Vung Tau-Dalat-Vung Tau

Discussion in 'Vietnam - Road Trip Reports' started by Maccaoz, Jun 5, 2014.

  1. Maccaoz

    Maccaoz Active Member

    Tourist info is all available on Google.A personal thing with our own likes/dislikes so a report just on bike/gear,roads,route and the ride itself.
    Home base Vung Tau
    The Bike:
    A new Honda Future 125 underbone.
    The Gear: Rear rack and throwover pannier frames fitted in Vung Tau.Motodry throwover panniers from home were ideal.Too small local roll bag on the rack and a small shoulder bag down in the U.A small made up tool kit, puncture kit and pump.Local mesh seat cove was 40,000vnd well spent.
    The Pilot/co-pilot:97kg of old and deaf Aussie & (No way)kg of not that old Vietnamese/Aussie = well overloaded Future.

    THE RIDE----:happy5:
    VUNG TAU-BA RIA: Expressway conditions with appropriate policing
    BA RIA-NGAI GAIO-LONG KAHN:Good quiet road,compared to the alternative Vung Tau-Saigon Road its a dream.
    LONG KAHN-DAU GIAY:This section of Hwy 1 is good but the traffic can be overwhelming.
    DAU GIAY-BAO LOC: Here the fun really starts. The road was stuffed,broken,busted,pot holes,dirt & dust.Overloaded with trucks and buses of all types and sizes.As the road climbed the surface and traffic improved, the closer to Bao Loc the better it got.A good ride and nice tea country when you get up into the hills.Overnight in Bao Loc ,a favourite town of mine tho not sure why as its nothing exiting,I just like the place.
    BAO LOC-DALAT:A great ride up the very scenic mountain road with views,pagodas,waterfall,cool (can be cold)and nice.The road is in fair condition but watch for crazy bus/truck drivers.Lots of busted trucks with bits being removed on the steep bits.The warning green tree branch used by most but not all.
    DALAT: Nice place if you don't hit the Dalat Flower Festival 29/12-5/1.Nothing wrong with flowers or bonsai trees its just the million extra people, closed roads,lack of accommodation, LOUD outdoor music concert thingies and the rip off prices that go with it all we didn't like.Two nights in hotels,rides around the back roads checking out the mountain views and small villages and we were ready to head to the coast.Nice area up there in the hills & cool to cold.
    DALAT-NHA TRANG: Down the mountain, WoooooooHoooo, and a great ride. Brilliant views, rough hard but beautiful country with few people or services.
    Absolutely freezing in the fog on one section.
    Lots of the road was in terrible condition, downright dangerous with bike eating pot holes,broken surfaces over large areas with road base rocks being spread far and wide by all the bus truck traffic.All good fun on the bike as a single track is always available.My idea of a fun ride .
    Lots of road works going on so all this could change,eventually.
    Good coffee stop on the bottom of the mountain then the pleasant ride through rice fields and farms.A great days ride with lots of view and coffee stops it was still early into Nah Trang where we were pounced on by a old mate spotting for the "Nice Hotel"All good as that's where we were heading,and he's a good bloke paid spotting fee by the Nice.
    NHA TRANG:Was once one of my pick spots,but now not so much.Still a beautiful area with lots of things to do and see but now also heaps of tourists,expats running restaurants(some with very ordinary to crook food) and shops at rip off prices(cafe sua da for 80,000vnd ? yeah right,how about 12,000) Hard to find good local food and coffee at normal local prices unless you move out of the tourist areas.
    Far too many signs in only Russian,no English or Viet,plus unfriendly, surly looking tourists, some with a bad attitude. Over the bridge on the other side of town will be our place to stay next visit.We did some tourist things,had a look around to see how much the place had changed(heaps)then prepared for the off.We were disappointed with the new Nha Trang,but I suppose it all depends what your looking for.

    To be continued---The sun is shining and my RD350LC rebuild calls :wave:
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  3. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    G'day Macca,

    Great to see posts starting to flow out of Vietnam; a great place to adventure by motorcycle - speaking of which I see you have a 125; the best option if you wish to go 'everywhere' in Vietnam! The road updates are much appreciated; they deteriorate with such regularity that the information you have provided is most helpful.

    Love Vung Tau - I'm so pleased many guidebooks have missed this one & simply dismiss it as too Russian or whatever; pleased many miss it in a rush for Mui Ne & Nha Trang. Nice 'base', mate.

    I know well the route from Dau Giay to Da Lat via Bao Loc - a pain in the butt & plied with bus loads galore of Vietnamese heading to 'love land'/Da Lat. Agree with you Da Lat is a top place - with the Vietnamese standard of living rising sharply there are more & more Vietnamese venturing further afield.

    On reading your report of the return leg to the coast I am assuming you came down via Ngoan Muc Pass (via Tran Mat & the famous Linh Phuoc Pagoda)? How good is the outing, just HOW GOOD is the run down - fabulous scenery, little traffic, an insight into the real Vietnam.........The great' piece of road descending down the pass is clearly getting hammered with busloads oh people coming up from Nha Trang & the coast. Mate dont the bus drivers in Vietnam terrorise you!

