Cycle Vietnam Vietnam, Asia

Cycle Vietnam

Vietnam, Asia

Biking
15 days
2019

Sat, Sep 21

Sat, Oct 05

€1,735

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Overview

More than 30 million Vietnamese can't be wrong - handle-bar height gives you the best view of Vietnam! Our cycling tour through this mesmerising country provides opportunities to meet the locals and experience their culture in a way that wouldn't otherwise be possible. So come with us and get active as we travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, down country lanes and over spectacular mountain passes. And, of course, all the exercise gives you the perfect excuse to indulge in delicious Vietnamese cuisine.

Map

Itinerary

Day 1Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure officially begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm tonight. You can arrive at any time during the day, as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you are bringing your own bicycle with you on the trip, you need to assemble it to check for any damage in transit before the welcome meeting. If you have arranged for the hire of a bicycle, your leader will assist you in preparing the bike before your first cycling activity. If you arrive with some time to spare then work your legs with a walk around Hanoi’s charming shaded boulevards and a squat on a short street-corner stools for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) in the Old Quarter. Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We are happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception or your travel agent in advance. Riding distance: none
Day 2Hanoi
This morning you’ll get the chance to explore the Vietnamese capital by bike on a guided ride through the city (approx. 22kms). 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 such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, which includes the Buddhist temple One Pillar Pagoda and the former residence of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. 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. You’ll have some free time this afternoon. Perhaps take a walk around the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, with the reflection of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface, or maybe dive into culture at the Vietnam Fine Art Museum or The Vietnamese Women’s Museum. Top off the day with a steaming bowl of fresh Pho from a hole-the-wall eatery – the street food in Hanoi is not to be missed! Riding distance: approx. 22kms/14 miles, mostly flat with approx. 40m/130ft of elevation gain.
Day 3Mai Chau
Saddle up this morning as your cycling adventure kicks into first gear. Leave Hanoi behind and travel by bus to Hoa Binh (approximately 2 hours). When you arrive you’ll jump on your bike and cycle 38 kilometres 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 30-minute 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 (approximately 19 kilometres). 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. Riding distances: Ride 1 - approx. 38kms/24 miles, uphill with approx. 330m/1080ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - approx. 19kms/12 miles, mostly downhill with approx. 80m/260ft of elevation gain.
Day 4Ninh Binh
This morning you farewell your homestay hosts and cycle from Mai Chau to Mai Hai, and then on to Co Luong (approx 50kms). 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. Riding distances Ride 1 - approx. 49kms/30 miles, mostly downhill with approx. 195m/640ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - approx. 36kms/22 miles, mostly flat with approx. 50m/165ft of elevation gain.
Day 5Ninh Binh - Overnight train
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. Today’s cycling is approximately 50 kilometres. 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. Notes: On the overnight train to Hue (approximately 12 hours) conditions are basic, but it is a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances like a local. Sleeper trains typically have four berth compartments (occasionally six berth depending on seasonal variations and group configuration), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure. Riding distance: approx. 52kms/32 miles, undulating with approx. 195m/640ft of elevation gain.
Day 6Hue
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 (approximately 16 kilometres) 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. Riding distance: approx. 16kms/10 miles, flat with approx. 12m/40ft of elevation gain.
Day 7Hoi An
Today will be big on riding and big on spectacular views. Leaving Hue, you will do some mountainous riding (approximately 85 kilometres in total) 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 for about 20 kilometres (10 kilometres each way), with views across the Bay of Danang to the south. It is 500 metres 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. Riding distances: Ride 1 - approx. 56kms/35 miles, flat with approx. 55m/180ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - approx. 30kms/19 miles, significant uphill & downhill with approx. 576m/1890ft of elevation gain.
Day 8Hoi An
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
Day 9Quy Nhon
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 (approx. 45kms). 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. Riding distance: approx. 44kms/27 miles, undulating with approx. 255m/840ft of elevation gain.
Day 10Nha Trang
Today’s cycle is approximately 95 kilometres, but it 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, lagoons and sand dunes. 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. Riding distances: Ride 1 - approx. 75kms/47 miles – lightly undulating with approx. 165m/530ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - approx. 19kms/12 miles - lightly undulating with approx. 140m/460ft of elevation gain.
Day 11Nha Trang
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.
Day 12Dalat
Head up through the Bidoup-Nui Ba Pass into the cooler climes of the South Central Highlands (approximately 65 kilometres), 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. Riding distances: Ride 1 - approx. 57kms/35 miles, lightly undulating with approx. 160m/530ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - approx. 15kms/9 miles, lightly undulating with approx. 110m/360ft of elevation gain.
Day 13Phan Thiet
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. Riding distances: Ride 1 - approx. 22kms/14 miles, mostly downhill with approx. 85m/280ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - approx. 45kms/ 28 miles, mostly downhill with approx. 30m/100ft of elevation gain.
Day 14Ho Chi Minh City
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 (approximately 55 kilometres) 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. Riding distance: approx. 56kms/35 miles, approx. mostly flat with hill at the end, approx. 125m/410ft of elevation gain
Day 15Ho Chi Minh City
Your Cycle Vietnam adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you are sticking around then there are plenty of things to see and do in and around Ho Chi Minh City. Riding distance: none

Trip title

Cycle Vietnam

Trip code

TVXB

Validity

Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019
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Introduction

More than 30 million Vietnamese can't be wrong - handle-bar height gives you the best view of Vietnam! Our cycling tour through this mesmerising country provides opportunities to meet the locals and experience their culture in a way that wouldn't otherwise be possible. So come with us and get active as we travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, down country lanes and over spectacular mountain passes. And, of course, all the exercise gives you the perfect excuse to indulge in delicious Vietnamese cuisine.

Style

Original

Themes

Active Adventures,Cycling

Transport

Bicycle (e-bike option),Support vehicle,Boat,Overnight sleeper train,Taxi

Physical Rating

3

Physical preparation

This is an active trip, requiring a reasonable level of physical fitness. While there is flexibility in the distance you can elect to cycle each day, the cycling on this trip can be challenging at times, with the heat and terrain adding to the physical effort. It is also important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. As a general rule, the more preparation you can do for this type of trip, the more you will enjoy it. Prepare for the trip by doing aerobic type exercises before travelling - jogging or swimming are some options, though cycling is best. If possible take some extended day rides before travelling, or spend time on exercise bikes in the gym. The more your muscles (and bottom) are prepared for the riding on this trip the more you will be able to enjoy the wonderful countryside and people you meet while riding. Note that an enthusiasm for bike riding and adventure is essential! CYCLING DISTANCES: The information listed in the itinerary is a guide to the approximate distances and terrain cycled each day. However, this may vary depending on the physical capabilities of the group, and changes to local conditions. For safety reasons we only cycle during daylight hours, so there may be some early morning starts. We take regular rest breaks throughout cycling days.

