Leave the capital early this morning for a drive through rural countryside to Mai Chau, arriving in time to enjoy lunch at a local Thai village house. Hop on your bike for a ride through the spectacular, undulating valley of the Song Ma River on the way to Hoi Xuan. This route was used to carry supplies and ammunition during the war and linked to the main part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Depending on how your legs feel, continue by bike or travel by car to the end destination. Your accommodation tonight is in a traditional Thai village house located on the edge of Pu Luong Nature Reserve and is part of an eco-tourism community project set up by Flora and Fauna International in 2003. This is a great way to experience the unique culture and lifestyle of these hill tribe people.
After breakfast, transfer by road for about 45 minutes for the start of today’s ride. The route takes you away from the river and through a range of mountains which stretches from Mai Chau to Cuc Phuong National Park and the ancient capital of Hoa Lu. As you cycle, the scenery progressively gets more beautiful and limestone cliffs and lush vegetation as a backdrop. The route is challenging with several hills to ascend, but a vehicle is always nearby for you to take a rest in.
Pedal along the newly-built Ho Chi Minh highway for today’s journey. The tarmac makes for smooth, fast riding and there are very few cars or vehicles on the road. A parallel dirt and gravel highway runs alongside which is a challenging option for those who wish!
Along the way to Vinh stops will be made to visit Ly Thai To Pagoda which was built in honor of the first king of the Ly dynasty. Then, you will stop at Kim Lien village, the birthplace of Ho Chi Minh to visit his house and a museum dedicated to him. After the visit transfer by road out of the mountains on to Vinh arriving late this afternoon.
Following breakfast, transfer 40 kilometers by bus to the Ho Chi Minh highway to the town of Pho Chau, the start of today’s ride. The journey winds through lush jungle and beautiful villages nestled under the Truong Son mountain range. During the ride, take your time to admire the stunning scenery and the intricate karst formations.
Continue along the Ho Chi Minh Highway today to Phong Nha. The route is still a dream to ride on and you’ll appreciate the smooth tarmac as the mountains rise and the road winds up, down and along the hillsides. The scenery is spectacular and the road is tranquil.
After cycling around 80km, trade in your bike for a restful 1 hour bus journey to Phong Nha National Park. The park contains one of the most spectacular caves in Vietnam – a true natural wonder with 65 kilometres of tunnels and underground rivers. Formed approximately 250 million years ago Phong Nha was used as a hospital and ammunition depot during the war, and the entrance still shows evidence of attacks from fighter aircraft. There are also community projects underway with Flora and Fauna International and it may be possible to visit village initiatives and learn more about the forests of the national park before the end of today.
After an early morning exploration of Phong Nha Cave, transfer 1.5 hours by road to the Ho Chi Minh Trail to resume your ride. Pedal across the DMZ (also known as the 17th Parallel) to Cam Lo. Stop en route to visit Truong Son cemetery, a memorial to the tens of thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers who were killed in the Truong Son Mountains.
From there it’s only 14 kilometres further to the town of Cam Lo and here the trail heads across the country into Laos. Finish today with a short transfer to Khe Sanh, a former US marine base and site of the infamous 1968 battle of the same name.
Begin this morning with a visit to the Khe Sanh combat base where relics of the war are exhibited and see the airstrip. Then ride through spectacular scenery, mainly downhill, from the Laos border to the Dakrong River. Cross the river by bridge and ride along the waterway to what was considered the southern part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Again enjoy a traffic-free road with rolling terrain, a nice contrast to the flat plains of the previous day’s ride.
Due to the bad roads south of A Loui, today you venture off the Ho Chi Minh Trail and head across the country to Hue. The 60km ride through the middle of Vietnam is on back roads before hitting Highway 1 just a few kilometres south of Hue. Here there is the option of transferring by road or continuing by bike to the center of Hue.
Following breakfast, enjoy a relatively easy cycle on the back roads of Hue through lush countryside on a mix of footpaths and quiet country lanes. The day begins with a visit to the Imperial Citadel where you will explore the ruins of this grand monument to the emperors. Then, ride along backstreets, following the banks of the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda. Continue through the quiet roads of Hue’s countryside to visit the royal tomb of Ming Manh, a former Nguyen emperor, and loop back across the river to Hue via the funerary monument to Khai Dinh.
Today is an epic ride with two small hills to conquer before the intense 11 km climb uphill to the top of Hai Van Pass where you will be rewarded with stunning views of the coast. With a recently opened tunnel through the mountain, there is now very little traffic on this uphill road.
Cruise down the pass to Lang Co beach for a swim and lunch. Then transfer the final 35 kilometers by car to Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The remainder of this afternoon and evening is at your leisure to explore the narrow streets and lanes of this charming town.
