Cycle Saigon to Hanoi
|Cycle Saigon to Hanoi
|South East Asia
On this adventurous and active trip we experience Vietnam on two wheels. Along the way we discover Saigon, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi and the majestic beauty of Halong Bay on an overnight cruise. What better way to fuel your ride than with the delicious Vietnamese cuisine.
Cycle the Central Highlands – Explore Vietnam’s lush hill country and cycle over the Hon Giao Pass
Saigon – Cycle out to the Cu Chi Tunnels and explore the Mekong Delta
Hoi An – Visit the beautiful World Heritage town.
Day 1 Join trip Saigon; afternoon orientation tour
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City. Still unofficially referred to as Saigon, the city is the largest in Vietnam. You will find an eclectic mix of the traditional and the new, where pagodas and markets compete alongside the trappings of Vietnam’s newly discovered entrepreneurial spirit.
Our Tour Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 4pm for the welcome meeting followed by a walking tour. The tour will take in some of the highlights including the Opera House (formerly South Vietnam National Assembly), Hotel de Ville, Notre Dame Cathedral and the impressive French style edifice that is the GPO building.
If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you’ll need to arrive into Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN), which is 30 minutes from the hotel.
Please note that if you wish to join the afternoon orientation walk today, you must arrive at the hotel by 4pm. If you are booking your own flights, we recommend giving yourself 30 minutes to an hour to clear the airport. Therefore the latest your flight can arrive is about 2pm. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information by note left at the front desk.
If arriving earlier we suggest exploring at your leisure, perhaps to visit the Presidential Palace, or the War Crimes Museum, or even just take a walk around this bustling city. In the evening you have the option to see a water puppet show.
Day 2 Cycle to Cu Chi Tunnels
Driving for 1.5hrs away from Saigon’s remarkable rush hour traffic to reach the quieter suburbs this morning, we collect our bikes near the remains of an old US military base (25th infantry division) and start our ride for about 30 km to Ben Duoc, the site of the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. Originally started during the French occupation of the country, the tunnels went on to achieve notoriety during the Vietnam War, when they formed an amazing underground command base for 10,000 Viet Cong troops. We will explore the tunnels with a local guide this morning. Be warned though, the tunnels are low and narrow and can be claustrophobic. After lunch we continue cycling for about 20 km towards Ben Nay to further explore the area. We drive 2hrs back to Saigon arriving in the early evening. It is possible to spend a free day in Saigon if you prefer to see more of the city. For the cycle ride today, and on subsequent rides, water is provided and you can top up your water bottle from the support truck.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 50 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 50 meters, total accumulated descent 40 metres).
Day 3 Drive to Mekong Delta then cycle backroads to Cai Be
Today gives us an opportunity to journey down into the Mekong Delta, to explore the fertile hinterland between the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. Leaving Saigon, a 2 hour drive takes us into the Mekong Delta to Binh Duc (My Tho), from where we begin cycling through an interesting landscape of waterways, markets, orchards and riverside villages. The first 30km of today’s ride are on roads with moderate traffic and the remaining 20km are on narrow pathways and routes that our support bus cannot follow. Here we can see local cottage industries making rice paper or coconut sweets as they have been for generations. After a tasty lunch of local produce we cycle on through Tan Phong and visit a beautifully restored traditional house in Ut Kiet, before finishing our ride at Cai Be’s famous market. From here we drive for about 2 or 3 hours, depending on traffic, back into the centre of Saigon arriving in the early evening.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 51 kilometres, flat cycling.
Day 4 Exploring Vietnams Central Highlands
Departing Saigon this morning we head north into the southern Central Highlands towards the mountain town of Dalat (set at 1500 metres elevation). After an initial 2 hour drive we commence today’s cycling with a picturesque 30 kilometre ride through the hills of the Langbiang Plateau, negotiating our way along reasonably quiet, gently undulating back roads to the town of Gia Kiem and then Bao Loc. After a relaxing lunch in Bao Loc we board our bus again for a very scenic 2 – 3 hr drive right across the mountains, giving us stunning views over the forested hills and tea and coffee plantations, to finally reach the bustling mountain town of Dalat in the late afternoon. The city has a European feel in its architecture and a cooler climate due to the higher altitude.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 30 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 210 metres, total accumulated descent 150 metres).
Day 5 Cycle over Hon Giao Pass then drive to Nha Trang
We leave Dalat this morning by bus and drive for about half an hour to the start of today’s ride. The beginning of the ride is on relatively quiet mountain roads with plenty of ascent and descent for the first 20km before we stop for a break. From here the next 30km culminates with an ascent of the Hon Giao Pass (1,700m), a challenging ride that takes us up through forests of pine and across a landscape of dramatic mountain scenery. After celebrating reaching the pass and a chance to rest at the top, the remainder of today’s ride is a superb 30km of virtually uninterrupted descent towards the town of Khanh Vinh, where we plan to stop for lunch. We finish the rest of the journey to Nha Trang by bus and it should take us around 1.5 hours.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 80 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 1140 metres, total accumulated descent 2962 metres).
Day 6 Boat trip to tropical islands
Nha Trang’s beautiful bays, golden beaches and turquoise waters have seen it quickly grow into a bustling town and popular tourist destination. Weather permitting, this morning we take a cruise out to explore the surrounding seas and islands. We aim to stop near one of the islands where you have the option to have a swim from the boat (possible to hire snorkelling equipment). We move on to another tiny island where we plan to spend a few hours to relax and swim. The island is privately owned and it is possible to rent a sun lounger and parasol. There will also be the option to enjoy drinks, a seafood lunch or snack on the island (at your own expense). Returning to Nha Trang later this afternoon the rest of the day is free.
