Vietnam Bike Tours' Reviews

Saturday, December 18, 2010 Bicycling the Mekong-off the beaten path 

We finished our tour with a 4 hour boat trip up the Mekong from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh. Sitting in the back of the boat with the breeze in my face, gazing out at life along the muddy river gave me time to reflect on what a diverse and beautiful world this is. Next stop, Phnom Penh.
I could go on, but you get the idea and the pictures speak for themselves. Honestly, if you  have ever thought about doing a trip like this do it now. It is accessible to anyone remotely fit. Van has a support van that hovers nearby along the route so tired bicyclists can choose to be driven to the next rendezvous (Maddie took advantage of this option a few times). We rode as a family about 50 Km a day but you could do more or less, depending on your interest and stamina - Andy got in some extra miles with Van (next years ironman training never far from his mind).
Saturday, December 18, 2010


Cycling Mekong Delta Phu Quoc Island 2012

This bike tour was a great experience. The guides were knowledgeable, funny, and engaging. This adventure allowed me to understand Vietnamese life in the countryside. If you do choose to bike through this country, I recommend Vietnam BackRoads Bicycle Tours.

Here’s the contact information:

Guide: Van the Man

Email: info@vietnambackroads.com
 


 Vietnam Cycling Tours 2012 by Vietnam Backroads Bicycle Tours. 

As we ride, our van driver Hong awaits us maybe 15 K up the road. We pull over, and he has cool towels that he has stored in an icy cooler. We use several on our faces or arms or legs. Ahhhh. Then he has cut watermelon or mangoes or papaya or dragon fruit for us to slurp. While we are eating he replenishes our water bottles which are mounted on our bicycles, and Van makes sure our brakes and gears are in order. Our bikes are cleaned and maintained every night, and the frames have been fitted to our measurements.  Everything is fabulous.  At noon, Van selects amazing family restaurants, and he insists they put all utensils into boiling water; he goes into the kitchen to make sure all the food is fresh and hot. Sometimes he sends back certain dishes. He does not want us to be ill on the trip. 
The VolkVentures of Chris and Don Jan--Feb. 2012


 Biking from from Saigon to Hanoi Posted in Vietnam on 03/03/2011 09:17 am by Randi

Good Morning Vietnam! After a long and slow bus ride from Kep, we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City just after midnight, hailed a cab and quickly collapsed in our hotel room in the heart of the backpacker district after a late night sticky rice and coconut snack. Bright and early at 7AM we awoke to children screaming and playing in the nursery school 10 feet away from our window. Add that to the list of things to check out about when looking for a hotel room.

You can see our photos on flickr.com or check out vietnambackroads.com and click on video clips. ”Van the Man”, our guide, is not only an excellent cyclist but also an aspiring paparazzi photographer.

 


The adventures of Hannah in Vietnam in 2012 with Vietnam Backroads Bicycle Tour - December 2012 

Fantastic way for us to see North to South Vietnam and good as weare Vietnamese we got to see the non tourist sites and more local life. Here is my encounter of the Hanoi to Saigon Cycling tour with Vietnam Backroads. The tour went for 14 days and 13 nights and is one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had.

Here’s a quick overview of how it all went – Click on the links for a more detailed description of my experience – as each day had some great moments and I had to record them separately.


Biking Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh with Van the man

We spent a few more days in Ho Chi Minh City than we had originally planned to observe the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Ho Chi Minh, or Saigon as local still refer to it, is a bustling Asian city of over 7 million people. About 200 of them are Jewish. We didn’t meet all 200, but we did meet about 40 expats and travelers at Chabad of Ho Chi Minh. It was a much needed break from travel that we used to reflect and eat delicious Israeli food. On top of typical Yom Kippur activities, (fast, sleep, pray, eat) we spent most of our time in Ho Chi Minh walking around and experimenting with street food, with a museum visit thrown in here and there. Biking Mekong Delta - Deena & Jordan


WordHCMC is the current leader in Saigon’s expat magazine - Published on Saturday, 09 January 2010 11:59 Written by Freddie Quick

 Cycling Mekong Delta with Van the Man

in 2009
The reports I had heard from friends about their adventures in the Mekong Delta were largely negative. They had all been dragged on similar whistlestop tours that included little fresh air, uninspiring boat rides and a tedious visit to a candy factory. So, when the chance to see The Delta in a more original and revealing fashion arose, I was raring to go.

The idea was to do the trip on a pushbike with cycling enthusiasts John and Van, the co-founders of Vietnam Countryside Explorer and now is Vietnam Backroads Bicycle Tours. They were to take me on a journey seen by few others. Forget the dodgy dust-bowl highways, tourists horded onto the next spot like ants or the visits to tired-looking rice processing mills. This, I was told, would be the real deal.

