Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

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  • Reviewed May 2018
    Helena Stage

    Vietnam Cycling Enthusiast

    This was my first trip to Vietnam and cycling the country was an amazing experience. Traveling with our local guide Son, a terrific leader who managed 16 cyclists of various abilities with good humor and patience. We stuck together through the maze of traffic, construction, honking in the midst of bustling cities and quiet and tranquil villages. The tour provided so many wonderful experiences and a very compelling story of Vietnamese culture and traditions.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I found the people to be most inspiring - they work so very hard and are accepting and welcoming.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Son was top notch - very organized - he made sure everyone was safe on the ride as well as provided insights into the culture, the towns/cities that we visited. His team did everything to insure that our holiday would be memorable. Loved the fresh fruit and lemonade provided on our stops. A must to prevent dehydration. Our bus driver, van driver and mechanic....kudos to them for working 24/7 keeping up with all of our activities and making sure we were comfortable and our bikes in good shape.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    For anyone who has not been to Asia, Vietnam is so very special. It is perhaps not the 5 star beauty of Bali or the majesty of Angkor Wat or have the many awesome temples of Thailand, but it's own special charm grows on you as you travel through the country. Ha Long Bay!!! Whale Island ...two special places for me. The cycling was harder than expected mostly due to the heat and humidity. Also the traffic and noise in the busy cities may make it more difficult for some cyclists. I would definitely recommend training as we had some time constraints to finish each day's ride so that we could make it to our final day's destination.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As many others have said...just do it... this tour is designed to experience Vietnam with such a local level and feel. The tour only uses local Vietnamese companies and I found that to be so valuable to have our tourist dollars go to the local people.
  • Reviewed May 2018
    LINDA REID

    CYCLING HO CHI MIN TO HANOI

    Cycling Vietnam was an excellent way of seeing the countryside and meeting the local Vietnamese people who were extremely friendly and always willing to help. The cycling involved flat, undulating and hilly sections so there was a good mix and the road surfaces were all remarkably good. The guide Lam gave you the opportunity to cycle at your own speed, with plenty of stops for rehydration and refuelling as it was incredibly hot and humid. At any junction the bus or the truck was there to point you in the right direction. It was extremely well organised and everything went like clockwork from start to finish. We were well looked after and well fed. The countryside varied from paddy fields to more mountainous areas which were green and lush, but not as picturesque as I had anticipated. We had to spend a fair amount of time on the bus, due to the large distances we had to cover, however, we would never has seen or done so much without doing so. The bus was comfortable with plenty of room for us to spread out.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Halong Bay was quite amazing and we had a lovely over night trip on a boat, we went sea kayaking which was great fun. We had a trip out to an island TITOP ISLAND, and had fantastic views of the bay from the top. Cycling up the HAI VAN PASS was also a great experience and seeing everyone completing the ride when it was 33C. The group was excellent and we had lots of fun and laughs along the way, so that made the trip for me, along with sights and sounds of Vietnam.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lam our group leader was just excellent - so organised, pleasant, cheerful, always smiling and nothing was too much trouble for him. The mechanic Y was brilliant - the bikes were well maintained and kept clean, if there was a problem it was sorted immediately. The truck and bus drivers were always there to lend a hand, giving out drinks and food and always smiling. A great team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to do some cycling before you go as it is harder when conditions are hot and humid, especially if you want to climb the HAI VAN PASS - a challenging 10km climb. Be prepared for crazy drivers both cars and scooters - there are thousands of scooters going in any direction and popping out from side roads, riding in the opposite direction so you have to be very careful on all roads, especially in busy cities. Not for the faint hearted. However, it is Asia and anything goes. If you want to spend time in Hanoi book an extra day, as we didn't really have time to explore the city.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Overall the trip was very good and I thoroughly enjoyed the cycling. However, the day we cycled in HUE, a very large populated city with thousands of scooters and cars going in all directions, I found extremely dangerous and very unpleasant and was glad when we were off the bike. One of our group had a very unfortunate accident and came off and fractured her arm. Our accommodation was excellent, although I wasn't too impressed with it on Whale Island due to the amount of ants in the room which was a bit off putting. Snorkelling off Whale Island was very disappointing, the water was a bit murky and we didn't see many fish - I've seen more in a fish tank, plus there was a lot of litter on the sea bed and at times floating on the water surface. Also the ladder on the boat was not the safest as the rungs were not flat for your feet and climbing into the boat proved to be a challenge!!!! However, the water was warm and it was good fun, and the crew provided us with a lovely lunch. It was also disappointing to see so much litter at road sides and in the water, even at Halong Bay, but perhaps that's inevitable with the large number of tourist boats. Cycling in Vietnam was very interesting and a good experience. I learned a lot about the Vietnam war, the Vietnamese culture. The CHI CHU tunnels was a very worthwhile trip. The Vietnamese are very friendly and welcoming. Eating out was extremely cheap, as were clothes and souvenirs.
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Paul Martin

