An unforgettable north to south cycling tour of vibrant Vietnam

More than 30 million Vietnamese can't be wrong - handle-bar height gives you the best view of Vietnam! Our cycling tour through this mesmerising country provides opportunities to meet the locals and experience their culture in a way that wouldn't otherwise be possible. So come with us and get active as we travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, down country lanes and over spectacular mountain passes. And, of course, all the exercise gives you the perfect excuse to indulge in delicious Vietnamese cuisine.

Start
Hanoi, Vietnam
Finish
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Countries
Vietnam
Themes
Cycling
Code
TVXB
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
314kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Experience historical Hue by bicycle
  • Conquer the spectacular Hai Van Pass
  • Cycle the road less travelled to Quy Nhon
  • Chill out on tranquil Nha Trang beaches
  • Experience the energy of Ho Chi Minh City
  • Be welcomed as guests in a small Vietnamese village

Itinerary

Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure officially begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm tonight. You can arrive at any time during the day, as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We are happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Before the meeting you need to assemble your bicycle to check for any damage in transit. If you have arranged for the hire of a bicycle, your leader will assist you in preparing the bike. If you arrive with some time to spare then work your legs with a walk around Hanoi’s charming shaded boulevards and a squat on a short street-corner stools for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) in the Old Quarter.
This morning you’ll get the chance to explore the Vietnamese capital in more depth. Full of parks, lakes, and tree-lined boulevards, the city is known for its laidback atmosphere. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, which includes the Buddhist temple One Pillar Pagoda and the former residence of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. There’s also time to explore the vibrant Old Quarter, an architectural museum where blocks of ochre buildings give off the air of a 1930s provincial French town. In these ancient ’36 Streets’ discover an amazing selection of shops that sell everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, jewellery, beautifully embroidered tablecloths, wood carvings and lacquerware - it's a bargain hunter's paradise. For those that wish to, there's a chance to warm up muscles by riding around the city (approximately 25 kilometres). Hanoi is made for exploration by bike, so this is the perfect place to get to grips with Vietnamese street life and traffic. There is lots to fill spare time in Hanoi: walk around beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, with the reflection of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface, or maybe dive into culture at the Vietnam Fine Art Museum or The Vietnamese Women’s Museum. Tonight perhaps explore the legendary world of Hanoi Street food with an exploration of the hole-the-wall eateries serving up steaming bowls of Pho.
Saddle up this morning as your cycling adventure kicks into first gear. Leave Hanoi behind and travel by bus to Hoa Binh (approximately 2 hours). When you arrive you’ll jump on your bike and cycle 40 kilometres to Cao Phong, through small ethnic Thai villages, enjoying the tranquillity of the paddy fields and interacting with the local people. Limestone peaks climb in the background and banks of green line the road, and you’ll take regular stops to admire the view across the lush valleys. After arriving you’ll take a short 30-minute bus ride for the next section, stopping for lunch at Man Duc. After you fuel up, the bus will take you to the Da River Reservoir. Stretch your legs again cycling along the Da River, passing spectacular karst cliffs, through paddy fields, and admiring the lush panorama of the Mai Chau valley on the way (approximately 30 kilometres). The peaceful town of Mai Chau is situated in a stunningly beautiful valley surrounded by verdant green mountains and is famed for its breathtaking scenery and friendly hilltribe peoples. Tonight you’ll enjoy local hospitality in a simple stilt-house homestay in the village of Poom Coong. Your amicable hosts will cook up a fabulous home-cooked meal, and there may even be a chance to sample some of the local rice wine produced in the region.
This morning you farewell your homestay hosts and cycle 30 kilometres from Mai Chau to Mai Hai, and then on to Co Luong. You’ll ride through more paddy fields and test you navigation skills (or suspension) with the shallow potholes that can be found on the road. Pass pineapple farms and farmers riding atop their load drawn by lumbering water buffalo. Ride through small towns and wave to friendly locals on your way through picture-perfect Vietnam – lush green fields, towering limestone mountains, tranquil waterways and charming historic sites. A bus trip then takes you along the Ho Chi Minh Road with a lunch stop before Ninh Binh. If you arrive in Ninh Binh with time (and energy) to spare you can take a 30 km cycle around the surrounding area. This is a wonderful chance to see everyday rural life in action as well as take in the beautiful countryside.
This morning you’ll cycle from Ninh Binh to Tam Coc, when you’ll really have the opportunity to soak up one of Vietnam’s most spectacular views – limestone karst peaks thrusting out of serene rice paddies, the sounds and views of the river, which winds through the fields and has boats parading up and down its length. When you arrive in Tam Coc you’ll visit the Hang Pagoda (an ancient cave pagoda), and then see Vietnam’s largest pagoda, Bai Dinh, in nearby Trang An. You will also cycle to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam under the 10th-century Dinh Dynasty, the remains of which can be seen in the lasting beautiful archways and temples. Here you’ll take a lunch break at the Dinh or the Le Temple. Today’s cycling is approximately 50 kilometres. Then it’s back on the bus to return to your hotel, where you can use the day room to take a shower and freshen up. After an early dinner you’ll transfer to Nam Dinh for an overnight train to Hue.

