Current as of: April 24, 2024 - 12:03

Cycling Vietnam

Cycling Vietnam Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Vietnam
  • Programmes: Cycling
  • Activity Level:

    3 out of 7 - Moderate

  • 16 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 14 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: MOV
  • Carbon Footprint: 36kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Experience the real Vietnam by bike

We ride from vibrant Ho Chi Minh City in the south to the thrilling capital of Hanoi in the north on this two-week cycling tour, travelling on paved roads through colourful fishing villages, folding rice terraces and jungle-cloaked mountains. The vast shoreline of white sandy beaches is ours to discover along the way, with time to swim in the sea on a tropical island retreat. Stopping off at the ancient trading port of Hoi An, home to temples and wooden merchant houses, we delve into the peacefulness of rural Vietnam before ascending the Hai Van Pass, riding along twisting coastal roads that lead to remarkable views of the misty forest below.

Cycling Vietnam

Join us to celebrate Exodus’ 50th anniversary! Select departures of this trip feature extra inclusions to mark the occasion: an upgraded Ha Long/Lan Ha Bay boat experience with kayaking and sunset drinks, a local birthday celebration and a special edition Exodus kitbag. The selected departures on this trip start in Ho Chi Minh City on 14 March 2024, 11 August 2024 and 3 November 2024.

At a Glance

  • 11 nights comfortable hotels, one night boat, one night sleeper train
  • Nine days cycling (including one optional ride) with 90 percent vehicle support
  • Roads nearly all well paved
  • The route is generally flat with some undulation with the exception of Dalat and the Hai Van Pass
  • Group normally five to 18, plus local leaders
  • XOV- Angkor Wat Extension (from Siem Reap) available to book pre tour
  • Limited number of e-bikes available for an additional cost

Highlights

  • Take a cycling holiday through Vietnam’s most scenic landscapes
  • Savour mouth-watering cuisine
  • Crawl through the Cu Chi war tunnels
  • Relax in charming Hoi An
  • Cruise among the limestone formations of Ha Long Bay
  • Overnight on a tropical island

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is rated Activity Level 3 (Moderate) and classified Road. For more on our trip gradings, visit our Activity Level Guidelines page.

  • Nine days of cycling (including one optional ride)
  • Average 43mi (70km) per day
  • 90 percent vehicle support

Terrain and route: Road surfaces are mostly well paved. The route is generally flat with some undulation with the exception of Dalat and the Hai Van Pass. Vietnam can be very hot and humid, which can make cycling more demanding at times, but rests and water are readily available. You should be comfortable riding in traffic during parts of the itinerary.

This is a busy trip that involves early departures from hotels on cycling days; anyone not wanting to cycle all day can use the support vehicle.

Please be advised, that on any of the cycling days, if your leader feels the itinerary is running behind schedule and has concerns about arriving at the hotel at an appropriate time, they may ask some or all members of the group to finish their riding for the day and transfer to the support vehicle. This will ensure the group still arrives on schedule around the approximate expected arrival times communicated to the group in your daily briefings with your leader.

Group

An experienced cycling tour leader will accompany all groups from start to finish. A bike mechanic will assist the tour leader, and local guides will step in at various sights.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 6

Max group size: 18

Itinerary

Map MOV

Land Only

  • Start City: Ho Chi Minh
  • End City: Hanoi

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is an exciting and absorbing city where bicycles battle with trucks and temples stand defiantly alongside modern developments. Devastated by the Vietnam War, Ho Chi Minh City is now a bustling free market city where anything goes. The Ben Thanh Market and Notre Dame Cathedral are within easy walking distance and are highly recommended. This evening there will be a welcome briefing with your leader followed by an optional group dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: Huong sen Hotel (or similar)

Day 2
Transfer out of the city; cycle to the Cu Chi tunnels

This morning we drive out of the city, before riding to the Cu Chi tunnels. This offers a great introduction to cycling in Vietnam and a chance to fine-tune the bikes. The tunnels were Viet Cong sanctuaries, used by the guerrillas as living quarters and escape routes. The network covers three levels and approximately 149mi (240km) of tunnels. Some parts have been widened for tourists, but the tunnels were originally very narrow and it is still necessary to crawl on hands and knees.

