Outfitter: Intrepid Travel
Seeing Vietnam from the seat of bicycle may be the best way to experience the country's rich and varied landscape: rice paddies with water buffalos toiling away at the plough, emerald jungles alive with the ruckus of wildlife, long white beaches, and rural villages bustling with smiling, curious locals. "Given that cycling is one of Vietnam's main forms of transport, there is nothing better than experiencing the country the way the majority of locals do," says Megan Hassett, who biked more than 300 miles down the length of the country on an Intrepid Travel tour last year.
Lots of adventure outfitters offer Vietnam cycling trips, but Intrepid Travel has one of the most affordable full-country tours around. In the interest of saving its travelers money and helping out the local economy, Intrepid cuts costs by hiring local guides and transportation, and making use of simple, local accommodations and eating establishments.
Over the course of Intrepid's 15-day Cycle Vietnam trip, you'll venture from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City in the south, peddling up to six hours a day and using local trains and boats in some places. After doing some sightseeing in Hanoi, you'll hit the road and bike along back routes to Cuc Phuong National Park, where you'll visit a primate rescue center. Later, you'll tour the ancient sites of Hue, visit with minority hill tribes in the countryside, and go boating off the beaches of Nha Trang.
You should be in good shape for the trip. Rest days are scheduled and there will be plenty of time to sightsee, shop, and sample the local cuisine on your own.
The price includes a trip leader and local guides, breakfasts and some lunches and dinners, bicycle support, train and boat transportation, accommodations in guesthouses, and entrances to select museums and historic sites. You can bring your own bike or rent one for $150. Trips are scheduled September through May, avoiding the hot, humid, and rainy summer months. You can fly round-trip from the U.S. to Hanoi and make your way back to Hanoi on your own or arrange to arrive in Hanoi and depart from Ho Chi Minh City.