a few long days in the saddle, it is time for a welcome break. There are plenty of alternatives here in Phong Nha and you can choose from visiting the caves, zip-lining, taking a boat on the river, or just lounging around in the sun. Remember, to get some washing done. 

Khe Sanh Combat Base by Paul Mannix

We continue along the HCM Highway through the hills and it is more of the same. However, it doesn’t seem to get tiresome. The road winds through virgin forest and gets quite remote at times. We have enough fuel and a good mechanic so we are not concerned by this at all. You will see small hamlets occasionally and a few friendly children. Other than this, we are quite alone. At last. Khe Sanh is littered with military history and with luck we will have a little time to visit one or two places. 

a tourist entering the temple in Hue

It isn’t too difficult to get to Hue from Khe Sanh so we can have a lie-in or, better still, sneak in a quick visit to another military site of interest. We have a choice of routes to get to Hue: more HCM Highway or over to National Highway 1. Everyone chooses the road through the hills 🙂 so we have more of the winding, rising and falling alongside the beautiful scenery. Sounds good. Hue is very civilized and we stay in a lovely boutique hotel here. Easy days. 

Lang Co Bay, on the Hai Van Pass

There are three possible options for the route today, but, again, we know that everyone will choose to take the Hai Van pass because of its history and its wonderful views over the East Sea. It is not far, so we have plenty of time to stop off for selfies and snacks and to generally enjoy the ride. To top that off, we then find ourselves in Hoi An, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam; for good reason.

some little boats in Hoi An Ancient Town

Being a very popular tourist spot, there is plenty to see and do in Hoi An. It is a place where you can chill on the beach, or better still, wander through the old town and eat either seafood or some of the unique street food served there. You can let us know your preference for a beach hotel or one in the old town. 

lanterns in Hoi An

It is back westwards and up into the hills today as we get back on to the Ho Chi Minh Highway. This route takes us to meeting point of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and runs through some pretty remote areas. For the first half were are flanked on both sides by steep mountains and then we come out on to the Dak To valley and heading towards Kon Tum. It’s a long today but fast driving so it isn’t too challenging. 

the beautiful Ky Co Beach

This is a short run and could either be skipped or an extra day spent in Pleiku. Having the odd easy day takes the pressure off. We can get up late and take a slow ride to destination. Also, we are sure to arrive early which means we can either take a look around or have an early beer. The area is open and flat and we pass through a lot of plantations of rubber, tea, coffee as well as through fields of wind turbines. It’s a real mix of a day. 

dragon fruit trees planted amongst the karst in Cao Bang

Today, it is along the valley and on to Buon Ma Thuot, our last stop before going into the hills again. We continue with the same as yesterday and it is fast easy driving. We need to be careful of the tyres here as the summer heat can play havoc with them. It is also vital to drink a lot of fluids to maintain concentration. 

a small house surrounded by dragon fruit trees on an unnamed road in Cao Bang

It’s around 30km out of town before we start to head in to mountain country again and drive around Chu Yang Sin National Park. We take the back roads up to Da Lat where it is a lot cooler. A welcome break from the heat.  We stay in a small hotel here and can eat our evening meal in the night market. 

a nicely decorated garden with bell flower

A much needed day off today and this is a great place for it. With lots of domestic tourists Dalat has most everything you could want. You could hang out in fine colonial hotels, get a thrill from climbing waterfalls or even spend some time in the crazy house (no, it’s not a mental asylum). It is cooler and cleaner here so the brief stay is sure to revive you and prepare you for the final push to Saigon. 

Honda XR on a muddy road in Mai Chau, North Vietnam

The run down the mountain is fun even though we take the busy road. We do not have too far to go today so we can take the easy routes through the lakes to get to Bao Loc which is still elevated enough to be cool in the evening. Being surrounded by mountains Bao Loc tends to bake in the sun a little and is still quite warm so, again, we need to take care. 

apartment block swimming pool in Thao Dien, HCMC

The final day and the run into Saigon is a fair distance through the hills and then across the delta. We take the Bao Loc pass through the mountains which is quite scenic and the out onto the plains. The amount of traffic picks up here and we need to concentrate a lot more.  All of this makes our farewell dinner and beers even more attractive.

Motorcycles

Inclusions

The cost of motorcycle rental for the duration of your tour is included. Each rider on your tour can choose any of our three bikes:

  • Honda CRF 250
  • Honda XR 150
  • Honda Future 125

 

See above section for images and specifications.

Your motorcycle is 3rd party insured. This is a legal requirement here in Vietnam, and protects you in the event that you injure another road user.

Additionally, we are responsible in the event your motorcycle breaks down or suffers a mechanical failure. However, if you damage your motorcycle by crashing it or through general misuse, you will be responsible for repair costs.

Naturally, you are also responsible for your own travel and medical insurance.

All the fuel you need for the duration of the trip is provided.

Your breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided and will be a mixture of European and Vietnamese food. Soft drinks and water are also provided and guides keep them stocked up at all times.

  • Breakfast will be in your homestay or hotel and will generally be a mix of fried eggs and bread, noodles, pancakes and sticky rice, accompanied by fruit and coffee. 
  • Lunch will be in roadside restaurants (small eateries offering clean and delicious local food), or we’ll stop for picnics (sandwiches with cold cuts and cheese) when appropriate.
  • Dinner will be in your hotel or homestay and will usually be a family cooked meal with a range of meat and vegetable dishes with some local specialties (all of which will be washed down with local fire water if requested!)

 

Vegetarian and vegan options may be limited in the countryside, but we always do our best to cater to our riders’ dietary requirements.

Beer in the evening is not included, but it’s cheap and in plentiful supply.

You will have one Western tour leader who will also act as translator, mechanic and route master. Larger groups will also be accompanied by an English speaking Vietnamese mechanic.

Your guide and support staff are all trained in first aid, and will be carrying first aid equipment.

We will arrange your visa invitation letter free of charge.

(Please note, though, that you will need to collect this take this to immigration yourself and pay a stamping fee of about $25 to receive your visa.)

We take it on ourselves to offer a covid guarantee. We offer a full refund/rescheduling of your tour should you be unable to fly due to having covid. All we ask is that you provide us with photo copies of a failed covid test taken less than 3 days prior to your flight departure date.

For every rider and pillion on the tour we donate 10 usd per day to our favourite charity: Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. You can read more about the great work they do and why we’ve supported them for for so long here.

At the beginning and end of your tour, we’ll be happy to arrange transportation to and from the airport for you!

Extras

You are able to hire a support vehicle that will allow follow your group you to stow extra luggage that you do not want to carry on the bike, this is especially useful if you plan to take a pillion.

We will also have an extra pair of hands to help with the tour and back up in case of sickness / break down. we often put a spare bike on this vehicle. the charge fo rthis is 150$ per day, fuel included.

As stated above, accommodation is provided on a twin sharing basis. If you wish to have a single room we can arrange this at a small extra cost.

You can purchase this to exempt you from liability for any damage caused by accidents caused by you or a third party vehicle. we will cover the cost of repairs to your vehicle but not the third party. This is only 20usd per day per bike extra.

Vietnam Motorcycle Tour Map - 15 Day Highland Flyer - Rentabike Vietnam
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