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MOV Cycling Vietnam

Hi.........Just saying "hello" to anyone doing this trip starting on 20th April 2019.  We are Andy and Laurene and have done two cycling trips with Exodus before - Mysore to Goa and Morocco.  Both in 2018.  Enjoyed them very much and looking forward to this one in Vietnam.  Another exciting adventure !!

I am doing this trip with my friend Sarah. We have also cycled in Morocco & several walking holidays really enjoyed all our adventures. Will you be flying from Heathrow? Hope you've enjoyed the festivities time to get training soon!

Nice to hear from you and looking forward to sharing this adventure.  I wonder how many are booked in up until now?  Hopefully it will be a full group by the time we go.  Yes.....we are flying from Heathrow.......T4.......MH3.......1100h departure.  Same for you?  We have also done several walking holidays with Exodus.  Great fun in a group.

Me (Jess) and my mum (Debbie) have signed up for April. We're looking forward to the adventure and meeting you all! We are new to this, it is our first cycle trip and whilst we're most excited, it is also a little daunting too! We're flying out slightly earlier so will meet you all in Vietnam. Any tips from folk ahead of the adventure would be most welcomed.

Hope you all had a lovely festive time, the new year will bring training and less relaxing I guess!

Hi Jess & Debbie good to hear from you. I'm on this trip with my friend Sarah we've been on a cycling trip in Morocco & walking trips before really enjoyed them looking forward to meeting you. Don't worry it will be fun! Best wishes Linda

Hi yes the same flight from Heathrow. When I asked there were 6 people in the group I'm sure there will be more join in it looks such an interesting trip not sure I'll do the 62 mile ride but we have back up if necessary. We've met some really fine fellow travellers & the guides have been great.

Hi Jess and Debbie

A few names known already.  That's great.

As Linda says.......don't worry it will be such fun !!   The itinerary looks really good and it should give plenty of time in the day for both cycling and sightseeing.  It will be very manageable I am sure.  I did a very similar trip in India (Mysore to Goa) and it worked very well indeed.

Although we have always cycled India and Morocco are the only two group trips we have done so far.  I read a few things before our first trip which did help.  I bought a gel seat cover and a handlebar bag (for passport, money, wipes etc) and found both to be extremely useful.  I stopped wearing knickers and used Chamois Butter.  Maybe you know of it already.  It's great.  I do so recommend it.  I wear fingerless cycling gloves and cyling tops which wash and dry quickly.  I see we have a few two-night stops where things can be washed through.  There is never enough time to get it dry otherwise.  If you have not been to Asia before I would recommend lightweight comfy clothes for when not cycling.  We have an Asian daughter in law (an Engineer like our son.....they met through work) and we have gradually got used to trying not to wear the wrong thing.  We are hoping the hotels on this trip will provide some toiletries as they can weight heavy in the suitcase.  Didn't get any in Morocco !!!   Best take some Immodium etc........although nobody has got ill of either of our trips.

Reading the reviews are good for picking up a few ideas but if there is anything specific you want to know then please do ask.  Maybe we might have a clue....ha ha !!!

It's ski season for us at the moment but we will still try to get out on the bikes as much as we can.  It is the best preparation but you will find the friendliness of the group cycling together keeps you going.  

Linda........I guess we may see each other at the airport then.  Only us 6 so far then.....ha ha !!!!!     Yes.....I am sure more will gradually book.  14/16'ish works well I think.  But, we shall see.

xx

We have another friend joining us - Jackie, so I think that will be 11 of us to date. Not good cycling weather here today as we have snow in Derbyshire.

Great news.  Looks like we will be a good size group . Excellent. 

xx

Hi All,

My wife and i have just finished this trip. I have a few tips and notes about the trip for you.