If you prefer not to visit the tunnels you can have an unguided free day in Ho Chi Minh City. Places of interest include the Emperor of Jade and Giac Lam pagodas, the former Presidential Palace (now the Reunification Hall), Ben Thanh market and the War Remnants Museum.

Accommodation: Huong sen Hotel (or similar)

Distance covered: 19mi (30km)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3
Cycle towards the coast and drive to Mui Ne

After an early breakfast we head out of Ho Chi Minh City by bus and then start cycling towards the coast. We hit the backroads and head through tropical fruit and rubber plantations also passing small fishing villages as we make our way closer to the coast finishing our ride in time for lunch. We then transfer approximately three hours to Mui Ne, a tranquil white-sand beach where we can witness our first sunset over the East Sea. We spend four to five hours on the bus today.

Accommodation: Ocean Dunes Resort (or similar)

Distance covered: 31mi (50km)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4
Cycle to Dalat in the central highlands

We cycle towards Dalat; the route is undulating with occasional climbs. Along the way we pass coffee and tea plantations, flower gardens and pine forests as we reach higher altitude. We rejoin the bus before the road climbs steeply to the mountain town of Dalat. We spend approximately 3hr 30min on the bus today.

Dalat is a pleasant hill station, formerly known as Le Petit Paris, and has been described as the most beautiful town in Vietnam. It was favoured by the French for its climate, and is now a popular honeymoon resort for the Vietnamese.

Accommodation: La Sapinette Hotel (or similar)

Distance covered: 37mi (60km)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5
Cycle through Bidoup National Park; to the coast and boat transfer to Whale Island

Today’s ride is predominantly undulating and approximately 19mi (30km) downhill through pine forests and paddy fields as we descend nearly 4,921ft (1,500m) and travel through Bidoup Ba National Park. This area is home to rare pine forests, plus small villages inhabited by the ethnic minority people of the central highlands. Once we arrive at the coast, we head by bus (approximately 90 minutes) to the coast near Nha Trang before boarding a boat to our tropical island retreat of Whale Island for the next two nights. Today you can cycle up to 55.9mi (90km) according to preference.

Accommodation: Whale Island Resort (or similar)

Distance covered: 56mi (90km)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6
Cruise around islands with seafood lunch and snorkelling

Today we relax and unwind. We join a boat trip in the morning for a spot of snorkelling and sea swimming before a seafood lunch. In the afternoon, you have the option to visit a local fishing village, see the Whale temple or walk around the island to the viewpoint for a 360-degree view of the mountainous coastline and the surrounding coves and white-sand beaches.

Accommodation: Whale Island Resort (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7
Coastal ride to Quy Nhon

We set off early in the morning and first take a short transfer from Whale Island through Dai Lanh and Ca Pass before setting off on our bikes at Vung Ro Bay, where we ride along the coast to Tuy Hoa and O Loan Lagoon to Chi Thanh. In Chi Thanh, we stop for lunch and a short rest before continuing to La Hai where we complete our longest ride of the trip (62.2mi/100km). From La Hai, we then transfer one hour to our hotel in Quy Nhon. We spend approximately two hours on the bus today.

Accommodation: Seagull Quy Nhon Hotel (or similar)

Distance covered: 62mi (100km)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8
Further coastal ride stopping en route at dunes; then transfer to Hoi An

Leaving Quy Nhon, we travel through a new economic zone over the Thi Nai peninsula and Nhon Hoi Bridge, the longest sea bridge in Vietnam. Getting off our bikes, we visit a market, where it’s not unusual to be pulled aside for a photo as this part of the country does not see many western tourists. The coastline features secluded bays, dunes and beaches with colourful fishing boats bobbing on the East Sea. We cycle until we arrive at Phu Ly and then drive to Hoi An. If time permits, we will cycle the last 7mi (12km) once we turn off Highway 1 into Hoi An.