Joining point

Thang Long Espana Hotel

Finish point

Hoang Ngan Hotel

Important information

1. A single supplement is available on this trip with exception of Day 3 (Homestay) and Day 5 (Overnight Train). 2. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitable sized bike. 3. Bike helmets & closed toed shoes are compulsory on this trip. We are unable to hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home. 4. In 2019 we are proud to offer an e-bike option on this trip.

Group leader

All Intrepid cycling group trips are accompanied by one of our cycling leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Our cycling leaders are all passionate cyclists, as you’d expect, but they also go through some pretty rigorous cycle-trip specific training. Each one has undergone on-road training and supervision and knows how to do safety checks, basic repairs and emergency first-aid. And at the end of the day they’re still regular Intrepid leaders, which means they will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

Safety

We take safety seriously on all our trips, but cycling tours deserve a few special considerations. HELMETS: Helmets are compulsory and we do not allow anyone to ride without one (including our own staff!). You can bring your own, or purchase one that meets international safety standards on the ground. Your leader can assist with this. FOOTWEAR For safety reasons we strongly recommend that you wear shoes that cover the toes while riding. SUPPORT VEHICLES We usually have a support vehicle following us if first-aid is ever necessary or people are feeling too tired to ride. BIKES: Our bikes are serviced regularly, and we get them checked by experts before each and every trip. Should you choose to bring your own please note that while we are happy to assist where we can with repairs you are responsible for the safety and suitability of your own equipment. TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware! There are times when traffic conditions make sections of our planned riding route unsafe – in this instance we will use the support vehicle. WEATHER Due to inclement weather posing a serious health or safety issue there may be times when we use the support vehicle instead of doing the planned ride. We will endeavour to reroute if possible but at times may have to cancel the planned ride.

Visas

As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends. Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. VIETNAM VISA: Most nationalities are required to obtain tourist visa in advance to travel to Vietnam. When obtaining your visa you should allow 3 weeks for processing with your nearest embassy or consulate, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Please check with your embassy or consulate for further requirements. Some nationalities are exempt from visas for a stay of a maximum of 15 days, including British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes). This exemption period is currently effective until 30 June 2021, and is based upon meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. If you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance (please contact your relevant Consulate or Embassy). Please also check requirements if you plan to re-enter Vietnam. An eVisa is available for some nationalities including passport holders from Australia (from 2018), France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America, valid for a single entry of a maximum of 30 days stay in Vietnam. For information on obtaining an eVisa visit the immigration website: https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/ Evisas take up to 3 days to be processed. You will need a clear electronic copy of your passport data page and passport photo, and to make a non-refundable payment as outlined on the immigration website. Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure. If your visa application asks for a point of contact, please write: Intrepid Vietnam 5th floor HiPT Building, 152 Thuy Khue Street, Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Ph +84 4 3715 0996. Most nationalities do not require a letter of invitation for Vietnam but if you do need one, please contact your sales agent for more information.

Why we love it

If you love to cycle, to feel the wind in your (helmet-covered) hair and a tropical breeze on your face then this speedy but comprehensive 15 day adventure is for you

Is this trip right for you

To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. This trip covers quite some distance – you’ll be cycling for up to 70 kilometres a day on varied terrain, so this trip is for the reasonably fit. There’s the possibility of a few hiccups along the way – a puncture here and there maybe – but there’s no doubt this is an incredibly rewarding adventure You'll be spending one night in a homestay and another on an overnight sleeper train. While the accommodation is shared and basic, this is a great opportunity to interact with the locals, and get a real sense of Vietnamese daily life. If you’re confident in your cycling ability, then those that want an even longer cycling adventure should opt for ‘TVXCC - Cycle South East Asia’, which includes everything that's on the itinerary of this trip, plus the itinerary of ‘TTXC- Cycle Indochina’. The weather in this region can be varied. Be prepared to get sweaty and for the occasional rainstorm, which may require a change of plans. If you feel like doing all the riding but with less effort we have the option of hiring an electric bike (e-bike) on this trip.

Health

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared. DENGUE FEVER: Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing and always using repellent. Please note that this mosquito is most active during daylight hours however care should be taken at all times. CYCLING HEALTH Riding across unfamiliar terrain in weather conditions that you are not used to can potentially lead to cycling-related health issues. By far the most common issue is that of dehydration. While this is most common on warm/hot days, it is also a factor during cold weather as you continue to sweat. Research shows most riders will typically lose 500-1000 ml of water per hour. While we schedule in frequent rest stops and encourage you to refill water bottles at every opportunity, it is the responsibility of each cyclist to monitor their own levels of hydration while cycling. The key point to remember is not to wait until you’re thirsty but to drink small amounts regularly from the start of your ride. Adding an electrolyte solution can aid in replenishing the salts/electrolytes lost through physical activity. This is especially important on days when you are drinking a lot of the bike.