The trip is fantastic. you get to see rural Vietnam at it's finest. The journey. The 90km day was the best. Start from hotel, cycle 25km, get on the coach for an hour and drrive up to the top of a mountain then cycle downhill for 30 km!! absolutly stunning views. The only day we had bad weather was on the 10km uphill climb with a 10km downhill the other side and a 10km dash to the fish restaurant for lunch. The veggies were well catered fo and our guide Tung was on hand all the time to help them order food.

The overnight train trip was great. You order pizza to eat on the train and buy snacks ad drinks on the platform of the station. People did take a thin snugpack sleeping bag with them but we got on fine with the blanket provided on the train. THERE ARE COCKROACHES IN THE SLEEPING COMPARTMENT but we only saw 2.

The Island stay and the overinght boat trip at the end was really nice. take lots of pics.  you can swim in the sea at both but it was a bit cold.

You also stay in a 5* hotel with pools but we never had tme to use them.

Tipping and food kitty everybody put in and everybody gave our guide $30 each at the end.

Tips (in no order)

you only get one chance to do a big clothes wash (by the kilo) and we found that by doing a wash every night was ok. Clothes were dry by next morning. Take a travel washing line to string up on he balconies or bath room. (sea to summit line from Cotswold outdoor)

If you are taking a camera a small compact with a neck strap was the best. I took my big Nikon DSLR and a compact and prefered the compact when on the bike. The compact can be worn round the neck or in the back pocket of your cycling jersey or in a bike bag.

some of us had  handlebar bags, cross bar bags like a topeak fueltank bag (.75ltr) and saddle post bags. I also rolled up my wetproof jacket and used electricians tape to tape it to the cross bag so it was handy if I needed it. I did this for a few people.

Padded cycle shorts are a must we took 2 bibs and 3 jerseys each (we bought a vietnam cycling jersey from Tung so be aware you could take 2 and buy a 3rd or just wear tshirts)

I took 2 long trousers,3 shorts,2 long sleeves, 2 short sleeves (Shirts) 2 long sleeve and 2 short sleeve quick dry sports shirts, 2 sports shorts, 1 pr track suit trousers, 2 light weight fleeces (1 hooded), 5 tee shirts, 2 prs trainers (1 for bike 1 for going out)

Cycling gear.

I took my ow saddle. IMHO there is no need to tak your clip in peddles and shoes but it's up to you. gloves x2, jerseys, bibshorts for my preference, cycle socks, handlebar bag and crossbar bag, rear and front light (used both on rainy day), Helmet, Sunnies. I'm bald so i wear a cycle cap under my helmet to soak up sweat and stop sunburn, arm warmers (thin ones mainly to protect from sunburn) wetproof jacket.

hope this has been of help. if you have any questions feel free to ask.

Pete    

Hello Pete.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write & pass on useful tips. It's much appreciated I'm glad you & your wife enjoyed it.

Best wishes

Linda

We're doing this trip, starting on Feb 27.  Your tips and notes are excellent.  Thanks for taking the time to write them down.  Cheers, Jess

Wow.......thanks Pete.  Your comments are very much appreciated.  Very helpful.  Thanks for taking the time.  Laurene and Andy.

In the main "tourist street" by the hotel there are loads of shops selling outdoor clothing. Knock off waterproofs, fleeces and lightwight puffa jackets (North Face £20 - £25) so here would be an oppertunity to buy something warm for up north. But you may have one already used for getting to the UK airport.

Plug adaptors are the 2 round pin type.

Tung made sure that the 3 vegatarians in our group were well catered for in all the meals.

Vietnamese dong (currency) takes a bit of getting used to. About 30,000 to the £1.

 

Bibs are shorts and a vest combined. They are more comfy in my opinion and stop the shorts from drooping in the crotch area. We took 19kg each in our case,bags I have a mountain equipment 120ltr soft bag which i carry as a rucksack and Alex has a Berghaus 120ltr mule bag on wheels. I had my DSLR and electronics (if you have a lot of electrics try using double adaptors as in 2 uk plugs in 1 Viet plug) in my day sac which was 7 kg. It's hard to pack I know as you have to take warm, cool, wet gear. We took waterproof trousers but did not wear them even in the rain. 

