Vietnam - Planning 8-10 day northern vietnam trip. Few questions

Discussion in 'Vietnam Trip Planning' started by bilson, Feb 28, 2015.

  1. bilson

    bilson Member

    Hello everyone

    I am planning ~9day Hanoi -Sa Pa - Ha giang -Hanoi trip.

    It will be my first visit to Hanoi. I will be staying in hotel in the city center, close to Flamingo Travel office.

    Could you please tell me where can i buy:

    1. decent roadmap of northern vietnam (like this one, posted in Trip planning thread

    2. cheap, leather riding boots (military shoes maybe)
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  3. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Nice trip you have lined up - look forward to your trip report in due course. (You are taking in Meo Vac I trust)?

    It would appear from your post that you will be hiring your bike from Flamingo - if this is the case they (Hung or Chris) will be able to tell you where you can but the map you are seeking.

    Leather boots - get them hand made in Hanoi. Excellent quality (the Vietnamese are renowned cobblers) at sensational prices & they can make them in a flash. Once again ask Hung where to get them made (& let us know how they go).

    You say this is your first trip to Hanoi - I venture to say it will not be your last....VN is sensational!
  4. bilson

    bilson Member

    Thanks for quick reply Rod Page! :)
    Yeah I expect a lot of fun, looking forward to the trip!

    Meo Vac? Of course :) planned route:

    We havent decided yet which rental company we will choose. We are kind of ona budget and Flamingo is the most expensive option there i think. But also the best i heard, so we will see

    There are few other companies in hanoi:

    Offroad Vietnam

    Phung Motorbike

    Any experience with these companies?

    We plan to spend 1,5 day in hanoi and then hit ther road, so i quess its too little time to make a pair of shoes but thanks for the advice :)

    Few additional questions

    The plan is to do the loop counterclockwise, so the first part will be Hanoi- Cao Bang. Which route is better, more fun/scenic? The one via BaBa (night there?) or the eastern one via Highway 1. I did some trips in Central vietnam and riding on highway 1 isnt fun (crazy trucks, buses etc), but maybe HW1 there is different? I see that Angrok1 picked the Highway route (


    We plan to do the route from sapa to hanoi on bikes but in case we spend to much time in the north we may be willing to take the train from lao cai.
    Do you know what might be a total cost of a ticket including a bike?
  5. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Ah Vietnam traffic - it's legendary & there are plenty of reports on this forum to confirm it.

    You are right when you mention the volumes of trucks on the road & it is for this very point that I think the best advice is for you to check on current road conditions with your bike rental company; roads can go to good to rats in a matter of weeks so best get the local up-to-date info.

    I'm sorry but I do not have any experience with the motor rental companies you mention other than with Flamingo - I used Flamingo as they provided the TOTAL service with great back-up support, assistance with borders, even police, assistance in hospital (!), renting, selling & rebuying bikes, maps, trip planning, hotel accommodation....... as my reports indicate. For me they turned out to be the cheapest by far!

    See you are heading counter-clockwise - watch the weather patterns closely as it can have a big bearing on your trip.

    Safe trip.
  6. Wald0

    Wald0 Ol'Timer

    So, is where you can look your shoes, they have few army surplus shops near railway station.

    Also. you better take that gray route although after Tam Dao there is not much to see anymore but same goes to that other route after Thai Nguyen before that city roads are pretty good and nice twisty ones. just caution there are those locals who drive like maniac (this is true with rest of the country also ;)

    One guy trashed his CBR1000rr there few weeks ago after avoiding 2 youngster on motorcycle going 100km/h in wrong side of the curve. :/

    and A1 is to be avoided like a plague! just too many trucks and cars. HCM highway is better if going to south.

    Also, google maps work pretty good, but there are cases that roads maybe unfinished or some renovation is going on. and small minus is that google maps takes mostly highways where 2 wheelers have no business going.
  7. bilson

    bilson Member

    Thanks for the info on armybox, we will check those shops.

    Which grey route you are talking about? riding via Tam Dao doesnt seem to make much sense ( ). Left gray route from my previous post is 100km longer, 40% of right (eastern) is on Highway 1. Could you clarify which route you recommend (via which towns).

    You mentioned google maps. I use it a lot while travelling (motorcycle travels included) but i cant make it work well in Vietnam. In all SEA countries ive been all features of Maps worked well. Here in vietnam i can only see the recommended route, but no real time directions, no voice messages.

    According to driving directions are supported in Vietnam so i dont know what the hell is wrong. Any idea?
  8. Wald0

    Wald0 Ol'Timer

    This "yellow" route. While road is fun from Bac Kan to Thai Nguyen after that is not fun anymore.

    then again after Tam Dao it also is not that much fun :)

    about those driving directions I don't use them, I just look the route then just click GPS to follow the spot. I have my iphone mounted to my handlebars so I just take a look at it once and a while.
    and I never had those driving instructions on my phone, I just assumed that they don't work here.

  9. Wald0

    Wald0 Ol'Timer

  10. Wald0

    Wald0 Ol'Timer

    Great news! While google maps will not give you turn by turn navigation, HERE maps will they have one for iOS or android and you can even download Vietnam or even all Asia maps on your phone. not sure how accurate those Nokia maps are but I give it a try.
  11. We plan to do the route from sapa to hanoi on bikes but in case we spend to much time in the north we may be willing to take the train from lao cai.
    Do you know what might be a total cost of a ticket including a bike?

