How to navigate Vietnam by motorbike

         Driving through Vietnam on a motorbike will be an adventure you won’t soon forget. To keep that adventure more about the fun and less about the frustration, we put together a helpful guide, so you navigate Vietnam easier and focus on the fun.

         Below you’ll find tips on everything from the best maps to get you around the countryside roads and trails. No matter if you prefer paper, have internet on your phone or need to use maps offline exclusively. To the best way to find a hotel (Nha Nghi) when it seems like those maps took you into the middle of nowhere. Right through to how to order meals like Pho Bo (beef noodles) and avoid things like Hột Vịt Lộn (duck fetus) so that most surprises are ones you’re looking to have. Here’s a look at how to navigate Vietnam by motorbike.

Table of Contents

(click on each image to read more)

Getting A Phone With A Sim Card

Travel Distances In Vietnam

Choosing A Route. Motorcycle Trip Vietnam.

Cell Phone Holders & USB Chargers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vietnam Weather. Best Time To Visit

Navigating Vietnam. What Maps To Use

Vietnam Road Terminology Explained

Navigating Vietnam. How To With Google Maps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Navigating Vietnam. How To With Maps.me

Vietnam Hotels. Best Websites For Booking.

Remote Hotels. How To Find Them

Hotels in Vietnam

Vietnam Hotels Explained

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safe Food Vietnam. What To Eat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buying a sim card in Vietnam

    You never know how much you miss something until it’s gone. This old saying could not be more accurate in the modern digital age. At home, you are quite used to pulling out your mobile phone to confirm the answers to any questions you may have or find information about what you are interested in doing. The Vietnamese are no different, and here in Vietnam, you’ll probably rely on your mobile phone to answer a long list of questions you’ll have.

    Unlike where you are living, the cost of internet coverage in Vietnam is unbelievably cheap. You can pick up a data sim card for around 70,000vnd, or about $3usd. Once you have the card, unlimited 3g internet only costs about 80,000vnd, or $4usd, for a month! Having internet access to use things like google maps will be incredibly helpful for your drive through Vietnam. Picking up a tourist sim cards is a simple process that you can usually take care of in under an hour.

    First off you’ll need an unlocked phone, this will usually be easier to bring with you as getting it unlocked in Vietnam might require your language skills to be better than the average Vietnam traveler. Next, look for one of the popular mobile phone shops called “The Gioi Di Dong.” These shops are easy to search out on google maps, type in “The Gioi Di Dong + city name.” For example; “The Gioi Di Dong Ho Chi Minh,” and you’ll have a list of locations pop-up. At the shop purchase the sim card, then get a $10usd top up card. Next, ask the assistant to activate the 80,000vnd unlimited internet plan. Having the $10usd sim card will allow you the internet package covered, as well as some money left on the phone plan for calls.

    The Gioi Di Dong shops are easy to spot; they are yellow and usually have loud music blasting out of them. Once you’re inside the shop, most of the employees can speak some basic English to help you out. Also, if you are in Ho Chi Minh City, the store around the backpacker street of Bui Vien Street is very familiar with setting sim cards for foreigners.   

    Travel tips for what to do:

  • Bring an unlocked mobile phone.
  • Find the closest The Gioi Di Dong mobile phone shop.
  • Buy a sim card for around 70,000vnd.
  • Purchase a $10usd top up card & have the attendant activate the 80,000vnd unlimited internet plan.

 Coverage around Vietnam is typically good, except some of the more remote regions of the country. You can get a 3g phone set up on your choice of Mobi or Viettel networks. Viettel is said to have slightly better coverage, but both are good enough that you should take whatever option is available. There is also the complete guide to buying a sim card in Vietnam if you need a more in-depth explanation.

Travel Distances In Vietnam

When you are planning your motorcycle tour through Vietnam, it is common for people to assume they can accomplish much more driving than is possible. If you are looking to calculate travel distances in Vietnam with google maps, you should double how much time you need, and in some cases triple it. Google maps will not allow for the numerous twists and turns in the road. Google is also unable to account for the incredibly slow speeds that people drive at in Vietnam. The speeds might feel fast, but in reality, they are very slow compared to western standards.