The last day of the journey is an easy ride My Son, the ancient centre of Cham civilization. Transfer a bit out of town to avoid the highway before cycling along scenic country back roads, past rice paddy fields, through a eucalyptus forest and passing many picturesque villages. The meandering road eventually leads us to My Son, once Champa’s greatest city and now an impressive archaeological site. Enjoy lunch near the temples and an afternoon spent touring around the crumbling temples before transferring back to Hoi An by bus.
Today’s journey is a fabulous ride out to My Son, the ancient centre of Cham civilization. Transfer a bit out of town to avoid the highway before cycling along scenic country back roads, past rice paddy fields, through a eucalyptus forest and passing many picturesque villages. The meandering road eventually leads us to My Son, once Champa’s greatest city and now an impressive archaeological site. Enjoy lunch near the temples and an afternoon spent touring around the crumbling temples before transferring back to Hoi An by bus.
This morning, transfer from Hoi An toward Quang Ngai for the start of today’s ride. The road is shaded by arching palm trees and surrounded by tended rice paddies as you cruise toward My Lai, the site of one of the worst massacres of the American/Vietnam War. After lunch, take a sobering guided tour of the site and museum and then continue your ride through the Vietnamese countryside to visit a traditional pagoda. Return to My Lai early this evening for a chance to relax and enjoy a delicious dinner.
Depart early today for the 157 kilometer journey to Qui Nhon, an American port and supply centre during the Vietnam War and refuge for thousands of Vietnamese fleeing the vicious bombing of the countryside. Ride southwest toward the town of Ba To and pedal along tranquil roads rarely visited by tourists. After looping back toward Highway 1 at Duc Pho, the remainder of the transfer will be by bus to Quy Nhon. Enjoy time on the beach this afternoon to relax tired muscles.
After a short shuttle out of town to avoid the main highway, begin today’s ride at Dieu Tri. Pedal along a remote but well surfaced road running alongside the railway through rolling terrain. Pass many Vietnamese and ethnic minority villages on the way for a glimpse of traditional countryside life as you make your way southwards. Loop back toward the main highway where you will have the option of cycling or transferring by vehicle the final hour to Tuy Hoa.
Today is the last cycling day and perhaps the most memorable. Depart from the hotel for a 20 kilometer ride past a network of lush rice fields which blanket the valley. Ride 3.4 kilometers up over a pass and descend down to stunning Dai Lanh Beach where you will stop for a swim and some snacks. Continue pedaling along the coast for 3 kilometers and then turn on to the Hon Gom peninsular road for the final 20 kilometers. Walk a short distance through a local fishing village to the awaiting speedboat which will transfer you to tranquil Whale Island for two nights of relaxation.
Depart early, drive short leg south to Cam Ranh. (2 hours drive) From here pick up a remote mountain road and cycle up into the central highlands to Dalat. (route 27b) This ride is possibly the highlight of the trip with long hill climbs and descents, winding forest roads and wild scenery. Ascend from the coastal plains up to over 1000m where the vegetation gives way to pine forest and semi arid environment. The rugged countryside offers an epic on road biking experience and is a complete contrast to al the cycling completed so far.. .
Dalat was established as a hill resort at the beginning of the last century by homesick French colonials who were attracted to its cool, spring-like weather, pine forests, waterfalls and lakes. Many reminders of Dalat’s colonial past can be seen in the hundreds of European style villas, chalets and other buildings still standing around town. One fine example is the cream-colored art deco villa that was once the summer home of Vietnam’s last emperor, Bao Dai. Another slightly grander example of Dalat’s colonial architecture is the superbly restored Dalat Palace Hotel overlooking the central Xuan Huong Lake.
Today’s ride is predominantly downhill through some dense jungle forests, villages and tea plantations from Dalat to Phanthiet. There are over 900 meters of descent on this 90+ km ride to Mui Ne as you wind through pine and jungle forested valleys into the tropical climate below. Travel by vehicle (60 km) from Dalat to Di Linh where we bike down to Mui Ne through small minority villages and jungle forested valleys to the beautiful beaches below.
Drive to Ho Chi Minh City. (approx 4 hours) On arrival (time permitting), spend the rest of the afternoon on a fascinating tour of the historical sites of downtown Saigon. Not to be missed is the War Remnants museum, a gruesome reminder of the effects of the war with America. There are old helicopters, aircraft, replica French gaols as well as a photographic display of the environmental and human consequences of Agent Orange. Visit the Presidential Palace, a fascinating building trapped in time – the architecture and décor is pure 60’s kitsch. View the place where the last Americans departed Vietnam and explore below ground an air raid shelter where a sense of history still lingers in the air. Dine on the Saigon River on the deck of an old passenger boat. Enjoy the glittering lights of downtown Saigon & a celebratory farewell meal at one of Saigon’s top restaurants.
“This itinerary may alter due to local conditions, the strength of the group and other unexpected circumstances. We will do our very best to adhere to the set itinerary, however we cannot be held responsible for any last minute changes that might occur. In all such circumstances, your biking or trekking guide will have the final say.”