Food and dietary requirements

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

Money matters

SPENDING MONEY: When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). Budget for meals not included: USD 250 - this amount includes the optional Snack Kitty. SNACK KITTY: During the group meeting, your trip leader will ask you if you would like to contribute to the snack kitty. This is usually $40USD per person, less if you have a large group of 10 people or more. The snack kitty is spent on water, fruits, the local-made lemonade juice, energy top-up snacks, coffee stops, bathroom stops. It is not a compulsory kitty, although will make the purchasing of snacks easier and more convenient for you. The left over funds will be returned at trip end. You can find out more information from your leader upon arrival. VIETNAM: The official currency of Vietnam is Dong (VND). US dollars are also accepted for some payments. It is almost impossible to change VND into US dollars without a flight ticket showing your onward destination. Only change money at official money exchange counters with a clear sign showing this status. Illegal exchange places like gold shops may offer a higher rate you may risk losing your money. Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, but outside main centres you may find cash the only acceptable currency. It may be difficult to cash travellers’ cheques. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas. You can have funds transferred to Vietnam via international money transfer companies like Western Union or Moneygram. EMERGENCY FUNDS: We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved. TIPPING If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Carrying small notes of local currency will make tipping easier. It is best to avoid tipping with with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes, as this can be regarded as an insult. Optional Tipping Kitty: On Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips for drivers, local guides, and hotel staff (excludes restaurant tips). The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can be checked at any time, and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader Optional tipping kitty for this trip: USD 57 per person (can be paid in VND). Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. Commissions: Unfortunately, commissions in exchange for recommending particular shops or restaurants are an ingrained part of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye though, we’ve tried to legitimise the practise with a centralised fund. Moneys are collected from recommended and fully vetted suppliers and funnelled back into our business. This keeps the trip cost low (for us and for you) and makes sure you only get the best experiences. If you’re unhappy with any places your leader recommends, or feel the quality of the trip is being compromised in any way, please let us know in your feedback. VIETNAM: You can use your credit/debit card in ATMs, which are common throughout Vietnam. These machines dispense cash in VND (Vietnamese dong). Credit/debit cards aren’t accepted for small payments in Vietnam so please ensure you have VND cash to cover daily expenses. Clean banknotes in small denominations are most useful. There is no need to bring lots of cash with you unless you prefer not to use ATMs. You can obtain VND cash prior to arriving in Vietnam, through normal outlets such as banks and currency exchange offices. 

What to take

Packing for a cycling tour isn’t that different from any other adventure. But if you want to be comfortable and warm, here are a few bike-specific tips. • Helmet – these are compulsory, but if you don’t have your own you can sometimes purchase an approved and well-fitted one at the start of the trip (our leaders can assist you with this). There are some destinations where you are unable to purchase or hire appropriate helmets locally so you will need to bring your own - please check the 'Important Notes' section to see if this is the case. • Padded bike shorts • Quick-dry jerseys – you can definitely get away with a few cotton t-shirts but having a few light and breathable jerseys will make your cycling a lot more comfortable, especially in warmer/humid climates. • Quick-dry socks • Cycling gloves – not essential but recommended as padded cycle gloves will make your riding more comfortable and can help protect you in case of a fall. • Rain gear – pack a light poncho in case the weather turns when you’re out on the road • Light breathable waterproof/windproof – especially useful for those early mornings or downhill sections when the wind-chill becomes a factor. • Water bottle – we don't provide bottles but all our bikes have one bottle holder fitted (and a second one can be fitted if required). Please bring a cycling-specific water bottle as other types will fall out of the holders. A Camelbak will make drinking on-the-go easier. • Sunglasses – well fitted sports sunglasses help protect against dust, insects and (of course) the sun • Day pack – our support vehicle will carry your main bag, but a day pack for snacks and clothes is a good idea. • Suncream – please bring a high protection factor (e.g. SPF 50) sunscreen as long days in the saddle can really expose you to the sun • Shoes – normal sports shoes can be worn on all of our trips however you may want to consider a flat shoe with a relatively stiff sole as it makes pedalling a lot more efficient. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own cycling-specific shoes however we recommended 'mountain bike' style shoes that have grip on the sole rather than road bike' shoes as you will still be walking around while on the rides (cafe/photo/toilet stops, etc.). For safety reasons we require that you wear shoes that completely cover the toes while riding. • Saddles – are saddles are standard, unisex models –less experienced cyclists may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring your own saddle – our leader will assist in fitting it to your bike • Pedals – all bikes come with flat pedals. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own pedals – our leader will assist in fitting them to your bike As space in our support vehicle/transport can be limited we request that you bring only a small luggage bag with you rather than larger bags or suitcases.

Climate and seasonal

TET (20-24 January 2020, 11-16 February 2021): Tet is Vietnam’s New Year festival which takes place in late January/early February based on the lunar calendar and is the most important celebration of the year. While this can be a fascinating time to be in Vietnam, you do need to be prepared for some businesses to be closed, tourist sites to be very busy and for transport to be packed as many Vietnamese are travelling around the country. Although we do our best to run trips during Tet as per the scheduled itinerary, it is likely that there will be some changes to transport, accommodation or order of destinations visited. Due to the high demand on tickets at this time, flights and overnight trains may on occasion need to be replaced with day buses. We will aim to communicate any known changes prior to your departure. WET SEASON: During the rainy months (approx. June to October), our mode of transport can be changed at short notice due to weather conditions.

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information. While we do accept children under 18 on this trip we do have a couple of rules. From a safety and enjoyment perspective they should be confident and competent cyclists capable of completing the riding part of the itinerary without additional assistance. Minors under 18 years old must always be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. This includes when the minor rides in the support vehicle.

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

Emergency contact

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Cambodia's Office can be reached on Tel: +855 92 555 969 and Vietnam Office can be reached on Tel: +84 903 117 770. For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist. For further contact details please use the following page: Intrepid's Vietnam Office: +84 903 117 77

Responsible travel

As part of our commitment to responsible travel a portion of your trip cost will be donated to Bicycles for Humanity – a not-for-profit, volunteer run, grass roots charity organisation focused on the alleviation of poverty through sustainable transport – in the form of a bicycle. In the developing world a bicycle is life changing, allowing access to health care, education, economic opportunity and wider community. A bicycle means you can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load, providing a profound and lasting positive effect for the individual as well as their community. Bicycles For Humanity collect donated (used or new) bicycles, repair them if needed and send them to Africa. Along with donated bicycles each of the 40 ft shipping containers that Bicycles For Humanity sends becomes a bike workshop, providing employment, skills, training, business, opportunity and economic development for the community in which it's placed, helping the community to move away from aid dependence. For more information see http://www.bicyclesforhumanity.com/ We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/ Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Vietnam include: * Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation rescues kids in crisis throughout Vietnam. https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/blue-dragon-childrens-foundation * KOTO is a restaurant and vocational training program that is changing the lives of rural and underprivileged youth in Vietnam. https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/koto For more information, or to make a donation please visit: https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/page/projects Intrepid and Bicycles For Humanity At Intrepid, we know a bike can changes lives. Provide a person in the developing world with a bike and it means they can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load. The extra mobility and distance gained from using a bike can make all the difference when seeking medicine or trying to find work. This is why we’ve partnered with Bicycles for Humanity to help provide bikes to communities in Namibia, Africa. Bicycles for Humanity takes bikes we no longer use, repairs them, packs them up and ships them off to the African continent in 40-foot containers. These containers then become bike workshops on arrival – a place of employment, education and business for the communities who receive them. Each of these Bicycle Empowerment Centres are self-sustaining, micro-financed small businesses and a massive step towards financial independence for the community. We also help by donating a portion of each booking of our cycling trips directly to Bicycles for Humanity, as well as using our network of contacts to bring greater exposure to the amazing work the volunteer team do every day at Bicycles for Humanity. We are also proud to have Bicycles for Humanity as a partner of The Intrepid Foundation, where our financial support will go directly towards purchasing containers and shipping bikes to Namibia. Every donation to The Intrepid Foundation from our travellers is matched by us dollar for dollar. To find out more or to make a donation, visit The Intrepid Foundation website.