    As you sort out what routes you plan to take as you motorbike through Vietnam, you should note that 200-kilometers of driving are equal to a full 8 hour day on the road. If you are looking to drive 300-400 kilometers in a day like you might be able to do at home, in Vietnam, this is nearly impossible. It definitely won’t allow much time to stopg or sightseeing. For the average Vietnam traveler, you should allow for 20-25 days to travel the typical distance from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi while stopping to do tourist activities along the way. If you want to do around Hanoi and the north, allow another week for the famous Ha Giang loops. We once saw a very-skilled Malaysian rider on a Honda Blade do the drive in 7-days, but don’t make that part of your plan.

When we organize our fully guided motorbike tours around Vietnam, we allow enough time to enjoy the ride. Looking through that page will give you an idea of how much time we feel comfortable taking on group rides.

Overview of calculating driving distances:

  • Expect to double or triple the time given on google maps. The route choice they offer is usually accurate, just not the time required.
  • Allow 20-25 days travel on your motorbike from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. 1-3 weeks more for the area around Hanoi.
  • 200-kilometers is equal to about a full 8-hour day of driving.
  • Don’t try to fit in too much. You don’t want your memories of Vietnam to be only about driving, allow time to stop and enjoy the site.

 

    No matter what routes you choose to drive you are sure to have a great culture trip in Vietnam, make sure to pick them allowing for time to stop and enjoy them. If you aren’t exactly sure what you want to do or where you want to go, you might be interested in a guided tour. After you’ve done all of your research, feel free to get in touch with us and will be happy to help you work out the details.

Not going to make it boys!

Not going to make it boys! Shoulda had less beer last night!

The distance is large, so plan the holiday with time to spare!

Motorcycle Trip In Vietnam. Choosing a route.

    One of the easiest decisions is deciding whether or not to go to Vietnam, choose yes and start packing! Figuring out the details of where and when to go to Vietnam is going to take some more planning. There is an endless supply of beautiful scenic drives, many good stops along the way, and much of the country to explore. If you are planning short motorcycle trips around Ho Chi Minh, you could do some of the favorite activities like the Cu Chi Tunnels, or a day trip guided tours to see the nearby countryside. If you want to go further up the coast, there are the inviting beaches around Nha Trang. Here you can sit and relax or learn to kitesurf. Then if you are looking for the full experience, you can take your motorbike all the way up to Hanoi. Here you can see Ho Chi Minh himself or wander deep into the rural regions of the country.

    The full list is a large amount of information to take in, and we do our best to help you make whatever decision is best for you. To save you from hours searching the internet, we’ve organized a wide selection of resources to help you make an informed decision about where to go on your motorbike trip through Vietnam.

    Here are some of the top resources for choosing a route through Vietnam:

 

  • Saigon motorbike loops. A guide to some consistently great roads around Saigon and the South. A good choice if you want easy planning and great weather.
  • Hanoi and the North of Vietnam. This guide will help those looking for a real adventure holiday. The area around Hanoi is not as well traveled, but it is indeed rewarding.
  • Saigon to Hanoi by motorbike. To get an insider’s look into what this drive that takes you up the length of the country is like, read this trusty guide.
  • Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi, or Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh. These two articles will help you answer the questions about what route is better for you. The Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi drive, or the Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh drive. Each has its pluses and minus; these will help you decide for yourself.  
  • Vietnam Backroads. The Backroads page is a popular Facebook group that is well informed about various road conditions and up to date weather around Vietnam. You can search the group to have most of your questions answered.
  • Vietnam Coracle. The Vietnam Coracle covers a wide variety of things around Vietnam. There is also a popular “Motorbike Guides” section where they offer some more driving options.

 

    The motorbike articles and guides listed here are excellent planning resources. When you use them will make you feel more confident and informed about where to go, or why you might want to choose to go on a particular drive. Search through each one, and if you have any further questions, we’re here to help.

Motorcycle Cell Phone Holder and USB Chargers

    Much like an extension of your arm, your mobile phone is likely not ever going to be very far away. For your Vietnam motorcycle adventure, you’ll probably want to use the map features to help navigate your way around the country. Initially, Tigit used phone holders that had we mounted to the motorcycle. These became a problem on two fronts; one they were low-quality Chinese built products that would break and you’d lose your phone in the process. The other problem became the drive-by cellphone snatches. Other riders would drive by and grab these easy targets right off of your motorcycle. To combat these problems, Tigit has since started using GPS bags. These bags mount to your motorcycle keeping your phone in place, protecting it from the elements, and they cannot be taken off in a drive-by snatch. The GPS bag will be a great addition to your riding gear in Vietnam.

