Trip Challenge: A Bike Trip in Vietnam
I’ve biked my way through Europe and am ready for something more adventurous. Can you suggest an affordable, culturally rich itinerary in an up-and-coming destination? —Travis Schoenleber, Boston, Mass.
The Destination: For an experience that hits the right balance between value and culture, we recommend Vietnam, where you’ll have intimate access to local communities, markets, temples, and regional cuisine.
Outfitters: VBT Bicycling & Walking Vacations (11 nights from $2,695) has an easygoing 110-mile route that starts in Hanoi and winds through the ancient capital of Hué. Pedalers Pub & Grille (13 nights from $3,095) offers a moderate course (about 36 miles per day) through the striking landscape of Mai Châu; you’ll stop to sample delicacies along the way. If you have a larger budget and crave the creature comforts of luxury hotels, a trip from Backroads (eight nights from $5,398) covers Hanoi and Da Nang and crosses into Cambodia, while an itinerary from Butterfield & Robinson (eight nights from $6,795) includes cycling the farmland near Hoi An and dinner with royal descendants in Hué.
Packing Essentials: Biking gloves; a hat; sunglasses; bug repellent; low-cut walking or hiking shoes; a day pack.
- When to Go: Jan.–March, Nov.–Dec.
- Getting There: Most itineraries start in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Fly into Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) or Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN), respectively.
- Visa: Required.
- Vaccines/Medicine: Hepatitis A and B and typhoid, plus antimalarials in some rural destinations. Visit cdc.gov/travel for more.
Ideal for food and wine lovers, the Mendoza Bike Tour from DuVine Adventures (duvine.com; five nights from $4,395) meanders through the Malbec-producing vineyards of Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valley, in the Andean foothills.
This island nation is filled with idyllic landscapes, many of which are largely unexplored. Land of Contrasts from Butterfield & Robinson (seven nights from $10,495) follows dirt roads past thatched-roof houses and shrines that line the fishing villages in the Noto Peninsula. Soak in hot springs and visit centuries-old temples.
Thanks to recent political developments, tour operators are offering more itineraries. Backroads has a new Myanmar Biking trip (seven nights from $4,198) that sets off from Rangoon, passing by stilt-supported villages on Inle Lake, more than 2,000 temples and pagodas, and volcanic Mount Popa.
On VBT’s new Cycling Through the Old World (nine nights from $2,745), you’ll pedal country roads flanked by flowers, stopping to sip traditional mead in the village of Sandomierz and to shop at Kraków’s farmers’ market.
Access Trips (accesstrips.com; 11 nights from $2,790) is offering a mountain-biking adventure through Nepal in May 2013. Amid 20,000-foot-high peaks, you’ll explore unspoiled villages, terraced farms, and Buddhist temples.