Notes: On the overnight train to Hue (approximately 12 hours) conditions are basic, but it is a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances like a local. Sleeper trains typically have four berth compartments (occasionally six berth depending on seasonal variations and group configuration), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure.
Arrive in Hue and hop back in the saddle to begin your exploration of the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings. Today you will ride (approximately 25 kilometres) through the fields to visit many of Hue's remarkable sites, including temples, bunkers, tombs, ruins, pagodas and spectacular scenery. On your cycle you will visit the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still atmospheric and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war. The itinerary is flexible and you have ample time for stops along the way to admire the sites. Later, kick back in a cafe or restaurant. Hue’s cuisine is considered by many Vietnamese as the best in the country, and is influenced both by its imperial heritage (small dishes and a focus on aesthetic presentation) as well as its strong Buddhist heritage, reflected in the high proportion of vegetarian restaurants in the region. The bustling Dong Ba Market offers a wealth of goods and foods to see and snack on. It's a good place to try some of the local specialities that graced the Nguyen emperors' banquet tables, such as the ‘banh khoai’, Hue's answer to the pancake.
Today will be big on riding and big on spectacular views. Leaving Hue, you will do some mountainous riding (approximately 80 kilometres in total) as you conquer the Hai Van (Ocean Cloud) Pass on the way to the tropical south and the laidback town of Hoi An. The pass is a stunning stretch of highway the winds through the Truong Son mountain range for about 20 kilometres (10 kilometres each way), with views across the Bay of Denang to the south. It is 500 metres about sea level and the up/down slope ranges from 5-10%, and there will be plenty of well-earned breaks along the way to take in the views, snap some photos, and rehydrate. After the rewarding vistas on the cycle in, you’ll also be spoiled with the town of Hoi An – with lantern-lit streets, vibrant markets, skilled tailors, artisan shops, ancient houses, colourful temples and beautiful smiles, it’s a Vietnamese wonderland. Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An is being beautifully restored and preserved, with parts of the town looking exactly like they did more than a century ago. This makes its streets of low tiled buildings perfect for strolling. Take the evening to soak up the atmosphere, or just rest your legs at a local restaurant after a day’s riding.
This morning you leader with take you on a walking tour of the town, which used to be a busy port for the Cham people before the river silted up. There’s also a strong Chinese influence, and you’ll see it as you walk past the pagodas and assembly halls. On your tour you’ll take in a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum. The afternoon is free for you to do whatever takes your fancy. For those who love to shop then Hoi An is a mecca, with much to browse and buy. There are original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and more. If you want to get some new threads then the town is also famous for its tailoring – pick a fabric and a design and it’ll be ready the same day. If you feel like keeping active then there are the options to take a 15-20 kilometre ride into the surrounding countryside, to cycle to nearby Cua Dai Beach (also known as China Beach), or to take a stroll through fields of rice, sesame, banana and peanuts.
Continue south, down scenic Highway One on the road to Quy Nhom, one of the routes that is less visited by travellers. Cycle from Hoi An to Ha Lam past paddy fields, wheat drying for Beer Hoi, and locals playing chess. Then jump in the bus to drive to Phu, before climbing back on the bikes to cycle to the coastal city of Quy Nhom (total cycling today is approximately 60 kilometres). The city is filled with long stretches of beach and relaxed boulevards, and as it’s pretty undiscovered by visitors, is a great place to get an authentic slice of coastal life.
Today’s cycle is approximately 90 kilometres, but it is one of the most beautiful stretches of road you’ll ride – the highway hugs huge granite cliffs and looks out across the deep blue of the South China Sea. Following parts of the Reunification railway, you’ll enjoy scenery of islands, lagoons and sand dunes. Join the scooter riders on the waterfront promenade as you arrive in the idyllic coastal town of Nha Trang, once referred to as the 'Cannes of the Orient', and whose sandy palm-lined beach and island-dotted bay still make a pretty idyllic picture. Here there’s consistently good weather, a vibrant nightlife and excellent diving.
