Cycling Vietnam, Saigon – Hoi An (or Danang) via Dalat and Ho Chi Minh road


– Distance 1030 kms. From Saigon QL 1, then QL 20 to Dalat. From Dalat via Nam Bahn to QL 27, to reach rt 14, the HO Chi Minh road at Buon Ma Thuot. Follow this north as far as Than My, there take the 14B and head for Danang or Hoi An.

– very hilly, up an down all the time, total vertical meters (climbing) app 7600.

– Scenic only between Dalat and Buon Ma Thuot and north of Pleiku. Between BMT and Pleiku boring, but historic because of the battlefields of the American war. You don’t see any of it but for a number of war-cemetries.

– road conditions are just reaonable. Well cyclable all the way, but many parts are just good, many bad and some very bad. Only north of Plei Kan there is new and smooth asphalt (app. 250 kms)

– Headwind, the wind seems to be north to east all the time during this season. Sometimes a real nuisance. Might be better to cycle the opposite direction during this time of year.

– Between Saigon and Dalat and between Buon Ma Thuot and Pleiku the road is very busy and very noisy. Experienced Vietnam-cyclists know: Vietnamese drivers often drive very irresponsibly and very dangerously and the constant hornblasting is utterly annoying. A national treatment by some good shrinks is what seems neccesary. If not for them, then for me after some days in this traffic.

– maps. We used the blue covered atlas, a very detailed map-book, edition 2006, VND 170,000. Next to that we had a yellow and green Travelmap, scale 1 : 1.250.000, 2009 edition, VND 17,000. This one is yearly updated and also very useful. Annoying and confusing is that they, and the very accurate milestones along the road, very often use different names for the same places.


(in all the places mentioned there is accommodation and there is more in some other places)

– Saigon – Dau Giay, QL 1, 60 kms. We bussed this, since we didn’t want to cycle in crazy Saigon so far.

– to Madagui on QL 20. 84 kms. Annoyingly busy road. Climbing (no data on vm).

– to Di Linh. Alt. 846, 1010 vm (vertical meters climbing), dist. 71 kms. Noisy again. Scenic.

– to Dalat. Alt. 1500, 760 vm, dist. 80 kms. Nice, but noisy and busy still. If you take the right fork (Mimosa road) some 20 kms before Dalat it’ll be very quiet and scenic.

– to Krong No. Alt. 506, 853 vm, dist. 110 kms. Leave Dalat for Nam Ban (Elephant Waterfalls), a pass, beautiful downhill on small good road. After Nam Ban take the road to the right via Phi To to get on rt. 27 at Ngoc Son. Then north, over 2 passes (1345 and 1010 alt.). The last 30 kms very bad road, spoiling a steep 8 kms descent, very scenic.

– to Liem Som (Lak lake). Alt. 436, 300 vm, dist. 39 kms. Scenic, bad road.

– to Buon Ma Thuot, on the HCM trail. Alt. 489, 300 vm, dist. 52 kms. Scenic and bad road in the beginning. Near BMT much traffic again.

– to Ea’drang. Alt 800, 632 vm, dist. 80 kms. Not scenic at all. Terribly busy and noisy. Witnessed a head on collisision between motorcycle and truck. Bus drivers are gamblers, overtaking and using the left lane without having any view on oncoming traffic. They are absolutely irresponsable and horn-crazy.

In Ea’drang there are 2 Nha Nghi’s and one Nha Tro. None of them wanted to take us in, so we ended up in a homestay. Very nice people, we are very thankful. But still we don’t know why they didn’t want us.

– to Pleiku. Alt. 738, 677 vm, dist. 104 kms. Not scenic at all. Along the way we met Bjorn Svenson again.

– to Kon Tum. Alt. 544, 328 vm, dist. 47 kms. Much more quiet and more scenic.

– to Plei Kan (Ngoc Hoi). Alt. 669, 500 vm, dist. 62 kms. Quiet and scenic. From here very good new road.

– to Dak Glei. Alt. 718, 567 vm, dist. 55 kms. Quiet and scenic.

– to Kham Duc. Alt. 381, 869 vm, dist. 57 kms. Two passes, 1030 and 1110 alt. Quiet and scenic.

– to Thahn My. Alt. 46, 307 vm, dist. 57 kms. Very beautiful and absolutely quiet and remote. Drizzle all day. Hardly any shops are drinkstalls along the way.

– to Hoi An. Alt. sea-level, 223 vm, dist. 76 kms. Leave rt. 14 and take a right on rt. 14B. Very nice route. In Ai Nghia we went right for Hoi An, for Danang go straight on.

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