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Saigon to Hanoi
Do as the locals do and hop aboard a bike to join this epic cycling trip that covers the length of Vietnam from the south in Saigon to the capital in the north Hanoi. Discover the hidden treasures of this Southeast Asian gem as you take the wheels off the beaten path and delve into what makes this a friendly, diverse and culturally rich country. From the beaches of Nha Trang, Dalat’s cool mountain air and the wondrous sights of the Halong Bay archipelagos, Vietnam has it all and by cycling you will witness it in a way few other travelers ever will.
- CategoryCulture & History
- Duration17 days
- Culture LevelAdventurous
- Skill Level3 - Intermediate
- Activity Level3 - Active
- Elevation3 - Intermediate
- Distance489 miles
- Avg. Daily Distance35.4 miles
- Day 1Settling into Saigon
It’s the beginning of your Vietnamese cycling dream and Saigon’s bustling streets are the perfect place to get the excitement building ahead of this adventure. Having touched down the whole group will meet at the hotel selected by the tour provider to run through the plan and also ensure that all bikes are up to speed. Following the briefing, it is time to explore as you head off into the city on your own time. The sights, sounds and smells will keep you occupied and ready to dive into the fantastic Vietnamese cuisine when we meet up for dinner at the famous Temple Club Restaurant.
- Day 2Roll out to the Cu Chi Tunnels
Your first day’s cycling is here, but given there are so many beautiful yet challenging riding days ahead you'll take it easy with a short ride out of the city craziness of Saigon to visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. The North Vietnamese Army used these impressive creations to move around the country during the Indochina War and also as a place for torturing foreign POWs.
It makes for a fascinating and haunting tour in equal measure. Following this, you'll return to Saigon via bus with a visit to the Museum of War Crimes. With the tours complete you are free to go for dinner where you like on this evening.
- 15.5 miles
- Day 3Delightful Dalat’s cool mountain air
It is time to say goodbye to the crazy city of Saigon as you take an early morning flight to the cool mountainside town of Dalat. Because of the French influence from the colonial period it was once dubbed ‘Le Petit Paris’ and it’s easy to see why it remains a hotspot for honeymooning couples.
Having landed at the hotel it is time for an adventure and so you'll board the bikes to explore Dalat. Vibrant colors burst into life as you ride past flower plantations which contrasts with the exquisite architecture of the Old French Railway station. The riding today is gentle as you make your way out of the town on narrow lanes to cycle in the looming presence of Mount Langbian. It is a glorious and relaxing day’s riding as you head back to Dalat in time for dinner and post-food walking round the city.
- 21.7 miles
- Day 4Hello to hills as we head for Nha Trang
After a couple days of laid back cycling it is time to up the ante. Today you'll take on your first real hills as you make your way towards Nha Trang. Fortunately, despite these challenging moments each hill brings with it a smooth descent enveloped with luscious mountain backdrops. You’ll build up a sweat but the rewards will be worth it as you head for the famous seaside town.
A delightful break will be squeezed in as you visit a community house of tribe’s people in the highlands before tackling more hills then riding downhill for a much needed lunch in a restaurant by the river. Following a food stop you and your thighs will be pleased to hear it is back to some flat riding before taking a transfer to the resort for the night.
- 62.1 miles
- Day 5Relaxation stations
After a tough day battling the hills it’s time to let yourself recuperate. On this scheduled day off, there will be a couple of activities such as snorkeling and swimming around stunning coral islands following a boat trip. On the return to Nha Trang there will be a stop to visit the Pa Na Gar Cham towers that are still used to worship in by Cham, Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists. Built between the 7th and 12th centuries they are quite the sight to take in. This is an optional activity though and if you prefer to chill by the beach and work on your tan you are more than welcome to.
- Day 6Coastal cruising
Back on the bike after a glorious rest day, you'll ease into proceedings with a gentle ride out of Nha Trang. To avoid busy highways throughout the journey, there will be two short transfers to cut out particularly busy sections. This means you can truly relish some quiet countryside cycling and experiencing Vietnam at a better pace. Enjoy lunch at Dai Lanh Beach where you can also enjoy some swimming time before riding onwards with the Da Bia Mountain for company. There are a few minor climbs today but nothing too strenuous and it makes for a wonderful day’s riding as you reach the town of Tuy Hoa.
- 52.8 miles
- Day 7Rolling through remote villages to Quinhon
Begin today with a quick transfer out of town to avoid the highway before setting off towards Quinhon. The roads lead into remote lands where you'll pass tribal and Viet villages full of happy, barefooted children bellowing encouragement and waving. It really does make your spirits soar as you gaze at the breathtaking views and pedal onwards. Having cycled an impressive 70km there will be a short transfer to Quinhon.
- 43.5 miles
- Day 8Veering past fishing villages
Breezing along the coast, the group will Quinhon for a huge wetland in Binh Dinh Province, that of Tra O Lagoon. This spectacular area is also a principal food source for locals and you'll also spot some fishing villages that line the coastline. Lunch will be at a nearby restaurant that serves fresh local delicacies before riding on and then transferring to Quang Ngai to earn some much needed sleep.