Don’t fall for gimmicky USB chargers. Just buy an external power pack.

    We have also stopped using USB charges. Initially, it looked like a convenient way to charge a cell phone while on your motorcycle. The problem again was with the build quality. The USB charges were cheap Chinese builds that ended up being a source of electrical problems for both the motorcycle as well as your cell phone. Attaching a USB charger to a motorbike will instantly void any warranty as mechanics automatically blame 3rd party ad on’s for any electrical problems. The solution to this is to use an external power-pack. You can bring them from home or pick them up for around $15usd from The Gioi Di Dong shops that sell sim cards and phone packages.

    To help you, we’ve added the option to rent or purchase a GPS bag from our Tigit store. Here we can set you up with the right bag for you and your motorcycle, and you’ll have more fun and fewer hassles on your trip.

    Overview of phone holders and USB chargers:

  • Bring your cell phone. You’ll want it for navigating the routes around Vietnam.
  • Buy or rent a GPS bag from our Tigit shop. The bag will save you from potentially having your phone taken off the bike and protect it from the elements.
  • Buy or bring a USB power-pack to charge your cell phone. You can buy at power-pack from The Gioi Di Dong stores where you’ll purchase a sim card and phone package.

   

Knowing the little things will help to ensure that your Vietnam motorcycle holiday goes smoothly. At Tigit we’ve already seen some of the things that don’t work, and we’ve been working hard to provide solutions that can make your trip easier. For backpackers, your phone will be your best navigation solution and getting the most out of it will help make your trip a success.

Magnetic attach on gas tank GPS bag from GIVI

Vietnam weather; Best time to visit

    The weather in Vietnam can be difficult to predict. Many travelers often make the mistake of assuming that everywhere in Vietnam is hot. The beaches and South of the country can typically offer nice weather. However, Vietnam has a mountain range as well as a tropical and sub-tropical region that can mean the weather may vary drastically by region. To help you better understand what the country has to offer concerning the climate, will break the weather down into seasons and regions.

    If you were going to plan your entire motorcycle vacation around the weather, then overall March and April are the best times to drive through Vietnam by motorcycle. Across the country as the whole, the weather conditions are mostly stable. Here is what you can expect based in the South and North of Vietnam, as well as the times of the year.

 

Southern Vietnam Weather Monthly

  • Ho Chi Minh: In and around Ho Chi Minh you can expect the weather always to be hot. If you are only thinking of traveling around this area or enjoying some day trips from Ho Chi Minh, then you can plan to come any time of year with light clothing.
  • Da Nang and the South: From the middle of Vietnam, around Hue. To the very South past Ho Chi Minh. The typical rainy season is from July to October.
  • Cyclone / Typhoon season: In the middle sections of Vietnam from September to December there is the possibility to encounter a cyclone. The Cyclones are irregular and not frequent, but they do occur.  

North Vietnam Weather Monthly

  • Hue and the North: August to September is the best time of year to travel the North part of Vietnam. The weather during these months is typically stable, and you can view the yellow paddy fields while they’re in bloom
  • March to May: The weather is generally calm and an enjoyable time to ride.
  • June to August: These months make up the rainy season, and you’ll need to pack your rain gear.
  • December to February: This time of year is cold, so cold that you can expect to see snow in some regions.

 

Planning For The Seasons

    There is no point trying to avoid a particular part of the country for one season or another. Just plan accordingly and enjoy your adventure. If you decide you want to go to the central areas during the cyclone season, it’s okay. Just know that if a storm hits, it will typically not last more than two days. You can wait it out and continue onwards after. If you want to go into the North during the cold season, don’t worry. With Tigit you can send your luggage on the train and have warm clothes waiting at our offices once you arrive. Just pack what you need for the initial part of your journey and the rest will be waiting for you when you turn up.

     Vietnam weather and climate tips

  • During heavy rains, the rivers and waterfalls fill to look even more spectacular
  • Typically if it’s hot in the South, it will be cold in the North
  • When big storms hit, you might feel unlucky. However, the experience of seeing the dramatic weather will leave you with great stories to tell!
  • Like weather anywhere in the world, you can’t get it right all the time. For help use the Accuweather forecast tool.

