Road Riding is work for me
There are two sections of Vietnam that are “boring to drive”, one is Phong Nha to Hanoi, and the other used to be Nha Trang to Danang. Around five years ago I set out to tackle the Nha Trang to Danang problem. I opened the map and began plotting. We had just bought our very first Honda CB 500x, so this was a good excuse to drive it. Now in 2024, I am the proud owner of 22 of these wonderful machines.
I drove alone on that trip, and I expected a disastrously boring drive. But what happened was that I had plotted a map that no one had ever considered before. The complete opposite of disastrous, it was some of the best driving I had ever done in my lifetime.
Roughly five years have passed since that drive, and I have seen local tour companies plotting routes going near the Cambodian border and then round back into Dalat.
I have also had some complaints from Tigit tour guides that our rides were too long and ambitious for customers and that I needed to touch base with reality and experience Vietnam’s roads again. I don’t like road riding, I consider it work. With a wife and kid at home, my time away from home is limited, so I like to spend it offroading. Offroading doesn’t make money, though; road journeys do. So, sometimes, I must hit the road and do some research. Oh, it’s such a hard life!
Having a look at Buon Ma Thuot
I took Giang with me, who is Tigit’s primary offroad tour guide, you can see him crashing in many of my videos. Off we go to do a road journey together.
The Cambodian route, stolen from other tour companies, was “ok,” but it isn’t as good as our Bao Loc route to Buon Ma Thuot, or just doing the coast of Vietnam through Phan Rang. So, largely speaking, I would write it off and pretend it never happened. It isn’t bad though, maybe something an expat might like to do, but not a tourist.
We very much enjoyed the town of Krông Nô South of Buon Ma Thuot, where we spent a bit of time looking for waterfalls and caves. If you look deeper at the Buon Ma Thuot area, you will see loads of caves, hikes, and basically undiscovered tourist-based activities on the map. I could spend an entire week exploring Buon Ma Thuot alone.
Day two had us heading to the coast from Buon Ma Thuot, the objective was to reach Quy Nhon. The waterfall research was actually done in the morning so we knew a day end in Quy Nhon would be ambitious. We were also trying to figure out the pacing for real world tours, and we quickly decided that Quy Nhon was a stretch.
The road, however, was absolutely amazing, and we were very happy with the town of Song Cau, where we lay to rest that night.
The following morning we did the Bamboo bridge, which on a tour would hopefully be done at 4pm.
We also did the sand drive to an island where we were told to turn around. Such pests are motorcyclists. We then began what I would consider the Longely Ranger route from the coastline to Mang Den. One of my favorite roads in the country.
I am not a road rider, infact I actively dislike it, but a road like this changes everything. Even I have to smile when driving this one. I love the airfield in the middle. The road just turns into an airfield under your nose; how can you not laugh at that?
The arrival in Mang Den
Followers of my content will know how much I hate hard mattresses, and Mang Den is just the kind of town that will throw a concrete bed at you. My objective was to get to Kon Tum where I had a guaranteed premium hotel and Pizza waiting for me.
Giang, though, such a professional, persuaded me this was tour research and we had to find a hotel in Mang Den. We began our cut throat testing procedure and managed to visit around eight hotels before locking the one we felt was best. Priced a little high for a tour, but it will have to do. A nice hotel with a medium mattress. We actually got a Pizza in Mang Den, but it was not the greatest!
The next morning, we spent time looking at all of Mang Dens waterfalls. I quickly realized that this was the kind of place that our customers might want to spend a bit of time.
It was tourism, but not very developed tourism, and Mang Den has a magical feel to it.
We then did an experimental road which looked good on the map, but it was a gravely pot holed mess. Not to be recommended. I also knew that the alternative (which I did last time), was one of the greatest riding roads in the country. We found a way to connect back to the good roads and then basically blasted our way all the way to Danang.
I tried to be clever and save time by going on the highway, but that was a mistake. The highway used to be busy, but now it is dangerously busy, and I am making a conscious effort to increase the disclaimers to our customers. Do not drive on the Vietnamese highways.
Overall, it was a very successful trip that answered a few of my map questions and opened many more questions. I realize that my knowledge of Bao Loc to Buon Ma Thuot is not good enough and that I also need to re-do the coastline around Phan Rang.
Vietnam is always changing, and staying on top of the development is a full-time job!