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Is Self-guided for You?

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Is Self-guided for You?

Lirene CilliersBy Lirene Cilliers   Posted 21st Nov 2023


Curious about self-guided bike tours? You might secretly feel torn between the allure of independent travel and the comforts a guided tour provides. Well stick around as we're about to dive deep into this question, unpacking the pros and cons of self-guided touring, and helping you make an informed choice about what best suits you.  
Grasshoppers' Adventurer-in-Chief, Adam Platt-Hepworth, talks us through the concept behind this revolutionary travel option, now available to tour guests traveling in Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan or Thailand. Let's dive in! 

What is a Self-guided Bike Tour? 

So, what's a self-guided bike tour all about? It's like having the best of both worlds—the freedom to explore at your own pace, but with the convenience of expertly arranged logistics.
On a self-guided tour, you're in charge of getting from point A to point B each day. As the name suggests, you won't have a guide escorting you, or a tour group.
But fear not; we've got your back. At Grasshopper Adventures, we handle the nitty-gritty details, like arranging accommodation with our top-choice properties, smoothly transferring your luggage so you don’t have to lug it from A to B, providing top-notch equipment, and equipping you with our specialized Self-Guided App, which we'll cover soon.
Now, here's the beauty of it: The pace is entirely up to you. You'll receive a well-crafted itinerary and suggestions for your journey, but unlike a guided tour, you have the flexibility to decide how much time you want to spend at each stop, or at all.

Self-guided tours give you the freedom to choose who you want to travel with. You can bring along your pals, your family, or even make new friends with fellow travelers along the way. There is no need to go solo if you find that intimidating, but you also won't be tied to a group of strangers.
The best part? We've done the homework for you. Your itinerary is thoughtfully curated with all the must-see spots. But you'll need to be a bit more proactive. While we've pre-booked hotels and filled out your itinerary options, you'll still need to navigate between chosen stops, your hotels, and allocate your time accordingly to keep on pace.
It's the balanced blend of independence and support, offering you a travel experience that's uniquely yours. 

Is self-guided right for you?

Now that you know what a self-guided tour is, let's talk about who it is for. That is not to say you need to be exclusively a guided or self-guided kind of traveler, but you do need to understand what the difference is, because there is a big difference.
First things first, if you are one of those many people who have participated in and loved our guided tours, this range of much more independent and somewhat self-sufficient trips may not be for you.
Self-guided bike touring is suited to those who are accustomed to taking independent hikes or rides at home, and exploring areas that may not be familiar. You don’t have to be a finalist on the last season of The Amazing Race, but a dash of proactive thinking and an appetite for the unexpected will serve you well. 

We recognize that some people just love the independence of riding and that being in a group of people can remove some of that freedom. Generally, that applies to people who are quite confident in their riding ability and who are experienced with, or would be comfortable using, a digital navigation device (GPS or phone navigation app). They have also had some prior exposure to Asia and/or developing countries in general.
Many of us do group rides to meet like-minded people and enjoy a social experience. There are also those who love just taking a holiday and leaving the planning and decision-making to someone else. In these instances, a guided group trip would be a more appealing choice. It is also arguably true that you can experience a deeper interaction with the locals when you have a guide on hand, but if you have to forge that connection yourself without a guide, then it could prove to be a longer-lasting memory.

Self-guided is for you if:

1. You're comfortable changing a flat tire. Though it's rare, thanks to our puncture-resistant tires, you or the weathered-looking repairman on a street corner (look for the stack of discarded motor-scooter tires) will have to fix it. Never fear though; you’ll be equipped with all the necessary spare tubes, tools, and a tire pump to complete the job.
If anything major fails in a mechanical sense (very unlikely given our high level of maintenance), you can call us, and we’ll have someone there to repair or replace the bike.
2. You're comfortable self-navigating. We’ll provide our carefully designed routes pre-loaded into a GPS bike computer and our app, to explore local sights, cultural gems, and recommended dining spots. Navigating between them is up to you.
3. You are comfortable without van support. You don't mind making your own way from point A to B, come rain, sunshine, or the occasional challenge.
4. You seek an independent vacation. Even though the big details of trip planning are taken care of. You appreciate the freedom of riding at your own pace, stopping for three lunches a day instead of one, and doing what you want, when you want, with your chosen travel companions.
5. You're comfortable navigating language barriers. Communicating without the help of a local guide may appear challenging, but you’ll be surprised how far some hand gestures, and a friendly smile will get you. It’s likely you’ll begin to enjoy the thrill of riding into a town where the locals don’t often see new visitors. 

