If you love the idea of an adventurous holiday cycling through Vietnam but fear you may get hopelessly lost navigating back roads on your own, or the palaver of planning such a trip with accommodation, route maps and bike hire makes you slide this little dream into the Too Hard Basket, then a cycling tour might be just the thing.
I confess to having only cycled for a couple of hours on any one day. Ever. But my last sojourn on two wheels was in this part of the world and I’m now a little bit of a convert to cycling through villages that you would otherwise zoom past in a car. It’s brilliant to be able to just stop and chat to the locals, high-five the kids, purchase their handicrafts and take a gazillion photos along the way. Not to mention that self-righteous fitness feeling that means you’ve earned a beer at the end of the day.
Cycling holidays are incredibly popular, but you have to do it right. That means firstly, getting someone else to sort out the admin so you can concentrate on getting fit (although I’m assured this particular tour is not arduous!)
**Right now Harvey World Travel have a deal running for sales until December 15th for a 19-day cycle tour of Vietnam. There are 2 departure dates (although more can be arranged as groups are max size 15) – but 24 May and 21 June 2010 are already being planned. They just need you to join them so here’s what you will see and do:
Spend days 1-3 in Hanoi, the oldest city in Vietnam. You’ll also have an overnight cruise among the limestone islands.
Days 4-6: leap on bicycle and explore Hanoi, visit ancient temples, learn about Uncle Ho and tour the infamous Hanoi Hilton (prison). Take an overnight train to Hue (the former imperial capital). Cycle country roads and wide streets, take photos of historic sites, the emperors tombs and Thien Mu Pagoda.
Days 7-9: Drive to Hoi An (thank goodness for the van!) visiting sacred Marble Mountain, traditional houses and temples on the way. Plus take a walking tour that includes the iconic Japanese Bridge and a sunset cruise of Thu Bon River. There is also free time to cycle to nearby villages that take your fancy or shop at local tailors and art galleries.
Days 10-12: Overnight at the port town of Quy Nhon and travel through spectacular coastal scenery to Nha Trang. Relax on an island cruise and indulge in a seafood feast after swimming or snorkelling in the South China Sea.
Days 13-14: Leave the coast behind and head into tea plantations of Dalat. The energetic can hit the ascent into town. The rest can load their bikes on the support vehicle and put their feet up!
Days 14-19: Drive to Saigon – Vietnam’s largest city and stroll along historic Dong Khoi Street to check out Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Stay at a homestay among the canals and orchards of the Mekong Delta for a final farewell dinner.
This tour includes a Western tour leader, a local guide and a cycle mechanic.
The trip is graded ADVENTUROUS meaning it’s suitable for travellers with a good level of fitness, full and independent mobility and a keen sense of adventure. Prepare for some long road journeys, basic accommodation in remote areas and a lot of walking. Cycling is done in leisurely two to four hour rides and the support vehicle is always on hand when you’d like to sit out. Basically you can ride as much or as little as you want.
What’s included: 15 nights hotel accommodation, 1 overnight train (soft sleeper 4-berth shared cabin), 1 overnight homestay and 1 overnight boat, all road transport by air-conditioned vehicles, use of mountain bikes and support vehicle from Hue to Saigon, all sightseeing as specified (excluding entrance fees), Western tour leader, local English-speaking guides throughout, arrival and departure transfers, breakfast daily, 3 lunches and 2 dinners. *This journey requires a minimum of seven travellers to operate.
What’s not included: helmets are not included and you’re recommend to bring your own, as helmets produced in this region do not meet international safety and quality standards.
Keen? If you’re reading this in New Zealand, phone 0800 84 84 80 or click here and jump to Harvey World Travel’s cycling Vietnam deal.
**The exact deal above has expired.