You’ve decided on a trip to Vietnam, you kind of know where you want to go but you want to do it your way. Why not plan your own DIY motorcycle tour?
We’ve already told you pretty much everything you need to know about riding a motorcycle in Vietnam. Now all we have to do is share all the fun we had and how we did ours for you to enjoy.
Please note that all of this is purely from our own experiences riding around Vietnam. We don’t claim to know everything but happy to share what we’ve learnt along the way. We’re happy if you learn something from us and it helps make your adventure better.
Yes, we highly recommend it and here is why.
On our first loop around southern Vietnam we made a list of the places we wanted to see and a small list of things to do. We figured we’d just wing the rest.
That did not pan out very well for two reasons. One, we’d never done a motorcycle road trip like this before. Two, Vietnam is unlike any destination we’d been to before.
Chances are it will be the same for you.
Now we’re not here to tell you where to go and what do to but if you’re looking for ideas, head to our Vietnam Page.
All we want to do is share our riding experience so you can get a feel for what you’re planning for.
The other reason we’re sharing this experience is so you can see where we’ve been (for inspiration), where we stayed (if you need help with that) and what it cost us along the way.
Because to plan a trip, you will need an itinerary, route and budget.
Before we go any further, we have some business to take of and that is our,
Affiliate disclosure: The information below and subsequent posts they lead to will contain affiliate links for our accommodation partner, Hotels Combined. We trust and used them for most of our trip and we are happy to recommend their services (especially since they were so easy to use and found us really good choices too.) Now, you don’t get charged extra for using these links and we may earn a small commission from them which goes towards finding and managing all the awesome content on our site. You are under no obligation to use these links but if you do use them, we want to salute and thank you for your support, we appreciate it!
So, lets go check out this diy motorcycle tour!
This loop consisted of nine legs and will seem really random. To a degree is was but it was also an epic learning curve, and still a helluva lot of fun!
LEG 1 – Ho Chi Minh to Dalat, 416 kms, 16 hours
That 416 kilometers right there was the biggest lesson learnt. It was the longest day of our lives! We almost got killed, got lost countless times and we were so sore when we got to Dalat that we couldn’t even sit!
For our first ride, we chose one of Vietnam Coracle’s back road routes to try and avoid as many main routes as possible. That turned into a bit of disaster due to floods and roads getting washed away. I can’t even tell you what roads we were one because we didn’t know.
(We did HCMC to Da Lat twice and the second time round, we did main route QL20 but broke it up with an overnight stop in Bao Loc. It was sooo much better!)
The one thing that will always stand out about this ride, was the view riding into Da Lat. At one point it was coffee plantation as far as they eye could see and it was sensational.
Destination – Dalat
We chose Dalat because of its claim as Vietnam’s coffee capital and this intrigued us. What we didn’t expect what to fall in love with the place and make our first Vietnamese lifelong friend, Ha.
Accommodation – Maxim Hotel
Our stay at Maxim Hotel is how we met Ha. It was also the benchmark for all our future accommodation bookings.
It’s reasonably priced hotel that offers comfort, convenience and some extras you don’t normally see in this price range.
It’s conveniently located within walking distance to the city center and surrounded by many cafes and restaurants.
Brothers Ha and Duong are super knowledgeable and can offer plenty of recommendations to boot.
Total cost for Leg 1 – VND 7,7800,044 (~USD 334.00 / ~AUD 482.00)
The cost for each leg Includes trip fuel and pit stops along the way, accommodation, laundry, food and beverages as well as any activities done during the leg visit and any other motorcycle related costs (service, wash, repairs, etc.).
LEG 2 – Da Lat to Buon Ma Thuot, 193 kms & 5 hours
Although this was a super wet ride it was also one of the most memorable rides. It was our first taste of riding through the central Vietnamese highlands and we loved every moment of it!
This one was really simple. We left Da Lat on the QL20, then jumped on the QL27 that took us straight into Buon Ma Thuot.
Destination – Buon Ma Thuot
We thought Dalat was coffee country of Vietnam. When we arrived in Buon Ma Thuot, we realized just how wrong we were.
Few people visit this beautiful city but she has lots to offer. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do any of the things we wanted due to torrential rain but hope to return one day.
Accommodation – Khach San hoa Lu 2
This was our first experience with a proper budget hotel in Vietnam. We’re sure there are nicer ones but this is what was available to us at the time.
LOL, there were all sorts of strange things going on. There were holes in the wall looking into an alley and hotel floors on weird split levels. We’d never seen anything like it before.
It was also our introduction into the traditional Vietnamese bed. In other words, a bed with all the comfort of a concrete slab. Do expect many of these in budget options.
Total cost for Leg 2 – VND 1,760,000 (~USD 76.00 / ~AUD 110.00)
LEG 3 – Buon Ma Thuot to Pleiku, 181 kms, 8 hours
This was a very long day due to heavy rains. We had to look for shelter and wait it out many times but thankfully we made it to Pleiku safe.
It was also the first time Leon got pulled over by law enforcement. He didn’t get booked or cleaned out which was great, but he did get yelled at to do 50 km/h, LOL!
This was our first encounter with the mighty AH17. One of many main routes in Vietnam and one that is notorious for heavy traffic.
Thankfully we didn’t encounter too much traffic but it was a bit of a snore after all the twisties on ride between Dalat and Buon Ma Thuot.
Destination – Pleiku
Not going to lie, we left the hotel room long enough to get a feed and some neck socks and that was it. Pleiku was wet and miserable and we wanted out so we only stayed three nights until it was dry enough to leave.
Accommodation – Coa Nguyen
Our budget choice, wasn’t bad as far as accommodation goes. Yet, for some strange reason, we had a tissue for a duvet and 2cm gaps in the window frame, while dealing with single digit temperatures.
Those we could live with but we didn’t realize until 7pm the first night, was that it also shared a wall with the biggest night club in Pleiku.
The walls and windows were shaking. Even the bed was dancing around. Party in Pleiku, right on! (cue rofl)
Total cost for Leg 3 – VND 1,340,000 (~USD 58.00 / ~AUD 86.00)
LEG 4 – Pleiku to Tuy Hoa, 232 kms, 7 hours
It was another super wet start to the day and for the first half of the ride, we got soaked and copped a lot of heavy traffic.
It got better half way through the ride. The sun appeared, along with fields of sugarcane as far as the eye could see. There was also a subtle but distinct whiff of salty ocean air.
We wanted out of Pleiku and fast! The best route was the AH17 highway but it meant a lot of heavy traffic in heavy rain. Still we only had to endure it for three hours before we branched off onto the QL25 which took us straight to Tuy Hoa.
Once we hit the sugarcane fields it was a nice easy ride with minimal traffic. Those last two hours into Tuy Hoa was a seriously fun motorcycle ride and one we’ll never forget!
Destination – Tuy Hoa
What an amazing surprise this quaint sea side town was. Untainted by mass tourism and we got a rare glimpse into legit, everyday Vietnam. We loved it so much we stayed for two weeks and didn’t want to leave but we had a schedule to keep.
