Backpacking Vietnam

Hello to all seasoned and aspiring backpackers!

Do you want to escape your daily routine and go on the ultimate adventure? Are you looking to be free and independent while discovering a new world? Then get ready to know more about Vietnam’s culture and diversity on the motorcycle tour of a lifetime!

The motorcycle is an important part of Vietnamese culture and is by far the most popular means of transportation in Vietnam. It’s an authentic way to travel through the country! Regardless if it’s your first time going on a bike, if you want to follow your passion for motorcycles, or if you want to discover a country in a completely new way – motorcycle tours through Vietnam are extremely popular. Since hardly anyone brings their own bike to Southeast Asia, it’s very common to buy a motorcycle from other backpackers or bike dealers and sell it again at the end of the trip. Depending on the model and equipment, the purchase price is approximately €170. Try to find out in advance what you need to know for buying one. With your own motorcycle, you’ll be able to see as many destinations as you want flexibly.

However, you can also travel through Vietnam by bus. Sounds good? We’ll show you an itinerary that covers every important destination from north to south, from mountain village to big city, from national park to sandy beach. We guarantee your Vietnam trip will be unforgettable!


Important Basics

Official Language ( Vietnamese )
EnglishVietnamese
HelloSin tschao
GoodbyeTam biet
Thank youKam on ban
YesDung
NoHong
Capital City

Hanoi

Form of Government

One-party republic

Best Time to Visit

January to May

Fun Facts
  • The national dish of Vietnam is Pho.
  • Vietnam is a very biologically diverse country, and 16% of all biodiversity is native to Vietnam.
  • 86% of Vietnamese households own a bike.
  • Vietnamese cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world.
  • While Vietnam has a tropical climate, it often snows on the mountain village of Sa Pa.

Cities

Hanoi

You’ll start your adventure in the capital of Vietnam.

Once there, you will be overwhelmed by the flood of new impressions. Whether it's a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, a visit to the numerous street markets, or delicious traditional food – there are endless activities.

You can sleep in one of the hostels located in the old town, where you’ll get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €4 a night.

Sapa

Sapa is located in the Yunnan highlands and is best reached from Hanoi.

You can explore the city and the surrounding mountain villages on guided tours. Hike through the impressive rice terraces, visit the villages of Cat Cat, Y Linh Ho, Lao Cai, and Ta Van, and get to know the life of the Vietnamese mountain people.

Including transport, meals, accommodation, entrance fees, and an English-speaking guide, 2 days in the North Vietnamese highlands will cost about €77.

Halong Bay

After coming back to Hanoi by bus, now you’ll get to spend some time with your new best friend – your bike!

As soon as you have found your motorcycle, the tour can start. Your first destination is Halong Bay. This area on the north coast of Vietnam is one of the most spectacular destinations in Vietnam, with more than 2,000 limestone cliffs towering meters out of the water.

There are many ways to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, for example by kayak or boat tour. You can stay in a hostel and get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €5.

Phong Nha Ke

Your next stop is the Phong Nah Ke National Park.

The best way to get there is by night bus. You’ll spend €30, and the bus will also transport your motorcycle. Thus, you will save money as you don’t need to pay extra for a hostel, and you can cover the long distance without having to drive yourself.

The oldest karst region in Asia was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site with good reason. It’s home to impressive flora and fauna, waterfalls, grottoes, and underground rivers as well as the largest cave in the world. A must-see for nature lovers!

While exploring the fascinating national park, you can stay at one of the hostels nearby and get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €6 a night.

Hue

While driving to the coast, we recommend stopping for a while in Hue.

The small town is located on the banks of the Perfume River and is rich in culture and history. You can also relax on one of the many river beaches or enjoy traditional dishes with fresh seafood for cheap.

You can sleep at one of Hue’s hostels and get a bed in a 4-person dorm for €5 a night.

Da Nang

You can reach the largest city in Central Vietnam by driving over the beautiful Cloud Pass, from where you can go directly to Da Nang on the South China Sea.

This is where you’ll truly get into the holiday mood! During the day, you can relax on one of the sandy beaches in and around Da Nang and at night, you can take a stroll through the beautiful city center with its numerous restaurants and bars.

You can get a bed in an 8-person dorm for €6 a night.

Hoi An

The small harbor village of Hoi An is only a few kilometers south of Da Nang. It somehow managed to survive Vietnam's many wars without any damage.

