Cycle Vietnam enjoying highlights from Saigon to Hanoi
The classic bike tour through Vietnam past beautiful beaches, rice fields, and villages; it's so beautiful it's almost a cliche. Our new route includes three nights in the cave region of Phong Nha. The route runs Saigon to Hanoi.
Those who have travelled to Vietnam speak of a stunning and diverse geography of towering mountains, picturesque coastline and endless green rice fields. They speak of the naturally friendly people, the delicious cuisine, and the intrigue at such a long culture of independence and national pride.
Our bike trip showcases the best of all these aspects of the country. We take a classic cycling route between the commercial hub of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and the capital of Hanoi. We then add the trademark Grasshopper touch to it by traveling on the most charming back road and trails experiencing the real countryside.
Our newest addition to the itinerary includes a ride near Phong Nha, made famous by the recent discovery of massive cave systems. There's even a day of cave exploration.
With minimal driving and maximum cycling, this is a truly unique bike trip. We spent months mapping out the best route, so that you can take just two weeks to see the full range of this amazing country.
With many kilometres of stunning beaches and dramatic coastal roads, as well as some of the freshest seafood going, this trip is an indulgent experience. We are never far from a beach and stay in comfortable hotels to make this trip one of our most cushy adventure tours.
Peak Season Surcharge
Please note that for tours commencing from Dec 18 to Jan 4 there is a peak season surcharge of 10% on the price of this tour due to hotel rate increases at this time of year. Tours operating during Vietnam's New Years, (Tet) will also include a surcharge.
14 days duration
558 km distance
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
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Quality, well maintained GT mountain bikes in a full range of sizes are included in your tour, fitted with full hydraulic brakes, hybrid tyres for touring. Handlebar bags for your personal possessions and comfortable saddles are also provided, with a women's specific version available.
The hotels we use are a great, and sometimes unexpected, part of this tour. In the larger cities and established tourist centres we use stylish and supremely comfortable hotels and resorts, while in the smaller and more out of the way areas we stay in the best available accommodation, which is often simple yet always well run, clean and comes with air-conditioning and a private bathroom.
An experienced English speaking, local leader will host you on this trip who is well spoken, very well informed, and charming. Our leaders are often cited as being the main highlight of the tour. We use local leaders who have a passion for their country and are always well informed on topics ranging from history, politics, cuisine and importantly local customs and cultures. Our leaders will take pride in introducing you to every aspect of their country and will help you to connect with the villagers you meet along the way.
For groups of 5+ people a bike mechanic will join the group. Whilst not a master of linguistics, our technical team always make an effort to form a bond with the group and provide not just mechanical support, but additional encouragement to those who may find themselves at the back of the group. Our drivers support the group by ensuring that the freshest fruit and tastiest snacks are picked up along the way.
An air conditioned backup support vehicle is always available in case you want a break from riding, and to carry your luggage.
The international profile of Vietnamese food has increased over the last two decades with very good reason. A cuisine that has evolved with the culture and landscape of Vietnam provides for an astounding level of variety from south to north. Each town and city has its own subtle twist on iconic dishes and some of their own creations. Our leaders are passionate about their food and look forward to taking you on a culinary adventure in unison with your cycling adventure. Included meals are listed in the day by day itinerary, and drinking water is always included with meals. Any soft or alcoholic drinks are not included and will be at your own expense.
Energy bars and local snacks are provided to keep your energy levels up for the riding, and clean water and electrolyte drinks are always available to keep you well hydrated.
Take It Home
A beautiful souvenir Grasshopper cycling jersey is yours to wear and take home. We also provide a Grasshopper drink bottle as an extra memento.
2 to 10
This tour is guaranteed for a minimum of just 2 travellers. And we limit the group size to only 10 travellers so that you get all the attention you want in an intimate group.
There is no surcharge for single travellers - we will match you with another same sex single traveller. If you want a single room there is a an optional upgrade that you can book.
This tour is 100% operated by Grasshopper Adventures. The guides are our full time employees, the hotels booked by our local office staff, and the bikes are part of our fleet of over 300 bikes. We are not outsourcing any element of this tour so you can be assured of 100% Grasshopper quality.
for Saigon to Hanoi
Arrival Day in Saigon
We meet in the bustling commercial capital of Vietnam. We'll head out and explore the culinary side of the city this evening and have a group briefing on the trip ahead.
Fly to Quy Nhon & Explore by Bike
After a morning flight to Quy Nhon, we spend the afternoon exploring this pleasant seaside town and learning about the work of a dedicated lady who has single handedly established a centre to provide vocational training for young, disabled Vietnamese.