Accommodation notes

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on our different trips than your own. CHECK-IN TIME Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination. PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights. WINDOWLESS ROOMS: Some hotels in Vietnam have windowless rooms, or windows that don't necessarily have a view. This is often due to high population density in large cities, however local building standards also don't require rooms to have windows. We do request rooms with windows, however please be aware that they may not always be available or allocated to our groups.

Transport notes

While there are occasions we use local public transport such as trains, buses or taxis to cover long distances or attend non-cycling activities we predominantly use the bicycle as our main form of transport. On most of our trips we also have a support vehicle as secondary transport for travelling longer distances, avoiding hazardous areas to cycle, as a backup should we have any incidents and of course an option for those that would prefer not to cycle for an hour or a day. These vehicles range from a minivan in most regions up to a full sized coach or overland vehicle in others. Your main luggage is transported in the support vehicle OUR BIKES We use Giant Rincon Disc bikes on this trip. These bikes are mountain bike-style with flat bars, front suspension and 24 gears. For more specific information please see http://www.worldbike.co.th/index.php/bikes/giant2016/giant-2016/300-giant-off-road-2016/1275-2016-rincon-disc This trip includes an option of a motorised bicycle (e-bike) at an additional cost. Please inquire at time of booking. RENTAL E-BIKES Our Vietnam rental e-bikes are the Giant Explore-e+, available in the following sizes: Small & Medium – please provide your height at time of booking so that we can reserve the correct size. These bikes have flat bars, front suspension and 9 gears. Please note the maximum speed for the ‘electronic assist’ is 25kph/15mph – once you reach that speed the motor assistance cuts out (although you can still go faster if your legs can do it!) BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE While we’re confident in the quality and suitability of the bikes we include, we do recognise that sometimes you just need the comfort of your own bike to enjoy the ride. If you are thinking of bringing your own bike on this tour please advise us at time of booking and take note of the below information. If you do choose to bring your own bike please note that we will not being carrying a spare bike for you. SUITABLE TYPE OF BIKE Although the surfaces of the roads we travel on is generally good there are occasionally gravel or potholed sections of road/track. As such, we recommend a 'mountain' or 'hybrid' style bike with plenty of gear selections for easy cruising. Please note that we usually cannot accept tandem bikes on our tours as often they are too large for our transport. In some destinations we are able to make an exception. Please ask your booking agent. For more details on the type of roads we’ll be riding on see the ‘Physical Rating’ information. Please contact your booking agent if you have any questions about the suitability of your bike. BEFORE THE TRIP We recommend that you have a full service of your bike performed by a trained mechanic, to help minimise any issues you may have during the trip itself. Please also ensure that you have specific and adequate cover for loss, damage or theft for your bike under your travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy. DURING THE TRIP Your bike will be transported in the same way as our included bikes, usually in the bike support vehicle or on the bike trailer. While we endeavour to take the best care we can, you should recognise that transported bikes do get the occasional bump or scratch along the way. The same applies when we take other forms of transport, such as a train, where we are unable to pack the bikes ourselves.Your bike will also be secured in the same way as our included bikes. Please note this can occasionally be outside (where the bikes are locked together). While our mechanics can usually assist with minor repairs, you are responsible for the safety and upkeep of your own bicycle. This includes conducting regular safety checks of your bike during the trip and cleaning your bike. In addition, any parts that require replacing are your responsibility. Most destinations have access to only limited spares along the way, and access to bike shops can be days apart. Therefore, please ensure you bring any spare parts that you may require (especially specialist parts). In order to reach our destination it is necessary for us to travel via various modes of transportation, including planes and trains. Please be aware that any extra costs involved with transporting personal bikes are your responsibility. This includes (but is not limited to) additional transport costs and customs/import fees. TRANSPORTING YOUR BIKE TO/FROM THE DESTINATION Your preferred airline should have no problem carrying your bike, but many will charge an extra fee. Contact them before departing to discuss their arrangements for transporting bikes. A well-padded bike box obtainable from a bike shop is usually the best method of plane transportation. We recommend that you accompany your bicycle on the flight. Unaccompanied bicycles have been known to spend some extra days in the hands of customs authorities. Please also note that many taxis are not large enough to transport a bike box/bag so you may be delayed waiting for a suitably sized vehicle. BIKE SECURITY: All personal and hired bikes are stored in our support vehicle overnight, it is not necessary to bring a lock. We recommend bringing your own lock if you bring your own bike and wish to ride outside of leader accompanied rides. It is not possible to use our hired bikes outside of the included leader accompanied rides. DECLARING YOUR BIKE: On arrival in Vietnam you shouldn't need to declare your bicycle. If asked you will need to explain to the authorities that your bike is used, and that you will be taking it with you when you leave. OVERNIGHT TRAIN FROM NINH BINH: If you bring your own bike, it will travel in the freight compartment for the overnight train journey which may take few days to arrive. Alternatively, you can pay for oversize luggage fee to conductor to keep your bike in your cabin, price is approx. 50 USD. OVERNIGHT SLEEPER TRAINS IN VIETNAM: Compartments will be 4 berth to 6 berth depending on seasonal variations and the group configuration. We aim to secure 4 berth compartments where possible. 6 berth compartments have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Passengers of different genders may be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. On occasion the group may be split between several carriages, however your leader will coordinate and give further information on the trip.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis. Please note single supplement excludes: Day 3 - Homestay Mai Chau Day 5 - Overnight train

