Motorbiking down the coast of Vietnam is an excursion Kelsey and I had dreamed of taking. Being in the area, we wanted to get a taste of this – so we rented a motorbike for 3 days and hit the countryside!
We journeyed down narrow roads, weaving around seemingly endless moss covered limestone mountains. Before we knew it, we had driven into a different time. Families lived in small huts, cattle would casually wander and stop in the middle of the road, and small children would yell “helloooo” on their bike ride home from school.
This area was Tam Coc, and is known as “Halong Bay on land” because of its similar towering limestone outcrops. Getting to explore this natural gem, with a full tank of gas, and my wife hugging my back – truly felt like a dream!
Here’s a few places we stopped:
The Bái Đính Temple
We were drawn to this from miles away by it’s giant pagoda tower. This is the largest Buddhists complex in Vietnam and believe me, it’s massive! It was fairly recently built, but what it lacks in cultural history it makes up for in beauty. At the entrance you take a 15 minute walk through an outdoor hallway, lined with thousands of seated buddha statues. At the end of this hallway you can explore the largest temple building, go to the top of the pagoda tower, and see a buddha statue nestled into a side hill. The entire place lights up at night, is worth seeing, even if that means motorbiking back home in the dark.
River Paddling Tam Coc Caves
Another thing we passed while biking was several tiny wooden boats, being paddled by women in straw hats. We pulled over, paid for a ride, and hopped aboard. These rafts were skillfully guided by local women for a 2 hour ride through several of the Tam Coc caves. Caves were so low that we had to lay flat several times to not get hit by low hanging stalagmites. In the near darkness of these beautiful caves it felt like we had entered into a real life Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Something not to miss.
Stairway to Heaven (Mua Cave)
Take the picturesque white stone staircase up to see the Goddess of Mercy. Wipe your brow and then enjoy a look around at one of the best panoramic views you can find in the area.
Cuc Phuong National Park
We motorbike for hours inside this park and pulled over to see creepy caves, ancient trees, and enjoy several short hikes. If you visit here, don’t rush and try to do everything in the park, take it slow and enjoy one or two of the parks pitstops (and be sure you have a least 1/2 a tank of gas before heading in).
If you want to get a slice of motorbiking in Vietnam spend a few days south of Hanoi, grab a motorbike, and soak in its unbeatable natural beauty.
Note: We stayed in the city of Nihn Bihn at the Vancouver Hotel (1.5 hours from Hanoi), a town that is only 5 minutes to the scenic countryside. Vancouver has a motorbike for rent ($7 a day) and a great complimentary breakfast, very convenient!