Only a few years ago, cycling across Vietnam would have been a difficult task. Now it is merely challenging. We extensively research and design adventures that are not only great escapes on bicycle, but are unique and interesting, even exciting. Undoubtedly, Dordogne has sublime landscapes and tranquil riding, but can you imagine cycling along the bustling canals of the Mekong Delta past vibrant floating markets and waterfront villages tottering over the river, kayaking thorough caves into the hidden lakes on Halong Bay, mountain biking to Hmong villages on high ranges along the Chinese border of North Vietnam, rolling across the expansive, temple infested plain of Bagan, or rolling up to the gates of wondrous Ephesus along Turkey's Turquoise Coast
In 1993 VeloAsia was the first company to organize bicycle tours in Vietnam and we remain the most experienced (see team VeloAsia), with a proven record of quality, safety, and fun. Many delighted customers have joined us on our journeys, benefiting from our extensive in-country experience and excellent relationships we've developed over a decade in Vietnam.
We've also added activities like kayaking on Halong Bay — not to be missed if you join us in Vietnam. We are experts on the ground where we travel to the extent we have been important information resources, contributors, and co-authors of Vietnam guidebooks such as Fielding, Moon and Lonely Planet (how often do you get to say my guide wrote the book?). Our trips have been featured in National Public Radio, the New York Times, Escape Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, and many other newspapers. Our cycling tours are not subcontracted. We research new destinations on two wheels planning every detail, such as the best restaurants and interesting routes. Most importantly, we enjoy what we do and love showing the places we bike to.
Our search for adventure doesn't mean we ignore safety. Although we make no explicit claim for your protection and safety (biking is inherently a risky endeavor), VeloAsia can quickly arrange for emergency medical and air evacuation services (at additional charge) by SOS International — www.internationalsos.com — which operates a 24-hour emergency medical and air evacuation services in country. Our guides and drivers carry mobile phones with emergency contact numbers for SOS clinics as well as medical facilities along our route. No other tour operator offers these services. Our orientation includes a skills clinic and we provide you with daily route briefings and handouts that include phone numbers and maps as well as a description of potential hazards. Medical kits are located in our vans. Helmets are required on our tours.
You should carefully research any company you are considering traveling with, including VeloAsia, and espcially in Vietnam — a challenging place. We methodically organize every tour, research new routes, scour for food and hotels that we feel are the best, meet you at the airport, and even fix your flats on tour. We also limit the tour group size to a small number (usually eight) and you will be accompanied by a minimum staff of five, which ensures you have a high-degree of attention at all times. Likewise, our limited tour schedule keeps us from spreading ourselves too thin. Ask us for references, test our knowledge, see if our passion is real.
It's your vacation, escape — whatever you want to call it — we'll help plan your complete trip, before the tour, afterwards — all the details — meet you at the airport, help assemble your bike and ensure your time with us is enjoyable and stress free (mentally stress free that is). Tours are accompanied by a minimum of five support staff, two of whom are on bicycles. All tours are vehicle supported and are stocked with your luggage, food and beverages, tools and parts, and are always close by to take you aboard if need be. And when you arrive at the hotel, your bike is taken care of, washed down and prepped for the next day.
In Catfish and Mandela, Andrew Pham wrote: "the Vietnamese are a skinny people obsessed with food." You can expect abundant, freshly cooked meals, and a splendid and exotic variety of fruits and snacks, a sampling of regional specialties, exploration of food markets, and feasting on delicious seafood. We dine at the best restaurants in the countries we travel through. Air France's direct connection between Hanoi and Paris also means access to a wide variety of wines along the route. In Thailand and Vietnam, primarily Buddhist countries, Vegetarians are easily accommodated. Bottled water and other beverages are provided in coolers. Our most common complaint is not only had our travelers not lost the weight they had hoped, but had gained despite all the riding.
