The Best Roads to Drive in Vietnam
Vietnam is blessed with spectacular scenery that will delight and inspire you all the way from north to south! And the best way to experience these incredible views is from the back of a motorbike. Unrestricted by tour guides and timetables, these trips are sure to get you feeling as free as a bird in no time!
Ha Giang Loop
Start – Ha Giang; End – Ha Giang; Distance – approx 350km/218 miles
A quick Google search tells you that the Ha Giang Loop is not only a very popular road trip for visitors to Vietnam, but it is also a very flexible trip. You’ll see itineraries detailing trips that last anything from 3 to 5 days but the basic premise is the same for all of them. Stunning, stunning scenery!
The Ha Giang loop winds its way through mountains and ravines, with rivers and waterfalls providing plenty of opportunity for capturing fabulous photos as you make your way around the loop. The road passes through at least 10 different ethnic minority communities and there are plenty of options for exploring the area that allow you to get off the bike for a little while. Trekking, boating and caving and all available to enjoy as is a peaceful boat trip with a spot of swimming on the river.
This spectacular road trip is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, as the road can be tricky to navigate for inexperienced riders. Plus, you’ll want plenty of time to stop off and marvel at some of Vietnam;s most dramatic scenery.
Cao Bang to Ban Gioc
Start – Cao Bang; End – Ban Gioc; Distance – approx 80km/50 miles
A popular add-on to the Ha Giang Loop, this drive takes adventurous types as far north as they can go in Vietnam without crossing into China. As such, most of the landscape remains relatively untouched, so if you are willing to put the effort in to reach Cao Bang, you will be rewarded with vistas featuring lush farmlands, stilt villages and crystal clear lakes as you wind your way through this mountainous province.
Many road-trippers schedule a stop-off at the vast Nguom Ngao Cave, a remote network of caves that extends for several kilometres underground and is recognised as a site of national significance. However, the star of the show for most visitors is the impressive Ban Gioc Waterfalls, one of the largest cross-border waterfalls in the world. Located partly in China and partly in Vietnam, the falls’ 30 metre high cascades are yet another breathtaking attraction in the Cao Bang region.
However, as this is a guide for road-trippers we really suggest that the highlight of this drive is the wonderfully winding Ma Phuc Pass. For 3.5 kilometers the road twists and turns through areas of outstanding natural beauty. Possibly as a result of the distracting scenery, the pass is often considered ‘unsuitable’ for inexperienced drivers. However, taking your time and trying not to get too distracted should see you through this incredible experience or motorbikes guides are often available.
Hai Van Pass
Start – Danang; End – Lang Co Beach; Distance – approx 20km/12 miles
Brought to the attention of many British visitors by a Top Gear TC special, the Hai Van pass is a relatively short and manageable ride, even for those without much experience. Since the Hai Van tunnel was completed in 2005, navigating the hairpin turns and blind corners of the pass has become significantly easier as most traffic takes the less interesting but more direct route to Hue.
Bordered by jungle-clad mountains on one side and cliffs plunging down to the East Sea on the other, Hai Van certainly provides a dramatic backdrop to your road trip. Watch out for quickly descending clouds that make visibility a problem and can freeze you to your bike if you didn’t think to bring a coat when the sun was shining.
If 20 kilometers doesn’t quite satisfy your road trip needs, consider driving onto the former imperial city of Hue, where the pace of life is leisurely and the beautiful ancient city provides plenty of sightseeing opportunities
Dalat to Nha Trang
Start – Dalat; End – Nha Trang; Distance – approx 134km/83 miles
Another quick and simple road trip, easily managed by riders of all standards. Starting off in the crisp, cool climate of Dalat, you’ll end your trip a few hours later, basking in the sunshine on Nha Trang’s long stretch of golden sand.
As you start your drive away from the highland stations of Dalat, enjoy the misty morning and the scent of pine trees that hangs in the air. Take in the sights of the world famous flower farms and coffee plantations, maybe even stop for a cup at a roadside pull in before continuing to wind your way down the mountain.
As the temperature and humidity start to increase again, enjoy views of the coast and the bright blue waters of the ocean, guiding you gently into Nha Trang where crisp, cool, liquid refreshment awaits to congratulate you on completing your trip.
Ho Chi Minh City to My Tho
Start – Ho Chi Minh City; End – My Tho; Distance – approx 70km/44 miles
Ask most people about driving in Ho Chi Minh City and you’ll be greeted with a barrage of complaints about dangerous drivers, congestion, pollution and all many of other off putting things, However, once you get away from the eternal traffic jam of Vietnam’s largest city, the concrete jungle gives way to the majestic palms and lush banana trees of the Mekong delta.
In stark contrast to Ho Chi Minh City, the narrow riverside roads of the Mekong provide a leisurely, peaceful environment to explore. Here the pace of life is significantly slower than life in the sprawling metropolis and you’ll feel like you’ve travelled much further than 70kms as flower markets, floating markets and steaming bowls of Hu Tieu are the order of the day in My Tho.
We hope that this list of road trips has inspired you to explore vibrant Vietnam. However, you should always remember that roads in Vietnam are unlike anywhere else in the world. Drivers can be anything from unpredictable to downright dangerous, so make sure that you take the correct precautions and drive only when you feel it is safe!