Riding in Vietnam on a motorbike is a real thrill-seeking experience. Obviously, it’s not for everyone. But once you are an adventurer, it’s time to sort out the best motorcycle routes to feed your adventurous soul. In this article, we have selected the 10 most mesmerizing riding routes in Vietnam to get you deeply inspired.
I. The Most Breathtaking Riding Routes in Northern Vietnam
We must admit that Northern Vietnam is the coolest region for riding motorcycles. If you have a big passion for the breezy and free trip on a two-wheel scooter, do not forget this land! The North of Vietnam comes out as a mountainous land with plenty of hills and passes. As the region sits on the highest terrain in the country, riding in the North is only for the real thrillers.
In this part, we selected the four most incredible riding routes from the East to the West. Some of them are the all-time favorite routes. Meanwhile, the other two are more of the lesser-known gems.
1. Ma Pi Leng Pass
Ma Pi Leng Pass is located close to Vietnam’s northern remote border with China. It is arguably the country’s best bet when it comes to spectacular roads. Earning the moniker “Road of Happiness”, this stretch of road connecting the market towns of Dong Van and Meo Vac offers jaw-dropping views of the treeless valleys with the Nho Que River down below.
The pass is looping to itself with winding roads through the multifaceted limestone landscape. With the great views come the great risks, especially with the narrow roads that are potentially dangerous.
So despite having the urge to zip through, we advise you to take your time and absorb as much of the scenery when cruising along this route. Thanks to such a thrilling experience, Ha Giang has been attracting a lot of motorists lately. And that’s to be expected because no expedition in Northern Vietnam would be complete without it.
2. Cao Bang to Ban Gioc Waterfall
The Provincial Road DT206 from Cao Bang City to Ban Gioc Waterfall is yet another splendid road along the Chinese border. Traversing down this road wasn’t as accessible today as it is before, but due to the improvements over the years, it has allowed bikers to reach the ever majestic Ban Gioc Fall more easily.
The increase of mercantile exchange between the borders has led to a number of container trucks frequenting these roads. But don’t let that stop you from experiencing breath-taking views especially as you go through Ma Phuc Pass. It offers thrill-seekers an unforgettable ride with plenty of Instagram-worthy photography opportunities.
3. O Quy Ho Pass
The 50 kilometer length (31 miles) of road stretching from Lai Chau to Sapa makes the longest mountain pass in Vietnam. The pass O Quy Ho stems out from the National Highway 4D. It runs along the mountain range of Hoang Lien Son. Despite not being the tallest, it still commands a respectable height of 1999 meters (6560 feet) at its peak which is called “Heaven’s Gate”.
Sharing dangerous vibes as most of its neighboring panoramic giants such as the Fansipan and Himalayan mountains, O Quy Ho is famously known for its hairpin turns just inches away from the hauntingly beautiful and equally dangerous waterfalls.
4. Son La to Dien Bien Phu
Asian Highway 13 (AH13 for short) is the combination of National Highways QL6 and QL279 that serves as a gateway to Vietnam’s far most northwestern regions. The long and twisting highway goes through several mountain passes and winding valley roads.
Thankfully traveling through this road has been considered safer due to the improvements over the past couple of years. Miles of smooth asphalt awaits the four-hour journey from Son La to Dien Bien Phu, with light to almost non-existent traffic along the long stretch of road.
Halfway through you’ll be passing Pha Din Pass. This landmark played a vital role in 1954 which ultimately contributed to the victory against the French forces. At the Western end of the highway you will see Muong Thanh Valley, which used to be a rugged landscape where sieges took place. Now it’s one of the country’s tourist hotspots filled with vast rice terraces.
5. Me Pja Pass
Located in the National Road 4A which connects Xuan Truong commune and Bao Lac township of Cao Bang province, Ma Pja pass is one of the most challenging roads to ride in Vietnam despite only 2.5km in length. The pass has 14 curves and runs down from the top to the bottom of the steep hill. If you look from far, the pass looks like a beautiful ferret but hides a lot of potential danger. However, more and more motorbike riders now regard this pass as one of the life-time challenges that they must conquer.
6. Khau Pha Pass
One of the most scenic passes in Vietnam, Khau Pha is a highlight in Yen Bai province. People refer to Khau Pha as a home to its natural scenery, unique terrain and history. The pass is listed in this collection not only because of its mesmerizing landscape, but also the cultural heritage hidden along the way.
Marked as Highway 32 administratively, Khau Pha reaches over 30 kilometers. The pass comes across plenty of famous destinations in Northern Vietnam such as Tu Le, Che Cu Nha, and Nam Co in Mu Cang Chai. Sitting 1200 meters above sea level, the climate in Khau Pha inherits a cool and breezy weather with layers of clouds hanging above. Riding along this thrilling route is when you are crossing the roaming wind on the rugged road. However, the pristine jungles and picturesque terraced fields are such rewarding scenery that you cannot resist.
II. The Most Breathtaking Motorbike Routes in Central and South Central Vietnam
With plenty of Vietnam’s riding routes close to the coastline, the South Central region boasts expansive aerial views over turquoise waters. These magnificent views appear beautifully by the massive mountains opposite to the shore. However, that’s not all this place has to offer, several routes will take travelers through national parks filled with tropical trees and even war vestiges that give a glimpse to the past. Take whichever route sounds more suitable and discover the unique appeal that each road has to offer.