This means there’s a lot to see here, especially for those interested in culture. With its countless boutiques, galleries, and souvenir shops, the old town of Hoi Ans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts visitors with its special flair.

Sandy beaches close to the harbor invite you to relax, so you can easily stay here for a few days. Stay at a hostel nearby and get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €8 a night.

Nha Trang

Nha Trang Bay is considered to be one of the most beautiful bays in the world.

You can go by night bus from Hoi An, which will cost you about €30.

The coastal town is surrounded by mountains on three sides and is especially famous for its breathtaking underwater world. You can dive through colorful coral reefs and snorkel with exotic fish species.

Those who have had enough of the beach can visit the National Oceanographic Museum, Aquarium of Vietnam, the Buddhist temples, or the Catholic Cathedral.

Only a few minutes’ walk from the beach, you can stay at hostels for €5 a night and get a bed in a 6-person dorm.

Da Lat

Next stop: Da Lat.

The city is situated at an altitude of about 1,500 m in the mountains of South Vietnam and is also a popular holiday destination for locals due to its pleasant climate and breathtaking landscape.

Da Lat also attracts adrenaline junkies from all over the world with outdoor sports such as white water rafting, climbing, abseiling, and canyoning.

If you prefer to take it a little easier, visit a weasel farm where the most expensive coffee in the world is produced.

You can relax after an eventful day in one of the city’s hostels and get a bed in a 10-person dorm for €4.

Mui Ne

After a few days in the mountains, we will go back to the coast to Mui Ne.

The most popular coastal town in South Vietnam is the perfect place for sunbathing and relaxing. Try fresh local fish dishes, sand boarding, or kite surfing at one of the many kite surf schools.

You can sleep in a tent on the beach for as little as €4.

Ho Chi Minh

Our last stop is Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Vietnam's largest city is also the financial and economic center with skyscrapers, modern architecture, and chaotic traffic.

In the middle of the city in District 1 is the famous backpacker mile Phạm Ngũ Lão Street, where travelers from all over the world meet in bars, clubs, and pubs.

Spend the night at one of Ho Chi Minh’s hostels and get a bed in a 12-person dorm for €6 a night. Here, you shouldn’t have any problems finding someone who wants to buy your motorcycle, as many backpackers start their motorcycle trip here.

If you can't find a backpacker to buy your bike, you will find enough bike shops that will buy it from you.

So, after saying goodbye to your bike with a heavy heart, you will be heading back home. Your 3 weeks of adventure across Vietnam are (unfortunately) already over – but there are still many memories and unforgettable moments that you will take home with you!


Hanoi

Hanoi

You’ll start your adventure in the capital of Vietnam.

Once there, you will be overwhelmed by the flood of new impressions. Whether it's a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, a visit to the numerous street markets, or delicious traditional food – there are endless activities.

You can sleep in one of the hostels located in the old town, where you’ll get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €4 a night.

Sapa

Sapa

Sapa is located in the Yunnan highlands and is best reached from Hanoi.

You can explore the city and the surrounding mountain villages on guided tours. Hike through the impressive rice terraces, visit the villages of Cat Cat, Y Linh Ho, Lao Cai, and Ta Van, and get to know the life of the Vietnamese mountain people.

Including transport, meals, accommodation, entrance fees, and an English-speaking guide, 2 days in the North Vietnamese highlands will cost about €77.

Halong Bay

Halong Bay

After coming back to Hanoi by bus, now you’ll get to spend some time with your new best friend – your bike!

As soon as you have found your motorcycle, the tour can start. Your first destination is Halong Bay. This area on the north coast of Vietnam is one of the most spectacular destinations in Vietnam, with more than 2,000 limestone cliffs towering meters out of the water.

There are many ways to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, for example by kayak or boat tour. You can stay in a hostel and get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €5.

Phong Nha Ke

Phong Nha Ke

Your next stop is the Phong Nah Ke National Park.

The best way to get there is by night bus. You’ll spend €30, and the bus will also transport your motorcycle. Thus, you will save money as you don’t need to pay extra for a hostel, and you can cover the long distance without having to drive yourself.

The oldest karst region in Asia was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site with good reason. It’s home to impressive flora and fauna, waterfalls, grottoes, and underground rivers as well as the largest cave in the world. A must-see for nature lovers!

While exploring the fascinating national park, you can stay at one of the hostels nearby and get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €6 a night.

