VIETNAM TOUR

Cycle Saigon to Hanoi – 17 DAYS

 

INTINERARY

 

This trip is designed for those who are fit, energetic and enjoy cycling. We are each supplied with a mountain bike as we travel from Saigon, via the central highlands and the stunning coastline, on to Hanoi, visiting the fascinating attractions of this beautiful country along the way. This is neither an endurance test nor a marathon survival race from one point to another and we try to avoid the busy, major highways. We ride instead on the back roads and, supported by a back-up vehicle, experience the best that Vietnam has to offer in a most interesting way! There are some days where there is no cycling involved. On the cycling days, we tend to ride anywhere from two to six hours, however the support vehicle and bus are always on hand if you decided that you would like to rest instead of cycle.

TOUR SUMMARY

 

Day 1 & 2: Saigon

 

Day 3: Saigon – Muine

 

Day 4: Muine – Dalat

 

Day 5: Dalat – Nhatrang

 

Day 6: Nhatrang

 

Day 7: Nhatrang – Buonmethuot

 

Day 8: Buonmethuot – Kontum

 

Day 9: Kontum – Quangngai

 

Day 10: Quangngai – Hoian

 

Day 11 & 12: Hoian

 

Day 13: Hoian – Hue

 

Day 14: Hue – Hanoi

 

Day 15, 16 & 17: Hanoi

DETAILS

 

DAY 1: SAIGON

 

On arrival in Saigon you will be transferred to your hotel. Please remember that hotel check-in times are after midday – unless the hotel has some rooms already available. If you do arrive early you can leave your luggage at reception and we would encourage you to get out and explore Hanoi – but please take a hotel business card so that you will be able to find your way back. Before leaving the hotel, please look in the reception area for a notice advising your tour leader’s name, mobile phone number and other helpful local information. There are no activities planned until your 6.00pm tour briefing. It’s important you attend the tour briefing and afterwards, for those interested, your leader will be happy to escort you to a local restaurant to sample the delights of Vietnamese cuisine and toast the start of what will be an unforgettable journey.

 

 

 

 

DAY 3: SAIGON – MUINE

 

We drive on the highway out of Saigon, before turning off on the road to Vung Tau. We hit the back roads and head through the rubber and dragon fruit plantations. We also pass by some small fishing villages as we make our way closer to the coast. We finish the ride in Mui Ne, a beautiful and tranquil white sand beach where we can enjoy a swim after the day’s riding and witness our first sunset by the South China Sea.

 

 

 

DAY 5: DALAT – NHATRANG

 

Today we leave Dalat and head to the coast. It’s mostly downhill cycling as we pass through pine forests and small market garden communities before descending to the coastal plains below. With fabulous sunny weather for most of the year, crystal clear blue waters surrounding a string of offshore islands, a beach that spans the 6km length of the city, and some fantastic seafood, it’s little wonder that Nha Trang has become Vietnam’s premier beach resort. We’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the sun & sand by day and vibrant nightlife in the evening during our time in Nha Trang.

 

 

DAY 6: NHATRANG

 

With fabulous sunny weather for most of the year, crystal clear blue waters surrounding a string of offshore islands, a beach that spans the 6km length of the city, and some fantastic seafood, it’s little wonder that Nha Trang has become Vietnam’s premier beach resort. We’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the sun & sand by day and vibrant nightlife in the evening during our time in Nha Trang, This morning we’ll head onto the water for a boat cruise around the offshore coastal islands. Bring a towel and bathers because there’s time for swimming and snorkeling. For lunch our crew will serve up a sumptuous feast of freshly caught seafood and other delights for non-seafood eaters.

 

 

 

DAY 9: KONTUM – QUANGNGAI

 

We depart Kontum by bus early in the morning and then ride our bicycles from the top of the central highlands through magnificent scenery and down to the coast. In the late afternoon we arrive at our final destination – the small town of Quang Ngai.

 

 

DAY 10: QUANGNGAI – HOIAN

 

From our hotel we cycle to the site of the My Lai Massacre – where, on the 16th March 1968, the most horrific war crimes by U.S soldiers were committed during the Vietnam War. The area and the local villagers are now at peace but a memorial and museum at the site remain to describe the atrocities that occurred on that day. We continue our drive north to Hoi An – passing the massive former US airbase that was, in 1968, the busiest airport in the world with all manner of aircraft coming and going in support of South Vietnam’s war effort.