Another reason we stayed was because we needed to catch up on some work. We also had a our mini-cay with a friend coming up and had to do some planning.
Accommodation – My Ha Hotel
This was another gem of a find! For our first few nights we stayed in a room with no windows and even though it wasn’t great it was still comfortable. We spent the rest of our stay in one of the four balcony rooms and that was amazing. We tell you more about our stay in the link above.
Total cost for Leg 4 – VND 8,266,237 (~USD 356.00 / ~AUD 514.00)
LEG 5 – Tuy Hoa to Cam Ranh, 160 kms, 5 hours
This was a short but sweet and fun ride to Cam Ranh. We spotted a couple of things to do on the way back up. We didn’t bother to stop this time round because we were enjoying the coastal ride too much.
From Tuy Hoa we took the coastal route along QL29. It’s the perfect stretch for a scenic motorcycle ride and offers plenty of awesome photo opportunities.
Eventually though we had to hook back onto the busiest road in Vietnam, the QL1A. It wasn’t great but it got us to Nha Trang at a reasonable time. From Nha Trang we took the next coastal stretch along DT657 and back on QL1A into Cam Ranh.
Sadly, a decent part of that beach is disappearing behind massive resorts. They are sprouting up everywhere along the coastline and you can’t even see the beach in some parts.
We’re happy to say that the southern end of the Bai Dai is still accessible and perfect for a day at the beach.
Destination – Cam Ranh
We opted to stay in Cam Ranh over Nha Trang because we wanted to see Nha Trang on the way back up. We also read that Cam Ranh had one of the best beaches in Vietnam. Bai Dai Beach.
Accommodation – Motel 42
On this leg and it ended up being a cheap and noisy but memorable place to stay. This is where we met Lou who had all sorts of interesting questions for us, LOL!
The hotel was also conveniently located around plenty of cheap coffee and food options.
Total cost for Leg 5 – VND 1,049,600 (~USD 45.00 / ~AUD 65.00)
LEG 6 – Cam Ranh to Phan Rang, 110 kms, 3 hours
We had a blast on this leg because we deviated to an unknown coastal road that had minimal traffic and was a hoot to ride. It had some spectacular coastal views too!
We followed QL1A out of Cam Ranh until we found the turn of for DT702, which took us a while. It’s a very ordinary and small looking road that is easy to miss off the main highway. We’re guessing that’s why it’s not well known.
Destination – Phan Rang
Phan Rang is home to the Po Klong Garai tower . It’s one of few remaining relics from the Cham people who inhabited this area before it became Vietnam.
The area is also known for its fruit production, grapes in particular and seriously good food. It’s where we first encountered broken rice (com tam) and bbq pork. So delicious!
Accommodation – Xuan Quang
Yes, well this one certainly fell into the memorable category for the wrong reason.
We wanted to catch a sun rise on Phan Rang beach so had to get up and leave the hotel really early. Only we got to reception and walked smack-bang into a naked man sleeping on a cot, in front of a very locked door.
To say it was awkward is an epic understatement. We tried to wake ‘ol mate up for about 15 minutes and in the end had to give up because he was dead to the world.
Still, Xuan Quang was conveniently located within walking distance to good food, plenty of coffee shops and a short ride to the beach.
Total cost for Leg 6 – VND 2,871,500 (~USD 123.00 / ~AUD 179.00)
LEG 7 – Phan Rang to Phan Thiet, 128 kms, 4 hours
We left Phan Rang and hit some really strong head winds. I almost got blown off the bike, which made for an interesting ride as well as needing an unexpected fuel stop.
Strangely, it was the only spot I can remember having strong winds. While it seemed weird at the time, it must be normal for the area because we saw a few massive wind farms along the way.
On the map, QL1A looked like a good option for some more coastal riding. Sadly, that that not the case. We knew the coastline was there and even caught a glimpse of it here and there but it was nowhere near as close as it looked on the map.
The other reason we chose to take the QL1A all the way to Phan Thiet was to avoid the notorious Mui Ne cop stop. Even though we’d prepared a ‘bribe kit’ (you can read about that on our Vietnam Motorcycle Adventure Page), we still didn’t feel like getting tangled in that process.
Accommodation – Hung Thanh
For this leg we decided to have a bit of fun. In Phan Rang we did a vlog on how we find our accommodation , which resulted in finding Hung Thanh. We thought it was a score because it was cheap and offered on site massage. Who doesn’t a want a massage after a long day of riding?
Mmmm, until we got there and we weren’t quite sure if it was the PG type of massage or something else.
Needless to say, we didn’t stick around. We made quick work to move onto Lilas Hotel.
One of our Tribe members suggested it and it was a great recommendation. Yay! We were closer to town with much more food, coffee and shopping options. It was also warmer, quieter and the beds were great.
Total costs for Leg 7 – VND 3,898,028 (~USD 167.00 / ~AUD 243.00)
LEG 8 – Phan Thiet to La Gi, 80 kms, 3 hours
I’m pretty sure this was our third shortest ride of our whole motorcycle tour. We saw plenty of old resorts, interesting farming (have you seen a dragon fruit tree?) and some quirky landmarks.
We took Phu Hai Road along the coast, past all the resort before hooking back onto QL1A. Our overnight accommodation sat somewhere off the highway and we needed to find it.
Destination – La Gi
Our destination on this leg was this tiny little beach side resort spot that locals love to go to for the holidays. So what made it interesting to us? While we were looking at routes and overnight places we came across an interesting find at the Coco Beachcamp and decided that La Gi would be perfect for an overnight stop and to go see this find for ourselves.
Accommodation – Hien Lan Guesthouse
Another choice of cheap accommodation that wasn’t terrible but not exactly great either.
The traditional Vietnamese beds were back but we had two which was great (more blankets). What was funny was that the bathroom had holes in the wall rather than windows. Made for an interesting and fast shower.
It was however perfect for our two-night stay and we could live with the oddities and nuisances.
Total costs for Leg 8 – VND 1,097,228 (~USD 47.00 / ~AUD 69.00)
LEG 9 – La Gi to Ho Chi Minh City, 145 kms, 6 hours (incl wait for Cat Lai Ferry)
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Saigon to get ready for our mini-cay. This was the final leg of our southern loop and we were a little sad.
Looking back on this ride I’m glad we only ever did it once. We had to do a million maps checks and survived one of the worst stretches of road I’ve ever seen.
Container trucks close enough for us to high-five and we were constantly ducking from flying debris. Did we mention the four lanes of heavy traffic each way, all driving like law enforcement don’t exist? It was nasty!
On the map our chosen route looked find. We had to follow the QL55 and QL51 to get to HCMC before getting on the DT769 to cross with the Cat Lai Ferry.
Problem was, the CT01 was close by. That meant Google maps kept redirecting the turn-by-turn navigation, wanting to send us on the fastest route.
Instead we had to constantly pull over and check we were on the right route which ate up a lot of unnecessary time.