Hue

Hue

While driving to the coast, we recommend stopping for a while in Hue.

The small town is located on the banks of the Perfume River and is rich in culture and history. You can also relax on one of the many river beaches or enjoy traditional dishes with fresh seafood for cheap.

You can sleep at one of Hue’s hostels and get a bed in a 4-person dorm for €5 a night.

Da Nang

Da Nang

You can reach the largest city in Central Vietnam by driving over the beautiful Cloud Pass, from where you can go directly to Da Nang on the South China Sea.

This is where you’ll truly get into the holiday mood! During the day, you can relax on one of the sandy beaches in and around Da Nang and at night, you can take a stroll through the beautiful city center with its numerous restaurants and bars.

You can get a bed in an 8-person dorm for €6 a night.

Hoi An

Hoi An

The small harbor village of Hoi An is only a few kilometers south of Da Nang. It somehow managed to survive Vietnam's many wars without any damage.

This means there’s a lot to see here, especially for those interested in culture. With its countless boutiques, galleries, and souvenir shops, the old town of Hoi Ans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts visitors with its special flair.

Sandy beaches close to the harbor invite you to relax, so you can easily stay here for a few days. Stay at a hostel nearby and get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €8 a night.

Nha Trang

Nha Trang

Nha Trang Bay is considered to be one of the most beautiful bays in the world.

You can go by night bus from Hoi An, which will cost you about €30.

The coastal town is surrounded by mountains on three sides and is especially famous for its breathtaking underwater world. You can dive through colorful coral reefs and snorkel with exotic fish species.

Those who have had enough of the beach can visit the National Oceanographic Museum, Aquarium of Vietnam, the Buddhist temples, or the Catholic Cathedral.

Only a few minutes’ walk from the beach, you can stay at hostels for €5 a night and get a bed in a 6-person dorm.

Da Lat

Da Lat

Next stop: Da Lat.

The city is situated at an altitude of about 1,500 m in the mountains of South Vietnam and is also a popular holiday destination for locals due to its pleasant climate and breathtaking landscape.

Da Lat also attracts adrenaline junkies from all over the world with outdoor sports such as white water rafting, climbing, abseiling, and canyoning.

If you prefer to take it a little easier, visit a weasel farm where the most expensive coffee in the world is produced.

You can relax after an eventful day in one of the city’s hostels and get a bed in a 10-person dorm for €4.

Mui Ne

Mui Ne

After a few days in the mountains, we will go back to the coast to Mui Ne.

The most popular coastal town in South Vietnam is the perfect place for sunbathing and relaxing. Try fresh local fish dishes, sand boarding, or kite surfing at one of the many kite surf schools.

You can sleep in a tent on the beach for as little as €4.

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh

Our last stop is Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Vietnam's largest city is also the financial and economic center with skyscrapers, modern architecture, and chaotic traffic.

In the middle of the city in District 1 is the famous backpacker mile Phạm Ngũ Lão Street, where travelers from all over the world meet in bars, clubs, and pubs.

Spend the night at one of Ho Chi Minh’s hostels and get a bed in a 12-person dorm for €6 a night. Here, you shouldn’t have any problems finding someone who wants to buy your motorcycle, as many backpackers start their motorcycle trip here.

If you can't find a backpacker to buy your bike, you will find enough bike shops that will buy it from you.

So, after saying goodbye to your bike with a heavy heart, you will be heading back home. Your 3 weeks of adventure across Vietnam are (unfortunately) already over – but there are still many memories and unforgettable moments that you will take home with you!

