Exploring Vietnam on Two Wheels

 

The most common way of experiencing a country while on vacation is to stay in one place. You’ll usually visit various popular locations close by and relax by the pool or on the beach. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this; I enjoy these vacations often myself.

But if you want to try something a little different you can hop on a bicycle and experience the country this way.

Here are some practical tips for people thinking about trying a cycling vacation in Vietnam.

Cycling trip in Vietnam

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/julesn/3107479234

Great Locations for Riding

You really are spoilt for choice in Vietnam. It’s packed full of beautiful locations and many of them are also ideal for cycling in.

Here are two examples;

NhaTrang

This is great for both casual cyclists and for people on long tours. You can ride to many of the places of interest and the roads are quite good.

A good day’s ride is to start from NhaTrang and ride north past Hon Chong, following the coast until you either turn back or head inland. Look at an online map to see your options regarding the exact routes.

Mekong Delta

There is a lot to see and do here. And the terrain is mostly flat making is ideal for people not wanting to ride up steep roads. The road quality does vary though with some roads needing mountain bike tyres, so keep this in mind if you’re planning on hiring a bicycle.

Some of the highlightsthere include Can Tho’s floating market and the stork sanctuary at Vuon Co.

Two Main Choices

You have two main options for your cycling trip;

1 Local Rides

The first option is great for people who want to try riding a bicycle on their vacation but who don’t want to try a full tour.

In most tourist locations you should find lots of different shops where you can hire a cycle. But you may need to spend some time finding a good bicycle as the quality can vary greatly from shop to shop.

Try hiring one for just a day at first but make sure you look up (or ask someone local) a good track for ride for the day. These can either be a route on various roads (usually passing through popular scenic places) or you could try an off road mountain biking experience.

Personally, if I was a beginner I wouldn’t try mountain biking until I’m a bit more confident on bicycles.

2 Multi Location Tour

The other option is to tour around a number of locations, sleeping in different accommodation most nights.

This is where your vacation focusses on the riding every day. It is a great feeling arriving at a new destination after a long days ride. And it’s great to be able to visit very different towns and cities on one vacation. It feels more like a travelling experience than a standard vacation.

You can plan the tour yourself or use a touring firm such as Pedaltours Vietnam.

Tips for Planning Your Own Cycle Tour

If you want to plan the tour yourself then I recommend learning the following tips, especially if you want to experience a multi-day tour.

Plan the Whole Route in Advance

I know it is so tempting to get on your bicycle then ride wherever your fancy takes you but I would never recommend you doing this.

In order to get as much out of the cycling vacation as you can, you need to plan where you will be riding each day and just as important plan where you will be sleeping every night.

You need to do all this well in advance to ensure you can book the accommodation.

Don’t leave it to the last couple of days before the vacation as it will take longer than you think but don’t worry, just take your time, using an online map and you should have a great route worked out which lets you see all the sights.

One important tip is to plan with a slower riding pace. I know you want to see all the sights in your given time in Vietnam but there is no point riding so far each day that you are too tired to enjoy the wonderful locations.

Another reason to plan the route based on slow riding speeds is it helps with those problems that are bound to crop up from time to time. For example, having a puncture or getting lost.

Practice Fixing Common Issues

Like any mechanical device, a bicycle can go wrong sometimes. So spend some time prior to your vacation practicing fixing common problems like fixing a puncture.

Don’t Ride Alone

It isn’t usually a good idea to ride alone, especially on multi-day tours. If you get lost or have problems on the bike then having that extra person (or people) can really get you out of trouble.

Pack the Right Items

Finding the perfect set of items is something I’m still trying to achieve but even as a beginner, you should make sure you pack essential items such as;

  • A torch (I prefer the solar powered and wind up type)
  • A small repair kit
  • Waterproof clothing (yes, even in summer)
  • Emergency medical supplies (you can buy a small travel kit for this)
  • A translation book

This guide was brought to you by Jack Harris who writes for this firm that has been doing tours all over the world for many years.