Destination – HCMC (Saigon)
We were back in HCMC, one of our favorite destination in Vietnam and looking forward to our friend’s arrival.
But first we had to get some serious work done and figure out what we were going to do with the bikes while we were away.
Luckily our friend Charles from Saigon Storage came through for us and said he’d be happy to take them for 2 weeks.
Accommodation – Airbnb 1: The Eastern Apartment
This was our first experience with Airbnb in Vietnam and sadly it was very underwhelming.
We paid almost three times our normal budget for an apartment at The Eastern in district 10.
Based on the advertisement, it offered everything we wanted for a 10 day stay. Plenty of work space, chills pace and being able to cook our own meals.
Thing was when we got there, it looked like the owner had only just left the apartment. It was dirty and disgusting and it didn’t look anything like the pictures. More on that experience here.
Total costs for Leg 9 – VND 10,065,043 (~USD 607.00 / ~AUD 872.00)
LEG 10 – Ho Chi Minh City to Bao Loc, 202 kms, 5 hours
We had a blast on our mini-cay but also excited to hit the road again. Our first stop… Da Lat! We were heading back to one of our favorite destination that has one of favorite people, Ha!
But first we had to get to Bao Loc in one piece.
This time round we used main route QL20 which is one of the busiest roads in Vietnam. Compared to our nightmare of a first ride on day one, this one was an absolute breeze and joy.
The road condition was good, there was hardly any traffic on the road and the sun was out in all its glory.
It was one of those rare perfect riding days.
Destination – Bao Loc
This neat little town, nestled among the hilly country side was the perfect spot for an overnight stop. It was the first of many of in the northern loop.
For this leg we chose to stay at Khach San Ngoc Phuong which sat just off QL20 on the northern side of Bao Loc. It was close to a gas station for refueling and walking distance to a VinMart mall.
We also liked the fact that they secured their onsite garage really well at night so we knew the beasts were well looked after too.
They were so well secured that we couldn’t get to them the next morning lol! It didn’t take long to find someone to help us out and before long we were back on the road.
Total costs for Leg 10 – VND 817,028 (~USD 35.00 / ~AUD 51.00)
LEG 11 – Bao Loc to Dalat, 112 kms, 3.5 hours
Despite the heavy rain over night it wasn’t a bad start to the morning. Though, it would take a lot to dampen our spirits because Dalat was waiting on us and Ha was as excited as we were!
Not only were we happy to see the city but we were looking forward to spending some time for with Ha again.
We continued on QL20 from Bao Loc and that took us straight into Dalat.
This time round there was plenty of traffic but thankfully it was more bikes than heavy traffic.
Dalat is a very popular holiday destination for the domestic market and buses are the preferred choice of transport. So, expect a lot of heavy traffic in and around Dalat.
Destination – Dalat
If you haven’t been to our Dalat Page, go check it out! On our last visit we arrived just in time for a 2-week long rainy spell and we couldn’t do a few things we’d planned for that trip.
Ha took us to Me Linh Coffee Garden to try out some weasel coffee. We wanted to avoid weasel coffee farms because we’re not fans of people taking advantage of animals.
This farm was a massive exception and it was a relief to see their critters were well looked after.
There is only one place we’ll stay in Dalat and that is Maxim Hotel. This little gem has great accommodations, comfortable warm beds and great hosts. It’s within walking distance to the city and has plenty of restaurants and cafes around it too.
Total costs for Leg 11 – VND 2,060,000 (~USD 90.00 / ~AUD 130.00)
LEG 12 – Da Lat to Nha Trang, 160 kms, 3 hours
We left Da Lat with heavy hearts but happy that we got an opportunity to hang with Ha again. This leg was also a new one for us.
Last time round we headed further north into the highlands towards Buon Ma Thuot. This time round we shot straight towards the coast and Nha Trang.
There are two ways to get to Nha Trang from Da Lat.
One is following QL20 and QL27B and the other is taking QL27C. We chose the latter because it looked like the fastest way to Nha Trang and so stoked we did!
We didn’t realize the Omega Pass (also known as Khanh Le Pass or Hon Giao Pass), was part of QL27C and what an epic surprise that was!
This 33-kilometer stretch of road takes you all the way up to a 1,700-meter elevation before dropping you back to sea level with epic sweepers and breathtaking views.
It’s designed to make your face hurt from all the grinning and you’ll love every moment of it!
Destination – Nha Trang
We’ll be honest and say we didn’t get the hype around Nha Trang. Personally, we prefer Da Nang but they are completely different scenes.
Nha Trang was a lot more expensive than we thought it would be. That came as a surprise given how reasonable all our other destinations have been.
For example, we bought some beers at a beach bar and they cost us VND 60,000 each. That is still cheap, granted but we normally pay between VND 10,000 and VND 25,000 for the same beer everywhere else.
Still, it has a funky vibe and there are plenty of expat, tourists and locals to mingle with. We wouldn’t recommend taking it off the Vietnam itinerary just yet.
Accommodation – Like Family Hotel
When looking at this hotel there were plenty of reviews saying it was hard to find. While that part is true, it’s still worth looking into. We also scored an awesome last-minute deal with them which made it a perfect overnight option.
It has a great location, is walking distance to shops and the beach. The only downside was parking. It was off the road but there is enough room for three motorcycles. Not sure where everyone else parked.
Our room was huge with plenty of windows, comfortable beds and a decent bathroom. We’d definitely try and score this spot for our next stay.
Total costs for Leg 12 – VND 721,423 (~USD 41.00 / ~AUD 60.00)
LEG 13 – Nha Trang to Dai Lanh, 82 kms, 2 hours
Not going lie, we were happy to leave Nha Trang behind. Our next stop was Dai Lanh. It does seem like a weird spot to stop but we chose it because we wanted to see the Mui Dien Lighthouse, as well as this neat abandoned hotel site.
This leg had us back on the uber busy QL1A (or AH1) and this was a busy day! Still we only had to survive for 82 kilometers and it is a spectacular coastal route with amazing scenery.
Destination – Dai Lanh
It’s more of a speck on a map than a town, it’s so small but so picturesque. It didn’t take us long to make friends with restaurant owner Kim Loan. She made us the best breakfasts and a pretty choice coffee too. (You’ll see her in the vlog link above).
Accommodation – Le Plateau Hostel
This hostel has one of the best rooftop areas with a stunning view! It was the perfect spot to chill with a cold beer and enjoy a stunning sunset.
Our room was clean, comfortable and we could even hear the waves crash on the beach (even though we weren’t right on it).
Total costs for Leg 13 – VND 635,000 (~USD 27.00 / ~AUD 40.00)
LEG 14 – Dai Lanh to Quy Nhon, 136 kms, 4.5 hours
This leg saw two news for our motorcycle tour. One, it was a brand new, never visited before destination and a different route to get there.
We left Dai Lanh and followed the QL1A until it branched off onto the coastal QL1D into Quy Nhon. Anybody that has been on the QL1A will tell you it’s a sucky route.
We got bombarded with all sorts of traffic but the worst offenders were the trucks. They don’t give an inch and they take a mile.