     

Many travelers spend too much of their time hoping to predict the weather and plan around it. In reality, the weather will not stop your trip entirely, and it’s best to spend your time deciding what you want to see. If you feel like your vacation will be more enjoyable if the weather is at its best. You will want to make a South motorbike loop, where the climate is most stable.

A little bit of rain never heart anybody!

A little bit of rain never hurt anybody!

There are no seasons, or conditions that will stop a true adventure seeker from enjoying a motorbike holiday in Vietnam. Every condition and season has its pros and cons.

 

Navigating Vietnam by motorbike; What maps to use

   Being armed with the right tools can be the difference between looking at the country map on page 10 of your guidebook and trying to figure out where to go. Versus mounting your mobile phone on your motorcycle and having a digital map guide the way. Vietnam is not the dark age country that you might have seen photos of from decades in the past. There is typically excellent mobile phone coverage throughout the country and getting a signal is usually very easy.

    To navigate the country for the modern traveler, Google Maps is going to be your number one asset. Once you’ve activated your travelers’ sim card, along with unlimited internet coverage, you can easily use Google Maps to navigate places like Dalat waterfalls. Activate your sim card with data, open the Google Maps application, and enjoy the drive.   

    For those of you who plan to take the scenic route and go into the more remote regions of the country like the area around Hanoi. You will want to download and use Maps.me. With this application you can download in advance the region you plan to explore, then you can easily explore that area you are in without the need of internet. Maps.me is also a great backup resource in the event you ever lose signal for the Google Maps application. Just remember to download the specific regions you are interested in before departing, so all of the information is already on your phone.

     Ask a local for directions! If you are somewhere that you can’t seem to navigate your way out of the locals are often more than happy to try and help you out. Take note that if you are outside of major towns or cities, most locals will not travel often and probably have no idea where the next town is. The Vietnamese live in a culture of “Yes, yes, yes,” and almost cannot say “No.” Keep this in mind when you are pointing straight and asking if that’s the way, and all you hear back is “Vâng, Vâng!”  To make it a bit easier, try delivery or taxi drivers, they might be your best advice for someone who knows the roads in and out of town. To get your point across, this might be a good time to have Google Translate downloaded as well. Just don’t get too worked up if the directions you got don’t take you to where you want to go!

    If you want to feel like an explorer on a treasure hunt, you might consider picking up a paper road map. Yes, these still exist, and for some, it might be easier to lay a physical map out on the table in the morning and try to work out a plan. One of the best road maps of Vietnam is an atlas sold by the bookstore chain, Fahasa. Just search it on Google, and they’ll be more than happy to get you a copy before they become extinct. With a compass and a map, you’ll be looking like a real explorer.

    Navigation tools:

  • Google Maps to be used along with your sim card and unlimited data plan
  • Maps.me downloaded before venturing out onto the backroads
  • Paper map from Fahasa bookstore, and maybe a compass if your feeling so inclined
  • Ask the locals for directions. Just don’t assume they’ve all been where you’re going

   

    Wherever you go you’re sure to have a great time venturing around Vietnam and exploring all the great sites the country has to offer. Being prepared with the best technology will help to make sure you have the right amount of time to enjoy the ride.

Vietnam road terminology explained

    Like all countries, Vietnam has road names, and once you understand them, you’ll have an easier time knowing what roads to look for and what ways you may choose to avoid. Some of the roads are going to be well maintained and heavily traveled routes, while others are small single track roads that you might be better off avoiding.

AH1 – This is the main highway connecting the South and North regions. Mostly this is a busy road and should be avoided for leisure travel. However, to save time on entering and exiting cities, the AH1 can be useful and generally is the quickest method to get from A to B.

QL National Road – QL Roads Vietnam are usually in good condition and always paved. The majority of time motorbike travelers will be sticking to the QL roads to navigate the country on motorbike road trips easily.

QL **b – Usually an alternative to the primary QL road, if seeing a B sign it is usually a better choice as the way tends to be more remote.

CT Super Highway – These are for cars only, and no motorbikes are allowed. The exception to the rule appears to be the CT08 in Hanoi, here they allow motorcycles.  

DT Countryside Road – These are usually in reasonable condition. However, some DT roads are incredibly demanding. These difficult ones tend to be the remote roads that connect two places of relative importance. Even though these roads are essential, they are often in need of significant repairs.