“We offer an alternative trip to the Mekong,” explained John on the morning of departure. “The area is so perfect for riding that we feel there is a need to offer cyclists a unique route through The Delta.” “Most tours follow the same paths,” added Van. “With my knowledge of the region we can help travellers avoid the crowds and really appreciate the scenery.”

The Great Escape

Meeting on the steps of the Opera House for a 7am start, we take off for The Delta in a minivan. Sitting with Van and John, through a medley of jokes and grins it’s obvious how excited they are about the ride.

Escaping Saigon fills me with relief, a feeling amplified by the sight of locals relieving themselves into the murky river that snakes along beside us. We stop off for a bowl of pho bo and I begin to get to know the duo better. John is an Australian, living and running a business in Ho Chi Minh City. His love of cycling and faith in the skills of close friend Van has led him to invest in this blossoming project. Van will be our human GPS/bike anorak for our dive into The Delta. With five years of tour experience and a collection of secret hand-drawn maps among his artillery, I feel assured that the trip will indeed be an eye opening alternative look at the area.

An hour or so later down the road the rumbling gravel below shakes me from a daydream and I know it’s time to saddle up. Van sets to work oiling gears and checking brakes, while I slip into my complimentary Lycra top. As I don’t want to ruin morale by exhibiting the male equivalent of a camel toe, I foolishly reject some skimpy cycling shorts. My knees creak in disapproval as we set off down the highway, but they stop whinging as we dip down onto a riverside path.

Our path is ideal for cycling, a concrete vein weaving its way through the vibrant green scenery. Soggy paddy fields flank us on both sides while brightly coloured butterflies flap in and out of vision. Van, or ‘Van-the-Man’ as he is affectionately known, highlights the fruit that is flourishing all around us.

“There is lots of food growing here,” he explains. “The land is so fertile you get everything from mangoes to mushrooms.”

The Ultimate Ride

It becomes evident during this opening section that a bicycle is the ultimate vessel for a trip into the Mekong. Despite my garish garb I don’t feel in any way intrusive upon the calm rural scene around me. You’re still hurtling along, but without the harsh spluttering of an engine to interrupt the peace.

Later we pedal our way to an ex-army base in the forest of Xeo Quyt, where we are led across a rickety bridge and then wobble into some small wooden rafts. The whole group is struck silent as we paddle down the thin passage that worms through the thick forest. A Mekong equivalent of the Cu Chi tunnels serves as a captivating respite from the ride.

My slightly numb buttocks urge me to don the padded spandex previously spurned, so I nip off behind a hedge and re-emerge looking like (or thinking I do) the real deal.

Soon we are soaring into Sa Dec, a charming little town littered with crumbling buildings. I pause on a bridge to soak up the seemingly time-locked scene and realise I haven’t seen another tourist all day. We stop for lunch in an old colonial villa that was the childhood home of French novelist Marguerite Duras, a writer who put Sa Dec on the big screen when her famed novel The Lover was made into a movie.

With bellies full of noodles and spring rolls we charge on to the ferry port, warmly anticipating an overnight stop in The Delta’s biggest city Can Tho. We have a brief traipse around the town and then decide to hit the hay early in preparation for a sunrise trip downstream to Cai Rang floating market.

Water World

After what seems like a minute’s sleep my shrill alarm clock is forcing me back into the land of the living. I greet the others in the reception with a sleepy grunt and shuffle behind them down to the jetty. Van whistles and swiftly procures us a boat.

All along the waterside I can see locals going about their morning routine. A vested old man crouches and washes his hair, while next door two children are spitting toothpaste into the surf below. Brightly coloured plants and clothes hang from the rafters of every stilted house, all of them rickety to the verge of collapse.

Ahead is the cluster of boats that make up the floating market. Cameras poised, we weave through the assortment of buoyant stalls, Van-the-Man hauls aboard some ca phe sua das while busily pointing out the different groceries on sale around us.

“They advertise what they are selling, by strapping a sample to high bamboo sticks,” he explains.

Many of the boats have colourful eyes painted on their bow, this crowned with flowers and wafting incense lends the scene an ancient, magical quality. The sun has shifted from a deep orange to golden as we make our way back towards a horizon silhouetted with black spiky palms.

Roads Less Pedaled

Back at the hotel we refuel and I wiggle my derrière back into black spandex. Soon we are on one of Van’s lush hidden tracks. The riverside is such a hive of rural activity I nearly crash several times due to the distraction. One moment is spent considering the woman drying water hyacinth to make furniture, the next fearing for the old gent fishing by electrical charge. The looks of surprise from the locals confirm my suspicions that we really are on roads less pedaled.