On this leg I watched in horror as a four-wheel drive decided to pull out from behind an oncoming truck and straight in front of Leon. My heart literally stopped beating. I was far enough behind to be out of harm’s way but close enough to watch the madness unfold.
The driver in the four-wheel drive must have pooped his pants because the look on his face said as much.
Only Leon’s lightning fast reactions and riding experience saved him from disaster. I had some choice words for said offender and he’s lucky nothing happened.
It was the second biggest scare we’d had on the ride at that point.
Destination – Quy Nhon
We weren’t expecting this perfect little town to steal our hearts. It was the first time anywhere else in Vietnam rivaled our love of Da Nang.
We enjoyed our first day there so much that we decided to extend for another day. There was plenty of good food, coffee and beach walks to enjoy.
Quy Nhon is the quintessential beach chill spot. The town is big enough to accommodate all your needs but small enough to the quiet and relaxing. It also had the one of cleanest and nicest beaches we’ve come across in Vietnam.
Accommodation – Lazada Hotel
The warm welcome we received from the staff at Lazada was a clear sign that we were going to love Quy Nhon.
Our room was massive with two comfortable double beds, a nice big bathroom it had a channel that played the MotoGP. Score!
From the hotel we could walk to the beach and had plenty of street food and restaurants around us. Not to mention a heap of great coffee shop options.
We also had a blast listening to live music, eating good burgers and making new friends at the John and Paul Inn!
Total costs for Leg 14 – VND 1,532,000 (~USD 66.00 / ~AUD 95.00)
LEG 15 – Quy Nhon to Quang Ngai, 190 kms, 5 hours
This leg had us excited because it was somewhere we hadn’t been to before. There were new things to see and explore, if we could manage to survive the mayhem of another main route.
We were back on the QL1A and I wasn’t terribly enthused about that. After the previous leg I was seriously starting to dislike this road.
If you we’d had more time, we would’ve taken the DT640, DT632 and DT639 as an alternative route. As it was, we were short on time and trying to get to Da Nang as fast as possible.
One thing we did love about this leg of the road trip was the scenery. We finally got to see more of those verdant oceans of rice paddies swaying in the breeze and they were spectacular.
We also rode past a few weddings and the music! It was so loud that it made my helmet vibrate! I had no idea how anybody inside the venue could even hear each other. It was hilarious!
Destination – Quang Ngai
After Quy Nhon we had high hopes for Quang Ngai but it wan’t to be. We weren’t too concerned though because it was only an overnight stay.
Finding something to eat that night was unusually hard. After walking around exploring (or trying to at least) the town, we stumbled upon a Co Op supermarket. (Usually, if we can’t find street food, we try and track down a supermarket which does the trick too.)
Lucky for us this one had a Jollibee and we ordered up large!
Accommodation – Phu Loc Motel
Aaaah yes, this would probably be the only accommodation we wouldn’t recommend.
It had many negative aspects but we were only there for one night so it didn’t matter.
One redeeming quality was that they locked the bikes inside for the night. This was great given the shady look of the location and it made us sleep a little easier.
Total costs for Leg 15 – VND597,000 (~USD26.00 / ~AUD37.00)
LEG 16 – Quang Ngai to Da Nang, 180 kms, 6 hours
Well, that didn’t quite go to plan!
We packed and left Quang Ngai tired, having had minimal sleep thanks to noisy neighbors all night.
It wasn’t long until we spotted a very ominous looking cloud in the distance. Leon stopped to put on his poncho and check his gear was water tight, while I decided to play chicken with the weather. I decision I came to regret by the end of the leg.
An hour into our ride it started to bucket down! We had loads of heavy traffic on the road but powered on through until we got lost again, LOL!
We stuck to the QL1A until we got to Tam Ky and then hit the DT617 which should’ve been an easy coastal ride into Hoi An. It was anything but!
Our anticipated short trip turned into 170+ kilometer ride with us needing fuel bad and being on the only stretch of road that had no gas station! Who knew this existed in Vietnam? We didn’t!
It was a nerve wrecking 20 minutes of nursing the beasts to Hoi An on fumes but we managed to find a corner house that sold coke bottles filled with fuel. PHEW!!
The ride into Da Nang felt like forever and we couldn’t wait to get there as we were getting pelted with rain and hail. For the first time ever, I had water coming into my helmet. You can just imagine the state we were in when we arrived in Da Nang.
Destination – Da Nang
Our most loved city in Vietnam and we couldn’t wait to see it again. We had so many people to catch up with and so many places to go grab our favorite food, coffee and drinks from. But first, we needed a hot shower and we needed it bad!
This was also where we scheduled the beasts in for their major service. We’d put well over 2,000 kilometers on them and they deserved a decent pampering.
Accommodation – Don Bac Hotel
Don (the hotel’s namesake) and his team did an amazing job of looking after us. It was also one of the best hotels we stayed in on this road trip. The bed was super comfy and the duvet was so warm and fluffy – perfect for the rainy weather they had at the time.
The best part was we had a view to the beach, from two blocks away, which was almost unheard of in Da Nang. There was a place doing laundry across the road too ans we could enjoy a coffee while we waited. Our fav spots for banh xeo, pho and com tam were just around the corner and life was perfect!
Total costs for Leg 16 – VND 6,404,000 (~USD 276.00 / ~AUD 395.00)
LEG 17 – Da Nang to Hue, 103 kms, 3 hours
As far as scenic motorcycle rides go, this is not only one of the most famous stretches of road in the world, it’s also one of the most fun to ride.
It was time to hit the Hai Van Pass on our own two wheels!
There are a couple of ways to get to the Hai Van Pass, depending where in Da Nang you’re leaving from. We choose to cruise along Duong Nguyen Tat Thanh. It’s the road that stretches along Da Nang’s other beach before linking to Nguyen van Cu (which turns into the Hai Van Pass).
The Hai Van Pass used to be void of heavy vehicles. Due to an increase in popularity with international tourists, it’s now swarming with tour buses. It can be unpleasant but not nasty.
If you want to enjoy the view at you own pace then pull over and wait for traffic to go past.
Destination – Hue
This is our second favorite destination in Vietnam. The history contained within this city is awe inspiring and we were looking forward to exploring some more of it. We also had a less conventional stop in mind for this visit. We tried our luck getting into the abandoned Hue Water Park.
Accommodation – Cozy Hue Hotel
We were hoping to stay at our usual Hue haunt, Hong Thien Ruby but they were fully booked. That wasn’t a bad thing because we managed to find a bed a little further up at Cozy Hue Hotel and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.
The owner and his son had a ton of great recommendations (with maps) to share with us and they made a great breakfast!
Total costs of Leg 17 – VND 1,151,000 (~USD 50.00 / ~AUD 72.00)
LEG 18 Hue to Dong Hoi, 170 kms, 3.5 hours
We did this stretch back in 2016 in the back of private transfer that was also our DMZ Tour at the time.
There is so much history in this area but you might never know what your passing if you haven’t heard about any of it.
