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Vietnam tour

(Under construction.)

Cycling: October 21 - November 3 2007
Post-cycling: November 4-9, 2007

depart SEA

Click on thumbs below to see photos or videos. So far, I have posted photos only for Days 8, 10, and 11. The most spectacular photos are those from Day 10 (October 30), when big floods got on our way.

Sunday 21 October 2007

Arrived in Ho Chi Minh City at 9:50 (after an exhausting 20-hour trip Seattle-Taipei-HCMC). No time to rest. After introductions at 14:30, we drove (about 30 minutes) to the Phuong Nam resort where we tested our rental bikes, followed by a trip briefing and welcome dinner. Rainy afternoon but that didn't deter some to take a dip in the pool.

First day photos.

Saigon maps (Google Earth satellite photos).


Day 2: Saigon – LOC AN BEACH
Monday 22 October 2007

Cycling section: 60 km / 37 mi

We drove out of town for about 1 hour. We started cycling on a quiet road to Loc An Beach, passing rubber, cashew nut and black pepper plantations. We stayed on the Loc An resort, built on the banks of the Ray River. We used a hotel punt (long narrow flat-bottomed boat) to cross the river to the ocean beach.


Day 3: Loc An to MUI NE, (near PHAN THIET, pop. 169,000)
Tuesday 23 October 2007

101 km / 63 mi
(Loc An to La Gi: 55 km / 33 mi)

Quiet roads take us to the coastal desert reserve at Phuoc Buu. Lunch will be at La Gi. In the afternoon there will be more coastal riding as we cycle beside large sand dunes and plantations of the bizarre looking Dragon fruit. We drove through busy Phan Thiet to our overnight stay at the beachfront Doi Su resort .


Day 4: Mui Ne to DALAT (pop. 130,000)
Wednesday 24 October 2007

164 km/102.5miles
(Mui Ne to picnic lunch: 57 km / 35 miles)
(Mui Ne to start of climb 79 km / 49 miles)
(Mui Ne to Ta In 118 km / 74 miles)

After a short coastal ride we headed inland to some very scenic and isolated country. As we climbed to the Central Highlands we passed through the lands of the K’Ho ethnic minority. We had a picnic lunch in a K’Ho village with its thatched stilt houses. The road carried very little traffic until the junction with QL (hwy) 20 at Ta In; we drove this busy road, over Prenn Pass to Dalat.


Day 5: DALAT. Rest day
Thursday 25 October 2007

Dalat, at 1,475 meters above sea level, is a temperate region dotted with lakes and waterfalls and surrounded by evergreen forests. Once known as “Little Paris”, this used to be a French hill station. The surrounding hills provide South Vietnam with the more temperately grown flowers and fruit and vegetables such as strawberries, carrots and apples. In the morning we visited a silk embroidery village, the “Crazy House”, with its weird architecture, and the Art Deco summer palace built for former emperor Bao Dai in 1933. The afternoon was free for you to explore. Under heavy rain, I visited the market and walked around Xuan Huong Lake. I thought of taking the cable-car to the Zen Pagoda but the rain discouraged me. Surprisingly cold temperature.


Day 6: Dalat to BUON MA THOUT (pop187,000)
Friday 26 October 2007

199 km/ 124 miles
Cycling section: to Lien Son: 75 km / 47 miles

We drove out of Dalat to start cycling on a very attractive road through hills and broad valleys. We headed for Lien Son, the summer palace of the late Emperor, with its sweeping views of Ho Lak (lake) and the surrounding countryside. We also stopped at an ethnic village, with its long houses, and rode on working elephants over the waters of the lake.


Day 7: Buon Ma Thout to NHA TRANG (pop. 315,000)
Saturday 27 October 2007

184 km / 115 miles
Cycling section: 50 km / 37 miles

We started the day with a flat ride through the highlands and finish with a steep and scenic descent back down to the coast. We cycled through the mountainous areas and long houses of the Edeh and M’Nong people (the two main ethnic groups in the Central Highlands). We drove the last section on hwy 1 to Nha Trang, Vietnam's most famous seaside resort. Just before getting to the waterfront, we visited the Po Ngar Cham Towers, built by the Cham people to honor Yang Ino Po Ngar, mother of the kingdom. At night, we had a Vietnamese BBQ dinner with mini charcoal grills on our table -- arguably the best meal of our trip.

Day 8: NHA TRANG Rest day
Sunday 28 October 2007

Boat trip to the islands. We made a stop at the Oceanographic Institute and Tri Nguyen Aquarium, visited a fishing village, and were rowed ashore in Vietnamese round boats. On the boat again, with a stop where some went swimming and snorkeling. We then had lunch at bamboo restaurant on an offshore island. In the afternoon, some of us went to the football (soccer) stadium to watch a Vietnam - Thailand under-21 game.

At the Nha Trang football stadium, photos, October 28, 2007.

At the football stadium, October 28, 2007, Vietnam national anthem (YouTube video).
At the football stadium, October 28, 2007, before the game (YouTube video).
Nha Trang map (Google Earth satellite photo).


Day 9: Nha Trang to QUI NHON (pop. 260,000)
Monday 29 October 2007

241 km / 150 miles
(Nha Trang to Dai Lanh: 83 km / 52 miles)

We drove out of town before cycling along the coastal road to Dai Lanh for lunch by the beach. We had time for a swim before continuing to Tuy Hoa. The area around Tuy Hoa is the rice bowl of the province; we passed many rice fields, shrimp farms and coconut palms. We drove the final part to Qui Nhon. Huge storm during the night; heavy rain.

