Book a tour: Central Vietnam 5 Day Loop: The Best Vietnam Top Gear Motorbike
- Trip Outline
- Trip Includes
- Trip Excludes
There is no better way to see a country like Vietnam than from the seat of a motorcycle – if you ride a motorbike, you will know what I mean. You are taking everything in at once – the road, the bike, the weather, the smells: the fresh smell of the forest after the rain; the incense burning in a house in the village; the cooking of a street food vendor; the trash decomposing in the tip. You are also incredibly present and aware, all senses dialed up. There are hazards around every turn: the cows or buffalo grazing on the roadside; goats or dogs or an old person crossing; a local who pulls out on his scooter without a glance and you have to swerve to avoid crashing into him; a lorry parked while some loggers slide cut logs down the steep bank; other traffic coming across your path. In Vietnam, you have to ride with all your wits.
We booked a five day loop with Vietnam Bikers – it was my third trip with them and they have given us a great experience every time.
Central Vietnam 5 day loop: The best Vietnam Top Gear Motorbike
Day 1: Da Nang - Hai Van Pass - Hue city
We left Da Nang with our guide, Hung, leading us through the city traffic out to the Hai Van Pass, made famous by the Top Gear trio Clarkson, May and Hammond. It was a hot and humid July day, with clear skies. On the North side, we pulled over at the spot where Jeremy Clarkson had his epiphany. Sure enough, there was the bridge and there was the local fisherman in his fishing boat. We road around the lagoon and stopped for a dip in the sea and a seafood lunch. We headed on North along the coast road and around a second lagoon. There was a village with many temple like tombs built by ‘Viet Kieu’, Vietnamese living and earning overseas. We arrived at our hotel in Hue and were glad to get out of our bike gear, shower and go out for dinner, trying the local beer, Huda and tasting the delicious local food.
On Day 2: Motorbiking Around Hue Ancient City
We toured around Hue. First stop was the abandoned waterpark built in 2006. There was a downpour so we sheltered in a café and tried their coffee. We crossed the Perfume River on a narrow pontoon bridge and along the bank. We rode to the tomb of Emperor Gia Long who united the country after he took Hanoi 1802. Our guide pointed out the marks of bullets from fighting during the American War. He led us on dirt tracks to a secluded valley for a swim in a series of river pools. We were glad to cool off although we were nibbled by small fish in the cloudy water! Returning to the city, we visited the imperial citadel and the Ngo Mon gate which also saw fighting during a battle during the Tet Offensive in 1968.
On Day 3: Hue Motorbiking To DMZ
We set off to the North along the coast to the Ben Hai River, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ 1954-1976) that was bombed and blitzed. We visited the remarkable tunnels of Vinh Moc dug in 1968 which sheltered 600 people including children – further evidence of the resilience and determination of the North Vietnamese to see of the US forces. Next, there was the cemetery at Truong Son with lines of names with the date they died. We took the highway to Khe Sanh and rocked up at our hotel for another delicious dinner and rest.
In the morning, Today is one of the most amazing day of central Vietnam motorbike tours!
On Day 4: Khe Sanh Motorbiking To Prao
We went to see the remains of the American air base at Khe Sanh. The Viet Cong carried their artillery to high ground and blasted the Americans in 1968 during a siege that lasted 75 days – the GI’s were trying to attack the nearby Ho Chi Minh trail. The modern version of the Ho Chi Minh trail is a highway that snakes its mountainous way, parallel with the border with Laos – we headed South, passing small villages with houses on stilts. More than once, we pulled over to shelter from a monsoon-like downpour, one time in one of the tunnels along the route. The mist surrounded the road and forest giving it an ethereal feel – like some fantastical beast might swoop into view. The concrete road was now very slippery with places where the water streamed across so we rode tentatively and took corners carefully – in places there was buffalo crap on the road and we eventually passed the herd. We arrived at our hotel in Prao hungry and ready for a shower, beer and dinner. Walking back after the meal, there was a couple singing loud karaoke to a group of friends – one table of women and another table of men, the floor littered with empty beer cans. They insisted we join them, pressed a beer on us and we attempted to sing Dancing Queen for them, to much merriment.
On the final day: Back To Da Nang
We continued on the Ho Chi Minh highway, passing a large dam. We were all running low on fuel so our guide pulled into a small village shop. The woman had a hand fuel pump. Since Khe Sanh, we had seen precious few foreigners. We headed back from the remote highlands towards the more populated coast. We crossed the Thu Bon river on a small ferry that took six bikes and then we rode on footpaths through paddy fields to My Son for lunch and a visit to the ancient temple ruins that were the scene of more fighting during the American War. We then took the road Da Nang, witnessing some crazy overtaking en route and arrived safely back at base after riding about 750 km (about 460 miles). My riding partner had been my 16 year old son – for him it was unreal. Of the Ho Chi Minh highway, he had said, “I felt like I was dreaming.” For me, it far exceeded my expectations and was wonderful to share with my son. We back to Da Nang before the rush hour safe and sound Central Vietnam 5 day loop!
The itinerary by Fred Cambpell! IG: https://www.instagram.com/hon_fred_rides/
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