As Vietnam opens its doors to welcome the world at large, many people have no idea of the stunning visual beauty and traditional culture that lie beyond the threshold. To many, the name Vietnam brings to mind only haunting images of a devastating war in Southeast Asia, an image that continues to be exploited on the big screen and in print. Beyond such images lies the real Vietnam, a unique and fascinating land of great physical and rich cultural diversity whose history spans over 4,000 years.
Today we transfer a short distance out of bustling Saigon and start riding to the haunting Cu Chi Tunnels, which consist of more than 200km of underground tunnels. This main axis system has many branches connecting to underground hideouts, shelters, and entrances to other tunnels. The network included innumerable trap doors, specially constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers and kitchens. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction, giving the visitor a unique experience and a feel for what underground life was like during the U.S.-Vietnam War.
After witnessing the war's devastating consequences we return to Saigon by bus just in time for a visit to the notorious Museum of War Crimes. Dinner is your choice.
Cu Chi Tunnels, Museum of War Crimes
We rise very early this morning and transfer to the airport for a short flight to Dalat, once a favorite summer retreat among the French and Vietnamese royal families. Dubbed “Le Petit Paris”, the city is now a popular honeymoon destination for Vietnamese newlyweds. Upon arrival, we'll hop on our bikes and cycle out of town on picturesque and nearly traffic-free country lanes and back roads. After cycling in the shadow of Mount Langbian, we return to Dalat for dinner and you are free to take a walk to explore this lovely city.
- Dalat Hotel Du Parc
- TTC Ngoc Lan Hotel
We start off with a relatively easy ride around Dalat past Xuan Huong Lake, colorful flower plantations, the Old French Railway station and Than Tho Lake. As we head towards Nha Trang, a famous seaside getaway, we’ll tackle some challenging hills before being rewarded by smooth descents with lush mountains in the backdrop. After lunch in Da Chay, we muscle our legs again to conquer Hon Giao pass (2,062 m) before letting them rest by transferring to our destination. If we have time we’ll stop to visit Po Na Gar Cham Tower, the most famous Cham temple founded in the 8th century, and continue to the resort town for a lively evening.
Xuan Huong Lake, French Railway Station, PoNaGar Cham Tower
For a rest day off the saddle, we take a boat trip to stunning coral islands for swimming and snorkeling. Alternatively, those who would like to take it easy can lie down and soak up the sun by the beach or go scuba diving.
- Asia Paradise Nha Trang
- Michelia Nha Trang
Following breakfast, we cycle 15 km out of Nha Trang and transfer to the fishing village of Vung Ro and stop at Dai Lanh Beach for a swim. Back in the saddle, we cruise 35 km along a newly paved coastal road snaking along Da Bia Mountain with some gentle climbs. After lunch at a local restaurant we’ll transfer to My Thanh and ride 30 km on quiet countryside lanes passing soothing rice paddies and peaceful villages.
The terrain is flat and the road is a mixture of tarmac and dirt. We finish at Phuong Hoa Tri Hamlet and take a short transfer to our hotel in Tuy Hoa.
Fishing village of Vung Ro, Dai Lanh Beach, Phuong Hoa Tri Hamlet
After transferring out of town to avoid the main highway we start biking along a remote but well-surfaced road running parallel with the railway. The terrain rolls gently with breathtaking views of the highland hills. As we cycle through tribal and Viet villages we'll also spot potbellied pigs and barefooted children trotting across the trail. We then return to the highway and transfer a short distance to Quy Nhon.
Today we follow the coastal road to Tra O Lagoon, the largest wetland in Binh Dinh Province and also a principal food source for the locals. While rolling we also take in the sea breeze and spot tranquil fishing villages lined along the coastline. After lunch at a local restaurant, the ride continues to Highway 1, where we transfer to Quang Ngai for the night.
In the morning we’ll visit the Thien An Pagoda, a famous 17th century temple in Central Vietnam, and later on My Lai, the site of one of the deadliest massacres during the Indochina War. After the guided tour we transfer 1.5 hours to Tam Ky, the main base of the US troops during the war, to begin cycling and do a loop through the picturesque countryside of Quang Ngai Province.