Hoi An, the original European trading port in Vietnam dating back to the mid-16th century is now a living museum, with attractive wooden merchants houses and pagoda-style temples with Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European architectural influences. It is also a marvellous place to wander around and enjoy the thriving riverside market. We spend two nights in Hoi An, which is also a fantastic place to buy local art or have some clothes tailor-made for you. It’s best to bring a picture or a sample of what you want made. We spend approximately six hours on the bus today.

Accommodation: Hoi An Sincerity Hotel & Spa (or similar)

Distance covered: 31mi (50km)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9
Sightseeing in Hoi An; free afternoon

This morning we take a guided walking tour of Hoi An to explore some of the structures of historical significance in the Old Town, including bridges, temples, wells and houses. Those less interested in architecture can cycle the 3mi (5km) to the lovely Cua Dai beach or to the Marble Mountains, which are 11.8mi (19km) from town. These five marble hills, formerly islands, contain many caves, some of which were used as Buddhist (and Viet Cong) sanctuaries.

Also nearby is My Khe beach, a R&R spot for US troops in the war, and Da Nang, where there is a Cham Museum, which despite being in poor condition, is very interesting. It is also possible to visit My Son, one of the most important Cham temple sites in Vietnam where Cham kings were buried as early as the fourth century. Although wartime bombing has destroyed much of the site, there are several interesting stone towers and sanctuaries.

Accommodation: Hoi An Sincerity Hotel & Spa (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10
Ride over the spectacular Hai Van Pass; cycle and drive on to Hue

Today we turn north again for the drive/cycle to Hue. The route traverses over the spectacular Hai Van Pass – the Pass of the Ocean Clouds. The views are stunning, though those who prefer to avoid the 1,903ft (580m) climb can always take a lift in the support vehicle. Once at the top it will all seem worth it as you plummet back to the ocean, then continue through small villages and timeless rural scenes to the outskirts of Hue, from where we transfer to our city centre hotel. We spend about 2hr 30min on the bus today.

Accommodation: Park View Hotel (or similar)

Distance covered: 50mi (80km)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 11
Explore Hue and surroundings by bike and boat; overnight train to Hanoi

Hue is often claimed to be the cultural and historic centre of Vietnam and there is plenty to see. We take a guided tour of the city and surrounding tombs. The most memorable site is the citadel, with walls 6mi (10km) in length: inside are the palaces and halls of the Mandarins, and the remains of the Forbidden Purple City, where only the emperor and his eunuchs and concubines were allowed. We then take a boat along the Perfume River to the elaborate tombs of the Nguyen emperors, who ruled Vietnam from Hue. Tu Duc’s Tomb is very elaborate and set in beautiful gardens. Along the way we will visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, which has a centre for anti-government protests in the early 1960s. It also houses the Austin car that transported a monk, Thich Quang Duc, to Saigon in 1963 where he burned himself in protest against the president. The photograph of his self-immolation was printed in newspapers around the world. In the afternoon we will board the Reunification Express for the overnight ride to Hanoi, 428mi (688km) to the north.

Accommodation: Overnight train

Distance covered: 16mi (25km)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12
Arrive Hanoi; drive to Ha Long Bay; board boat and cruise/kayak among spectacular limestone formations

We usually arrive in Hanoi in the early morning and stop for a local breakfast and a stretch of the legs, before we are met by our bus for an approximate four-hour drive to Ha Long Bay. This is one of the most beautiful sights in South East Asia with around 3,000 limestone peaks rising directly from the clear emerald sea. We cruise among this amazing karst scenery, stopping to kayak in the sea (weather permitting), allowing us to get to places inaccessible by boat and enjoy a seafood lunch on board. We overnight on board in twin share cabins with private facilities.

Accommodation: overnight boat

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13
Further cruising in Ha Long Bay; return to Hanoi

Visit Me Cung cave and enjoy further time cruising the many islands of Ha Long Bay. We then return to Hanoi in the late afternoon. This charming city contains many beautiful old buildings and the atmosphere is completely different from that in Ho Chi Minh City, mainly due to the much more conservative nature of the northern Vietnamese. Also, unlike its industrial counterpart, the centre of Hanoi has a faded charm with broad tree-lined avenues dating from the French period, plus attractive lakes and pagodas. In the evening there is the option to enjoy a water puppet performance.