    Start to Finish Delight

    The trip exceeded my expectations due to the fine(Hot!)weather we enjoyed.The wonderful nature of the Vietnamese folk,the quality and attention to detail of our support team,plenty of refreshment/regrouping stops.The team leaders desire to ensure we learned a little of the history,good and bad,of his homeland and the direction it was heading in these more modern times. As well as the above,the hotels were great,although had I been arriving at these establishments solo,in cycling gear and somewhat road weary,I would have been a degree more self conscious.That said,there was never anything less than a warm smile and a welcoming cool fruit drink,and even flowers placed around our necks at one halt. The rest days were well placed and welcome,all in all adding up to one of the most memorable trips I have enjoyed.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting up and over the pass after leaving Danang,and enjoying the descent that followed the climb.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lam was a delightful fellow,very thoughtful and informative with ever a wide smile.The same could be said of his three assistants.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for the heat extremes if you are a northerly hemisphere resident,but the stops are frequent and refreshing.Commit to enjoying cycling in the city traffic,as daunting as it at first appears,I felt quite safe as all the other many road users are aware of one another and considerate.Lam, the trip leader exerted his presence as leader of a group cyclists,with good affect.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Cerian Mellor

    What are you waiting for, just book!

    Beautiful scenery, wonderful people, tremendous food and days packed with activities and smiles. Traditionally, as an independent solo traveller, I wasn't sure about a group trip. But, attracted by the idea of a cycling holiday and in need of a hassle free adventure in an amazing location, this seemed like the perfect solution. It absolutely did not disappoint. From the friendly and efficient booking process, through well organised travel and transfers, to an immediate and warm welcome upon arrival, the Exodus arrangements could not be faulted. The cycling built up over the first few days allowing acclimatisation to sun and saddle, so whether good cyclist or weekend warrior, this trip is very achievable for those with a general fitness. Son Nguyen and his team offered superb support throughout the trip, and facilitated access to local people and experiences that are mostly not afforded to two-week tourists tied to hotel chains, bus tours or backpacker haunts. Vietnam has so much history, culture and culinary delight to offer and being part of a great group of like-minded people, game to try as much as possible during their adventure, made this trip just perfect. Thanks Son and crew, for making us so welcome in your country!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many moments stand out that it would be unfair to say which was the most inspirational. Hanoi is a magical city I shall undoubtedly visit again for its vibrant life, but it might not have been appreciated so much without having passed through beautiful, tranquil countryside full of colour, laughing children, and stunning scenery. The camaraderie around achieving the 100km mark and the 10km Hai Van Pass was a highlight too!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Son did a great job at bringing Vietnam to life for us. Patient, organised, thoughtful and a good leader even when the weather meant changes to the plan - to us it felt seamless, and there was a smile & laugh for every occasion. He also did a good job of pricking our environmental consciousness with good reminders about single use plastics - keep up the good work!
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Elaine Smith

    Vietnam - vitality and variety

    If you want a non-stop, full-on journey with never a dull moment trip (and really don't want a lie-in in the morning) - then cycle from the bottom to the top of Vietnam! Well to be truthful you don't actually cycle the whole distance - but it sounds good! You actually cover 500 k on your good quality bicycle. The reality is to travel the whole country you have no choice but to spend a fair amount of time on the minibus, but it wasn't a problem - just a fact. Pleasantly surprised by the quality of hotels - hard to fault anything about them. The cycling goes from miles of completely flat through villages and countryside (where you whizz along at 14-16 mph regularly), to pleasantly undulating, with just two 'proper' climbs - one of which is 10k and seriously steep. One spectacular downhill journey for miles as a sort of pay-back!! Fabulous food (lots of stopping off at local families along the route for lunch). A great group of 18 folk of varying ages and levels of fitness made the holiday fun and fabulous.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A couple of highlights for me - two nights on Whale Island (what a really fabulous place), a couple of nights in Hoi An which was great fun if you like cooking and getting clothes made, and the 14 hour train journey from Hue to Hanoi was just brilliant. Getting to grips with the traffic and cycling through some busy towns was hilarious - bonkers at times, but such good fun. Spotting the most unusual thing that could be transported on the back of a scooter was an entertaining hobby for sure.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The whole of our team of four was fantastic. They were superbly led by Son - who was unflappable, kind, experienced, efficient and funny and worked really hard to help us understand what Vietnam is all about!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Various reviews say pack light - it's good advice (although sadly I ignored it)! There's lots of packing and unpacking along the way so the less you take the easier it is. For example - you really do only need one swim suit, not 3, one or two pairs of sandals, not 4!!! Also there are so many shopping opportunities you need space to bring those additional essential purchases home!!!
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Anna Greenwood