Vietnam Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home – Hanoi
Home – Hanoi
Flight
300
6-person dorm
4
2. Hanoi
Hanoi
-
6-person dorm
4
3. Hanoi – Sapa
Hanoi – Sapa
Tour
Tour Accommodation
4. Sapa-Hanoi
Sapa-Hanoi
-
Tour Accommodation
5. Hanoi - Halong
Hanoi - Halong
Motorcycle
6-person dorm
5
6. Halong - Phong Nha Ke
Halong - Phong Nha Ke
Night bus incl. motorcycle
30
Night bus
7. Phong Nha Ke
Phong Nha Ke
-
6-person dorm
5
8. Phong Nha Ke – Hue
Phong Nha Ke – Hue
Motorcycle
4-person dorm
5
9. Hue – Da Nang
Hue – Da Nang
Motorcycle
8-person dorm
6
10. Da Nang – Hoi An
Da Nang – Hoi An
Motorcycle
6-person dorm
8
11. Hoi An
Hoi An
-
6-person dorm
8
12. Hoi An
Hoi An
-
6-person dorm
8
13. Hoi An – Nha Trang
Hoi An – Nha Trang
Night bus (Incl. motorcycle)
30
Night bus
14. Nha Trang
Nha Trang
-
6-person dorm
5
15. Nha Trang – Da Iat
Nha Trang – Da Iat
Motorcycle
10-person dorm
4
16. Da lat
Da lat
-
10-person dorm
4
17. Da Iat - Mui Ne
Da Iat - Mui Ne
Motorcycle
Tent
4
18. Mui Ne
Mui Ne
-
Tent
4
19. Mui Ne – Ho Chi Minh
Mui Ne – Ho Chi Minh
Motorcycle
12-person dorm
6
20. Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh
-
12-person dorm
6
21. Ho Chi Minh – Home
Ho Chi Minh – Home
Flight
300

Total price.

Flights 600,00
Transportation 0,00
Tours 77,00
Accommodation 135,00
Total812,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Banh Cuon: steamed dough rolls filled with rice or noodles. Depending on what you like, you can order it with meat, shrimps or vegetables.

Soups

Pho: the national dish of Vietnam is a noodle soup with beef and all kinds of vegetables, such as bean sprouts. The Vietnamese eat the soup for breakfast, if you don’t like that, you can also eat it for lunch or dinner.

Main courses

Nem Ran: the Vietnamese spring rolls are an absolute must eat. Either fried or cooked, they are filled with vegetables, mushrooms and soy. If you want a nutritious meal, just add a portion of rice and you have a typical Vietnamese dish.

Banh Mi: due to the France influence, baguette is eaten a lot in Vietnam. Banh Mi is super cheap. It is a small baguette filled with vegetables, tofu, meat, egg and coriander. You can choose whatever you like. It usually comes with soy and chili sauce. You won’t get enough of that

Banh xeo: this pancake consists mainly of rice flour and is kind of transparent. You can then fill it with the ingredients you want. From fish to shrimps, chicken and beef to tofu and all kinds of vegetables, you can find everything your heart desires to fill it. The traditional way is with peanut butter sauce, but that is of course a matter of taste.

Bun Cha: this dish is very popular, especially in Hanoi. You get a portion of grilled pork or meatballs with lots of rice and vegetables. Alternatively, you can order any kind of sauce.

Drinks

Egg Coffee: this coffee speciality is a real must drink in Vietnam. The coffee is made from egg white and simply tastes delicious!

Coconut coffee: this is also super good. The coffee is mixed with coconut milk and usually decorated with some flakes. It is sweet and just the right thing for a little break!

Vietnam

The exchange rate for 10,000 Vietnamese Dong is around €0.40 (as of May 2022). See prices for certain products and the cost of living below:

Cost of Living

Food

Free Time

Personal Hygiene

Dos

Always hand out cash or your credit card with both hands.

Wear nice clothes. A wrinkly shirt, torn trousers, or even dirty clothes are absolutely out of place here. In this case, the Vietnamese will have difficulty in taking you seriously and you won’t be able to build a good relationship.

You can walk on the street with good conscience. You are even safer there as the pavement is sometimes overcrowded. And no, you won't be breaking any laws.

Show respect towards the elderly. In Vietnam, the elderly have an extremely high status and are treated with great respect. You should also get used to this behaviour and always treat the many elder Vietnamese in a respectful and friendly way.

Don'ts

Don't wait at the side of a road until there is no car so you can cross it. You would be standing there for a long time. You need to be courageous and off you go into the hustle and bustle to get to the other side of the street.

Leave your shoes outside. As in many other Asian countries, you also leave your shoes in front of the door in Vietnam as to make sure that your host's house stays clean and tidy.

Please stop sweating. Yeah, you read that sentence correctly. There's one thing Vietnamese people don't like at all: Sweating. It's easy for them to say that because Asians sweat much less than Europeans do, but it's still a no-go to come into a shop or restaurant completely sweaty. You might want to wipe your face first.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

(Not necessary)

Vaccine

Robert-Koch-Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid for six months beyond your visa’s validity. Please also inform yourself on the current entry regulations regarding the Corona virus. Current information about this can be found at your country’s Foreign Office.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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