7. Khe Sanh to Phong Nha
With more than half a decade since its inception, the highway connecting the town of Khe Sanh and Phong Nha National Park has been and remained faithfully exhilarating as it was back then. The road offers plenty of opportunities to snap photos and countless off the beaten tracks that will surely pique your interest. Scenic landscapes, turquoise lakes beckoning for a quick dip, and friendly locals that are interestingly curious are what inspire you. This is really an adventure that screams the authentic and untouched beauty of Vietnam.
The route is also a part of the legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail appearing for the first time in the middle of the Vietnam War during the early 1960s. Its original purpose was to provide support in transferring manpower and materials to the Vietnamese army. Parts of the trail had existed for years through the jungles of the famous Truong Son mountain range. They connect villages and were eventually expanded to use for transportation.
It was later reconstructed during the year 2000, sealing off branching paths in the Western part of the mountains. The remaining motorbike paths still offer plenty of amazing views through a safe and well-maintained road. Any tourist taking guided motobike tours in Vietnam through these parts will appreciate the sense of adventure and discovery of the roads that paved the way to victory.
8. Nam Cat Tien to Dalat
The road from Nam Cat Tien to Dalat is an inter-forest crossing road. While Nam Cat Tien still belongs to the South of Vietnam geography-wise, Dalat is in the Central Highlands. This means you will witness a significant change in biodiversity and terrain.
This route is marked as DT725 by the government. The glorious landscape surrounds this stunning road all year round. This brings an irresistible charm for this riding route.
Starting off with a low-level terrain with rivers, you will then see the appearance of mid-level tree species and end up entering the pine trees of the highlands. Despite the bushy scenery, the ride is pleasant and safe without any risky moves at the twists or turns. All in all, the route from Nam Cat Tien to Dalat is thrilling enough to spice up your trip. Yet it’s also an easy and serene ride especially for couples.
9. Quy Nhon to Nha Trang
Either Quy Nhon or Nha Trang is a must-visit coastal destination on your bucket list. While Nha Trang is way more famous that everyone has heard of it at least once in their life, Quy Nhon is still a lesser-known city that will surely take your breath away.
If so, why not take the ride of your life all the way from Quy Nhon to Nha Trang by a motorcycle? This scenic coastline is an enjoyable and breezy road in Vietnam. It has less traffic than the National Highway. Stretching over 200 kilometers in length, the route is sandwiched between the peak mountains and the vast blue sea. Every single point along the road is worth taking a short break for some photography time. Not only will you cross the deserted beaches but you will also visit the traditional fishing villages. These places have been the kingdom of fish sauce makers for ages. Their traditional fish sauce brands have been accompanying the tables of the Vietnamese for ages and still counting.
One of the most magnificent stopovers is Sa Huynh beach. It is in the middle of the ride, where you can have an authentic lunch to freshen up. Sa Huynh is also a quiet beach town where you can go for a swim on a humid day.
10. Hai Van Pass
The Hai Van Pass is always one of the travelers’ favorite riding routes in Vietnam. Hai Van is the most talked-about passes in the country connecting Hue and Danang. The name Hai Van literally means the “Ocean Cloud Pass”. Now with the name, you can easily picture a scenic image in your mind when riding along this route. Traveling up its curving roads leads you to the mountains of the greenish woods. Meanwhile, the vast ocean is left behind with layers of clouds hanging out in the high blue sky.
Thanks to such mesmerizing landscape, the Hai Van Pass was featured with honor in the class Top gear series with Jeremy Clarkson. He referred to the route as “the deserted ribbon of perfection, and one of the best coastal roads in the world.”
The entire pass of Hai Van reaches 13 miles in length. You don’t have to be an expert rider to conquer this route. You can be a passionate traveler and find this pass a once-in-a-lifetime memory just by riding along it.
One thing you need to note down is the weather when it comes to riding along the pass. The best time to visit Hai Van is during the sunny months without rain. It is in between April and July. This period of time provides a smooth and dry road for riders. It also ensures safety which is the top priority when traveling to the Hai Van pass. This is also a great time for visitors to relax and mesmerize at the Lang Co Lagoon. Feel free to take a short break for the swim.
Rest your worries about trucks and containers. Now, they have put a tunnel into operation at the foot of the pass since 2005. All large vehicles from then on can travel along the tunnel instead of crossing the pass. It leaves behind a spacious and safe route for solo riders to admire the scene ambiance.
11. Ca Na to Ninh Chu
Ending the list of the top 10 most incredible riding routes in Vietnam is the coastal trail running from Ca Na to Ninh Chu. Ca Na is a traditional fishing village in the South Central Coast of Vietnam. Both of the cities belong to the province of Ninh Thuan. People highly praise this route thanks to the spectacular rocky headland.
This is one of the latest names on the bucket list of professional riders. They love the sheer cliff-face that has been taking the internet by storm. The breathtaking seascape rewards you with the half-deserted road soaring against the deep blue sea of the East sea. Al the waves rush to smash the foot of the giant boulder hundreds of feet underneath the airstrip.
If you have been to the South of Spain before, this magnificent scene is the reminiscent in Vietnam. It’s not only fabulous but it’s also a powerful scene with the rocky promontory. These gigantic rocks have obtained an arid wilderness. However, these massive rocks have gradually slipped away from the mountains due to the road construction. They take away these rocks as the materials for the renovation. Yet, all in all, it’s still a smooth and safe route for riders of all levels and one of the best riding routes in Vietnam.
With these 10 most incredible riding routes in Vietnam, you can easily plan a motorbike trip to both North and South of Vietnam. You can kick start from either the North or the South, then prolong your trip to up or downside along the coastline or forest way of Vietnam. No matter which route you choose, you will never be disappointed! Just make sure you’ve got all the gears ready for a well-prepared trip!