Vietnam on a motorbike

Wonderguide by

Þórey Jóna Guðjónsdóttir

Vietnam on a motorbike

We spent two months in Vietnam driving on a Honda Espero Detech motorbike with all our luggage strapped on the sides. We bought the bike in Hanoi and sold it seven weeks later in Ho Chi Minh City for almost the same price. An experience of a lifetime! Here are all the places I recommend visiting :)

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The capital of Vietnam. It has the craziest traffic I have ever seen in my life and some of the greatest street food in the world. My favorite thing to do was to find a place with a view of the street and just sit there and watch all the people, vehicles and food stalls that went by.

Image - Nha Hang Bach Phuong Bún Bò Nam Bộ
Nha Hang Bach Phuong Bún Bò Nam Bộ
Þórey:Bún Bo Nam Bo is my personal favorite out of all the dishes I tried in Vietnam! The place only serves 2 dishes, both are really good.
Image - Phở Gia truyền Bát Đàn
Phở Gia truyền Bát Đàn
Þórey:Always crowded with locals, you are lucky to get a seat.
Image - Bánh Mì 25
Bánh Mì 25
Þórey:Best Bánh Mí sandwiches in Hanoi in my opinion!
Image - Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Þórey:Pretty amazing to see Ho Chi Minh's final resting place. There is often a really long line but it moves fast so I suggest going.
Image - Hanoi Old Quarter - Khu Phố Cổ Hà Nội
Hanoi Old Quarter - Khu Phố Cổ Hà Nội
Þórey:Bustling with life at all hours. Walk through the 36 streets that each one only sells one kind of product each - bamboo, silk, alumnium etc. I could just sit there for days and watch the people, vehicles and food stalls go by.
Image - Hoa Lo Prison Memorial
Hoa Lo Prison Memorial
Þórey:You can go into the real prison chambers and learn about the escape of a few prisoners, worth the visit.
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Northern Vietnam

A list of all the places we stayed at during our trip through Northern Vietnam. The north has two major qualities - incredible views and almost NO tourists. We did not meet an english speaking person for days, in return we got pretty good in ordering food with google translate and talking to locals. Just look for signs that say 'Nhá Nghi' (guesthouse in Vietnamese) and go in and ask if they have a room for you - no need to book in advance.

Image - Mai Châu District
Mai Châu District
Þórey:Really beautiful place, rice paddies everywhere! Recommend to stay at a farmstay in a bungalow! Not that far from Hanoi if you want to get out of the city for a bit of quiet time 😊
Image - Son La
Son La
Þórey:Stayed here one night, did not have the chance to look at anything since it rained the whole time. The road from here to Muong Lay is long but so worth it! You drive through so many tiny little local villages and see every scenery from rice paddies, tea plantations, corn paddies to waterfalls and huge mountains.
Image - Mường Lay
Mường Lay
Þórey:Needed to stay here two nights due to weather, very small town where we did not meet a person who spoke more than a few words in English. Located by a large river with some nice views.
Image - tt. Sa Pa
tt. Sa Pa
Þórey:Touristy. Many people take a night train from Hanoi to here. Recommend doing a homestay with people from the Hmong tribe. Did not like the town itself but it has some great scenery around it.
Image - ETHOS - Spirit of the Community
ETHOS - Spirit of the Community
Þórey:I did a homestay with local people from the Hmong tribe through this company. I really recommend them! They are professional, environment conscious and give a lot back to the local community🤩
Image - Bắc Hà District
Bắc Hà District
Þórey:Stayed here only overnight on our way from Sa Pa to Ha Giang
Image - Ha Giang
Ha Giang
Þórey:Recommend doing the Ha Giang loop on a motorbike, it is extremely beautiful!
Image - Lung Khuy Cave
Lung Khuy Cave
Þórey:A cave on the way from Ha Giang to Yen Minh, recommend visiting!
Image - Tom Homestay
Tom Homestay
Þórey:Stayed in this place in Yenh Minh - met some really great people that we finished the Ha Giang loop with. Great family dinner!
Image - Lung Cu
Lung Cu
Þórey:Northernmost part of Vietnam. Views on the way driving there are AMAZING. Once you get there you can see over to China. 🇨🇳
Image - Mã Pí Lèng Pass
Mã Pí Lèng Pass
Þórey:Last part of the Ha Giang loop and considered to be the best. The views are breathtaking. Make sure to have enough time, you will want to stop every few meters to take photos📸
Image - Ban Gioc Waterfall
Ban Gioc Waterfall
Þórey:On the border to China. Recommend going up to the temple afterwards, has great views.
Image - Cao Bang
Cao Bang
Þórey:Nice to stay here if you are going to the Ban Gioc waterfalls. Around 2 hour drive from here to the waterfalls.