    (As you didn't post photos let me direct readers to the link: to assist them in getting a feel for things).

    Saddened to read your thoughts on Nha Trang. It was such a vibrant place blessed with exceptional beauty but I can well imagine it flooded with people. (Go the guidebooks!)

    Look forward to the next installment.
  4. Maccaoz

    Maccaoz Active Member

    In reply to Rods post maybe I can give some opinions/updates on a couple of spots he brought up.

    VUNG TAU:I lived there for six years, left for OZ fourteen years ago and until 12/13 had never been back. Absolutely huge changes, I didn't even recognise the place. Hundreds of Hotels infesting the coastline.Beach and water still dirty as its on the mouth of the Saigon river,public beach amenities were disgusting.More and more bars with attendant ladies,and fewer customers as most the oil workers have left the country. Very few Russian oil workers & familys and most of their accommodation blocks have been turned over to Vietnamese.A town of 17,000 when I was first there in 1968 now has a population over 900,000 with an estimated 80% coming from the North.A big money town that really rocks when the Saigon crowds hit on weekends. It still has a good feel and is interesting enough but----? Maybe my memories of the huge trees and small traders in the centre of the front Beach road(now a 6 lane drag strip) have spoilt the new Vung Tau for me.Vietnam is changing fast.

    Dalat: At non Flower Festival times Dalat is the Saigon peoples place to beat the heat, honeymoon spot,get away for young lovers.and along with Vung Tau,their main tourist destination. A nice place with the lake in the centre of town and a good place to walk around to check the place out.The night market in the centre of town is fun.Lot of man made "attractions" in the Dalat are,most are a bit over the top for western tastes but interesting in their own way.My wife thinks they are wonderful. All well advertised and on Google ,you can decide if they are for you.
    Weekends can be extremely busy with Saigon people, weekdays quieter and more relaxing(and cheaper)Warning-it can get cold,very cold,up there.

    Sorry about no pics but having been on this trip several times in the past,and not thinking about reports,we just didn't take any.Rods link takes care of that.Thanks Rod.

    Moving on from Nah Trang we made it a day run to Phan Thiet
    As the highway follows the coast most of this ride we were stuck to it.The very ordinary road conditions were a bit much for the little Honda suspension. Lots of big bumpy whoops formed in the black top by the huge number of trucks on this road.Lots of road widening in progress that make life interesting for bikers as the bike lane has become extremely narrow or non existent. Steel post and warning tape a few millimetres off the right handle bar can become nerve-racking after while.
    Again,the ride is a scenic one, views over the bays and coastline are great, but the amount of traffic made sightseeing difficult this time. Unbelievable amount of trucks and buses and with the mini buses racing each other for roadside pick ups it pays to keep the mind on the job.
    Break the ride with coffee stops and fun chats with the locals and it becomes more fun.
    Hopefully when we next do this ride we will have more time,and more bike suspension,to find some alternative routes well off Hwy 1.Three times on this route is enough.

    Usually we stay at hotel on the approach to town and with time restrictions have never hit the beach,this time we did.Its nice but on our day the weather was against us.Cold, blowing and miserable don't make for good impressions.We made it to a hotel and retreated from the wind.Next time,with weather permitting,we will spend a few days in the area,and on the beach.
    Edit.The wife remembered the hotel name, Duong Dong Hotel on Le Loi St just down from the Doi Duong Park/Beach.One to remember as its a nice place and across the road and almost to the park is a small alley leading to the best seafood restaurant ever. Strange layout with rooms everywhere, heaps of local customers, excellent service and food.We will be back.

    To be continued-
  5. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    One of the reasons we made the move quickly from Thailand to Vietnam was because we feared it could quickly become another Malaysia or another Thailand. On reading your latest report I'm glad we did. Development was in the air at all times we were there & although I expected it I'm still somewhat staggered by the size of it all as described by you.

    Herewith some further photos to go with your report

    Are the changes from what I photographed then to how it looks today that dramatic?

    Pan Thiet - to ride in & see the colour of the fishing boats moored in the harbour in the centre of town is one of the great memories of all SE Asia.
  6. Maccaoz