 

Also if you have a bike computer or GPS watch do take that and link it to strava to get the profiles of your rides. If you try and send me an email addy I'll try and send you the profiles of the rides in Vietnam. Most of the days riding is split because you are on and off the coach.

 

Dont take a lot of toiletries as usual buy them over there.

 

As i'm a paramedic I also took loads of medications with me to deal with everything. We had 8 days in Cambodia first and I had a blocked up nose but I'm sure that was to do with the air con on the plane. For cycling in the cities some people had surgical masks to wear as it did get a bit smelly from exhaust fumes.

 

1 chap had a nasty cough and on the last day another chap had a sore belly. No one was ill due to the food. 

The tourist street I refer to is in Hoi An when you can also get your washing done by the kg.

Hi I've been recommended to have a rabies vaccine by my Medical practice has anyone else had this advice?

I don't believe this jab is obligatory but we had to have it for other places we have been. .....so are still covered. 

Dogs do wander around lots in Asia and they never look particularly healthy ha ha. Guess the jab buys you a bit of time and therefore gives you peace of mind. An individual choice .

We didn't get any side affects from the jab. 

Sorry can't help more specifically with your question. 

Laurene. 

Pete and Alex 

Do you have to leave large holdall at hotel on mainland whilst doing the boat trip? 

Do we need much on the boat? 

Will the day pack be big enough or should we have something larger like a lightweight smaller holdall that folds small into our luggage the rest of the time? 

Laurene and Andy. 

hi Laurene and Andy,

when you go over to Whale Island you leave your big case on the coach and take stuff for overnight (incl swimming  gear, clothes suitable for the weather, it was chilly on the island) in a daysack or similar bag. You should also have an exodus  shopping bag to carry stuff in as well. We both had a 40ltr day sac for clothes and  the exodus bag for electronics and books etc.

the same for the boat trip to Halong bay but big bags, cases are stored in a hotel in Hanoi.

everything goes with you on the train to Hanoi but there is under bed storage and storage above the door.

we already had a rabies jab so did not have one especially for this trip. Just follow this golden rule, if it cannot speak, don’t touch it. That goes for dogs, cats, monkeys, insects etc............

This is really really useful to know. I'd been wondering exactly how things work when not on the bike. Once again thank you very much for taking the time to comment. 

Laurene and Andrew 

If you do not already use them you may like to try using packing pods/bags especially if you are using a soft bag. I use one for each type of clothing and they just slot into the bag/case. On this trip I used different coloured ones (x2) for my cycling kit so I could tell them apart. You can buy them from Mountain Warehouse or from Ebay or Amazon quite easily.

Also a tip I got from an airline stewardess was to laminate an A4 size sheet of paper with your name and address on and leave on the top of your clothes in your bag/case just incase the luggage tag comes off your bag/case (as the well made Exodus tag was broken on my wifes bag)  

I too have found packing bag a good idea and have used them on many touring trips.  Makes things a lots easier.  

Your name/mobile number inside the case is also something we have done for years..........just in case.  Luckily for us it has not had to come into use.......yet.  Fingers crossed !!!

Thanks Pete.  More great tips.

Laurene.

Hi, Kevin and I are on the trip departing London 20th April.  We're both looking forward to it.  We've done other cycling and walking holidays with Exodus.  All brilliant.  Lots of advice and information already provided above to take in.  Looking forward to meeting you all.  Sarah

Hi from Andy and Laurene. Good to hear from you. I wonder how many of us are in the group for this trip now?  Anyone know ?

Hello & welcome to Sarah & Kevin form Linda Sarah & Jackie. Looking on the bookings page & see there are 4 places left so I guess there are 14 of us to date.

Thanks Linda.  This is great news.  A good number for a cycling group.........although four more would also be a good number for a trip like this.  It's getting closer.........Yippee !!!