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Accommodation

Hotel (12 nights),homestay (1 night),overnight sleeper train (1 night)

Map

Itinerary

Day 1Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure officially begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm tonight. You can arrive at any time during the day, as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you are bringing your own bicycle with you on the trip, you need to assemble it to check for any damage in transit before the welcome meeting. If you have arranged for the hire of a bicycle, your leader will assist you in preparing the bike before your first cycling activity. If you arrive with some time to spare then work your legs with a walk around Hanoi’s charming shaded boulevards and a squat on a short street-corner stools for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) in the Old Quarter. Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We are happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception or your travel agent in advance. Riding distance: none
Day 2Hanoi
This morning you’ll get the chance to explore the Vietnamese capital by bike on a guided ride through the city (approx. 22kms). 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 such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, which includes the Buddhist temple One Pillar Pagoda and the former residence of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. 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. You’ll have some free time this afternoon. Perhaps take a walk around the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, with the reflection of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface, or maybe dive into culture at the Vietnam Fine Art Museum or The Vietnamese Women’s Museum. Top off the day with a steaming bowl of fresh Pho from a hole-the-wall eatery – the street food in Hanoi is not to be missed! Riding distance: approx. 22kms/14 miles, mostly flat with approx. 40m/130ft of elevation gain.
Day 3Mai Chau
Saddle up this morning as your cycling adventure kicks into first gear. Leave Hanoi behind and travel by bus to Hoa Binh (approximately 2 hours). When you arrive you’ll jump on your bike and cycle 38 kilometres 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 30-minute 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 (approximately 19 kilometres). 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. Riding distances: Ride 1 - approx. 38kms/24 miles, uphill with approx. 330m/1080ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - approx. 19kms/12 miles, mostly downhill with approx. 80m/260ft of elevation gain.
Day 4Ninh Binh
This morning you farewell your homestay hosts and cycle from Mai Chau to Mai Hai, and then on to Co Luong (approx 50kms). 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. Riding distances Ride 1 - approx. 49kms/30 miles, mostly downhill with approx. 195m/640ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - approx. 36kms/22 miles, mostly flat with approx. 50m/165ft of elevation gain.
Day 5Ninh Binh - Overnight train
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. Today’s cycling is approximately 50 kilometres. 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. Notes: On the overnight train to Hue (approximately 12 hours) conditions are basic, but it is a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances like a local. Sleeper trains typically have four berth compartments (occasionally six berth depending on seasonal variations and group configuration), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure. Riding distance: approx. 52kms/32 miles, undulating with approx. 195m/640ft of elevation gain.
Day 6Hue
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 (approximately 16 kilometres) 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. Riding distance: approx. 16kms/10 miles, flat with approx. 12m/40ft of elevation gain.
Day 7Hoi An
Today will be big on riding and big on spectacular views. Leaving Hue, you will do some mountainous riding (approximately 85 kilometres in total) 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 for about 20 kilometres (10 kilometres each way), with views across the Bay of Danang to the south. It is 500 metres 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. Riding distances: Ride 1 - approx. 56kms/35 miles, flat with approx. 55m/180ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - approx. 30kms/19 miles, significant uphill & downhill with approx. 576m/1890ft of elevation gain.
Day 8Hoi An
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
Day 9Quy Nhon
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 (approx. 45kms). 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. Riding distance: approx. 44kms/27 miles, undulating with approx. 255m/840ft of elevation gain.
Day 10Nha Trang
Today’s cycle is approximately 95 kilometres, but it 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, lagoons and sand dunes. 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. Riding distances: Ride 1 - approx. 75kms/47 miles – lightly undulating with approx. 165m/530ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - approx. 19kms/12 miles - lightly undulating with approx. 140m/460ft of elevation gain.
Day 11Nha Trang
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.
Day 12Dalat
Head up through the Bidoup-Nui Ba Pass into the cooler climes of the South Central Highlands (approximately 65 kilometres), 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. Riding distances: Ride 1 - approx. 57kms/35 miles, lightly undulating with approx. 160m/530ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - approx. 15kms/9 miles, lightly undulating with approx. 110m/360ft of elevation gain.
Day 13Phan Thiet
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. Riding distances: Ride 1 - approx. 22kms/14 miles, mostly downhill with approx. 85m/280ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - approx. 45kms/ 28 miles, mostly downhill with approx. 30m/100ft of elevation gain.
Day 14Ho Chi Minh City
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 (approximately 55 kilometres) 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. Riding distance: approx. 56kms/35 miles, approx. mostly flat with hill at the end, approx. 125m/410ft of elevation gain
Day 15Ho Chi Minh City
Your Cycle Vietnam adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you are sticking around then there are plenty of things to see and do in and around Ho Chi Minh City. Riding distance: none

Trip title

Cycle Vietnam

Trip code

TVXB

Validity

Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019

Introduction

More than 30 million Vietnamese can't be wrong - handle-bar height gives you the best view of Vietnam! Our cycling tour through this mesmerising country provides opportunities to meet the locals and experience their culture in a way that wouldn't otherwise be possible. So come with us and get active as we travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, down country lanes and over spectacular mountain passes. And, of course, all the exercise gives you the perfect excuse to indulge in delicious Vietnamese cuisine.

Style

Original

Themes

Active Adventures,Cycling

Transport

Bicycle (e-bike option),Support vehicle,Boat,Overnight sleeper train,Taxi

Physical Rating

3

Physical preparation

This is an active trip, requiring a reasonable level of physical fitness. While there is flexibility in the distance you can elect to cycle each day, the cycling on this trip can be challenging at times, with the heat and terrain adding to the physical effort. It is also important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. As a general rule, the more preparation you can do for this type of trip, the more you will enjoy it. Prepare for the trip by doing aerobic type exercises before travelling - jogging or swimming are some options, though cycling is best. If possible take some extended day rides before travelling, or spend time on exercise bikes in the gym. The more your muscles (and bottom) are prepared for the riding on this trip the more you will be able to enjoy the wonderful countryside and people you meet while riding. Note that an enthusiasm for bike riding and adventure is essential! CYCLING DISTANCES: The information listed in the itinerary is a guide to the approximate distances and terrain cycled each day. However, this may vary depending on the physical capabilities of the group, and changes to local conditions. For safety reasons we only cycle during daylight hours, so there may be some early morning starts. We take regular rest breaks throughout cycling days.