Cat Ba Island

Go here instead of staying in Halong Bay!! Cheaper and you get so much more for your money in all the tours! Kayaking into the sunset, swimming with planktons and doing yoga on the beach while the sun was setting was a few of my favorite things to do on Cat Ba🤩

Image - Hospital Cave
Hospital Cave
Þórey:Abandoned in 1975, used as a hospital in the war. Impressive and cheap entry fee!
Image - Woodstock Beach Camp
Woodstock Beach Camp
Þórey:Did not stay here, only had lunch. Looked interesting and 'Hippy'. Private beach and easy to get to know people. Far away from Cat Ba town so if you want to look around you need a scooter.
Image - Cat Ba Vision
Cat Ba Vision
Þórey:Did a 2 day, 1 night tour with this company and really liked it. Visited Halong Bay, swam with planktons and stayed in a floating house. Make sure to ask if you can swim in the night and see the planktons if they are present - one of the most magical things I have ever done in my life!! ✨
Image - Asia Outdoors
Asia Outdoors
Þórey:Did the sunset yoga with this company. Recommend it! 75 minutes of yoga on a deserted beach with candle lights and no sound except the waves - amazing 🧘‍♂️ They also had a lot of other activites like SUP, rock climbing and more.
Image - Yummy Restaurant
Yummy Restaurant
Þórey:Went here four times in two days. Much cheaper than the places on the main street and really good food. Try the mango & cucumber salad and the tofu 😋
Image - Le Pont Hotel
Le Pont Hotel
Þórey:Cheap and okay hotel. Very helpful staff and we were allowed to keep our luggage and the bike with them while we went for the boat trip for 2 days.

Tam Coc

Often called Halong Bay on land. Great stop on the way from Halong Bay down to Phong Nha. Mua Cave viewpoint is a must if you go here ⛰

Image - Mua Cave Viewpoint
Mua Cave Viewpoint
Þórey:Must see if you go to Tam Coc! Great to go during sunset, the views are amazing!! The cave is nothing special but the viewpoint is amaxing.
Image - Tam Coc Family Hotel
Tam Coc Family Hotel
Þórey:Good breakfast, extremely nice owners. Met some really great people during our stay.
Image - Tràng An
Tràng An
Þórey:Did a sailing tour from this place, it was nice - do a bet on how many wedding photoshoots you'll see, we saw five of them!

Phong Nha

Don't skip this place! Easy Tiger hostel is the place to be, don't miss their 9am info talk (don't need to stay there to go to the talk). A company called Oxalis operates tours to Hang En Cave where you sleep inside the cave - definitely something I'm doing next time (was closed when we were there).

Image - Phong Nha Cave
Phong Nha Cave
Þórey:Used for storing weapons in the war, very impressive.
Image - Easy Tiger Hostel - Jungle Bar
Easy Tiger Hostel - Jungle Bar
Þórey:The place to be! GREAT food, good happy hours (often 3 different happy hours with different drinks, one from 6-7, another from 7-8 and third from 8-9), free info talks, pool, hammocks, a lot of fun people - what more do you need? They have a 9am info talk open for everyone that I recommend going to! And go party there at least one evening, even if you are staying somewhere else! 🍻
Image - The Duck Stop
The Duck Stop
Þórey:Meet Donald Trump - the huge buffalo, give the ducks food and have a delicious Bánh Xeó for lunch.
Image - Wild Boar Eco Farm
Wild Boar Eco Farm
Þórey:A few km away but so worth it if you want to relax. Hammocks, a huge swing, river to swim in and great views. Possible to stay overnight.
Image - Paradise Cave
Paradise Cave
Þórey:42.5 kilometers long and goes all the way to Laos.
Image - Hang En (Swallow Cave)
Hang En (Swallow Cave)
Þórey:It is possible to sleep inside this incredible cave! Unfortunately it was not the season to do it when I was there but I would definitely have gone if it were possible!
Image - Oxalis Adventure Tours Headquarters
Oxalis Adventure Tours Headquarters
Þórey:Check this company if you want to sleep inside Hang En (Swallow Cave).

