Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Joined: 11 Nov 2008, 4:44pm
Location: Oldham


Postby delilah » 6 Dec 2018, 12:43pm

The Trip
From Hanoi airport north to Thai Nguyen then made our way east for a couple of days across to Halong for Halong Bay. A Unesco world heritage site although you’d never find it as there was no signposting!!!
Locals fascinated watching a puncture repair

Fish market Halong

Rode out along the coast and on to Tuan Chau island to catch ferry to Cat Ba Island. Ferry puts in at one end of the island and there’s a nice 17k ride to Cat Ba Town, stayed there 3 nights plenty to see and do.
On The Ferry to Cat Ba

Cat Ba National Park

Cruising Tam Coc

Hydrofoil to Haiphong, and on to Thai Binh, then Tam Coc for 3 nights plenty to do and some nice quiet riding. Bus to Hanoi

Good points
Very friendly people, safe country
Warm and perfect for riding
Cheap we never paid more than £14 for a double room anywhere except Hanoi where it was £24
Standard of accommodation plentiful and good providing towels and toiletries
Good, cheap food you will easily get away with £8-10 for an evening meal and a couple of beers
Bad points
Lots of traffic on their QL (B roads) but there’s nearly always a cycle type lane Noisy you can’t escape the sound of horns from buses lorries and mopeds. If you‘re not used to it, then it can be very scary.
Route finding difficult. Signs are almost none existent maps are useless I’m not a fan of digital maps but we used map. me for finding quieter roads and getting around. Finding your way out of any major town is difficult!
No bikes allowed on trains at least they refused us in Nam Dinh so check it out before travelling. No problem taking them on buses
(Someone asked about riding into and out of Hanoi and bike boxes if they pm me I’ll give you more details.)
In short it’s a fascinating country not for the beginner tourist and not really geared up for cycling touring. If it’s your first trip then I’d stick to Europe
I posted earlier in the year re problems travelling with a bike with Ryan Air and we were not spared problems with Qatar. They are allegedly a good airline for bikes but on departing from Hanoi with bikes in plastic bags there was a lot of arguing. We had arrived with our tyres full of air but on leaving with the bikes already packed they tried to get us to let the air out of the tyres. Round one to us
I leave my saddle bag on the bike. They tried to make me unpack it all and take it on separately. Round 2 to us
Next they would not accept bikes in plastic bags and made us pay for them to be wrapped in Cellophane. Round 3 to them
I had looked their policy for handling bikes before I went, there wasn’t one... I was told their policy was “Flexible” but that basically means they can do what they want as it is not written down anywhere.
Travelling by air with bikes becoming more and more difficult!

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Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: Vietnam

Postby simonhill » 6 Dec 2018, 2:52pm

Glad you enjoyed it, nice photos as well.

Re bikes on trains in Vn: it's no problem, but you book your bike in separately and it goes on a goods train. If you do it a day in advance then it's there when you arrive.

Re bikes on planes: The poly bag is not something they are used to in Asia. Some airports will not accept unboxed bikes so to try anywhere is potentially asking for trouble, regardless what the airline say. Also, with often only one flight a day, the staff are usually not airline employees, but agency. I would always recommend using a box. I have never had a problem having a box accepted.

I agree that Vn can be a bit daunting and would point potential first timers interested in Asia to Thailand.

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Joined: 7 Sep 2014, 9:11am

Re: Vietnam

Postby robing » 6 Dec 2018, 4:15pm

This is timely! I'm off to Vietnam on Saturday, but it's an organised tour with Exodus so will be a bit different and using hire bikes.
2 week tour south to north including an overnight train.