Vietnam

The Northwest impressed me with the most majestic mountainous scenery. We went through five provinces located in the Northwest region during five days this year. We passed over 1000 km by experiencing Vietnam by motorbike, went for trekking to A Pa Chai – the West pole, had a view of terraced rice fields in Mu Cang Chai and Sapa in fog and conquered three of “Four great passes” in the North.

All of our Northwest Traveling Schedule, Experience and Expense in August are shared in this post. I hope that they will be useful for travelers who desire to drive on challenging and majestic mountain roads.

Preparation

Roadmap 

Google map is the best choice. It’s necessary to save topographic maps, offline maps and mark some destinations on road.

Budget

Our estimated expense would be around 2,000,000 – 2,500,000 VND/person. We separated cash, ATM cards and kept in different things like backpacks or brought along with us. (Detailed budget included at the end of this article). 

Identification

ID, Passport and driving license were put in different things. These are significant for the flight back, motorbike or hotel rent, etc.

Gear

  •  3/4 or full-face helmet was compulsory for the safety. Armor protection also needed.
  • A raincoat set per traveler, raincoat for backpack
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Ties to fasten backpack and sleeping bag
  • Technology devices and backup battery and members’ phone numbers as well.
  • Snacks and dry food.
  • Drinking water and gasoline reserves

Flights

All four of us were from Ho Chi Minh city, so we decided to fly to Noi Bai airport at night and return Ho Chi Minh city in the early morning after five days wandering through the Northwest.

Vietnam has three major flag carriers. The price is fairly cheap at Traveloka VietNam Consider VietJet Air  and Vietnam Airlines

Schedule

Total distance is approximately 1041 km.

Day 0: Sai Gon – Hanoi

Sapa in a shining day (on the far side, Hoang Lien Son range and Fansipan summit appeared)

Sapa in a shining day (on the far side, Hoang Lien Son range and Fansipan summit appeared)

Day 1: Sapa – O Quy Ho pass – Muong Te – Pac Ma (242 km). Maps did not show a road segment in day 2. From Muong Te, the route should have been Muong Te – Pac Ma – Chung Chai – A Pa Chai, but Muong Te – Muong Nhe – A Pa Chai as in the map).

Silver Fall

Silver Fall

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A vantage point on the AH1 between Quang Ngai and Qui Nhon. This is just before my helmet got stolen (I’m also the idiot that left it sitting on my bike when I trotted off to get this pic).

A vantage point on the AH1 between Quang Ngai and Qui Nhon. This is just before my helmet got stolen (I’m also the idiot that left it sitting on my bike when I trotted off to get this pic).

A Word of Advice to Motorcycle Vietnam

Speeding along the well-paved roads of Vietnam is not the safest activity. Make sure to take the proper motorcycle safety precautions (full-face helmet, jacket with padding, motorcycle boots, and some form of GPS), and you’ll set yourself up for the ride of a lifetime!

Keep on reading for a few tips for the first-time traveler to Vietnam, including a bit of info for the first-time motorcycle rider.

Getting Your Motorbike

Those of you planning on buying or renting a motorcycle can do so easily in any major city. Start in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and inquire at the hostel you are staying at (they’ll have a hook up). You can expect to spend about 250 USD. Make sure the shop does a full service on the bike and that you are fully kitted out before leaving.

If you are buying your bike off another tourist, take it to a shop with them (there’s never an auto-repair shop far off) and have them cover any additional expenses incurred for a basic tune-up.

If you’re an absolute novice like I was, get a Honda Win. It’s the most widely repaired bike in Vietnam, which means when you (inevitably) break down, someone will be there to help you.

Be safe while riding – invest in some motorcycle safety gear

Motorcycle safety gear in Vietnam is not the best. The standard for most folks here is flip-flops, t-shirts, and shorts…along with a flimsy helmet that somewhat resembles a children’s toy.

That said, it isn’t a bad idea to do your own research and bring the proper gear from home if possible. A full-face helmet, jacket with padding, motorcycle gloves, and motorcycle boots may be pricey back home and take up a lot of space in your pack, but the quality will be much better than anything you can get once you’ve landed in Vietnam.

Generally a smartphone with GPS capabilities will suffice for riding around Vietnam if you are planning on sticking to the main highway, which is incredibly well paved and well marked. But, for those of you who are planning to ride unbeaten paths, consider investing in a proper GPS instrument to make sure you don’t get lost in the middle of a Vietnamese forest.

Click to Read More Tips!

I couldn’t wait for my trip to Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand—I’d been planning it for the better part of a year and psyched myself up by reading books and watching films set in the region. As a student of US History, I certainly appreciated the region’s incredibly diverse culture, and as a devout foodie, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into some good, hearty Vietnamese pho. So you can imagine the buzzkill I felt when I told people that I’d be going it alone, only to hear, “Why ever would you travel through South East Asia alone?”

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