TL, Very Small Road – Normally these roads are single track. Usually, for villages and shortcuts, most of the time travelers don’t need to worry about these.

    A little knowledge goes a long way, and when you are navigating our routes and maps options, you’ll feel more confident that you know what roads you are more interested in driving.

 

Explore, explore and explore some more!

Explore, explore and explore some more!

 

Navigating Vietnam. How to with Google Maps

    If you are planning to use Google Maps as your primary source for directions, you’ll need to keep in mind the actual time requirements to get places. Often the times indicated on Google Maps can be at a minimum, doubled. If for example, you enter a location in Google Maps, like the popular Mui Ne to Dalat by motorbike route, and Google Maps says it will take you 3 hours and 20 minutes. To get a more accurate amount scale of how long it should take you, assume closer to 6-hours.

    You can also do some planning ahead of time and plot your route with stopping points you want to see along the way. The best way to do this is:

  • Go to Google.com/maps and log into your account
  • Then find the search bar in the top left corner and click on the menu next to it to expand the options
  • Then click on “Your Places,” then “Maps,” the “Create Map.” Then you can start to add points and create your desired itinerary in advance so you can go from place to place when your trip begins.

    Utilizing Google mapping system to pre-organize your route will make things more enjoyable on the day you want to go exploring. If you are looking for some step by step guides, you can check Google or use another step by step guide.

    The Google Map is an excellent resource for when you have a mobile phone and internet reception. Keep in mind that when you don’t have an internet connection you won’t be able to use your map and you’ll need to rely on your Maps.me download to keep you in the right direction.

 

Navigating Vietnam. How to with Maps.me

    Navigating your way around Vietnam can be made less complicated with the right tools. Maps.me as a mapping application is a great way to navigate the country for more than one reason. First off the maps can be downloaded in advance and used without mobile phone internet service. The download is perfect if you think you might be venturing off into regions without service and will make your trips in Vietnam easier.

    Next up, when you’re running Google Maps, the application will continually need access to the internet and requires a large amount of energy to run in the background of your phone. Running in the background will forever be a drain on your battery. The Maps.me application will not need to access the internet and only runs lightly in the background of your phone. Therefore you will just be using a small amount of battery power to use the application.

    To create a route map with Maps.me you have two options. For up to three stops between two points, you can easily set this up in the app.

  • Open the application and tap anywhere on the map as your destination
  • Next, create your route
  • Then go to “Add Stop” to add your additional stopping points

    Creating the Maps.me route is simple and straightforward. If you prefer a thorough explanation with photos, see the Maps.me guide.

    Another great option is to utilize any maps you might have made on Googles My Maps. You can create the routes in Google, import them to Maps.me, then enable or disable different route options when you want to use them. You’ll create the maps in Googles My Maps and export them as a KML file. Maps.me has a step by step guide on how to make importing your KML file easy. Then you can display all of your route options on one screen.

Vietnam hotels. The best websites for booking.

    When you’re on the road in Vietnam and are looking for a nights accommodation, there are some options that can help you find a convenient, safe, and well-reviewed place to stay. It used to be that whatever places popular guidebooks reviewed would be the accommodation that travelers flocked too. Well, thanks to the internet the pressure has been taking off one person walking inside a hostel or hostel, looking around, and giving the place their global-reaching opinion. Now, in real-time, you can see reviews, prices, and availability, in a wide range of options that should suit your needs.

   Looking for a party hostel? Those will usually feature some photos of happy backpackers getting their drink on, and comments about nightly events. Looking for a hotel on the beach? You can usually find a full review on the beach as well as the accommodation for these listing. How about a Homestay with a local family? Now, even having a unique culture trip with the locals is just a search away.

    Vietnam accommodation links

  • Agoda.com. It’s an excellent resource for searching out hotels in Vietnam. They have the typical search features along with a “Secret Deals” option with big discounts.
  • Booking.com. Owned by the same company as Agoda, Booking has a wealth of room resources & books over 1.5-million rooms a day. Here you can see transparent reviews, search by location or amenity, and see overall ratings.
  • Hostelworld.com. Obviously an excellent resource for hostels, but they take it one step further. Hostelworld offers resources about budget travel, things to do in various cities, and help with the overall travel experience.
  • AirBnB.com. A user-friendly platform that allows people to rent out their homes or apartments. A great option if you’re looking for something private that will enable you to be independent. Right now this option is very under-priced in Vietnam for what it offers.

