Cycle South East Asia
Exercise the body and the mind with a leg pumping, eye-opening cycling tour of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Enjoy a different perspective as you bike through the limestone cliffs of north Vietnam, along rock-face hugging passes down the stunning coast and on to buzzing Ho Chi Minh City. Take dusty roads through rural villages in Cambodia, exploring nature-strewn ruins and spending time with locals, before finishing up in frenetic Bangkok. Work up an appetite and reward yourself with the delicious dishes the overflow in the streets – the pho in Vietnam, the fish curry in Cambodia and pad thai in Bangkok. Shift your adventure into a higher gear with a journey that takes you to the highlights of Southeast Asia.
- See the region as you’ve never seen it before (from the seat of a bicycle). Cycling is the ultimate way get off the beaten track!
- Work up an appetite for Southeast Asia's famously delicious local and regional food.
- Get among nature, wildlife, small villages and ancient ruins, as well as the region's most lively cities, with a local leader who knows all the best secrets.
- See one of the best UNESCO sites in Vietnam with a tirp to Ninh Binh, a place of scenic natural beauty, perfect for any nature lover!
- See Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia's best sites while staying active, adventurous and Intrepid.
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure officially begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight. If you arrive early, work your legs with a walk around Hanoi’s charming shaded boulevards and squat on a short street-corner stool for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) in the Old Quarter.
This morning you’ll get the chance to explore the Vietnamese capital by bike on a guided ride through the city. Hanoi is made for exploration by bike, so this is the perfect place to get to grips with Vietnamese street life and traffic. You’ll ride through parks, around lakes, and down tree-lined boulevards and visit iconic sights. There’s also time to explore the vibrant Old Quarter, an architectural museum where blocks of ochre buildings give off the air of a 1930s provincial French town. In these ancient ’36 Streets’ discover an amazing selection of shops that sell everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, jewellery, beautifully embroidered tablecloths, wood carvings and lacquerware – it’s a bargain hunter’s paradise.
Saddle up this morning as your cycling adventure kicks into first gear. Leave Hanoi behind and travel by bus to Hoa Binh. When you arrive you’ll jump on your bike and cycle to Cao Phong, through small ethnic Thai villages, enjoying the tranquility of the paddy fields and interacting with the local people. Limestone peaks climb in the background and banks of green line the road, and you’ll take regular stops to admire the view across the lush valleys. After arriving you’ll take a short bus ride for the next section, stopping for lunch at Man Duc.
After you fuel up, the bus will take you to the Da River Reservoir. Stretch your legs again cycling along the Da River, passing spectacular karst cliffs, through paddy fields, and admiring the lush panorama of the Mai Chau valley on the way. The peaceful town of Mai Chau is situated in a stunningly beautiful valley surrounded by verdant green mountains and is famed for its breathtaking scenery and friendly hilltribe peoples. Tonight you’ll enjoy local hospitality in a simple stilt-house homestay in the village of Poom Coong. Your amicable hosts will cook up a fabulous home-cooked meal, and there may even be a chance to sample some of the local rice wine produced in the region.
This morning you farewell your homestay hosts and cycle from Mai Chau to Mai Hai, and then on to Co Luong. You’ll ride through more paddy fields and test your riding skills (or suspension) with the shallow potholes that can be found on the road. Pass farmers riding atop their load drawn by lumbering water buffalo, ride through small towns and wave to friendly locals on your way through picture-perfect Vietnam – lush green fields, towering limestone mountains, tranquil waterways and charming historic sites.
A bus trip then takes you along the Ho Chi Minh Road with a lunch stop before Ninh Binh. If you arrive in Ninh Binh with time (and energy) to spare you can take a 36 km cycle around the surrounding area. This is a wonderful chance to see everyday rural life in action as well as take in the beautiful countryside.
This morning you’ll cycle from Ninh Binh to Tam Coc, when you’ll really have the opportunity to soak up one of Vietnam’s most spectacular views – limestone karst peaks thrusting out of serene rice paddies, the sounds and views of the river, which winds through the fields and has boats parading up and down its length. You will also cycle to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam under the 10th-century Dinh Dynasty, the remains of which can be seen in the lasting beautiful archways and temples. Here you’ll take a lunch break at the Dinh or the Le Temple. Then it’s back on the bus to return to your hotel, where you can use the day room to take a shower and freshen up. After an early dinner you’ll transfer to Nam Dinh for an overnight train to Hue.
