Chart your own path through Vietnam on this epic cycling adventure spanning north to south. Visit some of the country’s main tourist attractions while also veering far off the beaten path. From the labyrinthine streets of the capital Hanoi, to the bright lights and sky scrapers of Ho Chi Minh City, your customized ride will offer a slow-paced portrait of a country on the move.
Destinations: Hanoi – Hue – Hoi An – Quang Ngai – Kon Tum – Buon Ma Thuot – Dalat – Nha Trang – Ho Chi Minh City
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival (Dinner, Guide pick up)
Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel, the capital city of Vietnam, is an elegant city located on the banks of the Red River with tranquil Restored Sword Lake at its heart. North of the lake are the bustling streets of the Old Quarter, each street named after the trade that used to take place there. Much of the city was transformed by the French when it became a French protectorate in the 1880s and there are wide boulevards and large colonial buildings which are now home to government departments and foreign embassies. You will have time to relax before having tickets for a performance of traditional Water Puppetry, an art form unique to northern Vietnam, and a good, light-hearted introduction to its rural culture. In the evening, you’ll have a ‘Welcome’ dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant in a restored French colonial building. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, ranks amongst the world's most attractive and interesting cities. It was first the capital of Vietnam in A.D. 1010, and though the nation's capital moved to Hue under the Nguyen dynasty in 1802, the city continued to flourish after the French took control in 1888. In 1954, after the French departed, Hanoi was declared Vietnam's capital once again. The remnants of over 1,000 years of history are still visible here, with that of the past few hundred years wonderfully preserved.
Day 2: Hanoi Orientation (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast at your hotel, you will be taken to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and historical presidential relics and then the Temple of Literature nearby. Afterwards you will head to Ngoc Son Temple and Hoan Kiem Lake. The Ngoc Son temple is set on a tiny island on the Hoan Kiem Lake and dates back to the 13th century. The lake itself is a picturesque focal point of Hanoi, frequented by tourists and locals alike. In the afternoon, you will visit Museum of Ethnology, widely acknowledged as the best in the country which houses a display dedicated to Vietnam's 54 ethnic minority peoples. Then you will take 1 hour by cyclo ride through Hanoi's Old Quarters to experience daily life of people who are living in the oldest parts of the city before coming back to your hotel to get your luggage then leaving for Hue by a late flight. When arrival, your driver/ guide will take you to your hotel, you will spend the night in Hue.
Day 3: Cycling to get closer to Hue’s life (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
In the morning, your bicycles will be at your hotel ready for you to ride through Hue’s rural villages towards the Thanh Toan Bridge (roofed in Chinese style). Nearby, a local market will provide you with views of daily life and local products. You'll then return to Hue’s city centre with en-route visit the Ngoc Son Princess ‘garden house’. It has an attractive family altar and the owner is an expert on Hue’s culture and history – he will be pleased to explain the geomantic principles underpinning the building and garden’s construction.
After lunch, your route will take you past the Imperial Citadel to visit some of the garden houses in Phu Mong Kim Long village, thence ride toward one of the handicraft villages in Hue’s hinterland that specialises in a single product range of traditional cakes - ‘banh it’ and ‘banh phu the’ before looping back to your hotel for refreshment.
In the evening, you’ll sit down for dinner in the pleasant surroundings and a comfortable atmosphere of another of the garden houses. The owner will prepare and serve a traditional meal based on the distinctive characteristics of classic Hue cuisine. You’ll spend the night in Hue.
The garden houses are a unique feature of Hue. The houses are traditional, privately owned, and set in attractive formal gardens. Some have connections with the old Royal Imperial Court. Hue traditional architecture has long had close associations with the natural environment. The garden houses reflect this association. Each is highly individual - house and garden, people and scenery, plants, clouds and water co-exist and blend with each other in a harmonious context. The narrow streets and abundant flora give the garden house area a country village feeling.
Day 4: Cycling Hue to Hoi An (80km cycling) (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
A classic cycling trail for people with average fitness - taxing, but not exhausting! You’ll be driven to the coast, about 18km (or 2O minutes) beyond Hue’s city limits. The first 40km is off the beaten track along a picturesque lane shaded by coconut palms running alongside a peninsula from Thuan An beach to Vinh Loc. A pause to explore the hundreds of ancestral tombs scattered across the high sand dunes is a welcome break.
Upon reaching the end of the peninsula, a local ferry will take you across the Perfume River’s estuary and, after reaching dry land, the route takes you a further 11km arrive at Highway 1. At this point you have two options – brave the traffic on Vietnam’s busiest road or be transferred to the start of today’s three hill climbs. Unless you enjoy following heavy juggernauts belching diesel fumes, we recommend the latter!