Joining point

Thang Long Espana Hotel

Finish point

Hoang Ngan Hotel

Important information

1. A single supplement is available on this trip with exception of Day 3 (Homestay) and Day 5 (Overnight Train). 2. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitable sized bike. 3. Bike helmets & closed toed shoes are compulsory on this trip. We are unable to hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home. 4. In 2019 we are proud to offer an e-bike option on this trip.

Group leader

All Intrepid cycling group trips are accompanied by one of our cycling leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Our cycling leaders are all passionate cyclists, as you’d expect, but they also go through some pretty rigorous cycle-trip specific training. Each one has undergone on-road training and supervision and knows how to do safety checks, basic repairs and emergency first-aid. And at the end of the day they’re still regular Intrepid leaders, which means they will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

Safety

We take safety seriously on all our trips, but cycling tours deserve a few special considerations. HELMETS: Helmets are compulsory and we do not allow anyone to ride without one (including our own staff!). You can bring your own, or purchase one that meets international safety standards on the ground. Your leader can assist with this. FOOTWEAR For safety reasons we strongly recommend that you wear shoes that cover the toes while riding. SUPPORT VEHICLES We usually have a support vehicle following us if first-aid is ever necessary or people are feeling too tired to ride. BIKES: Our bikes are serviced regularly, and we get them checked by experts before each and every trip. Should you choose to bring your own please note that while we are happy to assist where we can with repairs you are responsible for the safety and suitability of your own equipment. TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware! There are times when traffic conditions make sections of our planned riding route unsafe – in this instance we will use the support vehicle. WEATHER Due to inclement weather posing a serious health or safety issue there may be times when we use the support vehicle instead of doing the planned ride. We will endeavour to reroute if possible but at times may have to cancel the planned ride.

Visas

As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends. Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. VIETNAM VISA: Most nationalities are required to obtain tourist visa in advance to travel to Vietnam. When obtaining your visa you should allow 3 weeks for processing with your nearest embassy or consulate, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Please check with your embassy or consulate for further requirements. Some nationalities are exempt from visas for a stay of a maximum of 15 days, including British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes). This exemption period is currently effective until 30 June 2021, and is based upon meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. If you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance (please contact your relevant Consulate or Embassy). Please also check requirements if you plan to re-enter Vietnam. An eVisa is available for some nationalities including passport holders from Australia (from 2018), France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America, valid for a single entry of a maximum of 30 days stay in Vietnam. For information on obtaining an eVisa visit the immigration website: https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/ Evisas take up to 3 days to be processed. You will need a clear electronic copy of your passport data page and passport photo, and to make a non-refundable payment as outlined on the immigration website. Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure. If your visa application asks for a point of contact, please write: Intrepid Vietnam 5th floor HiPT Building, 152 Thuy Khue Street, Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Ph +84 4 3715 0996. Most nationalities do not require a letter of invitation for Vietnam but if you do need one, please contact your sales agent for more information.

Why we love it

If you love to cycle, to feel the wind in your (helmet-covered) hair and a tropical breeze on your face then this speedy but comprehensive 15 day adventure is for you

Is this trip right for you

To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. This trip covers quite some distance – you’ll be cycling for up to 70 kilometres a day on varied terrain, so this trip is for the reasonably fit. There’s the possibility of a few hiccups along the way – a puncture here and there maybe – but there’s no doubt this is an incredibly rewarding adventure You'll be spending one night in a homestay and another on an overnight sleeper train. While the accommodation is shared and basic, this is a great opportunity to interact with the locals, and get a real sense of Vietnamese daily life. If you’re confident in your cycling ability, then those that want an even longer cycling adventure should opt for ‘TVXCC - Cycle South East Asia’, which includes everything that's on the itinerary of this trip, plus the itinerary of ‘TTXC- Cycle Indochina’. The weather in this region can be varied. Be prepared to get sweaty and for the occasional rainstorm, which may require a change of plans. If you feel like doing all the riding but with less effort we have the option of hiring an electric bike (e-bike) on this trip.

Health

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared. DENGUE FEVER: Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing and always using repellent. Please note that this mosquito is most active during daylight hours however care should be taken at all times. CYCLING HEALTH Riding across unfamiliar terrain in weather conditions that you are not used to can potentially lead to cycling-related health issues. By far the most common issue is that of dehydration. While this is most common on warm/hot days, it is also a factor during cold weather as you continue to sweat. Research shows most riders will typically lose 500-1000 ml of water per hour. While we schedule in frequent rest stops and encourage you to refill water bottles at every opportunity, it is the responsibility of each cyclist to monitor their own levels of hydration while cycling. The key point to remember is not to wait until you’re thirsty but to drink small amounts regularly from the start of your ride. Adding an electrolyte solution can aid in replenishing the salts/electrolytes lost through physical activity. This is especially important on days when you are drinking a lot of the bike.

Food and dietary requirements

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

Money matters

SPENDING MONEY: When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). Budget for meals not included: USD 250 - this amount includes the optional Snack Kitty. SNACK KITTY: During the group meeting, your trip leader will ask you if you would like to contribute to the snack kitty. This is usually $40USD per person, less if you have a large group of 10 people or more. The snack kitty is spent on water, fruits, the local-made lemonade juice, energy top-up snacks, coffee stops, bathroom stops. It is not a compulsory kitty, although will make the purchasing of snacks easier and more convenient for you. The left over funds will be returned at trip end. You can find out more information from your leader upon arrival. VIETNAM: The official currency of Vietnam is Dong (VND). US dollars are also accepted for some payments. It is almost impossible to change VND into US dollars without a flight ticket showing your onward destination. Only change money at official money exchange counters with a clear sign showing this status. Illegal exchange places like gold shops may offer a higher rate you may risk losing your money. Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, but outside main centres you may find cash the only acceptable currency. It may be difficult to cash travellers’ cheques. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas. You can have funds transferred to Vietnam via international money transfer companies like Western Union or Moneygram. EMERGENCY FUNDS: We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved. TIPPING If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Carrying small notes of local currency will make tipping easier. It is best to avoid tipping with with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes, as this can be regarded as an insult. Optional Tipping Kitty: On Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips for drivers, local guides, and hotel staff (excludes restaurant tips). The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can be checked at any time, and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader Optional tipping kitty for this trip: USD 57 per person (can be paid in VND). Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. Commissions: Unfortunately, commissions in exchange for recommending particular shops or restaurants are an ingrained part of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye though, we’ve tried to legitimise the practise with a centralised fund. Moneys are collected from recommended and fully vetted suppliers and funnelled back into our business. This keeps the trip cost low (for us and for you) and makes sure you only get the best experiences. If you’re unhappy with any places your leader recommends, or feel the quality of the trip is being compromised in any way, please let us know in your feedback. VIETNAM: You can use your credit/debit card in ATMs, which are common throughout Vietnam. These machines dispense cash in VND (Vietnamese dong). Credit/debit cards aren’t accepted for small payments in Vietnam so please ensure you have VND cash to cover daily expenses. Clean banknotes in small denominations are most useful. There is no need to bring lots of cash with you unless you prefer not to use ATMs. You can obtain VND cash prior to arriving in Vietnam, through normal outlets such as banks and currency exchange offices. 

