Heading north out of Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh (TPHCM) east of Tân Sơn Nhất Airport, you travel on urban streets of Quận (District) Gò Vấp that take you to the west once you clear the airport grounds. Moving out of Gò Vấp and into Quận 12, you proceed through the new industrial areas of TPHCM. You are in the heart of this area as you cross the national highway bypass (QL-1A) constructed in 1972 by RMK-BRJ.
This highway is now part of a ring road intended to circle TPHCM. The eastern part is currently under construction in Quận 2. As is typical in growing cities around the world, industrial and high-tech parks are strung out along these important lines of communication and transport.
Once you move past the ring road and head into Huyện (Suburban District) Hóc Môn, the countryside begins. Somewhere beyond the newest factories under construction, we took a wrong turn and wound up in real farm country.
This gave us an opportunity to see where our market produce comes from.
If you expand the photo by clicking on it, you can see a new factory in the background. The TPHCM 2020 Master Plan dedicates this area for agricultural production, but we shall see if this actually happens.
We were looking for province highway (TL) 9. These smaller highways are not marked with their highway numbers. You need to follow direction signs to destination towns, which aren't always shown on a map or using the same name. But we eventually found it with a little help.
This highway parallels the Sông Sài Gòn heading northwest out of the city. You never see the river, however, past the fields and forests. We stopped along the way for a fruit snack.
Our destination was the larger town of Thủ Dầu Một in Bình Dương Province. You cross the Sông Sài Gòn into the town.
There is a new bridge under construction, but you take a quick ferry across the river for now. Thù Dầu Một could be a successful tourist town due to a bit of topography (unusual in southern Việt Nam) and the river-front, but the people there haven't figured that out yet. There were no restaurants along the river.
If you don't cross the river, there is still 27 kilometers of rural highway to the western border of TPHCM into Tây Ninh Province.
We completed a loop back to Saigon on national highway QL-13, which is a wide truck-laden industrial route through Bình Dương Province. This loop was about 48 kilometers, which is a long time on a motorbike.