Arrive in Hue and hop back in the saddle to begin your exploration of the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam’s royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings. Today you will ride through the fields to visit many of Hue’s remarkable sites, including temples, bunkers, tombs, ruins, pagodas and spectacular scenery.
On your cycle you will visit the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still atmospheric and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war. The itinerary is flexible and you have ample time for stops along the way to admire the sites. Later, kick back in a cafe or restaurant. Hue’s cuisine is considered by many Vietnamese as the best in the country, and is influenced both by its imperial heritage (small dishes and a focus on aesthetic presentation) as well as its strong Buddhist heritage, reflected in the high proportion of vegetarian restaurants in the region. The bustling Dong Ba Market offers a wealth of goods and foods to see and snack on. It’s a good place to try some of the local specialities that graced the Nguyen emperors’ banquet tables, such as the ‘banh khoai’, Hue’s answer to the pancake.
Today will be big on riding and big on spectacular views. Leaving Hue, you will do some mountainous riding as you conquer the Hai Van (Ocean Cloud) Pass on the way to the tropical south and the laidback town of Hoi An. The pass is a stunning stretch of highway the winds through the Truong Son mountain range, with views across the Bay of Danang to the south. It is 500 m about sea level and the up/down slope ranges from 5-10%, and there will be plenty of well-earned breaks along the way to take in the views, snap some photos and rehydrate.
After the rewarding vistas on the cycle in, you’ll also be spoiled with the town of Hoi An – with lantern-lit streets, vibrant markets, skilled tailors, artisan shops, ancient houses, colourful temples and beautiful smiles, it’s a Vietnamese wonderland. Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An is being beautifully restored and preserved, with parts of the town looking exactly like they did more than a century ago. This makes its streets of low tiled buildings perfect for strolling. Take the evening to soak up the atmosphere, or just rest your legs at a local restaurant after a day’s riding.
This morning you leader with take you on a walking tour of the town, which used to be a busy port for the Cham people before the river silted up. There’s also a strong Chinese influence, and you’ll see it as you walk past the pagodas and assembly halls. On your tour you’ll take in a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum. The afternoon is free for you to do whatever takes your fancy. For those who love to shop then Hoi An is a mecca, with much to browse and buy. There are original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and more. If you want to get some new threads then the town is also famous for its tailoring – pick a fabric and a design and it’ll be ready the same day. If you feel like keeping active then there are the options to take a 15-20 kilometre ride into the surrounding countryside, to cycle to nearby Cua Dai Beach, or to take a stroll through fields of rice, sesame, banana and peanuts.
Riding distance: none
Continue south, down scenic Highway One on the road to Quy Nhon, one of the routes that is less visited by travellers, past paddy fields, wheat drying for Beer Hoi, and locals playing chess to Phu. Climb back on the bikes to cycle to the coastal city of Quy Nhon. The city is filled with long stretches of beach and relaxed boulevards, and as it’s pretty undiscovered by visitors, is a great place to get an authentic slice of coastal life.
Today’s cycle is one of the most breathtaking stretches of road you’ll ride – the highway hugs huge granite cliffs and looks out across the deep blue sea.
Following parts of the Reunification railway, you’ll enjoy scenery of islands and lagoons. Join the scooter riders on the waterfront promenade as you arrive in the idyllic coastal town of Nha Trang, once referred to as the ‘Cannes of the Orient’, and whose sandy palm-lined beach and island-dotted bay still make a pretty idyllic picture. Here there’s consistently good weather, a vibrant nightlife and excellent diving.
Today you’ll swap your bike for a boat as you head out to explore the nearby islands. This excursion is often the highlight of the trip for many travellers, as you’ll get to know some of the locals and indulge in the beauty of the place. Starting on the main boat, you’ll then take a small basket boat to shore and visit a fishing village, snorkel in the turquoise waters and feast on a fresh seafood buffet for lunch. You can enjoy this rest day by lazing in a deck chair, going for another swim or perhaps taking a mud baths to soothe away sore muscles.