    Vietnam Cycling

    What a trip!..18 of us threw ourselves into an adventure for 2 weeks!Thank you Son ,our trip leader ,.for supporting all 18 of us through all the "undulations".The especially selected "Happy Rooms"...- the continual patience of all the crewĺ. Carefully paced cycling made it doable for all of us. Such a shame about the rubbish on the side of the road. Great food..suppose..always ģç Highly recomend this trip.Book it now Anna Greenwood

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The ride over The Hai Van Pass!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was brilliant!...fun..knowelagable. ..thoughtful with a wonderful understanding of our sense of humour! Very patient!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some training helps!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do it before it's too late!
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Eliane Lamotte

    MOV180211

    My trip to Cycling Vietnam was very good. Son Nguyen was very good, we were 18 in the group, occasionally we needed more information about the next day so we could get ourself prepared better (ex. sleeping on train and boat). I wish we had more time in Hanoi, we were flying home the next day getting on transfer bus for 10.30am. Coming away from Halong Bay going to Hanoi, after several hours on bus we visited the Temple of Literature and Hoa Lo Prison Museum. I think it would have been better if we were given the choice to see those two sights because we were near our hotel when we went to the Hoa Lo Prison Museum (only a few people were interested).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Everything was magical especially with the celebration of New Year (Hoi An) Ha Long Bay kayak/sleeping on boat.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Son Nguyen was very good.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Allistair Stark

    A grand tour by bike through Vietnam.

    This is a full on tour, with so much to see, and some great cycling. Highlights were the unexpected two nights on Whale Island, and the 34km - thirty four - continuous downhill from Dalat, through jungle on winding roads. This tour is classified in difficulty the same as Indochina & Angkor, but this is wrong. It is without doubt more difficult cycling, with a lot more elevation, and if done in the dry season fairly continuous headwinds. (We did the two tours back to back). However bus support is excellent. The temperatures in the south are the same as the Indochina tour - early thirties - but we obviously cooler at Dalat due to altitude, and as we got further north, particularly after the Hai Van pass. There is overall less to see in terms of temples etc, but much more in terms of scenery, and the cycling in general is a bit more interesting. Hanoi and Saigon are really interesting cities for anyone with any interest in recent history, but Hoi An is a gem of a city, relatively unknown to most people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The people. So friendly, almost without exception. (I dropped money in a wallet in Hanoi without realising, and was pursued by a young mother out with her children calling after me, to give it back. The thing is that whilst incredibly grateful, I didn't feel at all surprised at this)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Nguyen Tan Danh or Danh, also known to all as the 'Happy Buddha' He was simply wonderful. He is so organised, and always willing to go the extra mile to make things better, always volunteering extras. For example, having watched a large group from another country arrive in our Hanoi Hotel whilst we were there, tired and confused from their flights and all wanting the attention of a rather harassed looking leader - we compared it to how Danh almost without exception had organised all our rooms prior to arrival at hotels so we just walked in and picked up keys. He'd also got all our passport details and did all this in advance or on the road too! Five star service plus! He was also a font of knowledge on the history and geography of Vietnam and always a pleasure to talk to. As for food and coffee, he always found interesting out of the way places to visit, we will never forget the tiny cafe up a back stairwell and the 'special 'Hanoi' coffee - with eggs' which sounds dubious, but is actually completely delicious (think coffee flavoured meringue). We were very lucky to have Danh as our group leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are not a regular cyclists, do get saddle fit. We are not cyclists, but did three months on and off prior to going. Do take your own pedals/saddle if you want, they are no problem to fit for the bike team, and you'll most likely find them more comfortable than the ones on the bikes. You will want to carry a camera; the bikes are mountain bikes with disc brakes - the handlebars are quite thick and many front panniers (like ours) didn't fit. Some folk had bought relatively cheap ones from Decathlon with long velcro straps which fitted fine. I ended up using a small rucksack, this causes a pretty sweaty back. Don't worry about malaria, but you will need DEET as mosquitoes and mosquito borne diseases such as Dengue are. Consider buying a knock down fly spray for use where there are mosquitoes in the rooms, such as Whale Island and to spray under your mosquito net. We would also take plug in mosquito coils and tablets for the same reason. Consider staying extra nights at the start/finish if you want to see Saigon and Hanoi, otherwise there is very little time, and there is plenty to see for a couple of days in each.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    More for Exodus, just two points; It would be worth differentiating between the Cycle Indochina and Cycle Vietnam in terms of difficulty. Whilst it is generally hotter in the latter, Vietnam is much more hilly and the cycling is harder overall. If Indochina is easy/mod then Vietnam is moderate. Also there was one leg which by common consent was pretty unenjoyable, we did 22km along a dead straight main road north of Whale Island. Whilst there are clearly issues about loading/unloading bikes, this might have been a better option than the cycle.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    John Dingley

