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Motorcycling Vietnam

By John Hutchinson

There are many ways to make Vietnam holidays extra-exciting. One of the brilliant things about Vietnam is the enormous number of motorbikes on the road and how easily available they are to visitors. The British television series Top Gear even dedicated a special episode to this way of seeing the country.

Photo Credit: World Bank Photo Collection

Top Gear Visits Vietnam

Top Gear usually focuses on cars, but when the three presenters arrived in Vietnam with only £600 to buy vehicles, they decided that motorbikes would be their best bet. They were given the challenge of travelling 1000 miles (1609km) from Ho Chi Minh City to Ha Long City, just north of Hanoi, in eight days.

They drove from Ho Chi Minh to the mountain town of Da Lat, then on to Nha Trang, before passing through Tuy Hòa, Qui Nhơn, Quảng Ngãi, and Tam Kỳ, and finally stopping in Hội An. After Hội An they went on to to Huế and along the Hải Vân Mountain Pass, which Jeremy Clarkson deemed to be one of the best coastal roads in the world.

They entered North Vietnam through Đông Hà and then, due to time restraints, cheated by boarding an overnight train to Hạ Long, a 13-hour ride that enabled them to skip Vinh, Thanh Hóa and Nam Định. Stupidly, they ended up getting off at Hanoi by mistake and had to ride on to Hạ Long.

Photo Credit: das farbamt

Tips for Motorcycling in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City to both Hanoi and Hạ Long Bay are well-travelled and enjoyable routes.  It takes most people a little bit of extra time to get to Hạ Long Bay, but the reward of boat trips around the limestone islands is well worth it.

Key places to visit along the way include Hội An and Huế and, of course, the Hải Vân Mountain Pass should not be missed.

Hội An is beautiful, sitting on a river and decorated with locally-made paper lanterns. It has a mixture of old Japanese and French colonial architecture and is very colourful. Hội An is known for its tailors, who create garments quickly and cheaply. They can even make biking outfits and gloves.

In Huế, if you have time, you can take a boat up the Perfume River and stop at the Pagodas along the way.

Photo Credit: pixelhut

About the Author

John Hutchinson has enjoyed travelling since he was a young boy when his parents first took him to visit family overseas. Since leaving home, John has tracked down family all over the world and regularly jets off to faraway lands to see distant relatives.

Lead photo credit: lcrf

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One Response to Motorcycling Vietnam

  1. Josh Aggars September 30, 2011 at 5:11 am #

    I enjoyed that episode although can’t stand Clarkson but hey ho. They did a pretty good job at least of showing that route enough to convince me to add it to my list as last time I was there I mostly bussed and trained my journeys north and south.

    When were you last there John? I’ve not been for 6 years so imagine things are changing fairly fast given the economic development.

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