Below are FAQs for cycling in Vietnam. For FAQ about motorcycling in Vietnam, please click here.
Do you rent bikes or kayaks?
Only for our tours, not separately. If you would like a custom tour arranged we will rent you a bike as part of it. We have imported off-road bikes and hybrid bicycles all of which are in excellent mechanical condition and available in all sizes. We provide handlebar bags, pumps, bottles, and helmets. You may bring your own seat and pedals which we will mount for you. We replace our fleet every two years. Typically, about two-thirds of a group will rent bikes.
What cycling ability is required? How many miles do we ride per day?
We cannot emphasize enough that riding is at your pace. There is always be a support vehicle nearby and you are welcome to climb in whenever. We do not ride as a group to suit all interests, including those who like to stop a lot and sightsee, take photos, eat a large lunch and/or pack it in, but also those who prefer a fast, uninterrupted pace. To enjoy our tours you should be able to ride some of the day’s route. However, to really enjoy our tours you should stop, frequently. Stop and visit the people along the way who are asking you to stop. These important experiences mean we are never in a hurry.
During our riding days, the maximum mileage varies from 30 to 80 miles (although each tour’s route varies). We often have a long and short group for those who want to ride less or longer on a given day. Riding days are spent at a leisurely pace (although that is up to you), and are usually followed by a busy rest day in our destination city. Bicycling is also an ideal way to explore towns on rest days and we often do. You’ll also be surprised how far you can ride when that is really the only thing you have to do all day! We also allow for the serious cyclist, who may ride all days of the tour – over some six hundred sixty miles in two weeks in Vietnam. The level of difficulty is greater for Turkey with higher mileage, more climbing and fewer rest days.
On our Vietnam trips, we typically people who would describe themselves as travellers first. With our support buses and many staff, you can ride as little or as much as you wish (or not at all), without rushing, at your own pace. There is also a guide/mechanic accompanying the tour for repairs and support. We are flexible and can add distance options to the already 40-60 miles per day average. Stopover days include a city tour by bicycle. Our guides are competitive, long-distance cyclists and will able to escort you for any length of riding you want.
Who typically joins your tours?
Travelers and cyclists. Our tours are rich in cultural activities and diversions to attract those who have travelled the world and feel, as we do, that place like Vietnam are among the best on the bike.
Can you accommodate an independent traveller (I’m not a group travel-type)
We promise, no camp fire sing-a-longs. Although this is a “group tour”, almost all activities are optional. Our primary role is to provide the means for you to bicycle through a country that otherwise would be a difficult and demanding travel experience. Over the many years of travelling in Vietnam, we are taking you through the best it has to offer. We take care of your luggage, hotels, food and transportation. However, we understand no two people enjoy travel in quite the same way and some prefer solitude versus a group experience which you are welcome to do.
Food and hotel quality?
If you’re planning on shedding a few pounds during the tour, you will be disappointed. We eat very well and frequently on seafood, grilled meat, freshly cooked vegetables, soups, fruit and sweets, cold beer and even French and Italian food. Historically, complaints have been about too much good food! Air France’s daily flight to Hanoi means good wine as does Turkey’s Tuscan climate.
What is a typical day like?
We typically balance our tours between point-to-point travel days during which we ride most of the day, with optional stopping at points of interest and lunch along the way. After arrival, there is typically a couple hours before we regroup for dinner. In cities worth staying in over an extra day, such as Hoi An, we’ll sightsee on and off the bike and have usually planned some optional activities such as a cooking demonstration or boat cruise.
What is the weather like?
Vietnam is a tropical monsoon climate ranging from hot & humid, to cool in the north. The normal temperature for Vietnam during the months of December through March are 80’s and 90’s, with Saigon in the higher 90’s and up to 100F. There are cooler areas we will be in and the cool, damp weather shouldn’t be ignored! You will be surprised. We have also had some years much cooler than average; in the 60’s and 70’s. We often break midday if the heat is high and our buses have air-con. Turkey is a wonderful 70s to 80s, dry California climate. Please also see our weather page.