   

    All of these online platforms to find accommodation throughout the popular parts of Vietnam are easy to use and will make your stay enjoyable. If you are looking for something authentic, you might want to try a Homestay in Vietnam. In a Homestay, you’ll get to spend time with a local family, typically right in their house. The cultural exchange is an excellent way to get to know the people of Vietnam. Just search the location you are interested in, plus the word Homestay into Google. For example; “Da Lat Vietnam Homestay,” and Google will give you some options.

    Don’t stop yet though; Google also offers a hotel finder option. You can input the location plus hotel into Google, and it will provide a list of options. For example; “Phan Thiet Hotel.” Then Google populates a list of options that can be sorted by price or overall match, then takes you to where to find the best deal. This feature is a beneficial way to get the best overall results for Vietnam hotel accommodation.

    When you’re traveling the typical South to North Vietnam motorbike routes, and looking for the best accommodation options in anything from a party hostel to a Homestay. Vietnam has plenty to offer, with a wide range of resources to make finding those accommodations easy. Just search, click and enjoy your stay.

 

Remote hotels. How to find them in Vietnam.

    When you plan to venture off into the less tourist traveled motorbike routes of Vietnam, like Hanoi and the North, you’re still going to want to have a place to sleep at the end of the night. How to find accommodation can be especially important as the time it takes to get from one area to another can be difficult to gauge. Even if you think you might make it several towns over, you may need to end up spending the night in another town. The roads that are less traveled by tourists in Vietnam are not as likely to end up being posted on sites like Booking.com.

    To find a nights accommodation in these parts,  you can do a few things. To the locals, a guest house is known as a “Nha Nghi.” Once you start to look around, you’ll notice these signs on the outside of buildings in the main areas of towns. Nha Nghi is the secret code word for finding accommodation that the locals know about, that you would have otherwise just driven past.

    To find a Nha Nghi on the scenic route while you drive through remote countryside towns, you can use some of your technological resources. On Google Maps, manually search for anything close to you that looks like the main road. Then follow that road until it comes to a town. If the town has a name, you can search “Nha Nghi + the town name.” For example; “Nha Nghi Bac Ninh,” if Google populates a list of options then the town is probably relatively large. If the town is quite small, and no accommodation can be found on Google, no problem. Just search around on your map in the town you found for any cluster of main buildings. Once you make your way to this area on your motorbike, you are very likely to notice signs posted with Nha Nghi’s to accommodate you.

    Nha Nghi’s hotels

  • Nha Nghi is a motel in Vietnam
  • Find the main road in Google Maps and follow it until you find a town
  • Search Nha Nghi plus the towns name in Google Maps.  For example “Nha Nghi Bac Ninh.” The town might be big enough for Google listings
  • Search manually in Google Maps to find clusters of buildings in these small towns. Drive there and search for buildings with Nha Nghi posted outside

 

    Even if you think that you are so far off the beaten path that you’ll be sleeping under the stars for the night, the chances are that you’re never far from accommodation. Vietnam is a great country to explore, and once you feel comfortable with how to find your way through it, you can travel with ease. Start to think like the locals and use technology to your advantage, and you’ll have fun getting to know the lesser known parts of the country.   

Vietnam hotels explained.

Party Hostels – Dorm rooms usually at around $7usd a night with “free breakfast.” Party hostels, like those in Ho Chi Minh City, operate for the masses of backpackers and the money is made from selling beer and tours. These rooms are found in any backpacker area, and you can book them through Hostelworld.com

Budget Hotels – Hotels usually start at 250,000vnd per night, or $12usd. If you are traveling as a couple, or as a group who don’t mind sharing a room, then these work out cheaper than dorm rooms. Vietnamese operated hotels often have 3 or 4 bedroom rooms and the benchmark price of 250,000-300,000vnd gets split among the group. These hotels tend to have rock hard mattresses, but provide the basics of what you can expect from a $12usd room.

Good Hotels – To get a good hotel in Vietnam,  you can expect to pay 500,000vnd or $25usd.
500,000vnd will get you a nice hotel room, good mattress, and often a buffet breakfast. Good hotels booked through Agoda.com or Booking.com

Nha Nghi – These types of accommodation originally started as typical guest houses, over the years however they morphed into “love hotels.” Most of the time you’ll probably want to avoid spending a night in these less than desirable accommodations. If you find yourself in a rural town without many options, then a Nha Nghi is probably your best or only choice. Rooms can range around 150,000vnd and aren’t usually much more than a place to rest your head for the night.