No cycling today – rest day.
Day 7 Cycle and drive from Nha Trang to Quy Nhon
Using a combination of bus and bicycle this morning we continue along the coast to the city of Quy Nhon. We commence our ride from the hotel in Nha Trang, encountering heavier traffic as we leave the city which thins out as we head along the Pham Van Dong road and continue along the coastal road to Ninh An toll fee station (a journey of some 18 kilometres). From here we then take the bus for one hour to Dai Lanh, where we have a chance to swim and relax, before continuing by bus over Ca Pass to Bai Tien Song Cau. From here we resume our journey by bike with a 42 km ride to complete the final leg to Quy Nhon and our hotel for the night.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 60 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 640 metres, total accumulated descent 775 metres).
Day 8 Pedal over the Thi Nai sea bridge; drive to Hoi An
Departing Quy Nhon this morning we cycle out across Thi Nai Bridge, the longest sea bridge in Vietnam, which connects the city with the Phuong Mai Peninsula. Once across, we continue by bike along the Quy Nyon lagoon towards Phu My some 50 kilometres away. From Phu My we then travel by bus to Quang Ngai, the scene of the My Lai massacre – one of the most infamous episodes of the Vietnam War. After visiting the site and visitor’s centre, we complete the final leg to Hoi An by bus, a journey of some 2 to 3 hours.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 59 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 395 metres, total accumulated descent 390 metres).
Day 9 Morning walking tour of Hoi An; free afternoon
The historic, merchant town and safe harbour of Hoi An had become one of the busiest international trading ports of Southeast Asia by the 17th and 18th centuries. Colonised by the Portuguese in the 16th century, it still retains its charm today, with many of its old buildings superbly preserved. This morning we take a walk through the historic heart of this World Heritage Site, taking in the city’s famous Japanese Bridge and its museum, before wandering amongst its traditional wooden houses and Chinese temples. This afternoon is then free to perhaps take a gentle river cruise, try your hand at Vietnamese cooking or pay a visit to one of Hoi An’s renowned tailors’ shops, or maybe explore further afield by bike.
No included cycling today – rest day.
Day 10 Cycle and drive to Hue via the Hai Van pass
Leaving Hoi An after breakfast, we travel by bus up the coast to Danang followed by a twisting drive up to the lofty heights of the Hai Van (Sea Cloud) Pass. This stunningly scenic region once marked the boundary between Vietnam and the Champa Kingdom to the south and, as we reach the summit of the pass, the panoramas before us are simply spectacular. Descending by bus we head next for Lang Co where today’s ride starts. We cycle along scenic back roads as we wind our way alongside the Cau Hai Lagoon to end the ride finally at Phu Bai. Meeting our bus in Thuan An, we then drive for about an hour on to Hu on the shores of the Perfume River.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 80 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 100 metres, total accumulated descent 100 metres).
Day 11 Cycling around Hue then overnight train to Hanoi
Once the capital of Vietnam and an inspiration for poets and artists alike for centuries, Hue is still a thriving and important city. First thing this morning we drive to the impressive Old Citadel that still dominates the left bank of the river. After visiting the citadel we commence our final cycle ride. Our route follows the Perfume River and leads us to the 19th century Nguyen Tomb of Ming Mang. After visiting the mausoleum we return to our hotel to freshen up before the mid- to late-afternoon departure of the overnight train to Hanoi. We plan to stay in ‘soft-sleeper’ four berth cabins, bunk bed style and bedding is provided. Both Western and Asian style toilets are at the end of each carriage as well as a basin. The Leader will allocate beds keeping people together as far as possible but it may be necessary to share with other travellers.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 20 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 130 metres, total accumulated descent 115 metres).
Day 12 Arrive in Hanoi; Drive to Halong bay for overnight cruise
Arriving in the Vietnamese capital early this morning we drive to the hotel in time for breakfast. Later this morning we then drive (2.5hrs) to the Gulf of Tonkin and the breathtaking scenery of Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visually impressive landscapes in South East Asia. Boarding the boat in time for lunch we set sail and visit Sung Sot Cave, spending this evening aboard the junk in twin-share, en suite cabins. Please note – the boat is not exclusive to Explore and we may be sharing with other tourists. You have the option to leave the majority of your luggage in the hotel in Hanoi and take only an overnight bag. If you prefer to take your main luggage it is fine but please note that the cabins are inevitably small.
No cycling, rest day.
Day 13 Morning cruise then drive to Hanoi then city tour
This morning we continue cruising through this wonderfully scenic landscape, enjoying the serenity of its limestone islands and visiting some of the caves (the optional cave visits can involve climbing some slippery steps). Returning to shore mid-morning we then drive back to Hanoi, a 2.5 hour journey that gets us into the capital in time to enjoy a short tour of the city. Our late afternoon walking tour includes a visit to the Ba Dinh Square and the Temple of Literature, as well as a chance to explore a little something of the city’s fascinating Old Quarter.
No cycling, rest day.
Day 14 Trip ends Hanoi
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Hanoi.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Hanoi at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you will need to depart from Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), which is around 45 minutes from the hotel.