While Vietnam has experienced remarkable economic growth since the late 1980s the bicycle remains a very important mode of transport for many local people. When you get away from the busy towns and ply your way on two wheels along quiet back roads, a holiday by bike is a great way to see this beautiful country and learn about the local way of life and its fascinating history. Most of the major attractions are located on the flat coastal strip, therefore a bike tour of Vietnam is suited to all cycling abilities with some highlands in the south for more testing terrain. The local cuisine is superb and a highlight for many visitors - what better way to work up an appetite than riding your bike?
The scenery, climate, food and local character changes as you cycle from the cooler north to more tropical climes in the south. The capital of the north, Hanoi, is a thriving city with a maze of narrow streets in the old quarter where the scent of incense burning in temples intermingles with street food sizzling in huge pots. From Hanoi you can cycle past rice paddies in the Red River Delta and learn about the traditions of rural life where little has changed. Further east you can leave the bike behind as you take an impressive cruise amid hundreds of jungle-topped islets in UNESCO-protected Halong Bay.
Jump on the Reunification Express train that links north to south and hop off to cycle around the imperial temples of the ancient citadel of Hue. Cycle around the beautiful and compact port town of Hoi An, an ancient Chinese trading post and eat delicious fish cooked in banana leaf for lunch.
Further south as the temperature rises the palm-fringed beaches become more inviting, particularly if you have been working up a sweat biking in the Central Highlands on some steep ascents and exhilarating descents. Nha Trang offers a good break from the bike as you can take a boat trip to tropical islands for snorkelling and swimming.
The southern city of Old Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City contrasts nicely with Hanoi and from here you can ride out to the Cu Chi Tunnels complex of underground tunnels and bunkers, where thousands of Viet Cong troops hid and fought a war on the doorstep of the Americans.
Further south the Mekong Delta region is another world where life unfolds on and around the river. Ride your bike across the Delta, combining boats and bridges to learn how the locals have adapted to life in the Delta.