Head up through the Bidoup-Nui Ba Pass into the cooler climes of the South Central Highlands, where some of the country’s best fruits, flowers and coffee beans are grown. The road is winding and steep but if you’re fit and ready for a challenge, you may want to conquer the whole mountain on your bike. If you’re not so physically inclined, take it easy and flag a lift from the bus. Whichever way you choose to get to the top, you’ll still be treated to magnificent views once you reach the summit. After a short photo stop here, you will descend to Dalat. One of Vietnam’s most delightful cities, Dalat is a perfect base to explore this pleasant region. With an appealing Swiss-French feel, along with pleasant lakes, palaces, pine tree-covered hills, flower gardens and pagodas, Dalat is often called the ‘city of eternal spring’ for its temperate climate.
This morning you’ll take a city tour of Dalat, making the journey to Bao Dai’s striking regal summer palace. He was the final emperor of the Nguyen dynasty, and the last to rule Vietnam until 1945. You’ll then discover the wacky and weird architecture of Hang Nga Crazy House. Echoing Gaudi’s unconventional designs, and described as a ‘fairytale house’, explore the twisted tree roots, cave shaped hallways and animal themed rooms of this surreal guesthouse. Drop by the train station and the central market before continuing to Di Linh, where tea is the main industry and there are large plantations in the surrounding hills. After lunch, pedal down the forest-lined Gia Bac Pass, then cycle along from Malam to Phan Thiet and it’s beautiful beaches.
You’re on the home stretch now and it’s time for one last cycling splurge. Before heading for the big city, take in the views along the beach on your ride to Lang Long. After a picnic lunch, keep cycling to Cu Bi. From there it’s goodbye to your two-wheeled friend as you take the support bus the final leg to Ho Chi Minh City. Here daily life plays out on the streets and the dynamic atmosphere is a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. Maybe spend the final night of your Vietnam adventure exploring the food stalls at Ben Thanh market or cheers to yourself and your new friends with a few glasses of street-side beer hoi.
Your adventure continues with a welcome meeting for new cyclists at 6 pm tonight. Ho Chi Minh City has a dynamic atmosphere and a French influence, and is perfect to explore at your own pace. Perhaps head to Pham Ngu Lao Street to see the local open-aired market, visit Vinh Nghiem Pagoda or one of the amusements parks.
Take a bus ride to the Mekong Delta. Known as the ‘rice bowl of Vietnam’, the fertile delta is famous for its harvest of tropical fruit, flowers and rice, as well as the views over the canals. When you arrive in the region, get on your bike for the first full day of cycling. Ride along quiet backroads, past farms and villages and make a stop for lunch. You’ll also get to visit orchards and some local cottage industries. Around sunset, make your way up one of the canals by boat and reach your homestay. Stay with a family for the night and enjoy a wonderful meal of local specialties.
Start the day early with a boat ride, then a bus to riverside Sadec where you start today’s ride, shaking out your sea legs with a cycle through the bustling settlements along the river. Here you’ll see more of local life dependent on this vital and beautiful river, including lunch at a local community. Cycle on and then take a ferry and bus to Chau Doc which is right next to the Cambodian border. Head out in search of the city’s famous hot noodles and cold beer, then stay the night in your hotel.
Cycle to your last destination within Vietnam, the border town of Tinh Bien and stop for lunch. You’ll then go through visa formalities and cross into Phnom Den, Cambodia. Meet your new support team and hop on your bike again on your way to Phnom Penh. You’ll be cycling along dusty and bumpy roads for a while, and then along a paved highway which leads to Cambodia’s capital. Once you arrive, you’ll have a free evening to enjoy your first delicious Cambodian meal for the trip. Phnom Penh is quickly becoming a hot destination among foodies, so load up on grilled seafood, fish curry and green mango salad.
Spend the day enjoying a leisurely ride around Mekong Island. Visit local artisans selling quality silks, and cycle past temples and pagodas. Stop for a refreshing drink at a roadside food stall.
Today you’ll confront Cambodia’s tragic past with visits to several historical sites. First stop is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former school which served as a Khmer Rouge torture centre. You’ll take a guided tour of the museum where over 20,000 people were once incarcerated and tortured. Next you’ll visit the Choeung Ek Memorial, where a stupa made up of some 8,000 human skulls marks the site of the infamous Killing Fields. This was where the prisoners of Tuol Sleng were executed and nearly 9,000 corpses have been exhumed from the area. Finally, learn about a brighter period in Cambodian history with a visit to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda.