Cycle to Tam Quan
Today we start our cycling journey proper as we leave Quy Nhon on a quiet back road along a sand dune peninsula with great views back over the bay and the mountains. We see lots of coast today as we undulate along the well-made road with friendly villagers waving and cheering us on. We take a short drive at the end of the day to get us into the tiny village of Tam Quan.
Cycle to Quang Ngai
A varied and highly enjoyable day lies ahead of us. We spend the morning riding along the coast then head inland to see a great new level of variety. We have some hills today as we cross rivers on small wooden bridges and pass farmers tending to rice fields and water buffalo. Our home for the night is Quang Ngai, a small city of little note, but a comfortable hotel, a pleasant river view and an abundance of cold drinks make up for any lack of notoriety. Meals: BLD
Cycle to Tam Ky
We start today with a visit to one of Vietnam's more sobering sites, the My Lai Massacre Memorial. It was here that a tragic event occurred that, once exposed, became a turning point in American public opinion to the American-Vietnam war. We continue on along the coast and along the way visit a rice paper maker and a mat weaver. Both are traditional forms of village industry that are becoming less common in cities, but here in the village, the skills are still alive. We enjoy a lunch of the freshest seafood possible and stay this evening in a pleasant small scale hotel. Meals: BLD
Cycle & Boat to Hoi An
The cycling starts with one of the highlight days of riding. A visit to the hero mother statue is an insight into the past. The hero mother in question was a lady who lost 11 sons, her husband and her grandson to the American-Vietnam conflict. This story underscores the terrible losses suffered by all people involved in war. From here, we ride dirt roads through sleepy fishing villages with friendly faces popping out to say hello. Duck and chicken farms are also present through today, so we can stop and learn a little about this particular means of income generation. We then take a boat ride to reach Hoi An, a fitting way to enter this ancient port town. Meals: BLD
Free Day in Hoi An
Today is a free day for you to enjoy Hoi An. We offer an optional morning ride of the town and the surrounding countryside, but you might prefer to sleep in.
Hoi An has a long history dating back as far as the first century, but is known mostly for its role as a trading port for Chinese and Japanese sea merchants during the 17th and 18th centuries. The beauty of the town was miraculously spared the damage that many towns suffered during the American-Vietnam war. Today Hoi An is a UNESCO world heritage listed town that cannot be compared to anywhere else in Indochina. It is an intriguing, photogenic old town, located just a short distance from a beautiful beach where you can sit and sip a coconut. Meals: B
Cycle to Hue
Beginning at the hotel in Hoi An we'll take a short drive to Red Beach in Danang. After a strong Vietnamese coffee your guide leads a briefing and bike fitting.
Our scenic day of cycling from Danang starts near the base of the iconic Hai Van Pass, a 10km long climb along a winding road with a gradient averaging 5.8%. At the top we enjoy amazing views over the coast before we take the thrilling descent into the charming beachside town of Lang Co.
Lunch Today will be at a small, local, delicious noodle soup shop.
We continue cycling small back roads near the sea and pass many cemeteries. This is considered a desirable place for burial with the ocean and mountain backdrop. In addition to graves, there are a number of memorials for those who, in attempting to flee after the fall of Southern Vietnam, were taken by the ocean. Relatives who resettled in other countries have since returned to construct these memorials. There are a few small hills adjacent to the largest salt-water lagoon in Vietnam but the riding is mainly on flat roads.
At the end of the ride we will transfer into Hue by van, avoiding the congestion on the edge of town, and directly to our hotel.
Hue Day Ride
One of Vietnam's most beautiful and historic cities, Hue does not get anywhere near the tourist attention it deserves. The city centre and countryside are an historic showcase of culture and architecture.
Our biking today takes us to many of the important historic sites of the city - from the Tombs of ancient rulers to the remnants of the stunning Citadel. Before lunch we’ll relax on a lovely small boat heading back to Hue on the Perfume River.
The ride today includes a bit of up and down through the city and countryside. Early afternoon we’ll arrive back to our beautiful hotel where’s there’s time to enjoy the pool or the on-site spa.
Cycle the DMZ and Transfer to Phong Nha
We hop in the van this morning to make up some time heading towards the former border line between North and South Vietnam.
Near the DMZ we set up the bikes and head off to explore this area of significance during the American & Vietnamese war. The bridge across the Ben Hai River marks the former dividing line between North & South. We continue on a scenic route along the coast now showcasing dramatic bluffs to the small village of Vinh Moc. During the war, villagers here created an elaborate tunnel system where commerce and life thrived underground as battles raged along the DMZ.
