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W62: EXPLORE THE WHOLE VIETNAM BY BICYCLE IN 24 DAYS

W62: EXPLORE THE WHOLE VIETNAM BY BICYCLE IN 24 ...

Ho Chi Minh City

From the tranquil northern capital to the busy southern city of Saigon, explore the country from ...

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Day 1: WELCOME TO HANOI, VIETNAM

We will pick you up at the Hanoi airport and check in your hotel in Hanoi downtown. FREE DAY to spend some time exploring Hanoi’s Old Quarter with its fascinating streets steeped in history and culture. Each street was named after the product initially sold there in the past, such as Hang Da (leather street) or Hang Ca (fish street). These days, not all the products are still sold on that street, but they are definitely worth exploring, and the narrow alleys often open up into a whole new area. You will overnight in the capital.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel.

 

Day 2: HANOI CITY TOUR (B,L)

Day two will be spent exploring the sights and sounds of Hanoi. You’ll get to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where you can pay your respects to the old president, as well as visit Uncle Ho’s, as he is affectionately known, stilt house. There’ll be a trip to the One Pillar Pagoda, which was constructed nearly a millennium ago, and is delicately elevated in a pond. We’ll also visit the Temple of Literature, dating back close to a thousand years, is a wonderfully preserved piece of ancient Vietnamese architecture and stands to honour the scholarly achievements of the country’s academics and philosophers. The afternoon will be spent exploring the area around Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake, including Ngoc Son Temple, which sits perched on a little island in the lake. Overnight in Hanoi.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets.

 

Day 3: HANOI ­ MAI CHAU – PU LUONG (50KM CYCLING) (B,L,D)

Drive by van from the capital this morning to Luong Son for a cycle through rural countryside to Mai Chau.  Continue by bike, and then travel by van to the end destination. Your accommodation tonight is in a traditional Thai village house which is located on the edge of Pu Luong Nature Reserve and is part of an eco­tourism community project set up by. Overnight in homestay.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, dinner, entrance tickets, tourist permits, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 4: PULUONG ­ NGOC LAC (70KM CYCLING) (B, L)

After breakfast and loading your luggage to the van, you will start to ride the bike from homestay. The route takes you away from the river and through a range of mountains which stretches from Mai Chau to Cuc Phuong National Park and the ancient capital of Hoa Lu. As you cycle, the scenery progressively gets more beautiful and limestone cliffs and lush vegetation as a backdrop. The route is challenging with several hills to ascend and descend but a vehicle is always nearby for you to take a rest in. The last section today is riding on Ho Chi Minh Road. Arrive in the town of Ngoc Lac late this afternoon for your overnight stay. Overnight in Ngoc Lac.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, tourist permits, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 5: NGOC LAC – KIM LIEN ­ VINH (60KM CYCLING) (B, L)

Pedal along the newly built Ho Chi Minh highway for today’s journey. The tarmac makes for smooth, fast riding and there are very few cars or vehicles on the road. Along the way to Vinh stops will be made to visit Le Loi Emperor Temple (Temple name Le Thai To). He was founder of the Later Le Dynasty. Le Loi is among figures of Vietnamese history and one of its greatest heroes. Then, you will stop at Kim Lien village, the birthplace of Ho Chi Minh to visit his house and a museum dedicated to him. After the visit, transfer by road out of the mountains on to Vinh in late this afternoon. Overnight in Vinh.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 6: VINH – DONG LOC JUNCTION – HUONG KHE (70KM CYCLING) (B, L)

Following breakfast, transfer by van to get out the city for cycle to the Ho Chi Minh Road. Stop to visit Dong Loc Junction which was a strategic road T-junction at the beginning of the Ho Chi Minh trail and was extensively bombed by American forces during Vietnam War. The journey today winds through lush jungle and beautiful villages nestled under the Truong Son mountain range. During the ride, take your time to admire the stunning scenery and the intricate karst formations. After a long day of pedaling, arrive in the remote town of Huong Khe. Located in Nghe An province, this small town is a quiet place to rest up for another busy day of riding. Overnight in Huong Khe.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 7: HUONG KHE – THE WORLRD’S NATURAL HERITAGE OF PHONG NHA CAVE (80KM CYCLING) (B, L)

Continue along the Ho Chi Minh Road today to Phong Nha. The route is still a dream to ride on and you’ll appreciate the smooth tarmac as the mountains rise and the road winds up, down and along the hillsides. The scenery is spectacular and the road is tranquil. After cycling around 80km, trade in your bike for van journey to Phong Nha National Park. The park contains one of the most spectacular caves in Vietnam ­ a true natural wonder with 65 kilometres of tunnels and underground rivers. Formed approximately 250 million years ago, Phong Nha was used as a hospital and ammunition depot during the war, and the entrance still shows evidence of attacks from fighter aircraft. There are also community projects underway with Flora and Fauna International and it may be possible to visit village initiatives and learn more about the forests of the national park before the end of today. Overnight in Phong Nha.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, guest house, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 8: PHONG NHA – CAM LO – KHE SANH (50KM CYCLING) (B, L)

After an early morning exploration of Phong Nha Cave, resuming your ride to the Ho Chi

Minh Road. Pedal all the way today on Ho Chi Minh Road and across the DMZ (also known as the 17th Parallel) to Cam Lo.