Day 10: Qui Nhon to QUANG NGAI (pop.108,000)
Tuesday 30 October 2007

178 km / 111 miles
(Cycling section: 60 km/ 38 miles)

Floods everywhere with over flown rivers and bridges under water. The support vans could not cross and had to take another route. We walked our bicycles through flooded bridges with waist-high waters. At some points, the current was so strong and the water so high that we had to rent boats from local people to get us and our bicycles to the other side. Cycled on a back road through several little villages and flooded fields. On reaching the hwy we drove to Quang Ngai, on the way passing the small town of Sa Huynh, a pleasant fishing backwater perched on a broad curve of palm fringed, golden sand. Speckled with blue fishing boats, sleepy Sa Huynh is a convenient and relaxing place to rest en route to points north.
Qui Nhon to Quang Ngai photos; cycling over water.
Qui Nhon to Quang Ngai photos; kids go to school, pigs go to market.
Qui Nhon to Quang Ngai map (Google Earth satellite photo).

Day 11: Quang Ngai to HOI AN (pop.76,000)
Wednesday 31 October 2007

118km / 74 miles
(Backroad section: 38 km / 24 miles)

We sampled a slice of rural Vietnamese life as we took a side road out of Quang Ngai. On the way we stopped at  My Lai, where we visited the massacre memorial site. We cycled through a fishing village and a lively local market. We then found flooded roads and bridges again. The route included twelve km of unsealed, muddy road. The day finished on a little road into the historic town of Hoi An, which was also flooded. Our hotel was surrounded by water so we had to take a boat to reach it. Then, another boat and motorcycle ride to get to our restaurant and back to our hotel.
My Lai Massacre Memorial, photos, October 31, 2007.
On the way to flooded Hoi An, photos, October 31, 2007.

Hoi An under water: boat trip to our hotel, October 31, 2007 (YouTube video).

Map of My Lai and Quang Ngai (Google Earth satellite photo).


Day 12: HOI AN. Rest Day
Thursday 1 November 2007

A day at leisure to explore this delightful town (dating back to 200BC) with its street side cafes, artists and markets. Explore the historic architecture of Japanese and French origin, take in the morning concert of traditional music or take a gentle ride (c.10km return) to fabulous Hoi An beach. There is much to see and do. (There are wonderful pastry shops in the old town)


Day 13: Hoi An to HUE: (pop.286,000)
Friday 2 November 2007

142 km / 89 miles
(Hoi An to Lang Co Beach: 75 km / 47 miles)

In the morning we visit a marble factory and view the exquisite workmanship. We will also visit China Beach where American servicemen went for their R&R during the Vietnam /American War. Leaving Danang we start cycling on a flat road by the beach before tacking Hai Van Pass. The road carries little traffic now that there is a tunnel – not open to cyclists. The views are outstanding and well worth the effort. (The support vehicle is there of course should you prefer to drive) After a fabulous descent we have lunch by Lang Co Beach, with the option of a swim, before driving the final section. This will allow time to see a little of historic Hue and the citadel. Dinner tonight is a wonderful and very memorable traditional “Royal Feast” where we will be entertained with traditional music.


Day 14: HUE & HANOI
Saturday 3 November 2007

Hue is steeped in 3,000 years of history and is a great place to explore by cycle. The city is built on the banks of the Perfume River. Early morning we will have time to briefly explore the Citadel by cycle. We return to the hotel to say our farewells before we transfer you to the airport for outbound flights, for those who are departing this morning.


Depart Hue flight VN244 at 1350, arrive Hanoi at 1500. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.


Day 15: HANOI
Sunday 4 November 2007

After breakfast there is a half day city tour to visit some of Hanoi’s historical sights: the beautiful Hoan Kiem lake, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Ho Chi Minh’s house, where he preferred to live simply. One Pillar Pagoda, a small but significant pagoda with a Buddhist representation of the world and the Temple of Literature, originally built in 1070. The afternoon is free to shop and explore Hanoi’s old quarter.


Monday 5 November 2007

Travel to Halong on the coast, a popular holiday resort for local people and also the departure point for your boat journey to Halong Bay World Heritage Park. Halong Bay is one of the most spectacular and romantic of all Vietnam’s natural wonders. From the emerald waters 3,000 islands rise steeply to create a dramatic seascape. Said to be the ‘dragon descends into the sea’. An overnight boat trip (with the option of sea-kayaking) through this magical land is included


Tuesday 6 November 2007

In the morning you will enjoy stops at various grottoes and caves. Lunch is served on board before returning to shore and our journey back to Hanoi. This evening you will enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Lodging: B,L, D Thien Thai Hotel, 45 Nguyen TroungTo Str; Ba Dinh District, Hanoi Phone: 84.4.7164 126 Fax: 84.4.7164 917 Email: thienthai@fptvn Facilities: Licensed restaurant, bar, lounge, laundry, hotel doctor Features: Central location, adjacent to the old town.


Day 18: HANOI
Wednesday 7 November 2007


Day 19: HANOI
Thursday 8 November 2007


Friday 9 November 2007


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