The North is the BEST
No matter what anyone says, the North is the place to be if you wish to take a motorbike tour in Vietnam. Everyone can take part as there are routes for all levels and you can mix and match these routes and see the places you want to see as well as drive on the type of road that you want to.
There are the well-worn routes that have everything you need and there are newer areas for the more adventurous travel. Places like Ha Giang, which was very hard to tour until only a few years ago which have opened up beyond belief. Some would say a little too much. However, there are still places off the beaten track that the adventurous can find, with or without a guide. So, whatever your skill level and tolerance for hardship, there is something for you.
Finding the really out or the way places are quite tricky and best done with a guide. We recommend Cuong at Cuong’s Motorbike Adventures and Hung at Flamingo as they have been in the game longer than us and really know their stuff.
If you do choose to self-guide then you would be well advised to print out this map. At the very least, jot down the names of the daily destinations IN VIETNAMESE so that you can show this when asking for directions. You are also well-advised to ASK TWO OR MORE PEOPLE when asking for directions. This is just to be sure you don’t go the wrong way.
This map shows the main routes in the North and a few alternative routes that are also quite easy to take. Use them to make a basic plan.
A classic loop fitting in the historical sites Dien Bien Phu and some fantastic mountain passes. Then up to Sa Pa and Fansipan before heading downstream to Hanoi. It is best to take a minimum of 6 days for this 10-12 to make it very leisurely.
Many agree that this is the Vietnamese ‘Mecca’ for touring and with good reason. Stunning roads, beautiful passes, and a rich cultural heritage all make this the premier destination in Vietnam. It takes a day to get up and one to get back. Add this to you needing 3-4 days in Ha Giang and you have your 5-6 day minimum requirement for the tour.
Excellent routes through amazing Karst Scenery. There is a rich diversity of ethnic people here in addition to the waterfalls and thrilling routes. Another added bonus is that tourism is still underdeveloped here. Allow a minimum of 6 days for this route.
This is a full-on route that is going to see your head from the lowlands to the highlands and back. On the way, you will see about everything the North can offer in terms of diversity of people and the environment. It is not for the beginner and you should allow at least 10 days for something like this.
In some ways, this is a beginner’s ride. However, you are quickly out into the countryside and smelling wood smoke. It passes through the Da River Valley with wonderful views and lakeside roads. You can also reach great heights and take some particularly treacherous roads if you wish. You will need to set aside a minimum of 3 days for this. But, 4-5 would be better.
Heading South to HCMC is a goal for many people. Just make sure you have the time. It will take at least 10 days and it is better for you to take 20 or more. You will experience the full range of what Vietnam has to offer but ONLY if you take it slowly enough. Vietnam can’t be fully experienced whilst your bum is on the seat.
Make your own plan (with us!)
Think about how much time you can spend in-country and then consider your skill level. Take a look at the Vietnam tour routes above and see which one of these areas appeals to you the most.
Combining all these factors often means that we need to mix and match at least two of these routes. By doing so, you will end up with a great route that will be best suited to you and your group.
Feel free to contact us to discuss which kind of bike you should use and ways to combine routes.
More Loops To Explore:
- Guest Blog: The Northeast Travel Loop
- Ha Giang Extreme North Motorbike Loop
- Hoa Binh Lake Loop – The Unknown Northern Shore of the Lake