Hué & Danang

A city full of history, check out the Citadel and the walking street. Recommend driving through Hai Van Pass to get there or if you don't want to drive yourself you can hire a Vietnamese driver to drive you through the pass.

Image - Vinh Moc Tunnels
Vinh Moc Tunnels
Þórey:100 km from Hué. Up to 600 people lived there. 17 children were born in the tunnels. Few tourists, recommend! No need to pay for a guide (we did it and he did not help us at all). Don't forget to watch the documentary before leaving!
Image - Citadel Gate
Citadel Gate
Þórey:Built around 1200, really pretty.
Image - Hải Vân Pass
Hải Vân Pass
Þórey:Appeared in a Top Gear show, many people hire a Vietnamese driver to drive with them on a motorbike over the pass. Great views on the way ✨
Image - The Marble Mountains
The Marble Mountains
Þórey:In Danang which is a city between Hué and Hoi An. We looked at the water mountain, the views at the peak were amazing. Recommend if you are driving through.
Image - Cầu Rồng
Cầu Rồng
Þórey:The Dragon Bridge! Pretty cool - I heard there is a show in the night sometimes so make sure to check that out if you are staying the night in Danang

Hoi An

Very touristy but still a must see place in Vietnam. The place of all places to get a tailored suit. I recommend going early in the morning to the old town to see the place without the crowds, watch the locals prepare for the day and maybe have a bowl of morning Pho at a local restaurant.

Image - Bánh Mì Phượng
Bánh Mì Phượng
Þórey:Best Banh Mi in the world according to Anthony Bourdain! Almost always a line out to the street but it is worth the wait! 🥖
Image - Mr. XE
Mr. XE
Þórey:The place we did our tailoring at. Quality was good and price in the middle range.
Image - Sunflower Hotel
Sunflower Hotel
Þórey:Backpackers party place, more like a hostel. Pay 100k dong (4.5 USD) and drink as much as you can between 8-10 pm. Go there for partying! 🍻
Image - Old House of Tan Ky
Old House of Tan Ky
Þórey:Seven generations have lived in that house (and still do). Really interesting to see how hight the flood did go every year.
Image - Escape IQ Hoi An
Escape IQ Hoi An
Þórey:Cheap compared to escape rooms in western countries and really much fun! Unfortunately we did not get out in time - I challenge you to try!

Quy Nhon & Da Lat

If you are driving on a motorbike then Hoi An to Da Lat is too far in one day. That is the reason we stopped in Quy Nhon, now I recommend to everyone to try out the fantastic hostel on the beach! When you go to Da Lat, buy some delicious strawberries from the street vendors - they are so good!

Image - Life's a Beach Backpackers
Life's a Beach Backpackers
Þórey:A hostel ON the beach in Quy Nhon! Also has private rooms. Great place to meet people and relax for a few days! Recommend!!
Image - Crazy House
Crazy House
Þórey:Has been 27 years in the making - a must see when in Da Lat.
Image - Linh Phuoc Pagoda
Linh Phuoc Pagoda
Þórey:Pagoda made entirely out of mosaic tiles in Da Lat - really impressive. Recommend not skipping this one!
Image - 100 Roof Bar
100 Roof Bar
Þórey:Recommend going for a drink and get lost in the house - a truly unique experience.

Mui Ne

Mui Ne is a beach town with a lot of Russians but I recommend not skipping it. The red and white sand dunes are incredible and the Langson Mui Ne Backpackers Paradise is a great place to meet new people and sleep in a tent ON the beach (must try at least once in a lifetime).