We are doing this trip from 08th April.   Anyone else?

The comments on here are extremely helpful.  I am planning on taking 3 pairs of padded shorts and 3 technical tops which hopefully will wash and dry very quickly.    It sounds as though that will be fine.  I am a bit worried about what to do when not on the bike re shorts, as I've read they are a no-no in Vietnam.  I thouhgt I'd put a very ligtweight scarf/sarong in my saddle bag which I can then tie round me over my shorts as a skirt.  Do you think that will work?   Not sure what my husband will do! 

Does anyone know if its a good idea to take swim shoes?  I was thinking for Whale Island (althought I think that's mainly sand) and Halong Bay.  But it's yet another thing to fit in my bag.  Ditto snorkelling gear, is it worth taking it? 

We are very excited about the trip although also a bit anxious as we've not done any cycling trips before and we just hope that we can keep up with everyone! 

Hi Alison,

the girls wore their padded shorts all the time from hotel to hotel on the bike days a couple of them had baggy shorts over the top. When not on the bikes my wife wore dress, skirt, knee length shorts or 3/4 trousers. The 2 young girls wore Lycra leggings. If you are going to see a temple then you need covered shoulders and no vests or skimpy shorts. The chaps wore padded shorts on the bikes and baggy shorts or long trousers on days off. 

For Whale island I took the walking shoes that I wore on my bike plus a pair of flip flops which I wore most of the time there.

Dont bother with snorkelling kit as you get it from the island before yo get on the boat. The sea was a bit chilly but we did it for an hour.

in Halong bay the only time you get off the boat is to go in the cave and to go canoeIngaglia and for that you can go without shoes.

on the Halong bay trip enjoy the karaok. I’m sure it will be a great trip. I really enjoyed the train trip north to Hanoi. 

Any other questions please ask and I’ll do my best to answer them..

if you can put an email on here I’ll send you a few pics.

pete

 

Thanks very much Pete.   That's really useful, especially about not taking our own snorkelling stuff as that wil save space in the suitcase!  I've got padded shorts, so has my husband, but i wasn't sure if there were places where we'd go straight from bike to temple thus needing to put on a skirt or something without returning to the minibus 

Having had our passports stolen on our last holiday, which was a total nightmare,  we are somewhat paranoid now about security. Is it safe to leave valuables like passports on the minibus or do we need to have them on us at all times? 

I'd love to see sme photos, my email address is [email protected]

Many thanks

Alison

 

Hello everyone, has anyone looked into buying some dong in the UK or you going to buy it there.  I've read some posts (but they are from 2014) that you get a much better exchange in vietnam.  Travelex who I've used before for currency do a better exchange than the post office but I can only collect it in London or at the airport.  Any thoughts / advice?  Thanks Sarah

Because we went to Cambodia for 8 days before our trip to Vietnam we got £200 dong from Tesco (which was the best deal at the time) then used our plastic to draw money from the cash point (loads available). One word of warning though, we had a game of hit and miss with our Mastercard credit card when paying in some shops/restaurants and hotels. Visa worked a treat. We even used a few odd $us that we had over from Cambodia and had no trouble changing $us either.

We kept our passports in our cases that are in the boot of the coach and kept our daysac in the coach. I always had my ipad in the seat pocket in the coach and had no problems. We always put our valubles in the room safe when we got into the hotel. As an ex soldier I always did my 'pesonal admin' when we got into the hotel rooms ie put the days photos on to my wifes laptop and memory stick. I also have a gizmo for putting photos from an SD card onto my ipad just to back everything up.

This bit me in the bum when we got to the 5 star hotel with all the swimming pools as we did not have time to go for a swim. that night the guide will take everybody in the coach to a fish restaurant but you can eat in the hotel if you wish. Try the iguanna meat on the hotel menu! 