Watch a short introduction to Grasshopper Self-guided


Since 2016, we have been successfully enabling riders to enjoy self-guided bike tours in Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and even Japan. These countries have it all: incomprehensible alphabets in their menus, dialects difficult to reproduce, and some really curious and fascinating customs.
At the heart of the Grasshopper self-guided adventure lies a trifecta of essential elements: innovative navigation tools, top-tier equipment, and well-planned logistics, including luggage transfers and hotel bookings. The cherry on top? An informative and insightful self-guided app designed to enhance your journey. 

As you explore at your own pace during the day, our app provides crystal-clear navigational instructions that will lead you right to your hotel doorstep, where your luggage awaits.
But the app's magic doesn't stop there. It's also your go-to source for historical and cultural insights, offering audio guides that peel back the layers of your destination.

The self-guided tour experience means you ride from door to door, and apart from a few sections on select trips, you won't need vehicle transfers on your route. On the rare occasions when a transfer is necessary, we aim to introduce an element of variety, such as a coastline train, funicular, or ferry crossings. Rest assured, we've got your tickets, bike and accommodation covered. 
We have planned these rides to be achievable for a broad range of fitness levels, and we’ll always talk through your riding abilities and your trip style during the inquiry process. 


  • High quality bikes, helmets, handlebar bags, essential tools and accessories, and locks. In most countries there is also the option to upgrade to a premium bike 
  • Comfortable accommodation 
  • Daily luggage transfers 
  • Wahoo ELEMNT cycling computer with GPS routes 
  • Self-guided Grasshopper App with audio and visual content for historical and cultural points-of-interest, food, and language information 
  • Emergency support 
  • Breakfasts and sometimes dinners (please refer to the itinerary) 
  • Memento cycling jersey and water bottle 
  • Booking flexibility – Pick your own departure dates *Subject to availability 
  • Optional: Upgrade to include a full-time support vehicle 


At Grasshopper Adventures, we understand that you may have some burning questions about our self-guided bike tours. Let's clear the air and provide you with the information you need: 

1. What types of accommodation can I expect?  

One exciting feature of our self-guided bike tours is that we can offer unique properties that wouldn't typically suit larger guided tour groups. These accommodations are sometimes family-run businesses, providing a more intimate experience with your host compared to larger hotels. Despite the smaller scale, you can still expect a high degree of comfort. Similar to our guided tours, we meticulously select accommodations in cities for a memorable experience. In the countryside, we choose the best available hotels, following the most accessible roads, ensuring at the very least, air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms (with some exceptions in Japan). 

2. Is it safe?  

Safety is a top priority on our self-guided tours. These countries are known for their significant two-wheeled traffic, and while it may appear unpredictable, there's a silver lining. Drivers of vehicles are typically highly alert to cyclists on the road. They tend to drive defensively, making the journey safer for riders. Drivers are considerate and readily provide extra space when passing. Moreover, our routes predominantly use secondary and tertiary roads, allowing you to avoid heavy traffic.
As for security, your peace of mind is our priority. You'll be pleased to know that all countries where we operate Self-guided tours maintain a good level of safety. The local population generally abides by the law, and any crime that does occur is usually only minor and opportunistic in nature. We recommend exercising common sense with the security of your belongings and you should easily avoid any issues. It’s worth noting that Japan, in particular, ranks as one of the safest and most secure countries in the world. 

3. How difficult are the routes? 

Our top priority is making sure your journey is not only enjoyable but also achievable. You can find a difficulty rating and riding description for each Self-guided tour on the website, and we'll discuss your riding abilities and trip style during the inquiry process.
Your comfort and convenience matters. Our routes are engineered so that if you feel you can’t reach your destination there’s back up options. In some countries that may mean a train station nearby, and in others, we can arrange with the hotel to send a car to pick you up.
Read through more FAQ’s here, give us a call or send us a message and we can talk you through the experience some more. 

So, is this for me???

Hopefully you’ve learnt a lot more about the Self-guided touring experience. If what I have written excites you, or perhaps daunts you a little but generally feels like it’s something you would enjoy, then maybe these tours are for you.
Worried about a flat tire? To be honest, if you don’t know how to change a tube it’s easy to learn how.
Haven’t used a GPS device before? Try on your phone, Google maps is a good place to start.
Really the key prerequisite for someone considering a self-guided tour is a willingness to embrace the opportunity, to expect the slightly unexpected, and to deal with the minor challenges that come with semi-independent traveling. If you still aren’t sure, give us a call or send us a message and we can talk you through the experience some more.
Explore all of our self-guided tours here.  

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