Cycling Vietnam – Should You Do It?
If you’re considering taking on the challenge of cycling in Vietnam, take note of these top tips.
Let’s dive in!
Where Is Cycling Vietnam Best?
Vietnam has some nice coastlines so for a shorter trip I’d recommend cycling from Vung Tao to Nha Trang. Or, if you dislike hills I’d recommend cycling the South of the country because it’s pretty much all flat there. It’s filled with lots of leisurely rides and some stunning scenery.
Are You Feeling Adventurous?
If you’re up for a proper adventure then consider cycling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. I know! It’s a big commitment, but it’s certainly possible. If over 1000miles of cycling through the Vietnamese heat appeals to you then there are essentially three ways for getting from the top to the bottom.
- Take Highway One
- Take the Ho Chi Minh Highway, or
- Do a combination of the two
Cycling Vietnam on Highway One is the easiest option. The route was disconnected for years due to warfare, but it has now become a famous trail for those who are looking for a physical challenge with some rewarding views.
It’s possible for you to camp out along the route, but with the abundance of cheap accommodation available to you there’s really no need.
It’s straight forward, the road conditions are good, and there’s a large shoulder for cyclists. This all sounds great, but the traffic is also it’s heaviest on Highway One, it’s not as beautiful as the inland road, and it’s unlikely you’ll get as many friendly “hello’s” from the locals!
Still, it’s the quickest and cuts through many of the main tourist hotspots like Danang, Hue Hoi An, and Nha Trang.
Of those areas, Hoi An is my favourite. It’s Vietnam’s most atmospheric and delightful town. Once a major port, it boasts inspiring architecture and a beautiful riverside setting.
The town has managed to preserve its legacy of Japanese merchant houses and ancient tea houses. To take a break from cycling you can take a boat trip down the river or relax on a nice sandy spot – An Bang Beach.
For more information on people that have cycled the length of Vietnam – Check out these guys account of the events that unfolded
The Heavy Traffic
Vietnam is famous for its heavy traffic. If you’re an experienced cyclist and comfortable riding amongst cars – you’ll be fine. There are so many vehicles around that everything moves slowly, and it’s quite fun riding once you learn the unique rules of the road.
…The rules for cycling Vietnam? There aren’t any!
My recommendations are to try and stay on the right-hand side and keep your eyes peeled. Other than that the only thing you need to worry about is the use of horns, which still make me jump!
Get Ready To Haggle
This is sometimes a problem in the big cities and tourist hot spots. When I first arrived in Vietnam I paid around $5 for a small pastry. Whoops!
Once you have a sense of how much things should cost you should be able to bargain a fair price for both parties. You’ll still be paying more than the locals, but things are very cheap compared to western countries.
Most things you’ll be paying for in Vietnam such as accommodation are fixed prices to you shouldn’t have to worry too much.
The Food In Vietnam
Vietnamese food is great, and I think it’s easy to find cheap food that Westerners would like. For breakfast, you can get a Banh Mi baguette sandwich which is available in most places. They make a great snack and are perfect for eating while on the road.
By far the most popular dish is called Pho – This consists of a beef noodle soup with vegetables. It’s available everywhere and usually costs less than $1 U.S.
Cycling in Vietnam
Cycling Vietnam is one of those adventures that you’ll be talking about for years to come. Should you do it? Only you can answer that. But, I guarantee that you’ll experience travel as you may never have before.
Guest Author Bio: Mike McLeish is currently cycling around Hoi An. When not repeating dodgy quotes about adventure, he’s running his bike blog – Pinch-Flat. Arnie and Jo have been kind enough to let me share a guest post on cycling in Vietnam.
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