    Great trip, great guides, read the trip notes carefully

    I loved the trip - some magical moments and great rides - great company, wonderful food, superb team....Everybody else's reviews i totally aree with, it was wonderful. But not enough reviews on here tell the full story, so here as some things to be aware of Too long spent in the bus transferring from place to place - that was a real downer. The transfer to some hotels took hours, and when we arrived their didnt seem any reason why that location was chosen, especially in the early part of the trip in the south. The days are really full-on, dont expect any time for site seeing and lazing around. Very early starts every day. A couple of days had rides that were almost boring - long main roads just nocking out the KM's. I think exodus could plan these a little better. I'd have preferred more backroads, even if that meant lower quality hotels at the end of it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The downhill descent from Dalat was great fun and lifted the whole group. The cocktail party on the overnight train helped pass the time. But the kids running out to try and get a hi5 or a simple hello really made it.... and oh yes, helping a lady upright her overladen moped that had gone off the side of the road was a moment i'll never forget.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Happy Buddha was probably the hardest working guide we have had. His attention to detail was faultless - checking into hotels - and out - was a breeze because he booked rooms ahead and arranged all of the passport copies - and that can gain you 30 mins a day so priceless on such a hectic trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    the coach to Ha Long bay and back was 4 hours each way, which is a bit of a drag. We learned afterwards that there was a seaplane that cost $175, took 45 mins. We really wished that we'd pre-booked that for a flight back to Hanoi - it would have been unforgettable ! Also, you wont need half as many clothes as you think. Dont overpack, lots of opportunities for very cheap laundry. However, take a washing line so that you can dry stuff that youve hand washed.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We did back to back trips - Indochina and then Vietnam. It was quite easily do-able for the cycling part, but living out of a suitcase for 4 weeks was a bit tiresome. Personally, if you are trying to decide which to do, i think the indochine trip was far better - Cambodia stole our hearts and Ankor Wat was simply breathtaking. You get to sample 3 very different countries on that trip.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    LINDA LAMOTTE

    Vietnam by bike - what a perfect way of visiting this country

    This trip was absolutely brilliant, a perfect way of visiting a country, by bike. We really felt part of the scenery and the locals were so welcoming, the cycling was interesting, safe, challenging but not too much, everyone could go at their pace as we had plenty of stops to allow the slower members catch up and have a break too. Every hotel we stayed in was over our expectations, clean spacious with very welcoming staff. The food was out of this world, fresh, local delicious and none of the group had any problems at all. Our guide, the driver and the mechanic were so knowledgeable and really kept an eye on each of us during our trip. We had fresh water and refreshments throughout our cycling and the excursions were great . Vietnam is really a great place to visit, so varied and interesting. I truly recommend this trip to any one that enjoys cycling and it was the perfect way to visit a country; I thank our guide Son who made each one of us feel as ease and handled us well. The guide and driver of our bus were very helpful and so was our mechanic. Well done Exodus!!!!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day was just perfect,

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, he really knows how to make each individual feel at ease and kept us all in good spirit. Well organised and so cheerful, couldn't have asked for any better.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    To bring a neck cushion for the bus ride as we often needed a nap . Lots of insect repellent and sun cream of course. To bring warm clothes too.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would definitely recommend this trip
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