Accommodation: Lenid Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 14
End Hanoi

It’s been an unforgettable cycling adventure through Vietnam, but this morning marks the last breakfast of the tour. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on all that you’ve seen and achieved and, perhaps, to start planning your next big adventure.

Meals included: Breakfast

Extend Your Trip

Angkor Wat Extension (from Siem Reap)

Rediscovered in the Cambodian jungle in 1860, Angkor, the ancient capital of the powerful Khmer empire, is one of the finest archeological sites in the world. Built between the ninth and 13th centuries, the wonderfully preserved complex of temples and palaces is on a par with any great monument of the world with magnificent towers, sculptures and bas‐reliefs. During this four-night extension you will also see all the key sites of Phnom Penh, a fascinating city undergoing a huge amount of change. You will travel between the sites in a private car or minibus, depending on how many people take part in the extension, accompanied by an English‐speaking local guide. In the evenings, you will be free to enjoy the town. This trip extension is offered before the start of the Cycling Vietnam trip (MOV) so you can do it at the beginning and then fly to Vietnam to start the cycling trip. The detailed itinerary can be found here.

Please ask your sales representative for more details. Prices listed are starting prices.

 

Price per person

£ 1,199


Mandatory Single Supplement

£ 490

Ascents, descents and distances

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders, in many cases with satellite-based mapping software. Please note, different GPS measuring devices can give differing results, particularly on winding paths or in mountainous terrain. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter. Timings stated will vary depending on the pace of your group.

Accommodation

Hotels, resort, boat and sleeper train

Cycling Vietnam

The accommodation on this trip is wonderfully varied. We stay in comfortable hotels (mostly three/four-star) for nine nights and a laid-back tropical island resort for two nights. We also spend one night on a junk-style boat cruising Ha Long Bay and, finally, have one night on the Reunification Express, a sleeper train that takes us from Hue to Hanoi.

Below are a few of the standout accommodations on this trip:

Whale Island Resort

Cycling Vietnam

Our two-night stay on Whale Island is regarded as a highlight for many, though it is relatively basic. We stay in thatched bamboo bungalows, each with mosquito nets, fans and private bathrooms. The simplicity of island life and a secluded spot makes it idyllic, but be prepared for it to be a bit different to the hotels used for the rest of the trip.

Ha Long Bay cruise

Cycling Vietnam

Board a traditional junk-style boat to cruise among the magnificent limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay. Each of the twin-share cabins has air conditioning and a window out to sea, while the boat has a rooftop deck with chairs – this is where most of our travellers tend to gather for views over the bay. There’s also a dining room with glass windows so we can continue to admire this extraordinary landscape during lunch and dinner.  

Reunification Express

Our sleeper train takes us from Hue to Hanoi – a classic journey in this part of the world. It’s an essential part of the tour, linking two special destinations without resorting to flying or a lengthy coach trip. However, trains in Vietnam are not luxurious and it’s best to come prepared to maximise your experience – we’ve found extra warm layers to combat the air conditioning and ear plugs can provide a little more comfort! We stay in soft-bed berths, usually four passengers per berth. The trains here are safe but, as with any trip, we recommend you keep valuables with you. Snacks are normally offered on board and most trains have Western-style facilities, but some are equipped with squat toilets.

Worth knowing

  • Single supplements are available (on request) but only for 11 nights of the trip (hotel/resort nights). Please advise your sales representative at the time of booking if you would like to request a single supplement.
  • The accommodation listed in each location on the day-to-day itinerary are the standard hotels used. However, there may be some departures where groups stay at similar hotels of the same standard and quality.

Single supplement from £ 340

Food & Drink

All breakfasts, nine lunches and one dinner are included.

Thanks to the tropical climate, the long coast and the gigantic range of mountains, Vietnam is blessed with numerous varieties of culinary offerings and consequently maintains its reputation as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world that still packs a punch with delicious, fresh and fiery flavours.