We hit the QL1A again and it wasn’t an unpleasant ride but it was busy.
The fun part was stopping at the Hien Luong Bridge, another historic site not to miss. This bridge was the old divide between north and south Vietnam.
Things have changed since our last visit.
The museum now charges an entry fee of VND 30,000 (~USD 1.00 / ~AUD 2.00). The admission fee also allows you to walk across the actual bridge and see the massive monuments on either side. It’s an eye-opening experience, for sure!
If you’re in this area and looking for other historic things to see and do, then take the AH16 left at Dong Ha.
That will take you towards Khe Sanh. The terrain will leave your mouth hanging open and we’re sure it will be a spectacular ride (that we didn’t get to do this time round). It’s well worth the visit.
Destination – Dong Hoi
This terribly under rated city is going to be a future superstar of Vietnam. Like Da Nang, it offers both beach and city attractions and has a lot to offer visitors. The best part about Dong Hoi is that it sits conveniently close to Phong Nha Ke Bang (national park) and its world-renowned cave systems.
Accommodation – Au Lac Bar and Hostel
This was the second-best accommodation find on this road trip! We loved our stay so much that we almost considered extending it for a month! Only thing was we didn’t have a month, but if we did, we would’ve happily stayed here!
Binh, Kien and Thao were the best hosts and we had a blast hanging out with these guys. We also ran into them at Red Peppers Restaurant which is a sister business to Au Lac. It’s a great spot to grab a feed and enjoy the great atmosphere. They do a mean as pizza too if you’re craving a western food option.
Total costs of Leg 18 – VND 4,798,665 (~USD 207.00 / ~AUD 297.00)
LEG 19 – Dong Hoi to Vinh, 202 kms, 6 hours
This was the first leg where I had to navigate (thanks to Leon drowning his phone in Dark Cave). While I was quietly confident I could pull it off (dirt off my shoulder LOL), Leon I’m certain wasn’t so sure (cue rofl).
I knew I could do it but it wasn’t my favorite thing to do either. Especially in the torrential downpour we found ourselves in.
It was one of those times I thanked our lucky stars for the ponchos because they were doing a marvelous job of keeping us dry and warm. It would have been a (night)mare otherwise.
We pretty much followed the QL1A again until we had to veer off onto the DT547 to head into Vinh.
The roads were so wet that we watched a few buses aquaplaning and that was a scary experience.
When it was time to fuel up, we found this massive Petrolomex and sat there waiting out the worst of it. One of the pump attendees walked right up to us and gave us a what-not-for because we were out there in the downpour.
Stunned into silence, poor Leon just looked at her while I was trying hard not to fall off my bike laughing. It was the first time we had a local telling us off!
Destination – Vinh
We thought Vinh was a decent distance between Dong Hoi and Ninh Binh for an overnight stop. It looked like a fun city to explore but time wasn’t on our side and we’ve added it to our list of places to go back to.
Yuuuum, the bakery we had lunch at was soooo good. We even decided to take some back to the hotel and have it for dinner.
Accommodation – Anh Quan Hotel
This place gave us cause for more than a few giggles! It was the most basic of hotels we’d stayed in but certainly not the worst one.
The first thing that made us laugh was that everything meant to be on the walls in the bathroom was just hanging or lying on the floor.
A third of the bathroom door was missing thanks to rot and it didn’t even shut but had us giggling regardless.
The view was a new one though. The room overlooked what we thought was a house with a massive pond in the backyard or more to the point the pond was the backyard. Every so often the surface would come alive with whatever lurked in its depths.
It wasn’t until later in the day that we discovered it was full of fish or eels. Every time someone would toss scraps into the water it would create an effect that resembled a giant boiling cauldron.
All part of the weird and wonderful that makes up Vietnam!
Total costs for Leg 19 – VND 602,398 (~USD 26.00 / ~AUD 38.00)
LEG 20 – Vinh to Ninh Binh, 206 kms, 6 hours
It was another fairly straight forward ride and thankfully the rain didn’t hang around either.
That couldn’t dampen our spirits as we were so excited to see Ninh Binh for the first time!
Good old QL1A, I swear you could almost make it from one side of the country to another just using this route.
It was my second run at leading the way with Leon’s phone still out of action but by then I had it sussed.
We had to do a few map checks stops thanks to new road layouts but I got us there without getting lost. Whoop!
Destination – Ninh Binh
Known as the Ha Long on land, Ninh Binh certainly had a wow-factor to it. Not sure why it surprised us, but it was so much bigger than we thought it would be.
We met some interesting lunch guests who had us in stitches with their tales of woes having bought knock off Wins and the drama that came with it. One member of the team opted for a less cool, but more reliable option and he was grinning from ear to ear the whole time.
The owner of mobile phone shop, Nam Son Mobile also managed to fix Leon’s fried iPhone.
It was one of the happiest days of the trip! (cue rolf). I no longer had to lead the way and Leon was happy to have his favorite travel tool back.
We did get to climb Mua Cave and ride the famous Tam Coc row boats but that was about all thanks to bad weather.
Still if you’re in two minds about Ninh Binh, don’t be, go! It’s a fun place to visit. Oh, and it had the best banana fritters we’d ever tasted.
Accommodation – Ninh Binh Brothers Hotel
This neat little hotel, run by two actual brothers was a hoot to stay at. The brother can make pretty mean as café phin too!
Our bed was a more traditional feeling mattress. It wasn’t completely uncomfortable though and it was a decent size with a good bathroom too.
Total costs for Leg 20 – VND 3,799,800 (~USD 163.00 / ~AUD 235.00)
LEG 21 – Ninh Binh to Ha Long, 200+ kms, 8 hours
This was a bit of a long and frustrating ride. Google maps kept taking us off course and wanting to put us on all the new express ways. This is only good if you are traveling by car and not all on on motorcycles.
When we thought we had an hour left we hit a snag!
The further north you go, the harder navigation becomes. Roads are snaking all over the place and you have no idea it it’s a dirt road, highway or express way until you get there.
We initially followed QL10 out of Vinh onto DT360 through Hai Phong and then follow AH14 into Ha Long. Except we reached the point where we had to turn onto a road that lead to a bridge over Cam River.
That’s when we discovered that road leads to an express way that we couldn’t go on. Nothing from our research suggested this route for an express way, hence why it surprised us.
We ended up having to back track all the way back to Hai Phong where we stopped for a couple of beverages and a regroup. After consulting the map and checking there were no other surprises, we headed back to QL10 and then got on QL18 that took us all the way into Ha Long.
Destination – Ha Long
We did the Ha Long over night cruise in 2016 and tried a 3-night option on an island in the bay (that got cancelled thanks to a typhoon).
This time round we wanted to explore the city and try out Sun World Halong! Except none of the rides were operating because they’d just shut them down for end of season maintenance. Bahahaha!
Terrible weather saw us indoors most of the time but it wasn’t all bad because we did manage to catch up on some work.