Stop en route to visit Truong Son cemetery, a memorial to the tens of thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers who were killed in the Truong Son Mountains. Finish today with a van transfer to Khe Sanh, a former US marine base and site of the infamous 1968 battle of the same name. From Khe Sanh, it is about 20km to Laos’s border. Overnight in Khe Sanh.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 9: KHE SANH – A LUOI (90KM CYCLING) (B, L)

Begin this morning with a visit to the Khe Sanh combat base where relics of the war are exhibited and see Ta Con airbase. Then ride through spectacular scenery, mainly downhill, from the Laos border to the Dakrong River. Cross the river by bridge and ride along the waterway to what was considered the southern part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Again enjoy a traffic­free road with rolling terrain, a nice contrast to the flat plains of the previous day’s ride. Overnight in a remote town of A Luoi.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 10:  A LUOI – HUE (70KM CYCLING) (B, L)

Today you cycle 6km on Ho Chi Minh Road then venture off the Ho Chi Minh Road and head across the country to Hue.  There is more downhill today because you will descend from the mountain range to the coast. The 70km ride through the middle of Vietnam is on back roads before hitting the centre of Hue. Here there is the option of transferring by van to your hotel or continuing by bike to your hotel in downtown. Overnight in Hue, considered as former Imperial City.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 11: HUE CITY TOUR (LEISURE CYCLING) (B,L)

Following breakfast, enjoy a relatively easy cycle on the back roads of Hue through lush countryside on a mix of footpaths and quiet country lanes. The day begins with a visit to the Imperial Citadel where you will explore the ruins of this grand monument to the emperors. Then, ride along backstreets, following the banks of the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda. Continue through the quiet roads of Hue’s countryside to visit the royal tomb of Khai Dinh, a former Nguyen Emperor. Return to central Hue early this afternoon for time at your leisure to relax or tour more on your own. Overnight in Hue.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 12: HUE – HOI AN (90KM CYCLING) (B, L)

Today is an epic ride with two small hills to conquer before the intense 11 km climb uphill to the top of Hai Van Pass where you will be rewarded with stunning views of the coast. With a recently opened tunnel through the mountain, there is now very little traffic on this uphill road. Before ride up to the Hai Van Pass, you will stop for lunch break at Lang Co Beach. Cruise down the pass with panoramic view to Danang beach city.  Then you will be transferred by van to Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The remainder of this afternoon and evening is at your leisure to explore the narrow streets and lanes of this charming town. Overnight in Hoi An.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 13: HOI AN – EXPLORE THE ANCIENT QUARTER (NO CYCLING) (B, L)

Today will be spent in the quiet but intriguing town of Hoi An. There’s plenty to see and do here. The town is a centuries old trading port and remnants of its prowess can still be seen in the beautifully curated and restored assembly halls, temples and houses of the old trading families. Other sights include the iconic Japanese covered bridge, numerous pagodas and temples, and the bustling riverside marketplace where local specialties such as Cao Lau (a flat noodle dish), Mi Quang (rice noodle soup with pork and shrimp), Com Ga (steamed Rice with chicken) and Banh Vac (rice rose cake) are served up fresh. One of the first things you’ll notice is the numerous tailors and colourful silk shops for which Hoi An is famous.

You also can take a bicycle ride or shuttle bus (free from your hotel) to the palm tree covered Cua Dai Beach for a refreshing swim.

Evenings in Hoi An are possibly some of the most beautiful in the whole country, especially on a full moon, as shop fronts light up with colorful, traditional lanterns as you enjoy a stroll down the promenade and the Thu Bon River laps lazily at the shore. One of the unique aspects of this town is the fact that motorized vehicles are banned in the center throughout most of the day, making for a quiet and relaxing amble as you peruse the myriad shops and restaurants. If you are interested in gaming, you can join in a “Vietnamese Bingo” at ancient quarter from 7pm to 9pm every night. You’ll overnight in Hoi An. Please ask your guide to have locations of places on your Hoi An ancient quarter map.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets.

