For Australian Cyclists travelling and touring OS
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I'm about to head over from Melbourne to Vietnam/Cambodia for 6 weeks with my girlfriend as a celebration for finishing university. We're both rowers and love bike riding - we'll need to keep active over there so I suggested a biking adventure!
My question is this: we want to see the region via bike, but want to get the best value for money and have a bit of an adventure along the way. We don't want to take our own road bikes with us - can you buy bikes and equipment in Saigon that would serve us for a cycling adventure?
Where is the best place to buy bikes in Saigon? Any pointers or advice?
I reckon we could do it for about 30 dollars a day if we do it ourselves.
Alternatively, would it be easier just to go with a tour? (I've found a list of tours online with prices for comparison. Cheapest is $100 a day for a 15 day tour).
I would be really grateful for any pointers - there is very little info available abour purchasing bicycles in Vietnam.
Thanks for the reply!
I guess I should be more specific - I am positive there are dozens of bike shops, but I am just not sure as to the suitability of bikes available there for a prolonged (2-3 week) tour. I'm also wondering about panniers and other bicycle equipment. It might be worth buying these in australia and taking them - but what if they don't fit? etc etc
I've searched through quite a few internet pages which suggest bringing your own bike, but some of those are a few years old and I'd really like to hear the opinion of someone who has been there.
Obviously I'll bring some of my own stuff, but it'd be great to get an idea of what's available.
Yes, Vietnam is a wonderful country for cycle touring .... definately achievable on $30 a day.
In Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) you can find a lot of bicycle shops on Vo Thi Sau street in District 3. I've never been inside ... but I think they're ok. And there is also one next to the New World Hotel on Le Thanh Ton Street which is frequented by a lot of foreigners, it sells imported bicycles ... many companies that manufacture bicycles are around Ho Chi Minh City.
I consider the local bicycles to not be the perfect machine for extended touring ... due to their excessive weight & inferior components. Brand names are better, but the buying & selling can be a pain in the r's.
Why not bring your on bicycles from home !!
Hi there, just a quick update for those heading to Vietnam. Plenty of bikes available for a nice slow ride through the countryside and cheap to hire (usually around $1 / day), but nothing I'd rely on for comfort or touring. I went into a few "shops" there recently and could only find the local mass produced brands with spares enough to fix breakdowns. No sign of panniers or other such luxuries, unless you count woven cane baskets hanging off the sides. My advice is to take a bike with you.
How did you get on with your plan? Did you take bikes or source some over there? I only just saw your question today, but I went to Vietnam at the end of 2007 for a month.
My mate and I took our own cycles, and were pretty glad of it, as the only other 'western' bikes we saw while in the country were those of other cycle tourists.
When we were leaving the country we were fortunate enough to find a some bike shops in Ho-Chi-Minh City that had empty cardboard bike boxes (required for aeroplane travel), but the original contents of the boxes didn't look appropriate for a big adventure.
Hope you had a good trip.
If you aren't going to bring your own bike, at least take your own saddle - one that you know won't give you saddle sores! Go for an imported product rather than a locally-made bicycle. They would tend to make them out of heavier steel rather than alloys. You never know, you might buy a bicycle you like so much for a good price that you will want to take it back home with you!
Well thanks to those who've posted here. In short, we had a fantastic time though I would strongly recommend taking your own bikes over or hiring bikes some how.
We bought bikes in Ho Chi Minh City (the Vietnamese pride, Asama brand!) but really they were pretty bad
Generally speaking, we had less of a cycling holiday and more of a 'train holiday' with bits of cycling. Any bike you take over there needs to be able to handle the appalling roads,
particularly the tyres/wheels which will definitely cop a severe battering.
Our plan was to ride a bit of the Lonely Planet's cycling SOuth East Asia (vietnam Highway 1) route backwards, starting in the southern hills around Da Lat and riding north up the coast.
We started our cycling adventure pretty badly - taking a wrong turn thanks to some terrible directions and instead of heading south east for an easy downhill day we went north east through
some new roads - the new highway between Da Lat and Nha Trang. OMGosh what a mistake - but one of our best day's cycling.
If you're interested in how things went, check out this link: Locky and Hil's travel blog - vietnam, laos, cambodia
Last edited by Lockyhs on Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
TIP: Buying bicyles
In Saigon it's pretty difficult to find anything of decent quality unless you really know where to look. Also prepare to be fleeced if you
betray any sign of being in a hurry (e.g. needing to leave tomorrow!). Western bicyles attract an extremely high import tax and are
consequentially VERY expensive so forget about buying a good new bike over there. The vietnamese ASAMA brand makes decent enough bicycles
but you would never put those tyres on a bike if you had any choice - the best tyres in Vietnam are still about as soft as melted butter.
I guess it keeps the street repairers in business because there are a lot of things to puncture your tyres with!
