Cycling the south of Vietnam

by tkos on March 16, 2013

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Cycling through Vietnam is pure bliss on so many levels. The food is incredible (especially coming from Cambodia!), the Mekong Delta is flat and beautifully scenic and the coast up to Nha Trang is as good a place as any in SE Asia to relax in a hammock, swinging in a gentle breeze under a coconut tree listening to the the waves. Ah, Vietnam, what is not to love!

Vietnam is a busy place and the novelty of a cycle tourer does not have the same effect on the Vietnamese as it does in Cambodia or Laos. Saying that though, the people are friendly and we found them to be reasonably honest most of the time, especially in the smaller places.

The roads were always in good condition, if not a little busy, but there is no reason you should be cycling over gravel unless you really search to get off the beaten track deliberately.

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What we loved the most:

  • Floating market in Can Tho. An absolute must do to see this side of life. Much more beautiful than Venice without the smell and at a fraction of the price!
  • $15 guesthouse on the beach in Mui Ne that served espresso . Cheapest beach front property by far. Look for the sign that says ‘Bon Cafe’.
  • Celebrating Tet with a Vietnamese family. Tet is the Chinese New Year and we were lucky enough to catch up with a good friend of mine and spend this precious time with her and her wonderful family. It truly was a fantastic insight into Vietnamese culture, food and family and we were honoured to be guests!
  • Cycling the Mekong Delta. Beautiful flat roads with amazing scenery.
  • Spring rolls and noodle salads! The food is awesome in Vietnam. Deep fried food that is made to taste and feel incredibly light and healthy. Must be all those leaves tat go with it!

What was like grit in the chain:

  • Getting our iPhone snatched out of our hands in Ho Chi Minh City. Enough said!
  • The coast road is not as close the coast as you might think. The beaches from HCMC up to Nha Trang are few and far between if a swim is what you are looking for. The beach in Mui Ne is nice enough, although with a lot of rubbish in parts, but access is restricted to the beach front properties only. So unless you are splashing out, you’ll have to confidently walk passed the security as if you own the place to get to the beach!
  • Highway cycling is a little crazy and trucks don’t really give you a lot of space, if they even see you at all! You can never be too careful on these roads and there is no shame in hitting the gravel every time you hear a truck or a bus behind you.

Top tips:

  • Watch your belongings! We heard horror stories of hands being chopped off for mobile phones, particularly iPhones. Also heard that bicycle theft is prevalent in HCMC so it might not be enough just to keep it locked, make sure it is locked to something if not in your room.

What’s it worth:

  • Vietnam works on the Dong. It is about 20,000 dong to the US dollar. So a room in a guesthouse with air conditioning and wifi will set you back about 200,000 while a fan room will be about 150,000. Food on the street is about 40,000 for a plate with meat and rice, soup is 20-25,000, baguettes are 10,000 and a large bottle of water can be anything from 6,000-15,000 depending on brand and where you are.
TownKM'sNightsWhere we slept
Rach Gia 891Hotel
Vi Thanh621Hotel
Can Tho482Hotel
Tra Vinh811Hotel
My Tho621Hotel
Ho Chi Minh City 751Hotel
Thuan An266Friends
Long Hai1132Hotel
Ho Coc 481Hotel
La Gi381Hotel
Phan Thiet 721Hotel
Mui Ne205Hotel
Phan Ri Cua 561Hotel
Ca Na721Hotel
Phan Rang Thap Chan652Hotel
Cam Ranh 471Couch Surf
Nha Trang5610Apartment
Ea Knop 1171Hotel
plei Lop1211Hotel
Kon Tum1121Hotel
Border871Wild Camp

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