When I cycled from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh in June and July of 2014, I used a Vietnamese Atlas I found to track my ride by hand. The following images show my route. Below each image I have written out my notes scribbled along the way and some additional context.
June 5 – July 13, 2014; 29 Cycle Days; 10 Rest Days
2,001km (by my count at the time of the tour, i didn’t have a odometer)
Day 1 | Hanoi – Hàng Trạm | 91km
Day 2 | Hàng Trạm – Lam Sơn | 82km
Day 3 | Lam Sơn – làng Đá | 67km
Day 4 | làng Đá – Lien Tham | 90km
Day 5 | Lien Tham – Phố Châu | 53km
Day 6 | Phố Châu – Thanh Lam | 97km
Day 7 | Thanh Lam – Son Trach | 83km
Day 8 | Son Trach – Kiến Giang | 82km
Day 9 | Kiến Giang – Dong Ha | 65km
Day 10 | Dong Ha – Hue | 71km
Day 11 | Hue – Lang Co | 64km
Day 12 | Lang Co – Da Nang | 39km
Day 13 | Da Nang – Hoi An | 29km
Day 14 | Hoi An – Kham Duc | 112km
Day 15 | Kham Duc – Dak Glei | 57km
Day 16 | Dak Glei – Pleikan | 52km
Day 17 | Pleikan – Kon Tum | 61km
Day 18 | Kon Tum – Pleiku | 47km
Day 19 | Pleiku – Ayun Pa | 92km
Day 20 | Ayun Pa – Cung Son | 83km
Day 21 | Cung Son – Dia Lanh | 77km
Day 22 | Dia Lanh – Nha Trang | 84km
Day 23 | Nha Trang – Cam Rong | 51km
Day 24 | Cam Rong – Phan Rang | 46km
Day 25 | Phan Rang – Pha Ri Cua | 73km
Day 26 | Phan Ro Cua – Phan Thiet | 72km
Day 27 | Phan Thuet – Tan Nghia | 46km
Day 28 | Tan Nghia – Long Khanh | 64km
Day 29 |Long Khanh – Ho Chi Minh City | 71km
This is the closest Google Maps version of the route I can make.
Left Hanoi @ 10am June 5, 2014 Hanoi is so humid
French and Spanish Cyclists
I wrote a note for myself on the other page: “Little did I know how rare a sight foreign cyclists would be in Vietnam. If I had, I probably would have been as excited as the French guy was.”
Bunh was a guy that pulled up beside me on a motorcycle with a dead pig on the back. He asked me to pull over at the next shop a few kms down the road. When I arrived, he had a small keg of bear and a basket of peanuts waiting for me. We spent a couple hours trying to have a casual chat while the village kids rode my bike around in the parking lot.
Hotel in the middle of nowhere. No running water, no toilet, only a concrete room and a wood bed.
Stopped for 3 days to explore Tu Lan cave system in Phong Nha. Hit massive rock on highway that nearly made me crash. Rock deflected and hit my foot.
Not actually a road. Highway 9 Americans tried to stop communists forces moving south.
Quang Tri Province the most devastated province during the Vietnam war
Visited Vin Moc tunnels
Ben Hai river separated North and South Vietnam
American lookout point 6km from demarcation line
Lots of wind very hot Spent 1 day in Dong Ha to visit DMZ
Flat tire number 1
This section of the country is quite hot 35-40C
Easy ride to Hue, little wind and some cloud
2 day break in Hue to see the city. To go to Da Nang would have been a 120km day with the mountain passes, so decided to stop early and do the Hai Van on fresh legs.
3 relatively easy mountain passes before the big one, deo Hai Van tomorrow! 2 nights in Da Nang deo Hai Van tough go! 1:45 hr climb
Hwy 1 is going really well actually
Traffic, but was making huge time, very fast as soon as i turned onto 14E towards the HCMH, i knew it was going to be a leg day
Started late at 9:30am Pulled into Kham Duc absolutely exhausted @ 6:30pm did not stop for lunch (stupid) 9 hours of cycling through the mountains. this is not going to be easy to get to Saigon
Glad I didn’t do this part Toughest riding of my life. 16 hours of uphill over 2 days
OMG this section is all uphill. Well duh, you came from sea level to the mountains!! This was terrible.
Had to walk the bike a few kms as well. 60km took 7 hours
Mistake going into the mountains? Nicest Town in Vietnam – Dak Glei
Rain and cool temps
Very comfortable temperatures in the mountains except it is the rainy season so it rains in the afternoons.
The road does not exist here
Flat tire number 2 (Had to convince a local to give me a ride into town to go buy a new tube and tire then give me a ride back to my bike where he replaced both for me because we were in the middle of nowhere)
A lot of this road is under repair or full of potholes
This is a terrible road
Brand new asphalt interspersed with no asphalt! What a novel idea!
I stopped here to fill up my water bottles and was invited into a home by a man. There was a woman who was the mans sister and she had a daughter. They brought out watermelon, coffee, tea and made me two sandwiches. Woman: Won; Girl: NaHa
Lam – Tuy Hon 358km on Hwy 1 Trip to HCM will be 500km+ So about 150km of additional riding
Nice little villages w/ irrigation
12km Mountain pass in 40C sunshine @ 12:00 (is) torture
Nha Trang – Full of Russians (Direct flight from Moscow)
Spent 1 day relaxing at Best Western Weather here is surprisingly mild
Do Hwy 1 here south
Holy windy batman
8 hours to do 73km on flat ground. If I were going north, could probably have covered that distance in 3 hours (a question to myself)
To Hue on Hwy 1 or further to Vung Tau (guess I chose the wrong route)
Dirtiest hotel I’ve ever been in
No power in hotel in morning 😦
Fresh sea shells
Unfortunately a grind now.
Not very scenic last 400km, just tough going
First major crash (Was trying to reach the map on my phone while it was raining and I was riding. Tire got stuck in a crack between the sidewalk and road and I went over the handlebars. Only minor cuts and scrapes, should have been wearing some gloves though.)
Made it to Ho Chi Minh and hung out for a few weeks here. Gave away the bike 😦 and continue to travel overland from Vietnam to Turkey through Central Asia. It was great, but should have biked!
The closest route I can make in Google Maps
The bike! 1992 Schwinn Impact Pro rigid frame mountain bike purchased for $100. Found a piece of plywood on the side of the road in Hanoi that I strapped to the rear rack so I could bungee down my 30L backpack and went to the market to find some stylist panniers.
Flat tire number 1. Lucky I was in the city and there were some guys that could fix it for a couple bucks, I had no spare parts.
Typical Vietnamese cuisine. Delicious.
New tire after my second flat.
Kids trying the bike out.