What to take

Packing for a cycling tour isn’t that different from any other adventure. But if you want to be comfortable and warm, here are a few bike-specific tips. • Helmet – these are compulsory, but if you don’t have your own you can sometimes purchase an approved and well-fitted one at the start of the trip (our leaders can assist you with this). There are some destinations where you are unable to purchase or hire appropriate helmets locally so you will need to bring your own - please check the 'Important Notes' section to see if this is the case. • Padded bike shorts • Quick-dry jerseys – you can definitely get away with a few cotton t-shirts but having a few light and breathable jerseys will make your cycling a lot more comfortable, especially in warmer/humid climates. • Quick-dry socks • Cycling gloves – not essential but recommended as padded cycle gloves will make your riding more comfortable and can help protect you in case of a fall. • Rain gear – pack a light poncho in case the weather turns when you’re out on the road • Light breathable waterproof/windproof – especially useful for those early mornings or downhill sections when the wind-chill becomes a factor. • Water bottle – we don't provide bottles but all our bikes have one bottle holder fitted (and a second one can be fitted if required). Please bring a cycling-specific water bottle as other types will fall out of the holders. A Camelbak will make drinking on-the-go easier. • Sunglasses – well fitted sports sunglasses help protect against dust, insects and (of course) the sun • Day pack – our support vehicle will carry your main bag, but a day pack for snacks and clothes is a good idea. • Suncream – please bring a high protection factor (e.g. SPF 50) sunscreen as long days in the saddle can really expose you to the sun • Shoes – normal sports shoes can be worn on all of our trips however you may want to consider a flat shoe with a relatively stiff sole as it makes pedalling a lot more efficient. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own cycling-specific shoes however we recommended 'mountain bike' style shoes that have grip on the sole rather than road bike' shoes as you will still be walking around while on the rides (cafe/photo/toilet stops, etc.). For safety reasons we require that you wear shoes that completely cover the toes while riding. • Saddles – are saddles are standard, unisex models –less experienced cyclists may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring your own saddle – our leader will assist in fitting it to your bike • Pedals – all bikes come with flat pedals. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own pedals – our leader will assist in fitting them to your bike As space in our support vehicle/transport can be limited we request that you bring only a small luggage bag with you rather than larger bags or suitcases.

Climate and seasonal

TET (20-24 January 2020, 11-16 February 2021): Tet is Vietnam’s New Year festival which takes place in late January/early February based on the lunar calendar and is the most important celebration of the year. While this can be a fascinating time to be in Vietnam, you do need to be prepared for some businesses to be closed, tourist sites to be very busy and for transport to be packed as many Vietnamese are travelling around the country. Although we do our best to run trips during Tet as per the scheduled itinerary, it is likely that there will be some changes to transport, accommodation or order of destinations visited. Due to the high demand on tickets at this time, flights and overnight trains may on occasion need to be replaced with day buses. We will aim to communicate any known changes prior to your departure. WET SEASON: During the rainy months (approx. June to October), our mode of transport can be changed at short notice due to weather conditions.

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information. While we do accept children under 18 on this trip we do have a couple of rules. From a safety and enjoyment perspective they should be confident and competent cyclists capable of completing the riding part of the itinerary without additional assistance. Minors under 18 years old must always be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. This includes when the minor rides in the support vehicle.

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

Emergency contact

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Cambodia's Office can be reached on Tel: +855 92 555 969 and Vietnam Office can be reached on Tel: +84 903 117 770. For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist. For further contact details please use the following page: Intrepid's Vietnam Office: +84 903 117 77

Responsible travel

As part of our commitment to responsible travel a portion of your trip cost will be donated to Bicycles for Humanity – a not-for-profit, volunteer run, grass roots charity organisation focused on the alleviation of poverty through sustainable transport – in the form of a bicycle. In the developing world a bicycle is life changing, allowing access to health care, education, economic opportunity and wider community. A bicycle means you can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load, providing a profound and lasting positive effect for the individual as well as their community. Bicycles For Humanity collect donated (used or new) bicycles, repair them if needed and send them to Africa. Along with donated bicycles each of the 40 ft shipping containers that Bicycles For Humanity sends becomes a bike workshop, providing employment, skills, training, business, opportunity and economic development for the community in which it's placed, helping the community to move away from aid dependence. For more information see http://www.bicyclesforhumanity.com/ We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/ Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Vietnam include: * Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation rescues kids in crisis throughout Vietnam. https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/blue-dragon-childrens-foundation * KOTO is a restaurant and vocational training program that is changing the lives of rural and underprivileged youth in Vietnam. https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/koto For more information, or to make a donation please visit: https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/page/projects Intrepid and Bicycles For Humanity At Intrepid, we know a bike can changes lives. Provide a person in the developing world with a bike and it means they can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load. The extra mobility and distance gained from using a bike can make all the difference when seeking medicine or trying to find work. This is why we’ve partnered with Bicycles for Humanity to help provide bikes to communities in Namibia, Africa. Bicycles for Humanity takes bikes we no longer use, repairs them, packs them up and ships them off to the African continent in 40-foot containers. These containers then become bike workshops on arrival – a place of employment, education and business for the communities who receive them. Each of these Bicycle Empowerment Centres are self-sustaining, micro-financed small businesses and a massive step towards financial independence for the community. We also help by donating a portion of each booking of our cycling trips directly to Bicycles for Humanity, as well as using our network of contacts to bring greater exposure to the amazing work the volunteer team do every day at Bicycles for Humanity. We are also proud to have Bicycles for Humanity as a partner of The Intrepid Foundation, where our financial support will go directly towards purchasing containers and shipping bikes to Namibia. Every donation to The Intrepid Foundation from our travellers is matched by us dollar for dollar. To find out more or to make a donation, visit The Intrepid Foundation website.

