North to South or South to North by Motorbike: What are your options?

Jon Tigit

North to South or South to North by Motorbike: What are your options?

Start in the South? Start in the North? Travel by Motorbike

Choosing which direction to ride your motorbike can be difficult. The obvious major factor is flight prices. Putting flights aside, these are 5 reasons to travel Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi (North), or Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh (South).

5 Reasons traveling from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi is the right way to go.

1. The weather
The weather in the South is consistent and hot. Regardless of season there are no conditions that will ruin your holiday. Even in rainy season, the tropical rain just adds to the adventure.
As the journey goes North, the weather becomes variable. By this time, you have already ticked the box of motorbiking Vietnam and can bring the holiday to a stop if needs be.

2. People in the South are more friendly.
Sure a generalisation, but it is commonly acknowledged and accepted that the Vietnamese in the South are more open and friendly. It is a good idea to arrive to a new country where the locals are desperate to get your attention. offer you help, and show general curiosity and pleasure to your presence in their country.
As you head up Vietnam, the introverted North becomes apparent. Still perfectly friendly, but you are less likely to get random strangers asking you to join them for a drink.

3. Kick the holiday off with some beaches
The South contains all Vietnams amazing beaches. Further to this, the South also contains mountain/highland driving. Open the journey up with an amazing combination of both mountain and coastal driving.
The South has more variation, but as you go North the roads will get more spectacular.

tinahellmeier - Khanhhoa

Image: @Tinahellmeier – The beaches are never a bad choice, especially when you get the mountain view as a bonus. This is what you can enjoy for starting from the South.

4. Be amazed once, be amazed twice, be amazed thrice
The South has a variation of driving styles and road types (highland and coast). However, it lacks the pure jaw-dropping beauty of the North. As you venture up Vietnam it gets more and more beautiful by the day. This puts the driver in a fantastic position.
“Wow what a day, there is no way this country can get any more beautiful.”
Wake up the next day and repeat,
“Wow what a day, how was this day even better than yesterday?”

Visit Saigon motorbike loops to get an idea of some of the variations and options of driving.

5. Unlimited Flexibility to continue driving when finishing early
Planning your holiday is hard and it is very difficult to know how far and how quickly you will get to places. When driving toward the North you have the flexibility to add the optional extra of Ha Giang loops and other Northern loops. It is also possible to relax in Ha Long Bay with a cruise, or head over to the island of Cat Ba. A bottomless pit of additional driving that doesn’t take you too far from Hanoi and Hanoi airport.
The “North” is a spectacular add on bonus, but not a starting point. Harder driving, variable weather and remote terrain throws the traveler straight into the deep end. This is great at the end of the holiday, but perhaps not start.

Jonny Melon - Ha Giang loops

Image: Jonny Melon Adventure Travel Blog – Typical remote terrain of the North, a flat rice field right beside a rocky mountain. Not just that, taking the Ha Giang Loop will open your eyes with deep craterous valleys, ancient traditional villages and many more majestic landscapes. The diversity of those wild flavors would make a great ending for your trip.

5 Reasons travelling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh is the right way to go.

1. Get the best driving done and dusted while you are still fit and healthy
If heading North and above Hanoi, you enter Vietnam with a bang. A bang that is likely to blow your mind. Stunning mountain beauty and some of the best driving terrain in the world. If you head South, a bit of a grind awaits as you get out the city. However once out the city, you land in Phong Nha National park ready to tackle the best parts of the Ho Chi Minh road. All at the start of your holiday!

2. The weather is likely to improve with every day of driving
If the weather is treating you badly, find comfort in knowing that the more hours you put on your bike, the closer you will get to the sun. On the contrary, if driving South to North, you may find yourself driving deeper into darkness which is demoralising. Mind games are on your side here, which will help you continue the journey when things get rough.
Nothing better than going from cold to hot, this will get you off your ass, out of the hotel and onto the motorbike to accumulate those much-needed kilometres to finish Vietnam.

weather change

3. The North has the famous roads
If you are the kind of person that needs to tick off the checklist of talking points then the North is a better place to start.
Ha Giang loops – ✅
Ho Chi Minh Road – ✅
Hai Van Pass – ✅

Rosie Davies - Hai Van pass

Image: Rosie Davies – Along with the adventurous Ho Chi Minh Road and Ha Giang Loops, the breathtaking Hai Van Pass belongs to the famous trinity of Northern roads. Besides the gorgeous scenery, it’s full of winding roads and sudden curves which turned itself into one of those must-go-destinations for thrill seekers.

Half of Vietnam is done and your checklist of motorbiking is finished. Time for a beer, do the rest by air.

4. The North is cheaper if buying a motorbike
Not relevant to sensible people renting a motorbike, but if you are cheapskate backpacker looking to save as much coin as possible. Then the North is the place to start.
Most backpackers start in Ho Chi Minh and finish in Hanoi. This creates a shortage of garbage Honda Wins in Ho Chi Minh and excess in Hanoi. This is also a contributing factor to the lower quality bikes in the North because dealers have an excess supply. No worries about quality though, they are cheaper, so it’s a win!
A backpacker has a reasonable chance of buying cheap in the North and selling for a profit in the South.

5. Finish the journey with a beer in the sun and relax in the Mekong
We all want that finale ice cold beer in the blazing heat. Having completed our 3000km motorbike journey across Vietnam, it is time to take off our shirts and drink. What better place to do this than the hot, humid, bright and colorful Ho Chi Minh city.

Wedrinkeattravel

Image: We Drink Eat Travel blog – Cheer for the journey!!

Once the hangover is over, head off to the Mekong Delta for some touristy cultural experiences. Or head off to Phuc Quoc island for some relaxing beach fun.
Want to splash out exclusively on the beach, then head over to the stunning island of Con Dau.

Conclusion

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city have different seasons. At Tigit we still haven’t figured out the seasons and suspect it has something to do with Airlines playing around with prices. There is no right or wrong answer as to which direction you choose to go.
If you are the kind of person who wants everything done and dusted quickly, then perhaps the North is the better start.
If you are the kind of person who wants your mind blown away each day, with every day getting better and better. Then perhaps the South is the best place to start.

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