Cycling in Vietnam
Saigon to Hanoi
We ride from vibrant Saigon in the south to the thrilling capital of Hanoi in the north on this two week cycling tour, travelling on tarmac roads through colourful fishing villages, folding rice terraces and mountains cloaked in jungle. The vast shoreline of white sandy beaches is ours to discover along the way, with time to swim in the sea on a tropical island retreat. Stopping off at the ancient trading port of Hoi An, home to temples and wooden merchant houses, we delve into the peacefulness of rural Vietnam before ascending the Hai Van Pass, riding along twisting coastal roads that lead to remarkable views of the misty forest below.
• Walk the heady ‘Path of the Gods’ to Positano • Savour mouth-watering cuisine • Crawl through the Cu Chi war tunnels • Relax in charming Hoi An • Cruise among the limestone formations of Halong Bay • Overnight on a tropical island
• All breakfasts, 10 lunches and 1 dinner
• All accommodation (see below)
• All transport and listed activities
• Tour leader throughout
• Arrival & departure transfers
• Local bike hire
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Day 1: Start Saigon
This evening there will be a welcome briefing with you leader followed by an optional group dinner at a local restaurant.
Days 2: Transfer out of the city; cycle to the Cu Chi tunnels
This morning we drive out of the city, before riding to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This offers a great introduction to cycling in Vietnam and a chance to fine-tune the bikes. The tunnels were Viet Cong sanctuaries, used by the guerrillas as living quarters and escape routes. The network covers 3 levels and approximately 240km of tunnels. Some parts have been widened for tourists, but the tunnels were originally very narrow and it is still necessary to crawl on hands and knees. Claustrophobes may prefer to stay outside in the sunshine! If you prefer not to visit the tunnels you can have an unguided free day in Saigon. Places of interest include: the Emperor of Jade and Giac Lam pagodas, the former Presidential Palace (now the Reunification Hall), Ben Thanh market and the War Remnants Museum.
Day 3: Cycle towards the coast and drive to Mui Ne
After an early breakfast we head out of Saigon by bus and then start cycling towards the coast. We hit the backroads and head through tropical fruit and rubber plantations also passing some small fishing villages as we make our way closer to the coast finishing our ride in time for lunch. We then transfer approx. 3 hours to Mui Ne, a tranquil white sand beach where we can witness our first sunset over the Eastern Sea. We spend approx. 4-5 hours on the bus today.
Day 4: Cycle to Dalat in the Central Highlands
We cycle towards Dalat; the route is undulating with occasional climbs. Along the way we pass coffee and tea plantations as well as flower gardens and pine forests as we reach higher altitude. We rejoin the bus before the road climbs steeply to the mountain town of Dalat. We spend approx 3.5 hours on the bus today. Dalat is a pleasant hill station, formerly known as Le Petit Paris, and has been described as the most beautiful town in Vietnam. It was favoured by the French for its climate, and is now a popular honeymoon resort for the Vietnamese.
La Sapinette Hotel or similar
Day 5: Cycle through Bidoup N.P.; to the coast and boat transfer to Whale Island
Today's ride is predominantly undulating and approximately 30km downhill through pine forests and paddy fields as we descend nearly 1,500m travelling through the Bidoup Ba National Park. This area is home to rare pine forests as well as small villages inhabited by the ethnic minority people of the central highlands. Once we arrive at the coast, we head by bus (approx. 1.5 hours) to the coast near Nha Trang before boarding a boat to our tropical island retreat of Whale Island for the next two nights. Today you can cycle up to 100km according to preference.
Day 6: Cruise around islands with seafood lunch and snorkelling
Having a rest from the bikes today we get the opportunity to really relax and unwind. We will join a boat trip in the morning for a spot of snorkelling and swimming in the turquoise sea before a seafood lunch is served. In the afternoon there is the option to visit a local fishing village, see the Whale temple or walk around the island to the viewpoint for a 360 degree view of the stunning mountainous coastline and the surrounding coves and white sand beaches.