 

Day 14: HOI AN TO MY LAI ­ QUANG NGAI (70KM CYCLING) (B, L)

We depart early as we follow the coast road past rural, rice­farming villages. One of the historic sites we pass is Chu Lai. While now built up and industrial, Chu Lai was home to a US Marine Corps base during the war although all that remains of this are some concrete structures and a runway. In the late afternoon we’ll come face­to­face with one of the biggest tragedies of the Vietnam/America War – the My Lai Massacre. In 1968, American soldiers stormed the little hamlets of Quang Nai Province in the area around Son My and killed just over 504 villagers in a sad moment of history. Today, a memorial stands at My Lai, including a recreation of that fateful March day. We’ll continue our cycle or our van on to the provincial capital of Quang Ngai, where we’ll overnight.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 15: QUANG NGAI TO QUI NHON (60KM CYCLING) (B, L)

We wake up early and keep following the coastal road, heading south. After a transfer by van to Binh Dinh Province, you will ride along the coast, passing many farms such as vegetable farm, prawn farm, salt farm, rice paddy field…You also will cycle on the longest over the sea bridge in Vietnam called Nhon Hoi bridge or Thi Nai bridge.  On the way to Qui Nhon, you’ll stop off at a Cham tower – built by the Champa civilisation who ruled the southern Vietnamese area for over a millennium up until the early 1800s. The Cham people still live in Vietnam and neighboring Cambodia as well as Thailand. Champa towers are classic examples of their architecture and there are quiet a few which survive throughout the region. From there, you will take the van to the hotel or ride the bike to the hotel where we’ll spend the night in Quy Nhon.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 16: QUI NHON TO NHA TRANG (80KM CYCLING) (B, L)

This is a long day of cycling, but luckily it’s also along some of Vietnam’s most scenic coastline. We’ll cycle past desolate, wide open beaches, friendly locals toiling at their work, azure blue lagoons and commanding stone promontories standing guard over the ocean below. This will definitely be a memorable day of cycling over mountain passes with sweeping views across the ocean dotted with colourful fishing boats.  We’ll stop for lunch at Chi Thanh town with “Pho”, a special dish of rice noodle soup with beef. The second section of riding today will be along the coast from Tuy Hoa to fishing villages in Vung Ro. From there, drive by van passing the half-moon shaped Dai Lanh Beach to Nha Trang, the capital of Khanh Hoa Province, where we’ll spend the night.

On this day, there are some options. Depending on the roads condition, the guide will tailor the best ride for you. Another ride of 22km from the Highway 1 to your hotel in Nha Trang with the view of fishing ports and fishing villages is also one of the best choices.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 17: NHA TRANG BOAT TRIP AND CITY TOUR (NO CYCLING) (B, L)

Nha Trang is a beautiful and bustling coastal city with tropical islands and coral reefs just off the mainland. We’ll take a boat trip out to explore the marine environment, swimming and snorkeling while trying to spot some aquatic action. While in the past dynamite fishing had damaged much of the coral, this practice has luckily been outlawed and you’ll definitely spot loads of interesting marine life. We’ll have lunch on the island then spend the afternoon on a visit to the PoNagar Cham Towers. The towers, dating back over 1200 years, were built in dedication to a goddess of the land and sits up on a hill surrounded by jungle. We’ll also stop off at the impressive Long Son pagoda, with its gigantic white Buddha statue from which you have a great view of the city. We’ll rest up in Nha Trang overnight before our tough cycle the next day.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, boat, snorkeling equipment.

 

Day 18: NHA TRANG TO DA LAT CENTRAL HIGHLAND (100KM CYCLING) (B, L)

We’ll wake up bright and early and make our way towards Dalat. The city is located in the highland province of Lam Dong and the cycling is predominantly uphill. This is a challenging day along winding mountain passes as we ride slowly inland away from the coast and, luckily, it gets cooler and cooler. The incentive at the end of the ride is a visit to one of the most picturesque cities in Vietnam, Dalat, where we’ll rest our tired muscles overnight.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 19: DA LAT CITY TOUR (LEISURE CYCLING) (B, L)