Accommodation – Ha Long Four Seasons
Ha Long was full of surprises. It wasn’t until we checked in that Leon realized why the name of the hotel sounded familiar. It turned out our choice of accommodation was infamous for having sticky fingers. This didn’t make us feel comfortable about leaving our gear in the room but figured it was time the PacSafe stuff earned their keep.
In the end we didn’t have any issues which was great! The little old lady who made us breakfast each morning, made the best scrambled eggs on bread and coffee.
The room was really big with two comfortable double beds and it had a massive bathroom. Thing was big enough to swing three cats in.
There wasn’t much in the way of parking but the beasts were locked inside at night which was was great for such a busy street.
Total costs for Leg 21 – VND 1,253,000 (~USD 53.00 / ~AUD 77.00)
LEG 22 – Ha Long to Lang Son, 171 kms, 4 hours
We were anticipating a fun, windy mountain route this time round. We got a little of that but it certainly was the filthiest ride we’ve ever had in our lives (including dirt bike riding).
By the time we got to our destination we were black and coated in something sticky. My poor Ixon jacket that survived fairly intact so far looked like a lost cause now.
Not even the downpour couldn’t clean us or the bikes! We were just stoked the hotel had undercover parking that wasn’t inside.
We stayed clear of anything on, in or around an AH route and went with QL18C for good measure. There is another way we could have gone but we had to cross into the AH1 and we weren’t 100% sure it wasn’t all express way.
This route was also had a lot less traffic which made for a good ride, despite the nasty weather.
We did end up on some weird looking country back roads that had us scratching our heads. As long as we were heading in the right direction and they were fun to ride we didn’t have an issue with them.
Destination – Lang Son
Round about here is where we started to feel the cooler temps and it was heading into winter. Because of the rain, we only shot into town long enough to get water and fuel up to hit the road early the next day.
Accommodation – Nha Nghi Nat Son
We’re pretty sure it was a guest house and the 11-year-old girl that looked after was a hoot to chat to. When we got there, everyone panicked and pushed her towards us. We figured it was because she was the only one that could speak a bit of English, so she was stuck with us.
Our room was pretty big but there was no heating. Lucky for us they had the warmest slippers and awesome blankets so we were toasty in no time. Aaaaah and a piping hot shower, that was the best!
Total costs for Leg 22 – VND 617,100 (~USD 27.00 / ~AUD 39.00)
LEG 23 – Lang Son to Cao Bang, 140 kms, 4 hours
On the map it looked fairly straight forward. Once we got out there though, we figured out pretty quick that what is on the map is not the same as on the road.
It was also our first taste of the northern highlands and we were clapping our hands in glee. Plenty of mountain roads with windies and sweepers to make ya grin from ear to ear.
We opted for the straightest route which started on QL1A into Dong Dang where we had to change onto the QL4A. There were a lot of dirt roads along the way, loads of villages and then we almost ended up in China, LOL!
Somehow, we missed the turn off to get onto QL4A.
We continued on, blissfully unaware until we got to something called the Friendship Border Station. The word ‘border’ got our attention quick-smart and it was back on the map to see what was going on.
It didn’t take us long to get back on the right track. Unfortunately, it meant we were back to doing our usual map check stops, making the day longer than it needed to be.
Destination – Cao Bang
It was time to hit another bucket list item!
Coa Bang is famous for one thing, the Ban Gioc Waterfall. It’s one of the most Instagrammed places in the world and we couldn’t wait to finally see it for ourselves! We knew it would look nothing like the over processed photo we’ve seen of it but it was spectacular none the less.
The city of Cao Bang blew us away with all that natural beauty around it. We could see why visitors love it so much.
It was also where we encountered another first. We took our Waves in for a service while the laundry was doing its thing, only, the Honda service center told us we didn’t need an oil change.
We weren’t convinced but figured we’d ride them to the next stop and get it done there. Just to be safe.
Accommodation – Ruby Motel
We didn’t know Cao Bang really well and thought we were booking a hotel close to town. Except it wasn’t as close to town as we’d hoped but that wasn’t a bad thing because it was a great little motel in the end.
We were still able to walk to town (35 min walk), and we had plenty of street food and coffee shops around us too. The owner even helped us with food delivery one night when it was bucketing down.
Total costs for Leg 23 – VND 2,465,000 (~USD 106.00 / ~AUD 152.00)
LEG 24 – Coa Bang to Meo Vac, 190 kms, 6 hours
If we thought the ride to Cao Bang was amazing then this leg had even more fun in store for us! The first part of the morning started off a bit rough with us getting lost. We didn’t realize we were on the actual Ho Chi Minh Trial until we’d done 2 kilometers of it and that took us 15 minutes!
At the time we had no idea of the significance of that road because it looked like nothing but a narrow, bogged dirt road out in the middle of nowhere.
Tell you what though, if it was a dry day with good road and weather conditions on proper dirt bikes, it would have been an epic adventure! Heck, if we didn’t have all our gear on the back, we would’ve just gone for it. Maybe next time.
As it was, we had to back track about 20 kilometers to get on the route we wanted to be on. That in turn added some extra riding time into the day. None of it mattered though because it was one of the best riding days!
We followed the QL3 out of Cao Bang and onto the DT203, which turns into the DT204. At Bao Lac we hopped on the DT217 and back across the river onto the QL34 until we spotted the turn off for QL4C. That’s the half way mark on the eastern side of the Ha Giang Loop.
Our original plan was to do the whole Ha Giang Loop. Adding China to our time in Southeast Asia, meant we had less time in Vietnam and only enough to do the top half of the loop.
The day turned into a bit of rough riding day. Leon dropped his bike three times and we almost got taken out by five water buffaloes on blind a corner. Not to mention hitting a blind 2-meter wide gap in the road from a wash out. Fun and games!
We stopped in at Bao Loc for some coffee and a tasty fried rice lunch which hit the spot and fueled us for the rest of the ride.
The last two hours into Meo Vac was almost magical. We were so high in elevation that the clouds kissed us as they went soaring up the mountain side, shrouding everything in a soft mist. It almost felt like a dream.
The cold! This was the first time we were freezing and knew were in the northern highlands for sure.
Destination – Meo Vac
Meo Vac is this gorgeous little town, tucked away between giant jungle smothered mountain peaks, topped with soft fluffy clouds. Peaceful yet bustling with locals and tourists and it was such a great little stop over spot.
We figured Meo Vac would be a good spot to get the bikes washed and serviced before doing the Ha Giang Loop, as well as stock up on some warmer clothes!
Unfortunately, we didn’t find much in the way of warmer gear that would suit riding. I did end up buying a pair of socks or VND 50,000 (~USD 2.00 / ~AUD 3.00) because laundry was due too!
A small added bonus was being able to enjoy a glass of Spanish red at the hotel next to our accommodation. It was very cozy and the perfect way to finish off a long day of riding.
Accommodation – Mr Hung Hotel
Mr Hung’s was close to most amenities in town. The room was a reasonable size, with a very comfortable bed and a great view of the mountains. The bathroom was decent and had deliciously hot water which was balm to tired bodies.
