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A friend and I plan to go from Hanoi to Mai Chau by motorbike. Each of us will drive a Honda Win 100cc. I have only found a couple of articles mentioning this route so I'd just like to get feedback from more travellers.

Also, is there a route that is more convenient than others (e.g. less traffic, or better scenery)? This article mentions back roads being better but it's vague on where to access them.

Hanoi to Mai Chau

© OpenStreetMap contributors

Resources

tnhVietnam.xemzi.com: Hanoi to Mai Chau by motorbike

travelfish.org: Hanoi to Mai Chau by motorbike

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The distance from Hanoi to Mai Chau is approximately 140 km. Most of the roads are smooth and good for motorbike rides. The travel time is 4-5 hours. You start at Thang Long Avenue, drive to Hoa Lac intersection then turn left to reach Xuan Mai. This route is farther but offers more beautiful views.

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Here is my input after doing it myself.

It's completely doable, the ride is pretty easy actually.

It takes a total of around 5h: about 4h ride, plus 1h for stops on the way (going to toilet & taking pics).

Itinerary

I took this exact journey (see itinerary on google map):

  1. First, I left Hanoi without taking the highway as it's forbidden for motorbikes.

  2. Then, as seen on the google map itinerary, I headed south at a junction about 10km after Xuan Mai (through a small town called Xóm Vè). This is the back road mentioned in the article I talk about in my question. It had indeed much less traffic, the road was just fine. I was not blown away by the scenery but it was definitely nicer than to be on the QL6.

  3. Finally, joined back the QL6 & carried on until Mai Chau.

Another resource

I bumped into a Spanish blog having an article about the Hanoi-Mai Chau route. The nice part is, they shared the GPS tracking for the journey at the bottom of the article. You can also directly find this Hanoi-Mai Chau GPS track on Wikiloc.

Note

Make sure you leave early (latest 8am) so you have plenty of time in case of a break down or other issue.

Leaving early will also make you much more relax, many positive things come with this mindset.

Finally, it means that you will arrive early enough to pick your accommodation during the day time. So again, less stress, find a place to stay that you really like (location, comfort, price).

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I've done it (while being driven) in a car, so if the roads are good enough for that, they should be good enough for a scooter.

I do recall that one section of the main road was used a lot by very large quarry trucks. These do not give way for anything or anybody (even when roadworks force them to drive on the wrong side of the road), so be cautious of those.

If you're in the area, I'd recommend a trip to Pu Long nature reserve as well - the hills there are a lot steeper, and the scenery more dramatic - it's possible to find some seriously "secret valley" villages and forests - but the roads are in somewhat worse condition.

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I'm planning something similar. Im finding the below useful:

http://vietnamcoracle.com/province-of-paddies-and-pinnacles-the-thanh-hoa-loop/

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    Welcome to the site, we prefer longer, more detailed answers to link-only replies. Consider adding the relevant information into your answer – blackbird Nov 9 '15 at 19:19

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