 

 

 

DAY 13: HOIAN – HUE

 

This morning we take a scenic ride to Hue, through a region of Vietnam blessed with magnificent rural and coastal scenery. We drive through Danang, and jump on our bikes where Highway 1 begins its winding ascent over the Hai Van Pass or ‘Pass of the Ocean Clouds’. On the other side of the pass is the pretty Lang Co Beach where we can dismount and drive over another two small passes to arrive in Hue late afternoon. Hue served as Vietnam’s capital from 1801 to 1945 – during the reign of the Nguyen dynasty emperors – and has a serene and classic character that sets it apart from all other provincial Vietnamese cities.

 

 

DAY 14: HUE – HANOI

 

In Hue we’ll enjoy a leisurely “Dragon Boat” cruise along the timeless Perfume River. Our first stop is the Thien Mu Pagoda – one of the oldest and most significant pagodas in Hue, We’ll then visit the Citadel where we spend a couple of hours exploring Hue’s massive ancient royal walled city and the Forbidden Purple Palace enclosed within. The palace’s splendid ‘Ngo Mon’ gate gives little hint of the destruction that has taken place inside the citadel at the hands of various occupying forces. The bloody ‘Battle of Hue’ during the 1968 Tet offensive all but finished it off but skilled Vietnamese craftsmen, with the help of UNESCO and other non-government organizations, are restoring and rebuilding what remains.

 

Sadly it can never be returned to its former glory, but it’s still a fascinating insight into Imperial Vietnam. We’ll also visit the Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc (1847-1883), one of the best remaining examples of its kind. Constructed between 1864 and 1867, it was more of a pleasure garden than a tomb and the Emperor used it as his second residence. We’ll cycle for the last time on this tour from Tu Duc’s Tomb through rural countryside before transferring to the train station to board the ‘Reunification Express’ for our overnight train journey to Hanoi. (N.B: Breakfast is not always available on the train so it is recommended that you purchase some supplies before boarding in Hue).

 

 

DAY 17: HANOI

 

Free at leisure, it’s subject to your flight schedule you might have some free time once we transfer you to the airport for taking your international flight back home. Today is the last day of your tour. You can use your hotel room in Hanoi until check out time (most times at 12 pm noon). We wish you a comfortable journey home and are sure you will take with you some wonderful memories of Vietnam.

 

 

DAY 2: SAIGON

 

Officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after reunification in 1975, most people here still prefer to use the old name, Saigon. Once referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, Saigon, with its unofficial population around 8-9 million is Vietnam’s largest city and stands in stark contrast to the capital, Hanoi. Perhaps Saigon lacks the same colonial charm of its northern cousin but it still has a certain tropical ambience and general hustle & bustle that makes it a distinctly a modern South East Asian city.

 

This morning we drive to the outskirts of the city before cycling along rural roads past rice fields to the former Viet Cong stronghold of Cu Chi Tunnels. Begun by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong, Cu Chi’s tunnels were constructed to conduct covert operations and then quickly hide from the enemy. There are reputed to be around 200 kilometers of underground tunnels within the area, and in some places they even managed to penetrate the perimeters of nearby US military bases. We’ll actually be given the opportunity of crawling through a section of the tunnels while we’re here, and learn how the brave men and women of Cu Chi built underground hospitals, kitchens and meeting rooms during their struggle for a unified Vietnam.

 

 

 

DAY 4: MUINE – DALAT

 

Today we head away from the coast and begin our ascent into the Central Highlands. Along the way we pass by an abundance of coffee and tea plantations as well as flower gardens and pine forests, as we reach higher altitude. The former French colonial hill station town of Dalat was founded over 100 years ago, by a French scientist, Dr Alexandre Yersin. Although there was already a small settlement of ‘Lat’ people living alongside the river, Dr Yersin and his compatriots thought it would be a nice idea to establish a resort town in the mountains to escape the sweltering humidity of the coast. The French colonialists are long gone, of course, but as a result of the old ‘French Indochina’ days there are still a large number of magnificent old villas in and around the town.

 

 

 

DAY 7: NHATRANG – BUONMETHUOT

 

Departing Nha Trang, we drive past the colourful fishing port before making our way inland towards the central highlands and travelling (with a mixture of driving and cycling) on to the famous coffee growing town of Buon Ma Thout. There are plenty of cafes around town to try the local brew.

