Vietnam by Motorcycle: An Exhilarating Guide to the Country’s Best Scenic Routes

Vietnam by Motorcycle: An Exhilarating Guide to the Country’s Best Scenic Routes

Vietnam, with its diverse landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, is a dream destination for many travelers. One of the most exhilarating ways to explore this beautiful country is by motorcycle. Riding through Vietnam offers an unmatched sense of freedom and adventure, allowing you to connect deeply with the land and its people. This guide explores some of the best scenic routes in Vietnam and provides useful tips for your bike journey.

The Allure of Vietnam’s Scenic Routes

The Ha Giang Loop

Located in the northernmost province, the Ha Giang Loop is a breathtaking route renowned for its dramatic landscapes and ethnic diversity. The loop stretches over 300 kilometers and offers a mix of rugged mountains, terraced rice fields, and deep valleys. Highlights include the majestic Ma Pi Leng Pass, the picturesque town of Dong Van, and the vibrant Meo Vac market. This route is ideal for those seeking solitude and a closer look at Vietnam’s ethnic minority cultures.

The Ho Chi Minh Road

The Ho Chi Minh Road is a historic route that spans the length of Vietnam from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Originally used during the Vietnam War, it is now a well-paved road that passes through some of the country’s most scenic areas. The central section, from Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park to Khe Sanh, is particularly stunning. Riders can explore the Phong Nha caves, the historic battle site of Khe Sanh, and the lush landscapes of the Truong Son Mountains.

The Hai Van Pass

Made famous by the BBC’s Top Gear, the Hai Van Pass is a must-ride route for any motorcyclist in Vietnam. This 21-kilometer stretch of road winds its way between Da Nang and Hue, offering jaw-dropping views of the coastline and the South China Sea. With its sharp curves and steep climbs, the Hai Van Pass is both challenging and thrilling. Be sure to stop at the summit to take in the panoramic views and the remnants of French and American bunkers.

The Mekong Delta

For a completely different experience, head south to the Mekong Delta. This region is characterized by its intricate network of rivers, swamps, and islands. Riding through the Mekong Delta offers a tranquil journey through verdant landscapes, bustling floating markets, and quaint villages. Key stops include the town of Can Tho, famous for its floating markets, and the island of An Binh, known for its fruit orchards and homestays.

Practical Tips for Motorcycle Travel in Vietnam

Choosing the Right Motorcycle

Selecting the right motorcycle is essential for a safe and enjoyable trip. Popular choices among travelers include the Honda Win and the Yamaha Exciter. Both are reliable and widely available for rent or purchase. Ensure the bike is in good condition, and consider renting or buying from reputable shops in cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

Safety First

Safety should always be a top priority. Always wear a helmet, and consider additional protective gear such as gloves, a jacket, and sturdy footwear. Vietnamese roads can be unpredictable, with varying traffic conditions and road quality. Stay alert, follow local traffic rules, and avoid riding at night whenever possible.


While modern technology makes navigation easier, having a physical map as a backup is advisable. Google Maps is widely used, but offline maps like can be incredibly useful in remote areas without internet access. Familiarize yourself with key Vietnamese phrases related to directions and road signs.


Vietnam offers a range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. In rural areas, consider staying in homestays for a more authentic experience. Booking platforms like Agoda and are useful for finding and reserving accommodations in advance.

Local Cuisine

One of the joys of traveling by motorcycle is sampling local cuisine along the way. Vietnamese food is renowned for its freshness and flavor. Try regional specialties such as pho in Hanoi, banh xeo (savory pancakes) in the central region, and fresh seafood in coastal towns. Street food stalls and local eateries offer some of the best culinary experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Do I need a motorcycle license to ride in Vietnam?

Yes, you need a valid motorcycle license to ride legally in Vietnam. An International Driving Permit (IDP) with a motorcycle endorsement is recommended. Ensure your home country’s license is also valid for motorcycle riding.

2. Is it safe to travel by motorcycle in Vietnam?

Traveling by motorcycle in Vietnam is generally safe if you exercise caution and follow traffic rules. Wear protective gear, stay alert, and be mindful of road conditions. Avoid riding at night and in adverse weather conditions.

3. What is the best time of year to travel by motorcycle in Vietnam?

The best time to travel varies by region. In the north, the months of September to November and March to May offer mild weather. The central region is best visited from February to August. The south has a tropical climate and can be traveled year-round, though the dry season from December to April is preferable.

4. Can I rent or buy a motorcycle in Vietnam?

Yes, you can both rent and buy motorcycles in Vietnam. Rental shops are plentiful in major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. If you plan a long-term trip, buying a motorcycle may be more cost-effective. Ensure the bike is in good condition and verify the paperwork.

5. What should I pack for a motorcycle trip in Vietnam?

Pack light but include essentials such as a helmet, protective clothing, a first aid kit, a rain poncho, a toolkit, and a phone mount. Don’t forget personal items like sunscreen, insect repellent, and a reusable water bottle.

6. Are repair services available in remote areas?

While major cities have well-equipped repair shops, rural areas may have limited services. Basic repair skills and carrying a toolkit can be helpful. In emergencies, local mechanics (thợ sửa xe) can usually assist with common issues.

7. How do I handle police and checkpoints?

Carry your passport, motorcycle license, and bike registration at all times. Be polite and cooperative if stopped by the police. Understanding basic Vietnamese phrases can help in communication.

Traveling Vietnam by motorcycle is an adventure of a lifetime. With stunning scenery, welcoming locals, and a rich tapestry of cultures, the country offers an unforgettable experience for any rider. Prepare well, stay safe, and embrace the journey. Happy riding!

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