Today you’ll swap your bike for a boat as you head out to explore the nearby islands. This excursion is often the highlight of the trip for many travellers, as you’ll get to know some of the locals and indulge in the beauty of the place. Starting on the main boat, you’ll then take a small basket boat to shore and visit a fishing village, snorkel in the turquoise waters and feast on a fresh seafood buffet for lunch. You can enjoy this rest day by lazing in a deck chair, going for another swim or perhaps taking a mud baths to soothe away sore muscles.
Head up through the Bidoup-Nui Ba Pass into the cooler climes of the South Central Highlands (approximately 65 kilometres), where some of the country's best fruits, flowers and coffee beans are grown. The road is winding and steep but if you're fit and ready for a challenge, you may want to conquer the whole mountain on your bike. If you're not so physically inclined, take it easy and flag a lift from the bus. Whichever way you choose to get to the top, you'll still be treated to magnificent views once you reach the summit. After a short photo stop here, you will descend to Dalat. One of Vietnam's most delightful cities, Dalat is a perfect base to explore this pleasant region. With an appealing Swiss-French feel, along with pleasant lakes, palaces, pine tree-covered hills, flower gardens and pagodas, Dalat is often called the 'city of eternal spring' for its temperate climate.
This morning you’ll take a city tour of Dalat, making the journey to Bao Dai's striking regal summer palace. He was the final emperor of the Nguyen dynasty, and the last to rule Vietnam until 1945. You’ll then discover the wacky and weird architecture of Hang Nga Crazy House. Echoing Gauldi's unconventional designs, and described as a 'fairytale house', explore the twisted tree roots, cave shaped hallways and animal themed rooms of this surreal guesthouse. Drop by the train station and the central market before continuing to Di Linh, where tea is the main industry and there are large plantations in the surrounding hills. After lunch, pedal down the forest-lined Gia Bac Pass, then cycle along from Malam to Phan Thiet and on to Tien Thanh and Bau Mai Resort near Ke Ga (approximately 60 kilometres in total). This is a delightful seaside village known for its French colonial lighthouse and wonderful ocean vistas.
You’re on the home stretch now and it’s time for one last cycling splurge. Before heading for the big city, take in the views along the beach from your resort in Bau Mai to Lang Long. After a picnic lunch, keep cycling (approximately 60 kilometres) to Cu Bi. From there it’s goodbye to your two-wheeled friend as you take the support bus the final leg to Ho Chi Minh City. Here daily life plays out on the streets and the dynamic atmosphere is a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. Maybe spend the final night of your Vietnam adventure exploring the food stalls at Cho Ben Thanh market or cheers to yourself and your new friends with a few glasses of street-side beer hoi.
Your Cycle Vietnam adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you are sticking around then there are plenty of things to see and do in and around Ho Chi Minh City. Perhaps book a South Vietnam Getaway to explore the Chu Chi Tunnels and experience a Mekong Delta homestay.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
13 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 2 dinners
Transport
Bicycle, Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Private minibus, Private vehicle, Taxi
Accommodation
Homestay (1 night), Hotel (12 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Included activities
  • Bao Dai's Summer Palace
  • Cham Tower
  • Hang Nga Crazy House
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and Museum
  • Hoa Lu - Dinh and Le King Temple
  • Hoi An - Ancient town orientation walk and entrance
  • Hue - Imperial citadel
  • Hue - Royal tomb
  • Nha Trang - Basket boat ride
  • Nha Trang - Boat trip including lunch
  • Nha Trang - Hon Mun Island swimming and snorkelling

Dates

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.
2. Bike hire is not included in the trip cost. You may choose to bring your own bike or hire one in Hanoi for USD150.
2. As this is an active trip a good level of fitness is required. See Trip Notes for more details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Cycle Vietnam trips score an average of 4.88 out of 5 based on 92 reviews in the last year.

Cycle Vietnam , January 2016

Cycle Vietnam , January 2016