Travel Blogs

Bicycling the Mekong-off the beaten path

We finished our tour with a 4 hour boat trip up the Mekong from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh. Sitting in the back of the boat with the breeze in my face, gazing out at life along the muddy river gave me time to reflect on what a diverse and beautiful world this is. Next stop, Phnom Penh.
I could go on, but you get the idea and the pictures speak for themselves. Honestly, if you  have ever thought about doing a trip like this do it now. It is accessible to anyone remotely fit. Van has a support van that hovers nearby along the route so tired bicyclists can choose to be driven to the next rendezvous (Maddie took advantage of this option a few times). We rode as a family about 50 Km a day but you could do more or less, depending on your interest and stamina - Andy got in some extra miles with Van (next years ironman training never far from his mind).

Saturday, December 18, 2010 Bicycling the Mekong-off the beaten path - Hamilton family

Biking from Saigon to Hanoi with Vietnam backroads 2012

The beauty of traveling with Van, our guide, is that we can ask him any question whatsoever. When we stop for lunch, he goes into a small rural restaurant and immediately orders for us and we have the most exquisite, amazing food  I could ever imagine. There is four times the amount we can eat. We had, for instance, morning glory soup. Morning glories invade my garden at home and I constantly try to evict them. Now I know how awesome the soup is.

How to do a tour with Vietnam Backroads
If you would like to travel with Van, he can take you for one or two or 15 days in Vietnam. Laos or Cambodia.  He will kill you on the cycling if you request it, or he will do a low-paced trip where  he allows you to stop anywhere for photos or food or whatever you want, even homestays. Don and I may be medium hardcore in his cycling realm, but he says he has all kinds of people, including some clients who do not wish to put in more than 20 or 30 k a day and like to mingle in the markets and villages. For sure Van stops us and pulls us into Buddhist weddings, households where rice paper is made, where rice is hulled, where round woven boats are made, into a Buddhist funeral where we meet the family and pay respects, into a cashew hulling factory where 200 Vietnamese girls are working, or quickly into a roadside room where people are hulling rice. He translates everything and interrupts to make sure we are comprehending whatever it is we are seeing along the road.  At one point we cause a traffic jam of 75 people where we stop to refresh ourselves on oranges and observe a local fish market perched at the intersection of two obscure roadways. Everyone is gawking at us. Don and I realize that we have not seen a Westerner for three days. I cannot recommend this experience enough. We still have six more days in Vietnam and I am sure we are not finished with new adventures.

Today we rode right up to the door of our hotel in Hoi An, a picturesque  historical city. We will be here for two days, and do a bike excursion tomorrow. Can't wait to get up for breakfast, which will be amazing with noodle soup and many other surprises.

Cycling from HCM to Phnom Penh  Deena & Jordan 2012

There were also exhibits of the works of war photographers who died covering the war, and the more gruesome effects of chemical warfare. It was heavy. The museum is there to promote peace and clearly illustrate that no matter who wins, war is horrible for all involved.
South of Ho Chi Minh is the Mekong River Delta, a huge stretch of fertile land and water where the mighty Mekong flows out into the sea. We wanted to do a multi-day bike trip at some point in SE Asia, and the Mekong Delta seemed like the perfect place. We were looking to leave from Ho Chi Minh and ride across the river delta to the Cambodian border. After a little searching, we found a stock four-day tour with Vietnam Backroads that could be customized to suit our needs. Even though we signed up for a group tour, it ended up being just the two of us and Van, our guide and the owner of the company.

WordHCMC is the current leader in Saigon’s expat magazine - Published on Saturday, 09 January 2010 11:59 Written by Freddie Quick

Pedaling the Mekong Delta with Van the Man - Written By Freddie Quick, 2009

The reports I had heard from friends about their adventures in the Mekong Delta were largely negative. They had all been dragged on similar whistlestop tours that included little fresh air, uninspiring boat rides and a tedious visit to a candy factory. So, when the chance to see The Delta in a more original and revealing fashion arose, I was raring to go.
The idea was to do the trip on a pushbike with cycling enthusiasts John and Van, the co-founders of Vietnam Countryside Explorer and now is Vietnam Backroads Bicycle Tours. They were to take me on a journey seen by few others. Forget the dodgy dust-bowl highways, tourists horded onto the next spot like ants or the visits to tired-looking rice processing mills. This, I was told, would be the real deal.

“We offer an alternative trip to the Mekong,” explained John on the morning of departure. “The area is so perfect for riding that we feel there is a need to offer cyclists a unique route through The Delta.” “Most tours follow the same paths,” added Van. “With my knowledge of the region we can help travellers avoid the crowds and really appreciate the scenery.”

Cycling Mekong delta with Vietnam BackroadsTamar Granovsky , 2014

Why did the chicken cross the road? The real answer is – to get out of the way of motorbikes and bicycles. Apparently chickens do not care which side of the street they are on. They like to hang out wherever they feel like it  – even on the narrow concrete or dirt pathways all along the Mekong Delta. This is what I discovered after a few days of cycling these back routes with Vietnam Backroads.

Cycling Mekong Delta Vietnam by Rebecca O’Rourke

The Mekong Delta, in the south of Vietnam, is an incredible network of rivers, brooks and canals alongside lush green farmland and fruit orchards. For a flexible and active way to see the stunning landscape off the beaten track it is best to get on a bike! The winding, single-track trails running between the farmland provide a truly unique experience and are much better than sitting on a tour bus. Also, since there are no hills in the delta, it makes this option suitable for all levels of experience. We decided to tour with Vietnam Backroads for a three day trip and they provided a fantastic guide, high quality bikes and were exceptionally helpful in organising the best route for us!