TIP: Best stretches of downhill in Vietnam
1. New highway from Da Lat to Nha Trang. THe first 45km is absolute rubbish - half covered in landslides and still not built (in Dec 2008). BUT once you get through the
highest point of the road, deep in the central highlands (where, incidentally, only a few westerners actually go - and half of them are on bike tours!) there is the most
spectacular stretch of heart-in-mouth downhill riding down to Nha Trang that I have ever seen. It would stretch for 30 km easily - though you'd certainly want good brakes
as one wrong corner and you'd need a parachute! Amazing.
2. Over Hai Van pass from Sa Pa in the northern mountains near China. It's a bit of a slog up hill from Sa Pa (though not as bad as coming up from the other way) but
once you cross over Vietnam's highest bit of road you are faced with the most spectacular bit of downhill hairpinned road (Second perhaps to the one above, but
totally different). The climate changes completely as you make the 35km descent - town through to the valley floor and the sleepy town of Tam Duong. Be warned -
Tam Duong and Lao Chai have actually moved because of a massive hyrdo electric project. Don't trust out of date lonely planet cycling book or you'll end up sorely
disappointed by Tam Duong (if you were expecting Lao Chai instead).
3. Not downhill but in fact UPHILL is the road from Lao Cai to Sa Pa. you can train overnight from Hanoi to Lao Cai (about 2km from China incidentally) and if you're
feeling energetic make the uphill slog to Sa Pa. Guaranteed way to work up an enormous appetite - and the locals will think you are crazy (absolutely bonkers).
Worst roads to cycle:
In my travels the words roads were:
1. The incomplete bit of road from Da Lat to Nha Trang. Most of it was buried underneath mud!
2. The road from Lai Chau down south to Dien Bien Phu. It's possible but you will need a real mountain bike
with some serious tyres, a LOT of time (don't plan to do this in a couple days) and be prepared to ride around
landslides and road works the whole way. Also LOOK OUT FOR THAT BUS!! The bus drivers are maniacs (we hit
and killed a cow and the guy didn't even slow down). It's about an 8 hour bus ride to give you an idea. However
the scenery as you drive south from Lai Chau is breathtaking. It's like something out of an anime. Lai Chaiu isn't much now that it's been moved (it's
pretty smokey and grey) - but there are some wonderfully warm folk here and if you're lucky you might score an invitation
to family dinner. Just don't expect your US dollars to work this close to China!
You are dead right - would be best to bring your own bike. Incidentally on the tourist trail in Laos it's much easier to find good bikes - you can hire them at reasonable rates.
Cambodia (also due to number of tourists and proximity to Thailand) has decent bikes as well.
Its fair fun when you have family living in Ho Chi minh
Ive been there twice and pretty much ALL the bikes are the same. It's probably not ideal to even ride in the cities/CBD's due to smog for anyone that is interested in the future
To cycling through Vietnam and Cambodia is great idea for exploration this area. it is a little difficult for the guys who is the first time cycling in southeast Asia. but after the few days you will be addicted on road. the main reason you should know is the traffic in Vietnam and Cambodia. as you can see on TV or any website about this region, motorbike are the most popular transportation for the local. event in Cambodia there are many cars and motorbikes no plate number. it mean you need to know about the local rule.
cycling by your self in this area are safe and there are no problem with local, all of them can speak English, specially school boys and girls. they are friendly and helpful.
you should take your bike and helmet from home because it is not easy to buy all of cycling equipment for your bike. all the bikes in this area are pushbike.
follow my suggestion of the itinerary as below you can find the idea for your trip.
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi
Day 2 Hanoi - night train to Hue
Day 3 Hue
Day 4 Hue - Hoi An
Day 5 Hoi An
Day 6 Hoi An â€“ Quang Ngai
Day 7 Quang Ngai â€“ Kon Tum
Day 8 Kon Tum - Pleiku
Day 9 Pleiku - Buon Me Thuot
Day 10 Buon Me Thuot - Dalat
Day 11 Dalat - Mui ne
Day 12 Mui Ne
Day 13 Mui Ne - Ho Chi Minh City
Day 14 Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) - Cu chi Tunnels
Day 15 Depart Ho Chi Minh
you can keep going by the route: Ho Chi Minh City to Tay Ninh town and Tay Ninh to Phnom Penh
or in Cambodia
Day1: Arrival Phnom Penh
Day2: Phnom Penh- City tours
Day3: Phnom Penh-Kep
Day4: Kep city
Day7: SihanoukVille-Boat trip
Day8: SihanoukVille-Phnom Penh
Day9: Phnom Penhâ€“Siem Reap
Day10: Siem Reapâ€“Angkor
Day11: Banteay Srey
Day12: Siem Reap-Tonle Sap
if anyone would like to share or ask me all about cycling in this area please feel free to contact me
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