We see a schoolyard ahead packed with kids relishing their free time and decide to roll in. At the sight of these luminous berks circling their playground they squeal excitedly. I do my usual silly clown routine in front of the children, blowing raspberries and dancing; during which I notice their school library is a tree. Books rolled up and crammed into half cut plastic bottles dangle from every branch.

We cycle on through the green maze that shoots off in every direction. John is up front and has turned up the pace, not wanting to lose face I pursue him with moronic vigour and predictably crash. I fly over the handle bars face first into a wicker basket housing a fighting cock. Luckily me and the cock are practically unscathed. I only have a cut knee and a dented ego to nurse back to normality.

Back to Reality

Our cycling sojourn through The Delta is rolling to a close and I know I’ll be sad to leave. The cycling bug has definitely chomped down on me and the stunning surroundings increase my resistance to boarding the bus. Van and I cap the trip with a slow cruise through seemingly endless paddies as he regales me with tales about the region and his infectious passion for biking through the countryside.

Back in Saigon I realise how wrong I was to dismiss a tour to The Delta; it is simply about choosing the right one. The last couple of days my eyes have flickered restlessly over the whirlwind of sights The Mekong has to offer, all the while getting some good exercise and satisfying the universal tourist obsession with avoiding its own ilk.

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Cycling Mekong Delta with Vietnam Backroads http://hipandhealthy.com/hip-healthy-vietnam/

The Mekong Delta, in the south of Vietnam, is an incredible network of rivers, brooks and canals alongside lush green farmland and fruit orchards. For a flexible and active way to see the stunning landscape off the beaten track it is best to get on a bike! The winding, single-track trails running between the farmland provide a truly unique experience and are much better than sitting on a tour bus. Also, since there are no hills in the delta, it makes this option suitable for all levels of experience. We decided to tour with Vietnam Backroads for a three day trip and they provided a fantastic guide, high quality bikes and were exceptionally helpful in organizing the best route for us.  
Vietnam Backroads - www.vietnambackroads.com - info@vietnambackroads.com


Why did the chicken cross the road? The real answer is – to get out of the way of motorbikes and bicycles. Apparently chickens do not care which side of the street they are on. They like to hang out wherever they feel like it  – even on the narrow concrete or dirt pathways all along the Mekong Delta. This is what I discovered after a few days of cycling these back routes with Vietnam Backroads.

This small company runs various cycling trips across the delta. Our group consisted of me, two brothers, originally from the UK, (who hadn’t seen each other for five years), and our tour leader. We cycled mostly back roads, passing coconut groves, fruit trees of all sorts (pomelo, banana, mango, guava, sapota, and more),  palm trees, and rice paddies.  We rode up and then down, over many short, steep bridges that cross the myriad of waterways in this area, and rode on some small ferries as well, to travel across the water.  The three of us had the opportunity to speak with a monk at a Buddhist Theravada temple, and went to the Cai Rang floating market outside of Ca Tho. We visited the Bang Lang stork sanctuary, where we saw what must have been thousands of both black and white storks, as well as the spectacular Tra Su Melaleuca Forest Nature Reserve.  Each day, as we cycled, we were greeted, seemingly out of nowhere, with a chorus of loud, happy “hellos” from hundreds of people we passed. Our guide, Dat, was stupendous; he is originally from a farm in the Mekong Delta, but because he is the youngest in his family, he got to go to school rather than work on the farm. He had studied tourism and because of his education and connection to this area, he was able to provide us with an abundance of interesting and detailed information. Mekong Delta Cycle Tours with Vietnam Backroads.


A Wheelie Unique Way to Travel from Vietnam to Cambodia
When we set out on this charity challenge cycle from Vietnam to Cambodia we really wanted to experience as much of the culture as possible, but we were realistic. We figured there would be other tourists where we were cycling and that our contact with the locals would be limited as we whizzed (or in my case wobbled) past them on our mountain bikes.

After a short stopover in Malaysia and just over a week since we arrived back in our third home, Nepal, we have our feet firmly planted back in reality. Lots to report but this blog post has morphed into a thesis so I just want to do a huge shout out to Dat, Quang, Cuong and Van the Man at Vietnam Backroads. From the first email we sent Quang until Dat delivered us to where we would board the boat to Phnom Penh, their personal, professional and caring approach to customer service was absolutely world class. If you’re ever looking for a cycle adventure through Vietnam, look no further: http://www.vietnambackroads.com/A Wheelie Unique Way to Travel from Vietnam to Cambodia