Day 7: Drive to beautiful Dai Lanh Beach; coastal ride to Quy Nhon
We set off early in the morning and ride to the beautiful fishing village of Dai Lanh. A short transfer out of town past the Po Nagar Cham towers brings us to a high point and from here today's ride is predominantly flat. The beautiful beach at Dai Lanh is a perfect place to stop for a swim (if road conditions and time permit) and lunch before continuing by bus around the spectacular coastal cliff road towards the town of Tuy Hoa and on to Quy Nhon. (Approx. 4 hours in the bus today).
Day 8: Further coastal ride stopping en route at sand dunes; then transfer to Hoi An
Leaving Quy Nhon we travel through a new economic zone over the Thi Nai Peninsula and Nhon Hoi Bridge, the longest sea bridge in Vietnam. Getting off our bikes we will visit a market, where its not unusual to be pulled aside for a photo as this part of the country does not see many western tourists. The coast line features secluded bays, sand dunes and beaches with colourful fishing boats bobbing on the Eastern Sea. We will cycle until we arrive at Phu Ly and then drive to Hoi An. If time permits, we will cycle the last 12km once we turn off Highway 1 into Hoi An.
Hoi An, the original European trading port in Vietnam dating back to the mid-sixteenth Century is now a living museum, with attractive wooden merchant's houses and pagoda-style temples with Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European architectural influences. It is also a marvellous place to wander around and enjoy the thriving riverside market. We spend two nights in Hoi An which is also a fantastic place to buy local art or have some clothes tailor-made for you. Its best to bring a picture or a sample of what you want made. Approx. 6 hours in the bus today. Cycle approx. 50km.
Day 9: Sightseeing in Hoi An; free afternoon
This morning we take a guided walking tour of Hoi An to explore some of the structures of historical significance in the Old Town, including bridges, temples, wells and houses. Those less interested in architecture can cycle the 5km to the lovely Cua Dai beach or cycle to the Marble Mountains, which are 19km from town. These five marble hills, formerly islands, contain many caves, some of which were used as Buddhist (and Viet Cong) sanctuaries.
Day 10: Ride over the spectacular Hai Van Pass; cycle and drive on to Hue
Today we turn north again for the drive/cycle to Hue. The route traverses over the spectacular Hai Van Pass - the 'Pass of the Ocean Clouds'. The views are stunning though those who prefer to avoid the 580m climb can always take a lift in the support vehicle. Once at the top it will all seem worth it as you plummet back to the ocean, then continue through small villages and timeless rural scenes to the outskirts of Hue, from where we transfer to our city centre hotel. Approx 2.5 hours in the bus today. Cycle approx. 80km.
Day 11: Explore Hue and surroundings by bike and boat; overnight train to Hanoi
Hue is often claimed to be the cultural and historic centre of Vietnam and there is plenty to see. We take a guided tour of the city and surrounding tombs. The most memorable site is the citadel, with walls six miles in length: inside are the palaces and halls of the Mandarins, and the remains of the Forbidden Purple City, where only the emperor and his eunuchs and concubines were allowed.
Day 12: Arrive Hanoi; drive to Halong Bay; board boat and cruise/kayak among spectacular limestone formations
We usually arrive in Hanoi in the early morning and stop for a local breakfast and a stretch of the legs, before we are met by our bus for an approximate 4 hour drive to Halong Bay. This is one of the most stunningly beautiful sights in South East Asia with around 3000 limestone peaks rising directly from the clear emerald sea. We cruise amongst this amazing karst scenery, stopping to kayak in the sea allowing us to get to places inaccessible by boat (weather permitting) and enjoy a seafood lunch on board. We overnight on board in twin share cabins with en suite facilities.
Day 13: Further cruising in Halong Bay; return to Hanoi
Visit Me Cung cave and enjoy further time to cruise the many islands of Halong Bay. We then return to Hanoi late afternoon. This charming city contains many beautiful old buildings and the atmosphere is completely different from that in Saigon in the south, mainly due to the much more conservative nature of the North Vietnamese. Also, unlike its industrial counterpart, the centre of Hanoi has a faded charm with broad tree-lined avenues dating from the French period as well as some attractive lakes and pagodas. In the evening there is the option to enjoy a performance of Hanoi's famous water puppets.
Day 14: End Hanoi
For land only clients, the tour ends this morning in Hanoi after breakfast.
Operated by Exodus Travels. Trip style: Self-Guided Walking with Moderate Activity Level.
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