 

 

DAY 8: BUONMETHUOT – KONTUM

 

After breakfast we travel northwards towards on a scenic drive (with some cycling involved), passing coffee and rubber plantations and pine forests. Pleiku is the major market town of the central highlands and is inhabited by many mountain tribes. After lunch in Pleiku we continue on to the smaller town of Kontum, where we stay overnight.

 

 

DAY 11: HOIAN

 

The ancient and historic town of Hoi An was for three centuries one of the most important ports in Central Vietnam, visited by sailing ships from all over the world seeking trade in silk, ceramics and, spices. In the late 19th Century, the Tu Bon River, linking the port to the open sea, began to split up and became un-navigable for large vessels. Trade moved up the coast to Tourane, now modern day Danang, and Hoi An went back to being a sleepy little fishing and rice farming community. Today however, Hoi An’s fortunes are once again riding on the crest of the wave as Vietnam’s number one tourist destination. This is largely due to the fact that UNESCO has listed the Old Town as a World Heritage Site with its quaint narrow streets packed with ancient Chinese, Portuguese and Japanese styles of architecture that has changed little from its heydays as a major port of trade. In Hoi An we include a walking tour of the Old Town where you can visit an Ancient House, a Chinese Assembly Hall, the Japanese Covered Bridge and a Museum. We’ll also spend a morning cycling to the famed Marble Mountains and China Beach.

 

 

DAY 12: HOIAN

 

Today is free at leisure. Hoi An is the perfect place to cycle and explore the surrounding countryside, take a boat trip on the Tu Bon River, relax on the nearby beach, enjoy the wonderful cuisine on offer at some of the town’s numerous cheap cafes, or have some clothes made up. Hoi An has nearly 100 silk shops offering same-day service for tailor made clothes at low prices.

 

 

 

DAY 15: HANOI

 

Upon arrival in Hanoi we transfer you to the hotel. Although there has been a permanent settlement here since the 3rd Century AD, the city of Hanoi can trace its origins back to 1010 B.C., when Emperor Le Thai To moved his capital from Hoa Lu to this site. When the French occupied Vietnam from the 1880s to World War II, Hanoi was developed as their colonial Indochinese capital with many of the ancient and historical structures being razed to make way for new French buildings.

 

Today, the people of Hanoi take a lot of pride in their grand old colonial buildings which, together with the wide spacious boulevards and tree-lined lakes, help make Hanoi one of most graceful and charming cities in South East Asia. The remainder of your time is free to wander around and one of the best places to do this is the city’s Old Quarter, situated to the north of the Hoan Kiem Lake – a great (and easy) place to get lost in for a couple of hours.

 

 

DAY 16: HANOI

 

This morning we enjoy a city tour, showcasing some of Hanoi’s most interesting attractions. We begin by visiting the One Pillar Pagoda which is near to the Soviet-inspired Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. One Pillar Pagoda was first constructed in 1049 and is one Hanoi’s oldest structures. If it doesn’t look that old, it’s because the French blew it up in 1954 as a parting gesture and the current building is a replica. Afterwards, we’ll visit the Temple of Literature.

 

Founded in 1070, it was Vietnam’s first institute of learning and the place where candidates for the position of Mandarin were examined. Finally we’ll visit the Hoa Lo Prison, better known to many as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’.

INCLUSION

Accommodation as mentioned in the program, based on Double/Twin Room with breakfast

 

Meals as indicated in itinerary

 

Local English speaking leader throughout the trip

 

Tours, transfers and all services as mentioned in the itinerary

 

Private driver and vehicle for city tours, train and airport transfers

 

1st class air conditioner shared cabin with 4 soft berths in the train

 

Entrance fees for all sights visited

 

Mechanic and support truck for the group from 4 people

 

Bicycles and helmets as per tour program

 

Drinking water during the cycle days

EXCLUDED

International flights to and from Vietnam

 

Any surcharge/extra fees

 

Other meals than mentioned

 

Personal expenses (drinks, laundry, telephone, tips etc.)

 

Gratitude to guide and driver

 

Optional excursions

 

Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above

 

Travel Insurance

 

Visa Fees, airport taxes or any other government fees or additional surcharges

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REVIEWS

``Overall, I found the itinerary to be well prepared and enjoyable. Although I belive that if we spent more time in the rural arews, such as Halong bay the trip would have been even more enjoyable.``

Sam Guempel – Australia

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