    Maccaoz Active Member


    Last day and we set of early for the ride home following the coast to La Gi.What a great ride it is, absolutely beautiful road, so extremely quiet we wondered if we were still in Vietnam. Narrow tar with a good surface, overhanging trees,just wonderful.
    We noticed some quiet flash looking resorts with the now usual Russian signs,at least here English & Vietnamese was included, Then more resorts,just a few operating,most had never been finished or had self destructed if they were. Beautiful beaches with monstrosities of neglect spoiling the whole area,Very few local people,we figured there must have been more but where did they go, maybe the land has been resumed and the people forced to move to another area.It happened a lot back in the day.The wife has had first hand experience.
    We continued on through La Gi wandering on back roads with no idea of a route but keeping the coast on the left all was fine.Lots of Dragon fruit farms taking over from the rice as lots of the country is very sandy and dry.Dragon fruit looks to love the conditions.
    Before the Touristy Binh Chau hot springs we took Duong Ven Bein and again followed the coast with its semi famous resort strip through to Long Hai.Same old storey, a beautiful coastline,great road,lots of rough rocky scenic hills on the right and beautiful clean white sand beaches almost all the way on the left. Magic, but for the same old problem,RESORTS. Again there are heaps,most being unfinished and deserted, some in the same state they were in 15 years ago.Sad looking places but they do have good walls.
    Ignore the resort wasteland and its a top ride area even a few spots where a non paying swim is available. Checkout Long Hai beach and its famous "Lady Buddha"and the huge car park,with lots of food/drink stalls and direct access to the beach,because the rumour is it will be resumed and added to the Army Resort next door.That resort is worth a look in itself. It gave me the feeling that not too many baggy bum grunts would be spending their annual leave playing tennis and having a few beers on the beach.
    We were then into Long Hai-Phuoc Tin and the newish bridge over the river into Vung Tau and home base.
    To be continued-
  7. Maccaoz

    Maccaoz Active Member


    I flicked through your linked pics Rod.Mate they are absolutely beautiful.
    Its hard to define the change in VN when comparing with your pics . I did notice one building in a pic of the Vung Tau Back Beach with fishing boats(no longer allowed, neither are vendors)up there on the hill is one of the most impressive hotel buildings in VN,and been uncompleted for about 20 years.That's in two pics.
    The changes are staggering, I just wish I had before and after pics from my second visit in 91 to 2014.The people are generally better off financially but--------?

    Heaps of small hotels almost everywhere.180,000-250,000vnd.All good tho the wife did check the room before booking in.
    Maybe only four rejected in our three month tour of the south.

    Service Stations in every village,and in-between.Some of the back road adventuring needs some planning but the good old bottle full is usually available from the nearest house/coffee stop.

    Except for a few big local restaurants that were excellent we ate at local eatery's,all good very cheap and no tummy problems.I'm not sure what to call the small food shops,a hut or footpath shop and "Restaurant" doesn't really work,Eatery will do.We usually paid an average of 30.000vnd for one meal.
    Most restaurants catering to the tourists we found to be overpriced with very ordinary to badly cooked food. Some exceptions,but not many. If the restaurant is busy with the locals it will be OK.

    I love the coffee,and the shops/stops, hammocks, nice people and the laughs that go with them.Sit back and watch the world go by.Great way to find out about local stuff but not so flash for directions. Café Da (black with ice)12,000vnd Café sua da(condensed milk & ice)20,000vnd.One of my favourite things to do in all of SVN.

    Basically as described but we tend to follow local advice on obscure back roads that usually end up back on the main route.Much more fun if time is available and often in far better condition than the main roads/highways.
    Even with the wife speaking Vietnamese getting directions was one of the most frustrating things on the ride.Most of the local people don't travel outside their area so information on anywhere but the next town can be difficult.OK on the main roads where its all fairly obvious but in the back blocks can be almost impossible. If people do have some idea nobody can draw you a mud map.For most people a map could be snail trails on paper,never seen one and have no idea what they are. We bought one map of Vietnam-must be a joke map as it was almost zero use.ipad with maps will be in the tank bag next time for sure.

    The bike:
    The Honda never missed a beat on that ride or any of the 8,000km we did in country. FI would have worked better up in the mountains. The seat,riding position was comfy enough for two, throwovers and bags fitted well on frame and rack.Under seat space had our tool kit/pump and wet gear(never used in 3 months).A few punctures fixed for 50.000vnd a go,replacement tube in rear after three. Normal oil changes, chain lube.All good except for almost no suspension, we were well overloaded but a previous Suzuki Viva underbone had done most of the same route with no worry. I think Mr.Honda built a hinge into the underbone frame,being so overloaded the handling at speed(over60kph) was off .Terrible shocks could have been replaced -another storey for a later date.

    Next trip to Vietnam:
    The Honda will be traded for a Suzuki EN150.I prefer a motorbike set up for touring rather than the underbones.Safer,better in the rough and more power for the mountains of the north.Along with the Motodry panniers used on the Honda I have a Motodry Roll Bag and tank bag(with mini ipad) ready to go. Not that we need to carry more just to make it easer to pack.
    A small stripped down cheap compressor will replace the foot pump in the tool kit,half the size & weight.

    Ride done and dusted.
    Some time spent in Vung Tau with family stuff then off again for another 4-5000km touring the south.
    Vietnam-Changing fast.Go see it before its too late.
  8. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    I see you followed the coastal road via Cape Ke Ga & then on through Ho Tram.
    I have to agree - it's right up there with the best runs in all of SE Asia. Truly fabulous scenery; just sensational stuff!
    I lie not - absolutely flogs any coastal run Thailand has to offer.
    (Seems from your description little has changed from the images in my report included earlier in this thread. Right?)
    GREAT read all round Macca, loaded with useful info for those that will surely follow you.
    Look forward to your report/s from southern Vietnam....with photos, of course.

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