Just a hint. If on your flights the airline ask you to put your carry on bags in the hold to get priority boarding or other perk either don't bother or remember to take anthing like cameras, ipads ect out first. I have been on trips where fellow travellers have done this and had cameras stolen because you cannot lock a daysac! said traveller ended up using his ipad to take pics while on a trekking holiday in Patagonia. 

Thank you for your comments and the photos.  Sarah

Hi, this was our first Exodus trip back in 2012! Loved it.

Definitley buy the dong over there, much better rates. WE found the slightly dodgy looking exchange shops were the best.

Have a great time.

Hi again everyone................Not long now.................EEEEEEEeeeeee!!!!!!

I've been re-reading everything and got a bit confused about luggage on the boat trip, Whale Island and the train so I wrote to Robyn at Exodus to get clarification.

I thought you may like to see her reply too..................

"On the overnight say on the boat at Halong Bay your luggage will stay with you will be stored on the boat in your rooms. The same with when you stay on Whale Island your bags will come with you so you don’t need to worry about packing a separate bag for these 2 nights.

 

 

Your luggage will also stay with you on the overnight train, there is space for you to store this under your beds so it won’t be in a separate compartment.

 

You can bring the type of luggage that best suits you, please just make sure that it is not an oversized bag as you may have trouble fitting it under the bed on the train."

 

Not what I was expecting as I thought we would have to leave large bags somewhere and use our rucksacks only.  This certainly makes everything much easier for us I think.

 

Looking forward to meeting you all and to our wonderful trip.

 

Laurene and Andy.

Hi Laurene thank you for sharing the latest info I've passed it on to Sarah & Jackie my cycling buddies. We're so looking forward to getting to Vietnam & cycling in the sunshine (hopefully) See you soon! x

On the trip to whale island you can leave your big case in the boot of the bus and just take a day bag with enough stuff for 2 days. But if you wish to lug it with you it's a choice but all our stuff was safe but we did bing our passports with us just in case. I do not think they have ever had anything stolen from the bus. Just remember the island is made of sand and you will have to carry it from the jetty to your cabin.

When you get to Hanoi you can leave your case in the hotel that you have breakfast in as you will stay there a night on your return and again all you need is overnight stuff for one night on the boat. Again we took our passports just to have them near.

On the train. Cases can fit under the bunks on the floor. Daysacs fit overhead on a ledge over the doorway when not in use. we all slept in our clothes with the supplied blanket and applied a bit extra deoderant in the morning and got changed either in the hotel prior to the bus journey to Ha long bay or on the boat.

one extra tip for the boat. They seem to love kareoke. I did it for the first time in 61 years and had a great night. you also go for a trip in the tender boat to a cave and to go kayaking.

Any questions please ask away.

Pete & Alex  

Thanks again for taking the time to explain how things worked on your trip Pete and Alex.  It is, as always, very helpful.

I guess it's good to know we have choices and will be able to make our minds up on the spot as to what might work best. 

I'll probably keep my large holdall with me as it's never going to be that big or heavy.........but I could manage either way.  Good to have the flexibility.

Thanks again.

Laurene.

so all the info on here, especially from Pete, has been really useful.  I'm getting excited now although slightly worried about how I'll cope with the hills (and the humidity!) after the flatlands of Cambridgeshire....

 

Hi Alison I'm sure you'll be fine - my cycling buddies are a bit worried but I say we can always hitch a ride on the bus there's no shame in it!

believe me I have no shame, I will be on that bus if I need to!   

Today is so miserable I can't somehow believe that I will be sweating in high humidity within 48 hours.  I've just got home after a weekend away with friends where my case was full of jumpers and I was frozen.  I am now looking at the t shirts I've packed for tomorrow and wondering if I should whip a couple out and replace then with a hoodie.  My husband says no! 

The only time you may consider going on the bus is if you are poorly or on the 10km uphill cycle. there are some flat bits as well as the uphill bits. 3 people on our trip went in the bus. the other 14 of us did it and I was the last one up, 20 mins behind the first up. I stopped for a rest 3 times cos my bum was hurting!

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