Accommodation notes

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on our different trips than your own. CHECK-IN TIME Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination. PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights. WINDOWLESS ROOMS: Some hotels in Vietnam have windowless rooms, or windows that don't necessarily have a view. This is often due to high population density in large cities, however local building standards also don't require rooms to have windows. We do request rooms with windows, however please be aware that they may not always be available or allocated to our groups.

Transport notes

While there are occasions we use local public transport such as trains, buses or taxis to cover long distances or attend non-cycling activities we predominantly use the bicycle as our main form of transport. On most of our trips we also have a support vehicle as secondary transport for travelling longer distances, avoiding hazardous areas to cycle, as a backup should we have any incidents and of course an option for those that would prefer not to cycle for an hour or a day. These vehicles range from a minivan in most regions up to a full sized coach or overland vehicle in others. Your main luggage is transported in the support vehicle OUR BIKES We use Giant Rincon Disc bikes on this trip. These bikes are mountain bike-style with flat bars, front suspension and 24 gears. For more specific information please see http://www.worldbike.co.th/index.php/bikes/giant2016/giant-2016/300-giant-off-road-2016/1275-2016-rincon-disc This trip includes an option of a motorised bicycle (e-bike) at an additional cost. Please inquire at time of booking. RENTAL E-BIKES Our Vietnam rental e-bikes are the Giant Explore-e+, available in the following sizes: Small & Medium – please provide your height at time of booking so that we can reserve the correct size. These bikes have flat bars, front suspension and 9 gears. Please note the maximum speed for the ‘electronic assist’ is 25kph/15mph – once you reach that speed the motor assistance cuts out (although you can still go faster if your legs can do it!) BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE While we’re confident in the quality and suitability of the bikes we include, we do recognise that sometimes you just need the comfort of your own bike to enjoy the ride. If you are thinking of bringing your own bike on this tour please advise us at time of booking and take note of the below information. If you do choose to bring your own bike please note that we will not being carrying a spare bike for you. SUITABLE TYPE OF BIKE Although the surfaces of the roads we travel on is generally good there are occasionally gravel or potholed sections of road/track. As such, we recommend a 'mountain' or 'hybrid' style bike with plenty of gear selections for easy cruising. Please note that we usually cannot accept tandem bikes on our tours as often they are too large for our transport. In some destinations we are able to make an exception. Please ask your booking agent. For more details on the type of roads we’ll be riding on see the ‘Physical Rating’ information. Please contact your booking agent if you have any questions about the suitability of your bike. BEFORE THE TRIP We recommend that you have a full service of your bike performed by a trained mechanic, to help minimise any issues you may have during the trip itself. Please also ensure that you have specific and adequate cover for loss, damage or theft for your bike under your travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy. DURING THE TRIP Your bike will be transported in the same way as our included bikes, usually in the bike support vehicle or on the bike trailer. While we endeavour to take the best care we can, you should recognise that transported bikes do get the occasional bump or scratch along the way. The same applies when we take other forms of transport, such as a train, where we are unable to pack the bikes ourselves.Your bike will also be secured in the same way as our included bikes. Please note this can occasionally be outside (where the bikes are locked together). While our mechanics can usually assist with minor repairs, you are responsible for the safety and upkeep of your own bicycle. This includes conducting regular safety checks of your bike during the trip and cleaning your bike. In addition, any parts that require replacing are your responsibility. Most destinations have access to only limited spares along the way, and access to bike shops can be days apart. Therefore, please ensure you bring any spare parts that you may require (especially specialist parts). In order to reach our destination it is necessary for us to travel via various modes of transportation, including planes and trains. Please be aware that any extra costs involved with transporting personal bikes are your responsibility. This includes (but is not limited to) additional transport costs and customs/import fees. TRANSPORTING YOUR BIKE TO/FROM THE DESTINATION Your preferred airline should have no problem carrying your bike, but many will charge an extra fee. Contact them before departing to discuss their arrangements for transporting bikes. A well-padded bike box obtainable from a bike shop is usually the best method of plane transportation. We recommend that you accompany your bicycle on the flight. Unaccompanied bicycles have been known to spend some extra days in the hands of customs authorities. Please also note that many taxis are not large enough to transport a bike box/bag so you may be delayed waiting for a suitably sized vehicle. BIKE SECURITY: All personal and hired bikes are stored in our support vehicle overnight, it is not necessary to bring a lock. We recommend bringing your own lock if you bring your own bike and wish to ride outside of leader accompanied rides. It is not possible to use our hired bikes outside of the included leader accompanied rides. DECLARING YOUR BIKE: On arrival in Vietnam you shouldn't need to declare your bicycle. If asked you will need to explain to the authorities that your bike is used, and that you will be taking it with you when you leave. OVERNIGHT TRAIN FROM NINH BINH: If you bring your own bike, it will travel in the freight compartment for the overnight train journey which may take few days to arrive. Alternatively, you can pay for oversize luggage fee to conductor to keep your bike in your cabin, price is approx. 50 USD. OVERNIGHT SLEEPER TRAINS IN VIETNAM: Compartments will be 4 berth to 6 berth depending on seasonal variations and the group configuration. We aim to secure 4 berth compartments where possible. 6 berth compartments have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Passengers of different genders may be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. On occasion the group may be split between several carriages, however your leader will coordinate and give further information on the trip.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis. Please note single supplement excludes: Day 3 - Homestay Mai Chau Day 5 - Overnight train

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Accommodation

Hotel (12 nights),homestay (1 night),overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Time until next start
01
days
00
hours
:
26
min
:
11
sec

Prices from

€1,635

Duration

15 days
2019

Sat, Sep 21

Sat, Oct 05

€1,735

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Your fellow travellers
Itinerary disclaimer
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