- 43.5 miles
- Day 9Moving My Lai and Happy Hoi An
Today’s cycling is broken up into stages as you ride out of the hotel in the morning and stop first at Mai Lai, scene to one of the most horrific massacres during the Indochina War. This is a moving and emotive location which you can explore fully on a guided tour. Cycle past fishing villages before stopping for lunch and concluding cycling for the day.
After yet another delightful meal, take a transfer to the melting pot that is Hoi An and have the rest of the day to soak up the city. Combining a mixture of cultures and architecture, Hoi An makes for a great place to wander around and get lost, while also picking up a variety of gifts in its vibrant shops.
- 31.1 miles
- Day 10Mesmerizing My Son
On this beautiful adventure, dabble in the impressive history that Vietnam boasts as you ride to the ancient center of the Cham Civilization in My Son. Cycling past sprawling rice paddies and villages will leave you in awe as you reach the site to explore the cluster of abandoned Hindu temples. While many have been left in ruins due to bombings the site still carries a certain atmosphere that makes it special for visitors.
Following this insight to history, take a bus back to Hoi An and you are then free to choose from any restaurant for your dinner.
- 33.6 miles
- Day 11Gear up for the Hai Van Pass
Though most of the riding on the tour is smooth, today is when you have to prepare yourself mentally and physically for a bit of a battle as you climb the Hai Van Pass. To begin with, there will be a transfer out of Hoi An to the beginning of the day's riding along the beach to Danang. The pass itself is a steady incline but presents a tough challenge as you push up and onwards, however the glorious vistas of the coastline more than make up for the sweat you’re pouring out. The climb totals up to 480m before the path flattens out and then gloriously descends. After lunch there will be easier roads as you follow the coast into Hue.
- 62.1 miles
- Day 12Delving into the Nguyen Dynasty in Hue
Today presents a chance to mix up the modes of transport as you explore the intriguing history of the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty in Hue. Riding along the babbling Perfume River you'll then go to the tombs of the 12th king of the dynasty, Khai Dinh. It’s a fascinating visit and the guides can go into detail on this period if you have a further interest.
Following the tour, pedal back onto quiet roads and head up the Vong Canh hill to get the lay of the land and some beautiful views across the river. The final stop of the ride today is the tallest religious building in the country – Thien Mu Pagoda. To round off a sumptuous day, there will be a lovely cruise on the Perfume River back to Hue, so that you can go for dinner and pack up for an overnight train ride to Ninh Binh. This is an experience in itself as you get to join the locals in traveling across the country.
- 18.6 miles
- Day 13Reset and ready to ride again
After a bumpy yet hopefully comfy night’s sleep you'll arrive in Ninh Binh at 10:00am, though this is subject to change depending on the train times. Following this journey, get washed up and have your bikes fitted as you have new ones for this stage in the north. Then enjoy an early lunch at a nearby restaurant.
Finally back on your beloved bikes, you will cycle to the ancient city of Hoa Lu, the former capital of Vietnam. On the ride you will witness the change in scenery from the south to north with towering karst mountains and spectacular rice paddies accompanying the group. Having toured the temples in Hoa Lu, ride onto Vietnam’s first and largest nature reserve, Cuc Phuong National Park where you will spend a magical night.
- 37.3 miles
- Day 14Captivating Cuc Phuong National Park
First thing in the morning, the group will take time to ride around the nature reserve and appreciate this oasis of natural beauty. Waves of pineapple plantations are beautiful to look at, while a stop at the primate rescue center will also be remembered fondly.
Departing the park you will begin to recognize the cultural and physical differences between North and South Vietnam as you continue the journey. Round up today’s riding just before Highway 1 and then transfer to the major port of Hai Phong.
- 37.3 miles
- Day 15Idyllic island life in Cat Ba
Waking up in Hai Phong, make a speedy departure as you shoot off on a speedboat to Fulong on Cat Ba Island. The largest of islands in the world famous Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island still flies under the radar of most tourists despite being the home to the magnificent Cat Ba National Park. The anticipation builds as you cross the water and as you get off at the island, hop on your bike to explore this spectacular land on the one and only road.
Following lunch, the afternoon is your own to check out what the rest of this island has to offer. There are some excellent hiking routes and a huge variety of wildlife to spot. Just to cap it all off, you'll spend the night here so you can soak up this idyllic island even more.
- 16.2 miles
- Day 16Heavenly times at Halong Bay
On your final day it is time to visit the world famous Halong Bay. A designated World Heritage site since 1994 it is renowned for its glistening emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands that are topped with verdant rainforest. You'll take a short bike ride in the morning before boarding a boat that allows you to explore this incredible area even more closely. It is the perfect way to finish up the trip as you reflect on the culture, history, colors, sounds, and smells you have experienced while riding through the beautiful country that is Vietnam. Following the boat ride, there will be a transfer to the capital of Hanoi and a farewell dinner in an excellent restaurant.
- 13.7 miles
- Day 17Time to take off
Your morning is free to squeeze in some shopping for gifts or to take in some final sights in the Vietnamese capital. The group will have one last breakfast together before bidding farewell and reflecting on a bike ride that will live long in the memory.