Described by some romantics as the “Paris of Vietnam”, the once­colonial hill fort of Dalat lies nestled tightly between the pine­treed mountains of Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Its description is no surprise as it even has an Eiffel Tower­like replica radio tower and lots of French colonial architecture. There are numerous things to see and do in Dalat – some quite quirky, like the eccentric Hang Nga Crazy House, which was built in a surrealist organic style that is easier seen than explained. Another site worth visiting for its architecture is the Dalat Railway Station, built by two French architects in 1932 in the art deco style and is still in limited operation today. We’ll also visit the Truc Lam Pagoda, set on a hill overlooking the scenic Tuyen Lam Reservoir just outside the city. Other sights include the peaceful Xuan Huong Lake, on which you’ll notice couples riding along on swan­shaped paddle­boats, and the bright Dalat Flower Garden, a source of much pride for the locals. We’ll spend the night in Dalat, wrapped up against the highland cold. Overnight in Da Lat.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 20: DA LAT TO LAM HA AND TO SAIGON (40KM CYCLING) (B, L)

It is a long distance today, 300km from Dalat to Saigon. That is why you will cycle 40km and the rest by van drive. You will cycle from the hotel and get out of the cool of Dalat through the pines, before exchanging the shade of the trees for the open sunshine and gradually leveling off on the road to Saigon. The cool climate is perfect for agriculture, so on the way you’ll notice numerous orchards, plantations and vineyards where a wide selection of fruit and vegetables are grown to be delivered all around the country. Dalat is also Vietnam’s wine producing region and the Central Highlands are famous for their distinctive coffee and tea varieties as well. You can stop to visit weasel coffee family where they raise weasels to eat the best coffee beans. Weasel coffee is number 1 coffee in Vietnam. Another stop can be at Elephant waterfall. It is steep to walk down but it is worth for you to see the unforgettable view at the bottom.  After 40km of cycling, drive by van to Bao Loc for lunch. On the drive, you can see more and more plantations of coffee and rubber plantations before heading to the biggest commercial city of Vietnam – Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City.

Check in your hotel in Saigon downtown.  Overnight in Saigon.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 21: SAIGON CITY TOUR (HO CHI MINH CITY) (LEISURE CYCLING) (B, L)

Saigon, the name by which locals still affectionately refer to the city, but officially changed to Ho Chi Minh City in 1976, is the financial powerhouse of Vietnam. The city is steeped in history, rich in cultural heritage but also boasts very modern infrastructure. We’ll take you on a tour of one of the city’s oldest areas, Cho Lon or Chinatown where you can haggle over goods in the frenetic Binh Tay Market.  A stop at Thien Hau Temple in Chinatown is in this tour as well. Next, you’ll visit the War Remnants Museum where the atrocities after the past are painfully and poignantly remembered and displayed. Then, you will visit the postcard perfect HCM City Post Office, with its impressive high vaulted ceiling and gigantic painting of Uncle Ho presiding over proceedings. Next door is another iconic landmark, the Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the late 1800s by the French colonialists. Some more highlights of the city tour are lacquer ware workshop, City Hall, Opera House, Reunification Palace (from outside).

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 22: SAIGON – BEN TRE – VINH LONG HOMESTAY (50KM CYCLING) (B, L, D)

Tour Guide of Winsome Vietnam Travel will meet you at your hotel in Ho Chi Minh city. Then, we will spend an hour and a half transporting to the countryside of Ben Tre- the province very famous for its sweet coconuts and all products made of coconuts. Starting your very first day of biking is to cycle from a local ferry to Cai Be via Cai Mon and Cho Lach Districts. Both of these places are famous for their nurseries, ornamental gardens, and fruit orchards. Stop en route for lunch at a local restaurant in Cho Lach. After lunch, continue to ride to the beautiful peaceful island named An Binh. End of the day, you will rest a night at the real home-stay on the Island to explore how the real life of the people of An Binh island.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, dinner, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 23: VINH LONG – CAI BE – CAI LAY – SAIGON (30KM CYCLING) (B, L)

After having breakfast with your host or hostess, you will take the boat on The Mekong River to Cai Be floating market- the special traditional market of people living along Mekong River.  Take a visit to the local family workshops to see how their life is. They make rice paper cake, coconut candy, popcorn. You also have the chance to taste honey tea as well. Then you will start biking from this village. Countryside roads for cycling mingled with fruit gardens and local villages alongside Mekong River from Cai Be to Cai Lay. If time permits, we continue biking on countryside roads to rural areas of My Tho where you have lunch at a local restaurant before driving back to Saigon in the late afternoon. Tour ends.

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, hotel, breakfast, lunch, entrance tickets, water, snacks, bicycle, helmet.

 

Day 24: DEPART SAIGON

Spend your last day as you like, buying some souvenirs for family and friends back home or just

relaxing and reflecting on the last more than 3 weeks of travelling, before your transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for your departure flight. Safe travels!

Inclusion: Transfer, guide, breakfast.

 

Note: We can tailor the itinerary shorter or longer as your request or we can do a reverse itinerary from Saigon to Hanoi.

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