Vietnamese food relies on fresh fish, vegetables, rice and a myriad of verdant herbs and spices; lemongrass, ginger, basil and lime all play an important role in the cuisine. The Chinese and French influence is felt throughout the country where you are just as likely to be offered a banh mi (stuffed baguette) as you are a hot steaming bowl of pho (noodle soup).
Each dish is prepared with the Asian principle of Wu Xing in mind (the five elements); meaning that the perfect combination of spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet is the ultimate aim. Be sure to also seek out the national beverages; Vietnamese coffee is served iced and sweet with condensed milk, a real sugar and caffeine hit, and beer hoi (local beer, brewed daily) is served on most street corners in the north out of large plastic jugs that are perfect for sharing.
Food is cheap in Vietnam and you can generally avoid the spicier food if you wish. Western food is readily available almost everywhere.

Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in South East Asia the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, eg gluten-free or dairy-free, is minimal or non-existent and we strongly recommend you bring these specialised dietary items from home.

You may find it beneficial to bring ‘cycling snacks’ with you from home if you have high-energy bars or gels that you like to use during a ride.

For those who wish to contribute, a kitty is normally arranged – fresh fruit, nuts, biscuits and local snacks are all provided from the snacking kitty along with homemade lemonade if the season is right.

Transport

Throughout the tour, we use a private coach/minibus, which will be quite comfortable, usually with air-conditioning. There are a couple of long driving days on this trip (up to six hours). Road conditions are generally good and improving all the time in Vietnam, however traffic can slow progress in the main cities. The trains are normally on time, but you may experience delays and departure times can change without notice. Boats are used at various points in the itinerary; these are nearly always private, and vary from converted trawlers to small riverboats. The coach will accompany the riders all the time, allowing you substantial flexibility to cycle as much or as little as you like, plus a support truck for the bikes and baggage.

Tet Holiday Period (Vietnamese New Year)
During the Tet holiday period,  9-15 February 2024 and 28 January to 3 February 2025, and two weeks either side of Tet, our itinerary is subject to minor change as despite booking hotels and trains in advance, rooms and seats are difficult to obtain during this busy festive period when people are travelling home to celebrate with their families. It is unlikely that changes will occur and if they do it is likely we will just need to use alternative accommodation.

Weather & Seasonality

The weather will be hot and humid throughout with temperatures during the day usually 28C-34C (82F-93F). It is only a little cooler at night. There is quite a range of seasons between the north and the south: the south up to Hue has a distinct dry season between December to April and then a rainy season from May to November when it tends to come in short heavy bursts with bright sunshine in between. Hanoi is cool in autumn, and even gets chilly between November and February (with drizzly rain).

There is no ideal time to visit Vietnam; it is quite pleasant at any time of year, though due to the shape of the country it is unlikely the weather will ever be perfect for the entire duration of any trip.

Please be aware that the boat trip on Ha Long Bay can be subject to short-notice change if certain adverse weather conditions develop during your trip. These could occur all year round, but especially in monsoon season (from October to April). Boat trips on Ha Long Bay are governed by the local authorities who are authorised to make appropriate safety decisions. If your Ha Long Bay trip is affected by adverse weather, this could either result in a reduced excursion on Ha Long Bay for your group, or less likely, the need to re-arrange the itinerary if it is not possible at all to go out on Ha Long Bay. While this is not a frequent occurrence, our local team and leaders are well equipped to handle such situations and have long offered appropriate options to groups in the instances where this may occur.

If you go to Cambodia for the Angkor Wat extension, the weather will be hot and humid all year round. The dry season is late October to May and the monsoon is normally between May and October; though there is an obvious transitional time between those settled periods.

The dry season is as it sounds, with hot days and generally clear skies, though you can expect the odd shower. The monsoon is characterised by short, sharp bursts of rain and is generally overcast all day though this does not detract from the enjoyment of the place; you just need to take an umbrella or buy a cheap local poncho.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately 25 minutes’ drive from the airport. Exodus provides free arrival transfers to the start hotel from the airport for all customers.

Catching your return flight

Exodus provides free departure transfers for all customers to Hanoi Airport (HAN) from the end hotel.

