Entire trip is Vietnam, Cambodia, Eastern Thailand, Southern Laos
January, February 2002
Saigon to Mytho – Flat
We left the city along the Ben Nghe Channel of the Saigon River. The route is colorful but slow. Crossed over to Highway #1, wide, busy and boring. Finally found a viable alternative at Tan An on reasonable gravel roads south then west to Mytho. Much better. These roads are not on the maps but with constant local consultation you can find them. (see return trip for a superior route)
Mytho to Cantho
Now we get creative. We take a paved road along the river west. After 8 Ks it becomes good gravel. A paved cross road at 20 Ks + and we go left to the river. A small ferry that takes on bikes and motorbikes takes us to an island and we follow motorcycle paths to another ferry, to another island, and then another ferry. There is only one way and people will direct you. Finally you arrive back on the mainland on a good paved road to Vinh Long with little traffic. From Vinh Long it’s 35 Ks on Highway #1 to Cantho (the traffic on this portion is not bad). There are huge ferries that cross to the city. All the traffic has to take these ferries.
Cantho to Tra On
Take the main ferry back across the river to Highway #1. Go right along the river. The. road gets rougher as you go until it’s poor dirt. The road was so poor we took a small passenger boat (bike ok on it) back to Cantho. We were originally going to take this route to Tra Vinh. From Tra On, you can get to Vung Liem or Tra Vinh but the roads are rough. We heard that the road from Cau Ke to Tra Vinh is better.
Cantho to Tra Vinh (our second try)
Take the main ferry back across to Highway #1. After 10 Ks turn right to Tam Binh on a paved road then turn left on main road to Vung Liem. Good road, quiet. No ferry in Vung Liem. You must go to Tra Vinh. Road is busier. There’s a ferry here, but it’s hard to find.
TraVinh to Mytho
This is the hard to find ferry, ask for Mo Coy but you land at nowhere. It’s a short ride on a gravel road to the paved road to Mo Coy. The only traffic is bicycles and it's a great ride. The traffic on the road from Mo Coy to Ben Tre is heavier. Then to Mytho, the road is busy, wide and interesting
Mytho to Saigon (the better way)
Go to Cong Dong, 36Ks of good paved road and moderate traffic. Then follow signs for Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City. Surprisingly quiet road to the ferry. After the ferry, traffic increases. Finally into Saigon the traffic is awful. Best to get to Duong Hung Vuong Avenue. It’s a least wide and has a bumpy bike path if need be. It’s the fastest way into the center.
Saigon to Tay Ninh
(We followed Lonely Planet Bike Book from Saigon to Phnom Penh, Cambodia)
Out of Saigon in the morning rush hour is a unique and chaotic experience. Overwhelming and slow. Highway #22 to Trang Bang is wide, busy and uninteresting for 50 Ks.+. Right on paved minor road to Bau Don and on to Hoa Thanh and Tay Ninh. The bumps on this road are bothersome.
Tay Ninh to Cambodian Border
(border to Svay Rieng – See Cambodia)
Take the main road back to route 22 at Go Dow, 35 Ks. Then take highway #22 to the border, 10 Ks. Highway #22 has traffic.
Vietnam – First Trip, 1993
Ho Chi Minh to Vung Tau
Out on Dien Bien Phu St toward Bien Hoa on Main Road. Slight hills. Very busy on wide road. Diesel smoke, mini-vans and lots of honking. Over Mekong River, then right at 27Ks from Ho Chi Minh. Narrow road at first, then wider. Flat, boring and dry. Then some green and some fishing villages. More traffic into town. Last 20Ks into the wind.
Vung Tau to Highway 1
Took the coast road north up a hill, then a dirt road. Hotels being constructed. Turned back to Ba Ria. Then to Xuan Lo on Highway 1. Chunky, rocky road. Hard ride. North on Highway 1.
Highway 1 to Danang by Land Rover.
Danang to Hue
Generally with a tailwind because we were going west more than north. Rain again. Three climbs. The first is about 20Ks out of Danang. 10Ks up and 20Ks down. Then two smaller 2K climbs and descents. Last 35Ks into Hue are flat. In Hue and around Hue, biking is a good way to get around.
Hue to Danang
Sunny this time. Great views from tops of hills. Quiet roads.
Danang to Hoi An
Bridge over Han River, then right. Good roads, flat, past a lot of old military, then past China Beach and Marble Mountain. Last 13Ks on a poor bumpy road to Hoi An.
Hoi An to Quang Ngai
10Ks along the river to Highway 1. Flat and rough. Then southeast for 114Ks to Quang Ngai. Highway 1 is flat and good in spots and rough in others. A few places we had to walk. Winds from the side. So-so scenery. Aggressive kids. Tried for Mi Lai, but road was too rough. Inland through rice fields.
Quang Ngai to Sa Huynh Beach
Mostly flat, some rolling hills and finally to the coast.
Sa Huynh to Qui Nhon
All good road. Tail winds got stronger through the day. Some potholes and some rough bridges. All inland and beautiful, mostly because of vibrant green rice fields and distant mountains. It rains here. 110Ks to turn and 13Ks on a busy flat road to Qui Nhon. It’s on a nice bay with little cafes set in palms. Nasty kids.
Qui Nhon to Tuy Hoa
13Ks back to Highway 2. Then 104Ks to Tuy Hoa. From junction, it’s 15Ks on a good road to a 5K climb with 10% grades. Good views, then flat on good roads, less traffic. Tuy Hoa is basically a truck stop with a hotel.
Tuy Hoa to Nha Trang
After 18Ks, a climb of 5Ks at 10%. Roads variable but good over the pass. Great views of sea on south side of pass. About 75Ks from Nha Trang, the road was very bad. More hills toward Nha Trang with a quick steep climb just 8Ks from Nha Trang. Road improves into Nha Trang. Good scenery. More overcast and some rain. It seemed kinder and gentler here. Nice city.
Nha Trang to Phan Rang
104Ks (113Ks using the back road)
Basically flat, roads okay, some rough spots. Tail winds. We were told about a beach which was too isolated for us. 7Ks in off the highway then we took a back road to Phan Rang. It was narrow and rough.
Phan Rang to Delat
45Ks of slight steady climb inland. Then 18Ks climb to 1000 meters.( Japanese road from 1945). Sometimes up 10%, but usually less on good road. Great vistas. Then flat for next 50Ks. Basically good road in the highlands through a valley. Then a 8K climb to Delat at 10% grades. You reach 1475 meters in Dalat.
Delat to Bao Loc
Out of Delat, then slight climb, then down steep and somewhat rough road through pine forests for 8Ks to Thoc Prenu (a riverside series of drink and snack cafes). Gradual descent with a following wind on a road without potholes, but rough surface. Fast, then rolling hills. Then a gradual 7K climb before Bao Loc. The following winds switched for half of this ride.
Bao Loc to Junction with Highway 1
Slight climb about 10Ks out of Bao Loc, then a long (10Ks) steep (10%) descent on rough roads. Very unpopulated. Beautiful scenery. Forests and mountains. Hill tribe people. This road was built by the Americans for war purposes in the 1960s. New surface patches are rougher than the old surface. After steep descent, it’s a gradual drop on a better road. Then some rolling hills. Traffic is light, then moderate towards Highway 1. It can be hot.
Highway 1 to Saigon
No more Highway 1 for us. We took a bus. No scenery. Increasing traffic. Cross the bridge over the Mekong and into Ho Chi Minh on Dien Bien Phu St. Wide highway and very busy. Slight hills.