BICYCLE TOUR OF VIETNAM

by Dwight Z.

BICYCLING FROM SAIGON (HO CHI MINH CITY) TO HANOI

So you’re thinking about taking a bike excursion of Vietnam? A bicycle tour of Vietnam will allow you to discover the fantastic country side at your own pace. Even if you’re with a group most days are planned so that you have an sufficient degree of time to sight see. Solitary tourists on bicycles are not that unusual. Self guided tours planned by small groups are a terrific way to go and a real bargain. Take your choice – go with a group or solo / structured or self guided, a well planned trip will be well worth the time.

Cycling in sizable urban centers can be a bit frenzied, but once you get to the rural parts of Vietnam you’ll be glad you chose to take a bike tour of Vietnam. The scenic mountains of northwest Vietnam and the Central Highlands will give you a terrific feeling of satisfaction after a difficult day of biking. A leisurely ride (more or less) down the coast starting from Hue, south to Nha Trang or possibly further, will reveal to you to some remarkable historical and cultural centers of Vietnam. What ever you plan calls for you’ll enjoy exceptional cultures and welcoming faces though out Vietnam. Pedaling a bicycle is a lifestyle in Vietnam. Everyone does it. Foreigners on bicycles win a lot of notice. You’ll meet pleasant and inquisitive Vietnamese, notably if you’re on an upscale mountain bike or road bike. Warning: Some highways in Vietnam will tear up a fancy touring bicycle.

There’s a tour for every type of bicycle traveler. Organized excursions attract a lot of travelers. Some of these tours are fairly costly. They supply support vehicles, meals, hotels, domestic transport, mountain or touring bike (if needed) and other features for those on excursion. Historic and cultural sightseeing excursions may be included. Such tours begin at about $1500 for 14 or 15 days. Airfare included from the west coast US start about $3000. Shop carefully!

A self guided bike excursion including an international airline ticket from the west coast of the U.S. can be had for the same price as a group land excursion. Arranging a journey like this is half the fun. Get a good Vietnam Cycling guide book and you’re on your way!

It is suggested that, even though bothersome and pricey, you bring your own bike. Bicycle rental fees for decent gear are $10 + per day. Or you could acquire one once you arrive. A 3 speed will be top of the line gear wise. Vietnam built bikes and Chinese imports will not hold up to the rigors ahead. Give renting or buying a bike cautious investigation in advance of committing. And once you depart home it’s too late.

The service vehicle is commonly a major worry for road bicycle riders. As a result of there are so many bicycle riders in-country this is easily overcome. You stand by the side of the highway, with your disabled ride, for a bus or truck to the next town.

Essential bike maintenance “mechanics” are easy to locate in Vietnam. Community bicycle repairmen are quite clever.

Your next issue would be the security of your bike – especially if it’s your own. Insist on keeping the bicycle in your hotel accommodations – Even if you have to hump it up a few flights of steps. Things that you assume are connected to the bike will disappear. And the hotel staff may be tempted to take it for a spin. Locking the bike in the hotel lobby may be looked at as insulting by locals.

Other recommendations:

• Bike in the cooler parts of the day and consume plenty of water.

• Bring tools and any specialized extra components you might need.

• Don’t ride during hours of darkness!

• Wear a helmet and comfortable clothes.

• Acquire proper medical insurance coverage for your travels. Hospital and evacuation protection is very much recommended.

• Check the accuracy and reliability of maps daily with local people before you depart.

• Decide on your upcoming hotel stay. Get the telephone number available and get someone to call in advance for you. The few cents you’ll spend may save some aggravation. Phone services in some out of the way areas may be questionable.

• Consider the train for the Hue/Hanoi, or airplane for the Danang/Hanoi, sections of your journey.

When the operational and security issues for your bike are met you’re merely another tourist in Vietnam.  Now you’re on a real Vietnam land tour – up close and personal.

Start planning your trip!

Be sure to wave as you ride by!

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