Please note, unless specified otherwise, the transfers will be to the start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers should be booked with your sales representative at least two weeks before the tour starts.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Ho Chi Minh
Location end: Hanoi

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Casual clothes. As it is generally hot and humid, light cotton clothing is recommended for most of the trip, though it will be cold in Hanoi between November and early March and you should bring a warm jacket, woolly hat, and trousers if you are travelling at that time
  • A first-aid kit is carried on each trip, but you should bring your own first-aid kit with diarrhoea treatment, painkillers, rehydration sachets, plasters and a blister treatment kit
  • Insect repellent is also highly recommended. Repellent containing DEET is thought to be highly effective
  • Warm clothes/layers for the overnight train journey, especially in the cooler months.
  • Large refillable water bottle
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket or poncho/umbrella
  • Strong sunscreen and sun hat
  • Swimming costume
  • Handlebar bag to carry personal items while cycling

There will be plenty of opportunities to get laundry done locally at a very affordable price so it’s fine to pack light.

Environmental considerations

We believe in reducing our negative environmental impact wherever possible, even when nature calls. If no facilities are available, you may need to go behind a tree, bush or rock. To avoid leaving toilet paper behind, we recommend taking biodegradable bags with you. Once you have done your business, put the used paper in the bag and dispose when appropriate facilities are available.

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Optional Equipment

  • Spare or extra long sleeved shirts and light trousers are good for helping to keep mosquitoes off during the evenings
  • You may wish to pack a bag that can be used as an overnight bag for the night in Ha Long Bay as you will be required to leave your main bag behind at the previous hotel for the night
  • Torch/head torch (flashlight)

Equipment Hire

Included standard bike
The standard bike for this trip is a Giant Rincon Disc mountain bike with front suspension.

We will take your height at the time of booking to reserve equipment. If you have a preferred bike size, please request when booking.

E-bike upgrade
A limited number of electric bikes are available on this trip; prices from £130/US$182/216 Canadian dollars. Speak to your sales representative as soon as possible for more information.

Bringing your own bike
If you’d prefer to bring your own bike, please advise us at the time of booking and you will receive a discount on the price of the trip. However, you will be responsible­­ f­or any extra baggage charges; assembling and disassembling your bike; and bringing along spare parts and any tools specific to it. You should also ensure you have adequate insurance to cover loss, damage or theft.

Accessories and clothing

Bringing equipment from home
You’re welcome to bring your own equipment, such as SPD pedals or clipless pedals, your own saddle (excluding the seat post), or gel saddle cover for the hire bikes. Your leader will help you fit these when bikes are distributed.

Helmets
Helmets are mandatory for everyone on a guided Exodus cycling trip. You must bring your own as, following best safety practice, they are not available for hire.

Cycling clothing
For this cycling trip we recommend:

  • Padded cycling shorts: For destinations with more modest cultures, we also recommend loose ‘over-shorts’ for riding or rest stops
  • Eyewear: Either sunglasses or eye protection with clear lenses to protect the eyes while riding
  • Cycling gloves: Especially for riding off-road or on rugged surfaces
  • Cycling shoes: Cycling is more efficient with stiff-soled shoes. We don’t recommend open-toed shoes or sandals
  • Small close-fitting backpack or bum bag (fanny pack): To keep spare clothing or essential items to hand during the ride
  • Fingerless cycling gloves
  • Bandana/cloth: To keep cool in the heat

Practical Information

Passport

To enter Vietnam, your passport must have:

  • An expiry date at least six months after the day you arrive
  • A minimum of two blank pages
  • No water damage

Visa

Vietnam

UK passport holders normally do not need a visa to enter Vietnam for visits up to 45 days, while those with a US or Irish passport normally do need a visa to enter. Visa requirements for EU citizens vary by country.

Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through. Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

• Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/asia/vietnam
• Canada: www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/vietnam
• United Kingdom: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/vietnam
• USA:  www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Vietnam.html

Vaccinations and Health

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements; however, tetanus, polio, typhoid, hepatitis A and diphtheria vaccines are all recommended. The Travel Health Pro website also recommends having a rabies vaccination for this trip, as cycling is considered a higher risk activity.