Total costs for Leg 24 – VND 1,350,000 (~USD 59.00 / ~AUD 84.00)
LEG 25 – Meo Vac to Yen Minh, 70 kms, 3 hours
Surely it couldn’t be another crappy ride day! Why do you ask?
Having to replace your wing mirrors at 7 AM because the bikes went for a tumble, taking us with them, that’s why, LOL!
We we’re still not sure but we suspect Leon’s bike slid on the slippery tiles. Once it got on an angle on it kept going and before I knew it, I was on the pavement with my bike on top of me.
Leon had a cut to his head and I had a dead throttle arm courtesy of cushioning my fall with my right elbow. After checking everything was okay, we discovered the broken wing mirror. As luck would have, we looked up and spotted a parts shop right across the road, how good is that?!
Once we sorted everything, we set of to continue on one of the shortest legs of our motorcycle tour. It may have been small but it packed a visual punch! And then some…
Simply following the DT182 out of Meo Vac and then there is really only one way to go and that is to follow the mountain.
How does one describe the scenery? Breathtaking? Awe inspiring? Humbling? I have no clue but my gob was hanging open the entire time.
We did an epic amount of photo stops and saw countless others do the same. You think you’ve found the most spectacular view and BAM, you get hit by another one around the next bend.
Absolutely sensational! If you’re not sure whether to add it to the road trip itinerary or not, then we can tell you with certainty, do it!!
Regardless of how you travel Vietnam, the Ha Giang loop should be on your Vietnam itinerary, no questions asked.
It has earned the right to be on the list of one of the best motorcycle rides in SEA.
One thing we will say is that it’s a very busy road. You have to contend with heaps of motorcycles, cars, buses and trucks. The bigger vehicles will not hesitate to run you off the road. Everyone else will use whatever part of the road they want. Road awareness in general is completely none existent. You must have your wits about you and stay focused on the road.
We played it safe and pulled over to take photos. At one point watched a freight truck make its way up the hill and towards the bend we were standing next to.
We were a good couple of meters away from the road when this muppet comes along almost knocking Leon and his bike off the bank. All the while yelling at us to get out of the way.
The truck was clearly too big to navigate the tight turns. The verdict is still out on the driver but being HR drivers ourselves we could tell he didn’t know what he was doing.
Leon’s helmet went for a tumble down the hill but it was lucky that the dense vegetation stopped it getting damaged. Yah!
Destination – Yen Minh
This was another small-town bustling with locals and everyday simple life. It didn’t take us long to explore, get a feed and some beers before calling it a night.
At 4:45AM the next morning we didn’t see the fun side of it. One thing we noticed about the northern towns was the crack ass of dawn wake up calls from the town PA system.
First it tells you to do your exercises, then the rambling starts and doesn’t stop, aaaallll day! By 11PM all is quiet and somewhat peaceful before it all kicks off again before dawn.
Thankfully we had some good ‘ol Trung Nguyen 3-in-1 instant coffee sachets. Is there any other way to start the day in Vietnam?
Accommodation – Cao Nguyen Guesthouse
What a fab place to call home for a night. Our room was big enough to almost be an apartment and it had a massive bathroom.
The beds had the thickest and softest blankets we’ve ever seen and we were spoilt with a magnificent view over the mountains.
On the other side was a balcony overlooking the main street where we sat enjoying our beers, watching the world go by. Not a bad way to spend an avo.
Total costs for Leg 25 – VND 510,000 (~USD 22.00 / ~AUD 31.00)
LEG 26 – Yen Minh to Tam Son (Quan Ba), 60 kms, 2 hours
And the view just didn’t stop blowing our minds. We opted for shorter rides in Ha Giang so we didn’t feel rushed to complete it and we’d have plenty of time to take photos. The weather wasn’t the greatest at the time but it was still fantastic!
We had another reason for stopping in Tam Son (or Quan Ba) and that was to visit the Lung Khuy Cave. The cave itself is a neat visit but it’s the way you get there that will blow your more. Go check out our full post on our day trip to this awesome spot.
You guessed it, we just kept following the mountain on QL4C. There are several other roads to veer off the main route so do keep an eye on your but chances are you won’t get it wrong.
Destination – Tam Son (Quan Ba)
The place with two names and we’re not sure why. If you do, please feel free to enlighten us in the comments.
The most vivid memory we have of this place, was the owner of a local eatery that decided to jump out in front of us on the main road.
This isn’t normal behavior and we did take a wide berth around her, one, so we wouldn’t hit her and two, she doesn’t hit us, LOL!
Turns out she was trying to get us to stop for lunch but we had to find a place to stay before it started bucketing down again.
We went back later and discovered that she makes the most delicious banh mi’s, Vietnamese springs rolls and fried rice. Mmmmm, wish I was there right now.
If you’re ever in Tam Son, go support her! The service is great, the food cooked with love and it’s super cheap and delicious. You’ll find her at Hoan Hao.
Accommodation – Khach San 567
This was another one of those hotels where we had a massive room with two comfortable double beds and a massive bathroom with plenty of hot water.
The best part was it had a heat pump!!! It was the first hotel we found that had heat and we were so happy because it was so friggin cold in the mountains, LOL!
It was also one of the best value for money hotels and we wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again.
Total cost for Leg 26 – VND 1,120,000 (~USD 48.00 / ~AUD 70.00)
LEG 27 – Tam Son to Bao Yen, 174 kms, 5 hours
The intention was to ride to Ha Giang town itself and stay the night. When we got there, it was still breakfast time and we decided to keep going. It was still early, it was a nice out and we were enjoying the ride.
We had a bit of a giggle because we stopped at a coffee shop, thinking they sold food (looking at their signage), only to find they didn’t.
While I ordered the coffees, Leon simply leaned through the plants next to him and asked the shop owner next door if he was still making banh mi’s.
The answer was yes and they were delicious! Hot scrambled egg over freshly made pate that was melting into a soft bun. Aaaah, we love banh mi.
We did the last of the Ha Giang loop following QL4C until it branched off onto the QL2. (It turns into the AH14 just past the Phu Tho and Tuyen Quang provinces.)
Somewhere along the way things got ugly and we started regretting the decision to push on.
The road was so badly washed out that we couldn’t even see it! In other parts we were standing up riding through a rock infested lake of mud.
Now imagine sharing all that with freighters, buses and a million other motorcycles.
It turned into a mare of a riding day.
Destination – Bao Yen
This was our second to last overnight stay. Reality was starting to sink in that this motorcycle road trip was coming to the end.
Having not pre-planned this leg, we still had to find accommodation. We pulled up to the first coffee shop we could see for some smoothies and set about accommodation hunting.
While we were amusing the owner with shooting a vlog, a random man appeared out of nowhere, yelling at us and waving his hands to an area across the road.
It took us a few seconds to figure out that he was pointing towards his hotel and trying to get us to stay. Which we did. It was cheap and right across the road, perfect for two shattered riders.
Accommodation – Name unknown
We couldn’t tell you what the name of the place was. I took photos of it and still don’t know.