Image - Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel
Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel
Þórey:Great hotel for a cheap price! The same hotel across the street has two big pools which you can use as you want - Jackpot!
Image - Red Sand Dunes 2
Red Sand Dunes 2
Þórey:Go at sunset!
Image - Long Son Mui Ne Exotic Restaurants & Bar
Long Son Mui Ne Exotic Restaurants & Bar
Þórey:Stayed in a tent on the beach at this hostel. Great team building events - pub quiz, movie nights, poker nights, bonfire etc. Has dorms and tents available - recommend if you want to get to know people!
Image - Fishing Harbour - Mui Ne
Fishing Harbour - Mui Ne
Þórey:Go at dawn to see the locals bring in the fish in the coconut boats.
Image - Goa Indian Restaurant
Goa Indian Restaurant
Þórey:If you are tired on the Vietnamese food I recommend this restaurant. Really good Indian food 😋

Ho Chi Minh City

Cu Chi Tunnels is a must when staying here. If you fancy a great cocktail, check out the Sky Lounge. Don't forget to try some local street food and check out the markets.

Image - Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi Tunnels
Þórey:Must visit when in Ho Chi Minh! The story is amazing and I dare you to go into the tunnels.
Image - Cu Chi Shooting
Cu Chi Shooting
Þórey:Located in the same area as the Cu Chi tunnels. Possible to shoot from all kinds of guns, including M16 and AK47.
Image - War Remnants Museum
War Remnants Museum
Þórey:Huge museum - you could easily spend a whole day there. I really liked it.
Image - Air 360 Sky Lounge
Air 360 Sky Lounge
Þórey:360 degree view over the city. Great place for cocktails if you want to splurge a little (it's worth it)
Image - Chợ Bến Thành
Chợ Bến Thành
Þórey:Market with all kinds of stuff. Locals are very aggressive trying to sell you stuff
Image - Blind massage institute
Blind massage institute
Þórey:Very interesting experience - not the best massage though (so don't go there for the massage)

Wonderguide map

  1. Nha Hang Bach Phuong Bún Bò Nam Bộ
  2. Phở Gia truyền Bát Đàn
  3. Bánh Mì 25
  4. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
  5. Hanoi Old Quarter - Khu Phố Cổ Hà Nội
  6. Hoa Lo Prison Memorial
  7. Mai Châu District
  8. Son La
  9. Mường Lay
  10. tt. Sa Pa
  11. ETHOS - Spirit of the Community
  12. Bắc Hà District
  13. Ha Giang
  14. Lung Khuy Cave
  15. Tom Homestay
  16. Lung Cu
  17. Mã Pí Lèng Pass
  18. Ban Gioc Waterfall
  19. Cao Bang
  20. Hospital Cave
  21. Woodstock Beach Camp
  22. Cat Ba Vision
  23. Asia Outdoors
  24. Yummy Restaurant
  25. Le Pont Hotel
  26. Mua Cave Viewpoint
  27. Tam Coc Family Hotel
  28. Tràng An
  29. Phong Nha Cave
  30. Easy Tiger Hostel - Jungle Bar
  31. The Duck Stop
  32. Wild Boar Eco Farm
  33. Paradise Cave
  34. Hang En (Swallow Cave)
  35. Oxalis Adventure Tours Headquarters
  36. Vinh Moc Tunnels
  37. Citadel Gate
  38. Hải Vân Pass
  39. The Marble Mountains
  40. Cầu Rồng
  41. Bánh Mì Phượng
  42. Mr. XE
  43. Sunflower Hotel
  44. Old House of Tan Ky
  45. Escape IQ Hoi An
  46. Life's a Beach Backpackers
  47. Crazy House
  48. Linh Phuoc Pagoda
  49. 100 Roof Bar
  50. Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel
  51. Red Sand Dunes 2
  52. Long Son Mui Ne Exotic Restaurants & Bar
  53. Fishing Harbour - Mui Ne
  54. Goa Indian Restaurant
  55. Cu Chi Tunnels
  56. Cu Chi Shooting
  57. War Remnants Museum
  58. Air 360 Sky Lounge
  59. Chợ Bến Thành
  60. Blind massage institute

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