After the first two moderate climbs, each about 3km, a break to relax, sunbathe, splash in the azure waters of Lang Co beach and seafood lunch, you’ll be ready for the Hai Van Pass. You’ll ignore the tunnel, full of commercial traffic and noxious gasses, in favour of the 11km mountain road. Since the tunnel was built, it’s very quiet - the gradient is manageable and the views breathtaking!
Finally, you’ll then be transferred the rest of the way to Hoi An Ancient Town, a historic old port and trading post where you’ll spend the night.
Hoi An town is a UNESCO World Heritage area. An ancient trading port, once the largest in Indochina, Hoi An was a meeting point for many cultures that left their mark in the different architectural features of its wooden buildings. The original traditional street pattern still exists, as does the quay that once welcomed ships from all over East Asia and beyond. Many remained there for months at a time, waiting for favorable trade winds to carry them home.
There are plenty of good restaurants offering a variety of cuisines and price levels. The town is also a good place for shopping for silk. You can have your clothes tailor-made within a day or two at reasonable cost.
Day 6: Cycling day - My Son -35 Km (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
A gentle ride westward to the World Heritage My Son Sanctuary, mostly on quiet level roads following the banks of the Thu Bon River!
Seven kilometres after setting off, you’ll cross the river to visit a fishing village. After remounting and dropping in at a local market, a further 11km takes you to Bara bridge for a break and refreshments. Revitalized, you’ll soon need to push your cycles across a couple of major roads, then it’s more back roads until you reach My Son. You will spend the night in Hoi An.
Your guide will show you the remains of the remarkable towers constructed by the Cham builders, many centuries ago - their origins and purpose have yet to be fully explained. In the afternoon, you’ll return to your hotel via your support vehicle rest of the day to do what like.
Once, the My Son Sanctuary was the spiritual capital of the Cham Kingdom that dominated SE Asia for nearly a thousand years. The Cham craftsmen built a network of intricately-worked red brick columns heavily incised with figures and motifs as well as many striking statues. Their towers were badly bombed in the American war, but are still impressive, as is its remote valley setting. The complex is set in a quiet, richly forested area bisected by a clear stream. However, the tree cover is not complete and the valley acts as suntrap, so good sun protection is important.
Day 7: Cycling day - Hoi An to My Lai (47km) (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After a hearty breakfast, you’ll drive along Highway 1 to Quang Ngai and My Tra Hotel, your overnight accommodation. Your bicycles will be waiting for you. The first stage is gentle - quiet country lanes leading to the coast and fishing villages. A short 2km ascent to the top of Thien An Mountain offers striking views of the surrounding countryside with time to visit an ancient Pagoda dating back to 1650 and still an active place of worship. The monks living in the pagoda are always welcoming - have a small donation ready!
The gradient is now downhill towards the site of the infamous My Lai massacre, now a shrine dedicated to the unarmed 550 villagers, mainly women and children, slaughtered by the Americans in March, 1968. Many were raped, beaten, tortured, or maimed before they were killed. A museum and gardens commemorate the event, but the silence broken only by the sighing of the breeze in the trees is its own memorial.
After a guided tour to reflect on the war, the quiet roads take you to the beach for relaxation and perhaps a swim. After a picnic lunch, you can loop round through the fishing villages to return to Quang Ngai or, if you’re tired, take the direct route to your hotel. You will spend the night in Quang Ngai.
Day 8: Quang Ngai - Kon Tum (Cycling distance: 85 km) (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
Today is a more challenging day as you head uphill into the Highlands. You will ride past many remote villages, tropical forest, over bridges and along quiet, scenic roads. You will spend the night in Kon Tum.
Day 9: Kon Tum – Buon Ma Thuot (Cycling distance: 110 km) (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
This day of cycling passes tea plantations and ethnic minority villages. Enjoy a cycle ride, heading into the countryside and start another spectacular day of cycling. After climbing a few hills, you will take the rest in Buon Me Thuat, Vietnam’s coffee capital. Vietnam is among the largest coffee exports in the world by volume, and the country’s signature Robusta beans are notoriously strong. You should beware the caffeine rush! You will spend the night in Buon Ma Thuot.
Day 10: Buon Ma Thuot – Dalat (Cycling distance: 100 km) (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
After breakfast, you will be escorted by your car then enjoy riding through mountain scenery toward Dalat, a hill town and a favorite destination of many Vietnamese honeymooners. You will start the day’s cycling at the edge of a coffee plantation. The scenery along the way is simply breathtaking and leave the warmer temperature behind as you pedal into the cooler climates of Dalat. You will spend the night in Dalat.
Day 11: Dalat biking and hiking (approximately 30km) (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast, you’ll cycle on trails along the lakes, then hike to the top of Pinhatt Mountain. This mixed activity combines a great off-road ride on single track through pine forest with a hike up to one of the best lookout spots in Dalat. You’ll then cycle down to Tuyen Lam Lake, ditch the bikes before hiking up the mountain, have lunch and then ride back up to Dalat.