Additionally, the risk of malaria is slight on this trip, but you may wish to consult your doctor for further advice. Dengue and zika, both mosquito‐borne viral diseases, are known risks in places visited. There are currently no vaccines or  prophylaxes available. We therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Local Time

Vietnam's time zone: Asia/Ho_Chi_Minh (UTC +07:00)

Electricity

Vietnam's electricity: Plug types A (two flat pins, US standard), C (two round pins, European standard) and F (two round pins) – 220V, 50Hz

Cycling Vietnam

Money

Vietnam's currency: Vietnamese dong (VND)

ATM Availability

ATMs are widespread in Vietnam and are the easiest way of obtaining money, it is possible to draw a maximum 2m dong (US$85) in major cities in one go. Some ATMs now allow a maximum withdrawal of 4m dong. Credit card acceptance is now widespread in cities in Vietnam at restaurants and shops catering for tourists.

If you would like to bring cash there will be ample opportunity for you to change this. Sterling and US dollars are both easily exchanged. As you will probably be carrying much of your money in cash, we strongly recommend using a money belt.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

You will need about 4.6m-6.2m Vietnamese dong (US$195-US$260) for meals not included, which will allow you to eat well. Apart from the food, you should allow money to cover soft drinks (more if you like beer/alcohol) and souvenirs. Most groups also find it useful to operate a snacks kitty system to buy snacks and drinks for the group on the cycling days. If the group would like the leader to arrange this, the suggested amount is around 478,000- 750,000 dong (US$20-US$30) per person depending on the group size.

Optional excursions:

Hoi An

  • Tu Bon River boat trip 170,000 dong (US$7)
  • Marble Mountain entry approximately 24,000 dong (US$1)
  • My Son excursion from 265,000 dong (US$11) depending upon numbers

Tipping

Tipping is at your discretion, but is customary in Vietnam. To take the hassle out of tipping, the leader will suggest you contribute to a tipping kitty of approximately 2m dong (US$87) per person. This is used by the leader to tip drivers, hotel staff, on boats etc but it is not used at restaurants. If you do not wish to contribute to a central pool for tips you are, of course, free to do so.

In addition (entirely at your discretion), a tip for the leader at the end of the trip is greatly appreciated if you are happy with the service you have received. As a guideline we recommend a contribution of 140,000 dong (US$6) per day for your leader as a reasonable starting point.

The ‘tipping kitty’ explained above is entirely separate from any contribution to the tour leader. Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit, and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide and cycling support team means our customers will be well informed about local traditions, and cultural and social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally-owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food and support of other local enterprise.
  • There is the option to see a traditional folk dancing or water puppet show in Saigon. This encourages local customs to continue and creates employment opportunities.
  • In Hoi An, we also stop by a shop called ‘Reaching Out’, which sells gifts handmade by artisans with disabilities – helping them to develop their talent and independence.
  • In Hanoi, we encourage groups to have a communal meal at KOTO, which is an NGO that provides a two year course in hospitality, English and life skills training to groups of 16 to 22-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students also receive accommodation, food, medical check-ups and treatment while they are being trained. Many of the 400+ graduates have gone on to continue developing their careers at KOTO restaurants or have gained employment elsewhere with their training so this is a great initiative to support.

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment. On this trip, some parts of the itinerary stay in smaller towns using accommodation outside of busy cities.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for re-usable bottles.
  • We provide clients with a re-usable tote bag at the start of the tour (locally made in Hanoi), offering an alternative to single-use plastic bags and a souvenir to take home!

Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about Exodus Travels’ Planet Promise here, including our rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
  • We choose to travel on the overnight train from Hue to Hanoi as opposed to taking an internal flight.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally-sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available at majority of accommodation and restaurants.

 Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own re-usable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.
  • Cultural respect:
    • Please remember that you will be expected to cover your legs and arms (to the elbow) during visits to temples and sacred sites so packing a sarong or other suitable clothing is recommended. Also remember to remove hats when visiting a sacred site.
    • Do not rest your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice as this symbolises the burning of incense (which is usually reserved for times of mourning).
    • One should not show the soles of their feet or touch someone’s head, both are considered disrespectful.

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.