    Yes I checked this TODAY and it was 750,000VND per person (1 way), and 900,000VND (for a big bike (cb1100) - cheaper for a smaller one apparently)
  12. This is almost identical to the trip I'm planning to start on 24/4/15. I know a German guy, Jeurgen, who owns a motorcycle company (AEA Vietnam - based out of Hai Duong - see for some pics). I had already planned my trip when we did some messaging, but I've updated it and I'm sure he won't mind me mentioning a couple of what sound like diamond -er- pearls of wisdom. He suggested avoiding Sapa unless you love tourists. I've been and can see what he means, although there are some nice hotels and restaurants there, extraordinary scenery like Sapa is available elsewhere. He suggested this place instead - - note I've not been there yet, but you might want to have a look. I will write about my route shortly - dinner time!!:0
  13. Does anyone have any guesthouse recommendations for Meo Vac? The usual suspects (tripadvisor, agoda, are coming up with nothing at all for 27-29 April - which is in fact a national holiday. Auberg Meo Vac, which is a very interesting restored Hmong house, is full. Even google maps reveals nothing for the town, although Dong Van appears to have a couple. Any suggestions?
  14. Ok, my trip on my CB1100 (without knoblies but with wife) - very similar to OP.

    Hanoi (home) - Tuyen Quang (1 night) - Pan Hou village (I think too far in one day from Hanoi, hence I broke it up) (2 nights) - Dong Van (this seems more dramatic a setting from the google pics than Meo Vac, plus can't find accommodation in MV) (2) - Cao Bang (to see Ban Gioc waterfall) - Ba Be (went last year, one of the best places I've been to in VN) (2).

    I like to stay 2 nights in each place to try and get more of a feel for it, plus because I may have a sore **** after the 5-6 hour trips. In the past the google estimated times have been hopelessly optimistic. I'm guessing they're assuming 60MPH in a comfortable 4WD Merc, with no traffic or lunatics around. This is an unsound assumption BTW, as I know from living here for 5 years.
  15. bilson

    bilson Member

    I am already after the trip. Thanks all for the tips, everything turned out well. Great weather, awesome trip :)

    There are few hotels (one of them, Hoa Cuong hotel is mentioned in Lonely planet guide), but we stayed in the restored Hmong house you mentioned. Really great place, but they only have one double room and one"dormitory" which is a room with matresses (15$ per person, which is expensive for a simpll matress but totally worth it).

    Apart of "hotels" there have to be guesthouses (Nha Nghi) in Meo Vac. They are everywhere in Vietnam so i dont think Meo Vac is different. They are just not listed on agoda ;)
  16. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    OK 'bilson' & 'simplest2remember' - 2 great trips.......2 GREAT trip reports coming from you guys!

    I'm one (of many, many) who is an enormous fan of what's out there to see in VN, for me some of the best riding in all SE Asia, so I'm awaiting my VN 'hit' from you guys.

    You've got a HEAP of truly invaluable information between you - hotel (& some great 'local') accommodation, road conditions, food - how was it with the 'locals', & I see bilson had great weather (seems no burn off issues), an issue addressed in detail elsewhere in this forum as it's difficult to find.

    Take your time preparing your coverage & photos, but I for one cant wait to read your reports.

    Glad you're all safely home.
  17. bilson

    bilson Member

    I will do a trip review, no doubt about that ;)

    For now, let me post a video from our trip my buddy made. enjoy! :)

  18. Wald0

    Wald0 Ol'Timer

    yes, google maps is very optimistic, Im planning to leave to Da Nang from Hanoi on 26th.. think we will end Up in Nha Trang on 27th
    so first day will be Hanoi - Da Nang and second Da Nang - Nha Trang.
  19. I'm not safely home because I've not left yet - another 18 days and 11 hours to go... s2r
  20. 9Did you get to Cau Bang in the end? Where did you stay? Any suggestion re. the Ban Gioc waterfalls? (e.g. arrive early). We'll be there on 30 April, the day before May day / international labour day - so I'm expecting the tourist hordes.
  21. Da Nang to Nha Trang in one day seems pretty optimistic. Will you drive on the main highway - it is wall-to-wall bus driving lunatics (particularly the super-aggressive sleeper buses). I know because I travelled on such a sleeper bus over Tet (6 weeks ago) from Dong Hoi to Quy Ngon (no flights available). It took exactly 12 hours, and despite being a sleeper bus, the driver was a lunatic, on his horn every 10 seconds (no joke) - impossible to sleep. I'd suggest you avoid this main route, if you were considering it. Traffic is basicaly bullied out of the way making an unpleasant experience for everyone, but a 20% faster journey time for the bus.
  22. Wald0

    Wald0 Ol'Timer

    No, no main roads, and one day is easy. it will end little under 700km for that part. but at the moment we are not sure if we go there.
    I might go to Laos if I can get this "Caravan" paper on time to cross the border, also this time we will not push to Da Nang in one day as we will wait Ha Tinh moto club to join us in Da Nang.

    Original plan was to drive to HCM, but it got cancel as one guy could not make it.
  23. 700km in one day? In Vietnam?
  24. Wald0

    Wald0 Ol'Timer

    Yes, but that's only at riding day light.. Not fun to ride after sun has set. :) Hanoi to Da Nang is close to 900km and you usually (latest) arrive to Hai Van pass when it gets dark. Even Hanoi to Saigon takes only 3 days.
  25. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Did Da Nang to Nha Trang, 550km in a day, convoy of 14 bikes. Nightmare....
  26. Wald0

    Wald0 Ol'Timer

    Highway one? AH1? We normally ride anything between 3 to 15 groups.
    And mainly because cops will leave us alone if there is more bikers. ;)

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