Day 12: Dalat Bike to Nha Trang (70km) (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
This ride to Nha Trang starts with a 45 minute transfer 33km to the north east of Dalat on a new road and through the newest national park in Vietnam (Bidoup Nui Ba). It offers fantastic cycling in the highlands as well as down a 28 kilometer pass to the coast. The first section of the ride starts in pine forest and rolls through the hills with beautiful views of farms, countryside and Nui Ba Mountain. There is one final 3 kilometer climb to the top of the pass before some serious downhill. The 28 kilometer, uninterrupted downhill section is the longest section of downhill that we offer.
After reaching the bottom of the pass you’ll have picnic style lunch by a river. The section of riding after lunch offers a beautiful sampling of country living in Vietnam, passing through small villages and farms. This section of riding, although pleasant, can be challenging as the hills roll continuously. Average riding distance is 70 kilometers with an option to ride more, or less. The support vehicle can be used at any time if you need to.
Day 13: Cycling through rural villages around Nha Trang (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast, you’ll pick up a mountain bike to cycle across the countryside around Nha Trang City stopping off at several villages, a working brick kiln and a good example of typical 19th century Vietnamese architecture en-route. You’ll meet local people, find out about their rural lifestyle and see how they earn a living. Your journey will take you across the rice fields where the farmers work with the water buffalos, and visit hamlets producing.
- rice paper
- conical hats
- woven rice-stalk mats
- charcoal stoves
Lunch will be at a riverside restaurant
Day 14: Nha Trang free (Breakfast)
A full free day for lying on the beach or whatever takes your fancy.
Day 15: Nha Trang - Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Guide)
You’ll be free until a short boat ride whisks you to the mainland where your car and driver will be waiting to take you to Cam Ranh Airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Arriving at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel.
In the afternoon, you’ll also call in at the Jade Emperor Temple. It’s one of the best Taoist temples in Vietnam, with superb effigies, remarkable carved panels of the descent to Hell and somewhat incongruous terrapin and tortoise sanctuaries. You’ll then return your hotel for freshen up or wander around the huge Ben Thanh market, one of the liveliest areas of Ho Chi Minh City, is packed with every conceivable commodity. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 16: Ho Chi Minh City - Tay Ninh - Cu Chi Tunnels – Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
A morning drive will take you to Tay Ninh to visit the Cao Dai Holy See in time, home to a unique religion combining the disciplines of Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Confucianism, Hinduism and Geniism. The aim of this sect is to achieve a synthesis of all religions. Followers consider Joan of Arc, Rene Descartes, William Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Winston Churchill and Napoleon Bonaparte their respected saints or spirit intermediaries. You will arrive at the temple in time for the midday service giving you the chance to listen to chanting devotees. The temple’s exterior is decorated with multi-coloured dragons of all shapes and sizes.
After lunch, you will enjoy a scenic drive through idyllic paddy flatlands and countryside. Arrive to Cu Chi tunnels for a fascinating guided tour of this amazing three-floor labyrinth of underground passages stretching a staggering 250kilometres from Saigon to the Cambodian border. The network included innumerable trap doors, specially constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers and kitchens. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a unique experience and a feel of what underground life in war was like. You will spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City
Cao Dai is a ‘new’ religion unique to Vietnam with around a million followers. Both its creed and its architecture are remarkable and exotic. The service lasts about half an hour – the rituals are based upon an eclectic mixture of Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. Discreet photography is OK, but shoes must be left outside
Day 17: Ho Chi Minh City Departure (Breakfast, Driver Pickup)
Your time will be your own until your private car and driver arrives to take you to Tan Son Nhat airport for your departure flight.
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- Free Vietnam Visa Invitation letter.
- Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
- Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle as specified in the itinerary above.
- Domestic flight tickets: Hanoi - Hue, including domestic airport taxes.
- Boat cruise as programme. For Ha Long Bay, you’ll cruise on a high quality private wooden boat good facilities and an experienced crew. The boat will be fully licensed and comply with current safety regulations.
- Road travel in an appropriate private vehicle for transfer and back up when cycling as itinerary (supplement luggage van to carry bike and baggage).
- The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary.
- Where necessary, entry fees for all visits as mentioned in the programme.
- Lunches and dinners, as specified, in the best local restaurants, picnics where suitable restaurants are not available, and full board on the boat in Ha Long Bay.
- Good quality touring cycles for all cycling days in the programme.
- Drinking water for cycling days as itinerary.
- Snack, soft drink and local fruits for cycling days.
- Simple first aid kit.
- VAT and other taxes.
- International flight tickets and airport tax.
- Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
- Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
- Surcharges for peak season (if any)
- Compulsory meals (if any)