Homestay – A night in a Homestay is probably going to be one of the best options for traveling the North of Vietnam and above Hanoi. Initially, motorbike tour companies needed accommodation for their tours, so they arranged a nights stay with families who would provide food and a place to sleep. Here you could get to meet the families, and they would hope you would drink a lot of their Rice Wine. Now Homestays are starting to emerge around the country slowly, and overall it’s a great way to experience the culture.

    Homestays are best booked in advance so they can prepare for your arrival. However, they are often quite remote, and you’ll be left to eat when and what they eat. A night at a Homestay is usually around 150,000vnd for a night, plus the cost of your food.

 

Safe food Vietnam. What to eat to play it safe.

    Finding food on your Vietnam motorbike travel will usually be pretty easy. Knowing what it is, that’s on the menu might require making a few notes on your phone and reviewing them before you step up to a food stand or restaurant. When you are in the main tourist areas, like Bui Vien Ho Chi Minh or central Da Lat, the selection of Vietnamese and western food is plentiful. You can easily find pizza, hamburgers, and fries, right next to noodle shops. You’ll probably even have the option to read the menu in English!

    All of this is great until your motorcycle adventure takes you out into the countryside. Here the western food options and menus written in two languages quickly disappear. You’ll then need to rely on the local cuisine to get you through the day. Not to worry, Vietnam has a selection of straightforward food that is reasonably unadventurous, and of course, they have some things that might be better to avoid.

 

Vietnamese food that’s straightforward

Breakfast

Baguette Sandwich = Banh Mi. A banh mi is a typical Vietnamese sandwich, usually consisting of meat, some pickled vegetables, and chili peppers. These sandwiches make for quick morning breakfasts and can be wrapped up and stored for lunch later. Easily found in cities and towns, you’re not as likely to come across a banh mi in the more remote areas.

 

Lunch

Beef Noodles  = Pho Bo or Bun Bo. Your basic rice noodle soup with beef, herbs, vegetables, and broth. The taste is mild, and it’s easy to find this dish virtually anywhere. Just wake up, get your bike loaded and drive until you see a sign for “Pho Bo”! Pho is also available with chicken (Gà) when you’re looking to mix it up once in a while.

 

Dinner

Rice With Beef = Com Thit Bo. This dish is a bit like a stir-fry with beef, rice, and vegetables. If you have time for a leisurely lunch break, you could order up the Com Thit Bo then too.

Rice With Chicken = Cơm gà. The same as above, only with chicken instead of beef. If you’re feeling like a western and Vietnamese fusion dish, you can ask if they have it with french fries. Just ask, or look for Khoai tay chien.

Cubed Beef With French Fries = Bò lúc lắc. You’re only likely to find this dish on a sit-down restaurant menu. When you do, you’ll know that you have safely not gotten outside your comfort zone and that ketchup is your comfort food!

 

Emergency Food

Oreo = Oreo. These are the black and white cookies that you might recognize from your childhood lunchbox. Oreos are found in most towns, big or small. They are best kept in your motorcycle luggage for those days when the going gets tough!

Vietnamese food that you may want to avoid. Alternatively, at least you’ll now know what you’re eating.

 

Dog  = Thịt Chó
Frog  = Ếch
Eel = Lươn
Duck Fetus = Hột Vịt Lộn
Snail = Ốc
Pig Brain = Óc Heo

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  1. Christopher Almond says:

    Hello, There are 6 of us bikers coming into Vietnam (Hanoi) on the 20 /2/19 and hopefully hiring small 125 bikes for 3 weeks ending in Ho Chi Mhin city, if you could inform us of a brief costing ,hire deposit etc that would be great . Thanks

  2. Paul Norcott says:

    I’m planning a bike trip for April 2019, reading this info has been a fantastic help. Really good info and tips, short and to the point, instead of some of the other waffle you read on the internet.
    Thanks Tigit.

  3. Kyle R Howard says:

    Thanks for the read, very helpful!
    Just wondering what people do with their packs when going to eat or check out any sort of attraction? Do you have to take it off the bike every time and lug it around?