Type of bicycle to bring?
We do have hybrid rental bikes available in Vietnam, but we recommend that you bring your own if that’s what you are comfortable with. A mountain bike with fatter road & dirt (hybrid) tires and a handlebar bag is best, although accustomed to touring or road bikes will have a few more flats but enjoy the extra speed. Most local bike shops will pack your bicycle for a small fee and bicycles fly free internationally. We will also handle transport and assembly once your bike arrives and packing it back up once again once you are ready to depart. Please make sure you tuned up your bike and is in good working order before the trip – spare parts are difficult and even impossible to find in Vietnam.
How do the Sag Wagon (support buses) work?
They leapfrog riders and provide support, water, and refreshments every few miles. There are in contact via mobile phones and there are two guides on bikes for additional support.
Mostly in good condition, medium-traveled highways. During Tet, the roads have the least amount of traffic all year. Approximately 95% of the road is paved. However, due to some gravel and potholes, road bikes with very skinny tires are not advisable unless that’s the bike you are most comfortable on.
Vietnam, Turkey, and Myanmar may conjure visions of dangerous places. In fact, Vietnam, for example, is one of the safest destinations for travellers in the world. The popularity of our family trips bears witness to this. We choose to travel to these destinations because they are fascinating and because they are so different than our culture. Different does not mean dangerous, despite much of the media’s presentation.
In regards to cycling safety, while in Myanmar, Basque Country and off-road in the Golden Triangle, traffic is sparse. On other tours, we try as much as possible to travel on sections with the least amount of traffic and newly-opened side roads. We always encourage cyclists to board the bus to skip sections they may not be comfortable with. We would be glad to put you in touch with past travellers of all abilities from a personal perspective.
Avian Flu & Other Dangers
With avian flu or SARS, please keep a rational perspective on the actual risks in mind despite a typical alarmist media. Avian flu only happens via direct contact with chickens in poor, agrarian villages and has not been spread from human to human. Moreover, tourists are typically last in line for infectious disease. We travel to these places because they are profoundly interesting, but we wouldn’t travel there unless they were also reasonably safe.
Are the side trips (tour extensions) really worth doing?
If you have the time, absolutely! These are places not to miss as they will be different than anything you will see on tour. The Khmer temples of Angkor and Halong Bay are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, one a spectacular natural setting, the other the Nile Valley of Asia. They are unique in the world and well worth the side trip. Most people do go on the pre-tour kayaking in Halong Bay.
Malaria (and other immunizations and vaccinations)?
For most tours, you will not need Japanese Encephalitis (which is required only during the monsoon season) nor Cholera (exposure would be very rare). Malaria is more controversial – at least in print, and may ultimately be more of a personal decision. The primary reasons a malaria prophylaxis would not be necessary is the short time you would be in Vietnam, the accommodations you would be staying in (mosquito-proof), the region and areas you are travelling in (along with the coast and overnighting in urban environments where incidence is low). Malaria occurs much more frequently in the low-altitude jungle areas that are sparsely inhabited.
With diligence, some luck and adequate avoidance habits (especially at dusk — wearing trousers and long sleeve shirts with a DEET-based repellent on exposed skin), it is not impossible to make it through the entire tour without being bitten. Consider taking the newer prophylaxis, Malerone, which is much milder than its predecessor, Larium, which was harsh to some people (with questionable side-effects).
Travel Insurance recommendations?
SARS, Avian flu, airline bankruptcies, and terrorist activity have made travel plans much more sensitive to disruption. You do need a travel insurance for all of our two-week tours. For a side-by-side comparative analysis of several leading insurance providers, go to www.insuremytrip.com. Specific companies you may wish to look at are:
– Access America (www.accessamerica.com)
– CSA Travel Protection (www.csatravelprotection.com)
– Travel Guard International (www.travelguard.com)
– Travel Insured International (www.travelinsured.com)
and Travel Safe (www.travelsafe.com)
I still have more questions?
If you would like to contact us directly regarding our FAQs for cycling throughout, you may e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org