Finding a way when google maps fail

They say all roads lead home. Well it depends what map you are using. For the sake of adventure you sometimes need to get off the beaten path and take little used roads that will lead you to those amazing sights you are on a quest to find.

View from the road from Quy Nhon to Kon Tum, Vietnam
Enjoying the view

Whatever you are after a beautiful lake, mountain pass or some little town in the middle of nowhere – come prepared. Carry a map. In this age of smartphones and mobile internet available almost everywhere, travelers tend to trust whatever map app we are used to at home. Google Maps ( or any offline map for that matter which may work great for you over there but may fail you big time in more exotic places.

Pristine lake by the road from Quy Nhon to Kon Tum, Vietnam
Some bad roads lead to beautiful places
Lake on the way from Nhon to Kon Tumto in Vietman
Another picturesque lake just few kilometers away

During our motor biking trip to Vietnam we deviated from main roads for most of the way from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to Hanoi. One of the scenic although not the shortest roads to the place we aimed to stay in for the night took us to some uncharted territory. Uncharted by Google that is. The map below shows the route we have taken versus the one that Google Maps shows as optimal.

Road Map showing missing part of road DT669B in Vietnam
Dirt Road DT669 which Google Maps recomended to us and missing DT669B that we miraculously found

Some roads shown on Maps that we have attempted to take were impassable according to the locals who we decided to believe after our experiences at the beginning of the route in torrential downpour.

We took the road that friendly locals suggested. You should make an effort to communicate with them and to trust their judgment in situation like we found ourselves in. On a partially flooded dirt track in the jungle at dusk.

A wet dirt track in the Vietnamese jungle that Google Maps recomended
This is road DT669 that Google Maps recomended to us instead of paved road – we marked it on the map above

We ended up taking perfectly paved although extremely quiet road that was not marked on Google Maps that after an adventurous journey full of amazing vistas led us to our home for the night safely and extremely wet.

Road DT669B in Vietnam with some mesmerizing cloudy skies
Meet DT669B, the road that Google Maps almost made us miss

All I am trying to say is that Google Maps as great as it is most of the time should be used with a bit of caution by more adventurous travelers. There is never a better knowledge about local area than local word of mouth which I encourage everyone to use even if you can only communicate by series of nods and hand gestures. It is all part of fun so go out there exploring!

River and pasures near Quy Nhon in Vietnam
Virtually deserted landscape in Vietnam off the beaten track

Click on the here to see full gallery of photos from this trip


UPDATE: Google has updated it’s maps and now road DT669B is displayed correctly as well as recomended as prefered route. With all fairness Google Maps served us well in most places we visited and despite it’s imperfections we find it a great map app. You just don’t want to miss the opportunity to confirm Google Maps recomendations with the locals. Especially in more remote or not too popular areas of the world.

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