You will be pleasantly surprised by the level of accommodation available in Vietnam. When available, the hotels we stay in are the best around — clean with private baths, hot water, full beds and fresh bedding. For example, take a look at the view from the newly restored French-built Dalat Sofitel Palace, in our opinion one of the finest hotels in Asia. Here is a glimpse of one of their rooms. In Saigon we stay at a central hotel on the Saigon River - click here for a photo: Saigon Hotel. And although some hotels along the remote areas of our route cannot provide luxury accommodation, there will always be hot water, clean sheets and a quiet night's sleep.
Unless you've arranged a private trip with us, our scheduled tours are typically geared for any level of fitness. There are two support vehicles, and you are usually free to ride whenever and where you want, but to get maximum enjoyment, we recommend you be able to cycle at least 40 miles per day. Of course, if we arrange a private tour for you, then the itinerary would be at your specification. Turkey is our toughest tour, with only two rest days and averages about 60 miles a day when riding (with a lot of hills!). For the fit cyclist, there is also options for longer rides and for riding on rest days.
In general, calculated risks are part of both bicycle riding and traveling. But to reduce those risks, VeloAsia has compiled a comprehensive pre-trip preparation packet that includes an immunization schedules well as other medical and practical information. Additionally, a skills clinic the first day of the tour will include a discussion on road hazards and defensive riding that are particular to the country of your tour. Breakfast each day begins with a briefing on the day's route and a handout that includes maps and emergency procedures. We have a proven record of safety and it is always our first priority to operate safe and healthy tours. We use SOS International who provides emergency medical treatment and air evacuation services if needed.
At last inventory, each of our guides had over five year's experience in cycle touring and leading groups. They are adept at wading through bureaucratic quagmires and skilled at integrating you into the local culture. Some are even heroes. There is no one that knows the routes in Asia better or has more experience cycling them. Western guides are multilingual, trained in First Aid, CPR and bicycle repair, live or have lived in the country in which they guide, and love exploring as much as you do.
Our days are not spent in a hurried ride from point to point (although you are welcome to do that). In the places we travel, we believe the diversions along the route often outshine the destination. Local perspective is provided not only with chance encounters, but with guest lecturers who cover language, history, handicrafts, cooking, culture and arts. One day it's a lecture about a town we're visiting, the next there's a cooking lesson, others may be chance visits to a cooperative farm or vocational school. We also stay moving off the bike with city walking tours, snorkeling, swimming, and hiking. To help you prepare, an extensive pre-tour packet is mailed to you. Filled with practical, historical, and medical information, it is a valuable resource for enhancing the enjoyment of your tour. Click here to view diaries of tours past for added perspective.
Most of our travelers have never been on a group tour. At minimum, we cart your luggage, provide meals and a room and point the way leaving you to enjoy time in the saddle. Participating in any aspect of the tour (beyond gradual and forward progress) is optional. There is always free time for exploring on your own. If you really want to go solo, check out our custom tours.
I just wanted to let you know that I had a wonderful time biking through Vietnam. Sinh was an amazing guide. I was very apprehensive about a "guided tour" since I have always traveled independently and on a shoestring. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed having a guide. Now I don't think I would have felt that way about any guide. Sinh was just so much fun to be with! He is so knowledgeable and accommodating and easy going. He and the others with VeloAsia took very good care of our road bikes. We got to ride as much as we wanted, even in the pouring rain and mud (poor Sinh road with us). And I just had an amazing trip. I can't say enough great things about Sinh. You have an irreplaceable employee in my opinion. I'm sure you already know all this stuff but I thought I would give you the feedback anyways! Denise Kircher, Christmas in Dalat Tour (more comments)
We go where no bicycle tour has gone before! Others may go to the same country, but that's is the only thing in common. And we organize it in a way no other company would. Our tours are more of a journey. And our yearly schedule are constantly modified - no two tours are the same. New roads, sites, activities, and group desires dictate tour changes, making it new for you and us. Even if tourists are commonplace, cyclists are always a novelty.
Water bottles filled, luggage waiting in your room, a gentle push up a hill, fruits and sweets stocked in the van, flats fixed, quick lifts over a tough grade, haggle with a tough merchant. Our staff have do all these things and more.