Settle in for a long day of driving as we travel to Siem Reap. The bus ride will take about seven hours but will be full of stunning rural views of tiny towns, and it also gives you the chance to catch up on some shut-eye.
Riding distance: none
The name Angkor always captures the imagination, conjuring up images of soaring temples set in deep jungle hidden from the world for generations, and there is simply no better way to experience the allure of Cambodia’s legendary Angkor temple complex than by bicycle. Faster than walking yet able to go places that the big tour buses just can’t go, cycling at your own pace along quiet, secluded small roads and jungle trails gives you the feeling that you are the first person to discover Angkor as you visit many small temples hidden from everyday view.
That’s not to say you miss out on the icons, with visits to Angkor Wat, the greatest Buddhist temple in the world, as well as guided visits to the iconic jungle-covered ‘Tomb Raider’ favourite Ta Prohm, and the sheer majesty of Angkor Thom all included. Seeing this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site in such an environmentally friendly way, with no pollution or strain on the environment also helps to preserve this magnificent icon for future generations.
Today you’ll cover a lot of distance on your visit to Banteay Srei, the 10th century temple dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. The temple was rediscovered in 1914 and has some of the most intricate carvings in the world. It was restored shortly after discovery using traditional techniques and materials.
Leave from Siem Reap early in the morning and head for the border. Your crossing at Poipet/Aranyaprathet should take around 4 hours including the driving and processing time. From the border, you’ll transfer to the Tha Kabark Dam. You can have a quick swim and some lunch before the next cycling leg to Sa Kaew where you’ll stay for the night.
Wake up at sunrise and make your way to the local market. Here you’ll see the Buddhist monks from nearby temples who come to receive food from the villagers in exchange for blessings. Perhaps offer the monks some alms before continuing on your way. Spend the rest of the day cycling along mostly flat terrain towards the small district of Kabinburi. You’ll pass rubber tree and tapioca plantations as well as lush rice fields.
Make your way to Khun Dan Dam, Thailand’s largest dam, for your last full day of cycling. You’ll ride past small villages, paddy fields, farms and shops. Stop for lunch along the way, then enjoy a quick swim. After, pack up the bikes before transferring to Bangkok, your final destination.
There are no activities planned for today and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you’d like to stay longer, just speak to your booking agent. Perhaps take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road or pay a visit to Wat Pho, home to the country’s largest reclining Buddha. Explore the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or travel by long tail boat down the Chao Phraya River to explore Bangkok’s famous khlongs (canals).
To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. You’ll be cycling for up to 70 km per day on varied terrain – this trip is for the reasonably fit.
The weather in this region can be varied. Be prepared to get sweaty and for the occasional rain storm, which may require a change of plans.
- Hanoi - KOTO dinner
- Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex
- Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology
- Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda
- Mai Chau - Pom Coong Village visit & traditional lunch
- Hoa Lu - Temple of King Dinh and King Le
- Hue - Imperial City Full Day Tour
- Hue - Royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc
- Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
- Hoi An - Food Adventure Urban Adventure
- Hoi An - Thu Bon river boat trip
- Hoi An - My Son Cham tour (entrance fee, guide and transport included)
- Nha Trang - Po Nagar Cham Tower
- Hon Mun Island - Snorkelling
- Nha Trang - Basket boat ride
- Nha Trang - Boat trip
- Dalat - Hang Nga Crazy House
- Phnom Penh - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) & Choeung Ek
- Phnom Penh - Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda
- Siem Reap - Three Day Angkor Pass
- Angkor - Full day temple cycling tour
- Kabinburi - Alms giving at morning market
We have put a calendar of events together that will provide you with some inspiration of what you can expect on your holiday, and when the best time to jet off is. Now’s your chance to travel further than you can by foot and be part of a memorable and exciting two-wheel journey with us.
09 Dec - 04 Jan
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31 Jan - 26 Feb
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10 Feb - 07 Mar
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24 Feb - 21 Mar
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30 Mar - 25 Apr
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22 Jun - 18 Jul
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03 Aug - 29 Aug
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31 Aug - 26 Sep
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05 Oct - 31 Oct
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26 Oct - 21 Nov
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09 Nov - 05 Dec
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30 Nov - 26 Dec
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14 Dec - 09 Jan
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