The women running the place was hilarious and she was the strictest woman we’ve ever come across. She made no bones about bossing the husband and son around. We even got orders.
The room itself was very Vietnamese. As in, this is the kind of establishment few foreigners would pick but locals would happily stay in.
It was basic but the room was huge, albeit the strange layout and décor. In the end it was another unique experience that we’ll never forget.
One thing we can say is that Bao Yen has some delightful bakery goodies on offer. It was some of the best we’d had on this trip.
Total costs for Leg 27 – VND 494,000 (~USD 22.00 / ~AUD 31.00)
LEG 28 – Bao Yen to Sapa, 112 kms, 4 hours
It was another rough start to the day. Sleep was minimal. Between the concrete beds and constant noise from fellow residents we did get much.
The upside was we did manage to hit the road an hour earlier. That meant the road wasn’t as busy as we anticipated and we could get to Sapa faster.
We had another road trip bucket list item to tick. A big one!
We were back to battling Google Maps with the CT05 again. We stuck to the AH14 right up to Lao Cai and then hooked onto the QL4D which took us into Sa Pa.
Not far out of Bao Yen we encountered a freighter that was stuck in a ditch at a very odd angle.
Curious George aka Leon had to stop to investigate. He discovered the driver had simply misjudged the angle of the road and dropped the rear end (with a full 40’ container on the back) into the ditch.
If that wasn’t sobering enough, we came across two more similar incidents within a 10-kilometer distance from the first. All radars were on full alert after that.
Before long, those stunning mountain views were back and it was proving to be distracting but we couldn’t have any of that. Traffic was ridiculous and we had plenty of people using our side of the road when they shouldn’t be. Especially coming around blind corners.
After a couple of close calls and some spectacular Marquez-styled moves we made it to our destination.
Destination – Sapa
I’ll be honest and say it wasn’t what I was expecting but she certainly had a plenty of rugged charm. From what we read about Sapa, we expected another, better Dalat.
It didn’t quite sell me on that theory but it was a pleasant place to visit regardless.
Sapa itself wasn’t the drawing card for us. We were hanging out to go up a Guinness World Record breaking cable car! Why? To ride up to the super star on the mountain, Fanispan! Come find out why we were so excited about this visit.
Accommodation – Sapa Stunning View Hotel
When we arrived at the hotel, we found that the room we booked was not available and that they had one on a higher floor at a higher price.
We encountered this a lot and why we recommend booking but not paying your accommodation up front. Unless of course you know there will be no issues, then you have nothing to worry about. I believe the term is ‘bait and switch’.
I decided to go and have a look at the room and after talking to Leon and confirming we still got the free breakfast, we decided to stay. Normally we walk away but this room had not one, but two bonuses going for it.
The first was the view (cue heart shaped eyes). We had an uninterrupted view of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range it was sensational! On the far-right corner we could just make out the speck which could only be one thing, the Rooftop of Indochina!
Bonus number two was that the floor had only one other room on it no occupants as well as its own balcony area with that majestic mountain range view.
Total costs for Leg 28 – VND 3,166,000 (~USD 135.00 / ~AUD 195.00)
LEG 29 – Sa Pa to Yen Bai, 210 kms, 6 hours
It was time to head to Hanoi on the second to last leg of this motorcycle adventure tour. We were sad to farewell Sa Pa as we felt we could’ve stayed a bit longer and explored a bit more.
But it was time to take on the crazy mountain road again.
After a quick refuel we headed out of Sapa on back onto the QL4D, then back on AH14 to avoid CT05 (the express way).
Half way down we stopped in at a familiar spot and decided to have one last coffee in Bao Yen which was a fun little stop.
We continued on the AH14 until we hit our overnight stop, Yen Bai.
Destination – Yen Bai
At that time, we were getting tired. The northern loop was coming to an end and we could feel the effects of a tight schedule and hectic riding conditions.
We also hit Yen Bai with no pre-arranged accommodation which meant you we had to hunt a bed down. Per the norm, it didn’t take us long to find a suitable hotel that sat just off our chosen route.
An hour later we felt full, hydrated and had the bikes sorted for the last leg of the journey.
Accommodation – Nha Ngi Bich Ngoc
We literally spotted this hotel from the side of the road, popped in to check out a room and see if the bikes would be secure. Everything got a tick.
The room was simple but large with a private bathroom, two double beds and a small table and chairs. The bikes got locked up inside which made it a perfect overnight option.
The owner was super sweet too. Even though she couldn’t speak a word of English we did manage to have a funny conversation through Google Translate.
Total costs for Leg 29 – VND 442,000 (~USD 20.00 / ~AUD 26.00)
FINAL LEG – Yen Bai to Hanoi, 160 kms, 4 hours
The day was finally here and we couldn’t believe how fast it came around. After six months on the road and loving every moment of it (yes even the crappy bits), it was time to ride one last leg.
We started the morning a little different by celebrating with a nice breakfast and one last bac xiu on the road. By the end of breakfast neither of us wanted to get on the bikes because neither of us wanted the adventure to end.
This was going to be another tricky day because we had the ever present CT05 to deal with.
We left Yen Bai on the QL37 and hopped on the QL32C which run parallel to the CT05 for almost the entire trip (the QL32C is more scenic). Round about Bong Lang the QL32C hooks back into the QL32 and that took us straight into the northern outskirts of Hanoi.
Once we hit the city, all we had to do was navigate our way to our Airbnb and that was the end of the ride for the beasts.
Destination – Hanoi
Aaaah the capital of Vietnam can be a bit of a double-edged sword really. We love this city, it’s aesthetics and architecture and vibrant culture.
What we don’t love about her is the air pollution which was such a massive contrast to every other place we visited. Not even Saigon and all her chaos wasn’t that bad.
Still we had an amazing time exploring Hanoi as the final destination in our 10-month adventure around Vietnam.
Accommodation – Airbnb West Lake
We braved another Airbnb booking after experiencing mixed results during our entire visit of Vietnam. Sadly, we had to fight for what we booked again.
It took us 4 hours to sort the issue. Not what you want after four hours of riding when all you want to do is have a shower and a beer with a meal.
Still, we ended up with decent accommodations in an area we’ve never been before, boasting plenty of spots to explore and try out.
Total costs of Leg 30 – VND 15,106,851 (~USD 646.00 / ~AUD 925.00)
(We allowed four weeks in Hanoi to give us enough time to sell the bikes and any other gear we could. It also gave us time to plan the China trip a bit more, which was something we were very much looking forward to.)
We loved this motorcycle tour so much that we would love to and see the rest of Vietnam. We’re sure there is enough of it left for another six month’s of adventure and we wouldn’t be doing the same thing twice.
There is still the part of Vietnam that borders with Laos and Cambodia to explore and we’re sure that is spectacular too.
If you have a question and you couldn’t find the answer here then please don’t hesitate to contact us or hit us up in the comments below.
Did you know we also have a ton of good info on our YouTube channel? Yup we sure do! Head on over to Leon and Tash and check them out!
Thanks for reading, you’re awesome!