Later in the day we will hop back in the van for the drive to Phong Nha. The flat coastal countryside quickly gives way to rolling hills and the impressive sight of karsts, the small abrupt mountains for which the region is known.
Tonight is the first of three at the beautiful, remote Chay Lap farm stay. There’s time for a cold beer or a glass of wine, and enough light to capture what will be the first of many memorable photographs of this region.
Cycle Phong Nha National Park & Region
After breakfast this morning we’ll head out for an exploratory ride up and through the Phong Nha valley. Our route takes us along the old Ho Chi Minh trail.
There are a couple of steep climbs through the Phong Nha National Park, but after Hai Van Pass you’ll be well prepared. The support van is always ready to assist just in case.
Following a snack and rest stop we descend down to the town of Phong Nha for lunch. We continue to wind through the beautiful valley, taking a local ferry to cross the river and make it back to Chay Lap by late afternoon. Meals: BLD
Phong Nha Cave Exploring
Today is about below ground, not above. Cave exploring is the main reason more and more visitors flock to the region. While on your tour, your Grasshopper guide will discuss cave options and make recommendations based on your physical ability and interest. Our preferred full day cave exploration requires an hour’s trekking. All the caves are stunning. Also, weather conditions above ground may dictate which caves we explore underground.
Fly to Hanoi
We take a morning flight to Hanoi. In the afternoon we walk the streets of this buzzing city with its constant clash of new and old and the continuing theme of delicious, plentiful food. We then celebrate the end of our adventure over dinner.
Conclusion of Tour in Hanoi
There are no activities planned today and you can depart any time you wish. Should you wish to travel to Halong Bay, please inquire with our staff at the time of booking and we can offer travel advice.
What's the Riding Like?
Some hilly terrain
9 days riding
Apart from a couple of days on this tour that are just a touch short of 100km and a rather large hill (Hai Van Pass) the riding is achievable for anyone who rides regularly as a commuter or recreationally on the weekends. Most of the roads are paved back roads with minimal traffic. We encounter only a couple of dirt roads and these are not hard riding at all. There are often sea breezes to keep the temperature down a little. Hai Van Pass is a sustained climb of 10km with a lovely descent of the same length immediately after. The gradient is not steep, and once you find a rhythm, it is actually an enjoyable ride with some great views. There are a few other small hills, but we always return to sea level, so the up is a nice trade off for the down. There is a support vehicle on hand at all times so if you need a break or a lift up the hill just jump in the van and relax.
Being 1650km from north to south Vietnam's seasons vary across the country, making it a year round destination. This also means that you will probably encounter some rain if you are travelling extensively, regardless of your month of travel.
Northern Vietnam (Hanoi & Ha Giang) is cold in the winter months (Nov-Mar), and can be damp and misty, although there are also beautifully sunny days at this time of year.
The central region (Hoi An, Hue & Nha Trang) is wettest from September to December with occasional typhoons, which can occasionally disrupt travel.
The south experiences the regular Southeast Asian monsoon between June and October, with dry sunny weather from November to April. December and January are the coolest months with temperatures rising during April and May leading to the onset of the rains.
Extend Your Stay
The rapidly expanding city of Saigon is an exciting place. If you wish to arrive a day earlier there are at least a couple of activities such as a motor scooter tour that are worth considering. Should you require accommodation, please let us know and we can arrange this, or you can find a huge range of hotels online through our friends at agoda.com:
> Find hotels in Saigon
Halong Bay is a popular extension to this tour. If you wish to do this we can assist you to arrange this. Please inquire at the time of booking. If you are planning to stay longer in Hanoi, we can book you extra nights in our finish hotel or you can find a huge range of hotels online through our friends at agoda.com:
> Find hotels in Hanoi
While in Saigon you might also be interested in our cycling day tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels.
> Find out more about our Cu Chi Tunnels Boat & Bike Day Tour
Create Your Own Date
Don't see the date for this tour to suite your schedule? No problem - create your own date. Chose the dates that you would like to travel and as long as you are happy to open the tour to other people joining we will charge the standard tour price - no markups!
1. You must have booked and paid your deposit for travel dates that are at least 3 months in the future. This just gives us time to promote the trip and find other people to join you.
2. Create Your Own Date for this tour applies for bookings of two or more people only. If you are a solo traveller we can do our best to get a group for the dates you choose but we cannot guarantee standard pricing until we achieve a minimum of 2 people.
3. This offer is subject to availability. In peak season we may not have the capability to add tour dates to our already busy schedule.
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