Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Vietnam Bicycle Tour: Part I

Biking through a rice padi field off Highway 1. Photo courtesy Laura Liong.

Bike touring is a pretty good way to see Vietnam. It’s best to bring your own bike from home, but you could buy a local bike when you arrive. There are bicycle repair shops everywhere to help you if you run into problems. This was our first ever bicycle tour and we made plenty of mistakes. If we could do the trip over, we would do it sometime in the 2 weeks following the Tet New Year celebrations in January when it is a lot cooler and there’s a lot less traffic on the roads.

A girl selling balloons in front of the statue of Tran Nguyen Hai as cars whiz by at night, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Nikon D300, 18-200mm

Here’s our ideal 3-week (more or less) Bike Tour Itinerary:

Ideal Itinerary
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon): 3-4 days
Arrive in Saigon and leave your bikes in the hotel while you make the following sidetrips:
Things to do: Visit Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta (2-days), War remembrance museum, Palace, Market.
Where to stay: one of the many guesthouses in the Pham Ngu Lau/Bui Vien/De Tham tourist area.
What to eat: Everything is good at Quan An Ngon near the Palace, but you’ve got to try the Che Suong Sa Hot Luu dessert
Things to buy: Cheap and light plastic poncho, silk sleeping bag liner.

A Cao Dai temple service, Cu Chi, Vietnam.

Dalat (1-2 days)
Take the bus to Dalat. Traffic is a little too hectic near the big cities and not much fun to ride.
Things to do: Canyoning, rock-climbing or mountain biking with Groovy Gecko or Phat Tire. Bike down to Crazy House and take a little tour of the city.
Where to stay: Dreams Hotel
What to Eat: grilled shrimp paste on sugar cane

One of the rooms in the Crazy House Hotel, Dalat. Nikon D300, 12-24mm.

Nha Trang (2 days)
It’s about 110km to Nha Trang via the “new road”. It’s mostly downhill, although undulating, so its got some ups as well as downs. It is also the only ride on this trip where you get to enjoy the mountain scenery of the central highlands.
Things to do: Dive or snorkel with one of the many dive operators in Nha Trang.
Where to Stay: There are many new hotels near the junction of Hung Vuong/Trang Quang Khai. Prices from around $25.

A boy playing on a slackline, Nha Trang Beach, Vietnam. Nikon D300, 12-24mm.

Tuy Hoa (Overnight)
It’s 126km with a couple of small hills on Highway 1. It’s a long day, but with beautiful coastal scenery and traffic is light along the new coastal highway 1D.

Laura coasting along Highway 1D. Nikon D300, 18-200mm.

Quy Nhon (Overnight)
Another long day with 113km of cycling and nice coastal scenery. Quy Nhon is a pretty nice place to chill, so take a day off here if you need it, as the next few days are filled with riding.
Where to stay: We stayed at the hotel next to Barbara’s Kiwi CafĂ© on the beach.
What to Eat: Seafood hotpot at the seafood restaurant to Barbara’s and breakfast at Barbara’s.

Fisherman's net at Quy Nhon, Vietnam. Nikon D300, 18-200mm.

End Part I

13 comments:

scx said...

Still an on-going tour or completed?

Danang - great seafood, got to try steamboat mountain eel
Hue - Imperial Palace but really nothing much left.
Hoi-an - nice beach and colorful old chinese hse, will be great for your pics

Ken said...

Nope, we're home. Missed out on the steamboat mountain eel though... it wasn't on the menu :0)

Jungle Runner said...

crazy hotel!
looks like it was a great trip

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Anonymous said...

It is a great web page! Very interesting as I'm planning a trip from Saigon to Hanoi. Where in Ho Chi Minh can I buy a decent bike?
Thanks
Joelle

Ken said...

Mr. Tri, on 285 Vo Van Tan, a short walk from the tourist area in Ho Chi Minh sells some low end mountain bikes. They will be as good as you can get in Vietnam. He also sells bike boxes for you to pack your bike for the flight back. Generally speaking though, I think you'd be better off bringing your own bike from home :o)

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