After lunch in Hiep Duc, we continue the ride to Ha Lam and transfer to Hoi An, a major trading port during the 17th and 18th centuries. With 844 structures of historical significance and vibrant shopping streets, the city is a must for you to wander around and absorb the atmosphere.
Thien An Pagoda, My Lai Village, Hoi An Ancient Town
This morning we have a short transfer to avoid the highway and start riding to My Son, the ancient centre of the Cham Civilization dating back to the 4th century. We then cycle along scenic country back roads flanked by rice paddies, eucalyptus plantations and relaxing villages. Later the road stretches away from the coast, offering stunning views of the ocean as we head to My Son, once Champa’s most important city.
After lunch, we spend the afternoon visiting the site, and although many of the temples were destroyed from heavy bombing, enough have survived the war to impress most visitors. After the historical tour, we take the bus back to Hoi An. Dinner is your choice.
- Ancient House Hoi An
- Vinh Hung Emerald Resort
This is probably the toughest ride of the tour, yet it is also one of the most rewarding. We transfer out of Hoi An to Danang and climb the Hai Van Pass, a steady and moderately challenging uphill with exhilarating views of the coast, before flying down a long and smooth downhill.
After lunch, we venture away from the main highway and cruise on a coastal road for 44 km to Hue, the old capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty.
- Romance Hue Hotel
- Eldora Hue Hotel
Today we explore by bicycle and boat the rich history left behind by the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. We ride to the pier for a cruise along the Perfume River and stop to visit the seven-story Thien Mu Pagoda, the tallest religious building in Vietnam. Built in 1601, it has become the symbol of the city, and be sure to get a photo with the marble turtle!
Back on the bikes, we pedal through the countryside to Minh Mang Mausoleum, the tomb of Emporor Ming Mang famous for his opposition to French involvement in Vietnam. After a walk through this extensive complex we cycle back across the Perfume River back to Hue. After refreshing ourselves and packing up we have an early dinner before taking an overnight train to Ninh Binh.
Thien Mu Pagoda, Minh Mang Mausoleum
We arrive in Ninh Binh around 8 am (however, the official and actual arrival times may vary). Following the check-in and breakfast, we start cycling through spectacular karst mountains towering over a blanket of rice paddies to the ancient city of Hoa Lu, the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries.
After touring the temples we continue to Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam's first and largest natural reserve, to visit the primate rescue centre before checking into our accommodation at the park.
- Cuc Phuong Resort & Villas
We enjoy another ride to appreciate the park's beauty and head east on serene back roads through a sea of pineapple plantations. Today while riding you’ll notice the differences between North and South Vietnam ranging from crops, villages, to clothing as we pass through countless lush greenery, lovely villages and friendly locals. Today's ride finishes just before we reach Highway 1 and for the transfer to Haiphong, one of Vietnam’s major ports.
After the morning transfer we catch a speedboat to Fulong on Cat Ba Island. Located at the southern end of picturesque Halong Bay, the Island is home to one of Vietnam’s most exquisite natural treasures, Cat Ba National Park. Once we get off the boat we roll 27 km on the island’s only road before enjoying lunch at Cat Ba Town.
In the afternoon you are free to explore the surroundings before spending the night on this heavenly island.
We have a short ride in the morning and head for a memorable cruise through majestic Halong Bay. With its towering limestone karts protruding from the emerald sea, Halong Bay is truly one of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world. Legend has it that it was formed by a great dragon that descended from the mountain into the sea. The boat trip is definitely rewarding after the long biking expedition. We then transfer to Hanoi and meet again in the evening for our farewell dinner at one of the many fine restaurants in the city.
In the morning you are free to do last-minute shopping or take a short tour around the Vietnamese capital before catching your onward flight. If you would like to extend your stay in Hanoi, please contact us for best hotel deals and rates.
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