Cycling Vietnam.

Cycling Vietnam.

Are you planning a cycling tour of Vietnam? Then here is some tips and advice from me, based on 3 long cycling tours of Vietnam, during the past 13 years. As well as several smaller cycling trips around the country. I will never get tired of cycling Vietnam.

Are the roads in Vietnam good for cycling?

Vietnamese school girls cycling.

Vietnamese school girls cycling.

The roads of Vietnam have many bicycles. Because of that the cars, trucks and busses are used to having bikes next to them and that is a good start. There is usually a fairly nice shoulder on the Vietnamese roads for soft traffic. Making cycling Vietnam quite good. Traffic is often quite congested though. So it’s often not a good place to cycle fast. But if you are happy rolling down the road slowly, like I am then you should be quite happy there. Some people who have cycled Vietnam a few years ago might tell you that the busses and trucks are speeding like crazy. Making it dangerous for cyclists. That used to be true. But in recent years the maximum speed allowed for vehicles in Vietnam has been cut down a lot and traffic today runs very slow compared to other countries. There are hardly any traffic jams as it’s mostly scooter traffic you have there and not big cars.

Is cycling Vietnam safe for cyclists?

Vietnamese traffic.

Vietnamese traffic.

In the past, Vietnam was a risky place to cycle. But since they started regulating the traffic speed on the Vietnamese roads, it has become a very nice place for tour cycling in my opinion. You just need to get used to the high number of scooters around you. But they are not driving aggressively in Vietnam. Even if you literally have millions of scooters on the roads of Vietnam, I do not really find them a pain in the butt. They are mostly very well behaved, compared to most other countries in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world for that matter.

Beautiful vietnamese traffic police girl.

Beautiful Vietnamese traffic police girl.

What about accommodation along the road in Vietnam?

The entrance to a typical vietnamese budget hotel.

The entrance to a typical Vietnamese budget hotel.

I have found Vietnam to be one of the easiest countries in Asia to find accommodation along the road. As long as you are happy to pay 8-10 dollars for a simple room that is. Small private hotels are popping up all over the place in Vietnam at the moment. Especially along the busy roads. It’s usually just a regular narrow 3 story house. Like the ones most Vietnamese families have, where they rent 3-4 rooms out on one floor. They tend to be very efficient and I find them great value. The reception area is always on the ground floor. And there is space to drive your bicycle, scooter or car into the reception area and park it there for the night.

Getting spare parts for your bicycle in Vietnam?

Roadside bicycle mechanic in Vietnam.

Roadside bicycle mechanic in Vietnam.

On my first cycling trip to Vietnam in 2002 it was a real pain to get spare parts in Vietnam. Or buy a proper bike for that matter. These days things have changed quite a bit. As long as you are in a town of reasonable size then you will have at least one shop that sells decent quality bikes. Usually from Taiwan, who makes very good quality bikes. They will have spare parts for them too. In smaller towns you will most likely only have stores that sell cheap Chinese or Vietnamese produced bikes. But they will still be able to fix a flat tire or change some spokes for you and they will do it for 1-2 dollars on most occasions.

Best and worst places I have cycled in Vietnam.

Vietnamese cyclist in the Mekong Delta.

Vietnamese cyclist in the Mekong Delta.

The worst places to cycle in Vietnam are in my opinion on the big highway 1. that road connects north and south Vietnam. This is where you have the highest number of trucks and busses. They are the single biggest pain in the butt when you cycle Vietnam. It used to be a lot worse though. 15 years ago things were quite bad on Highway 1. But these days I’m fairly happy to cycle most of highway 1 in Vietnam.

My favourite part of Vietnam for cycling is the Mekong Delta. In the Mekong Delta you have hundreds of small roads you can turn off to and get off the beaten track. Traffic there is less intense. And the locals are super friendly. Accommodation is quite plentiful as well. So you will normally not have to plan accommodation in advance, unless you really want to.

And finally the very best thing about cycling Vietnam.

Me and my bicycle in Vietnam.

Me and my bicycle in Vietnam.

Very often when I talk to people who have been to Vietnam, then they moan about the Vietnamese people. They say that they are unfriendly and always try to rip them off. I can assure you that this is very unlikely to happen when you travel by bicycle. Because you get off the trodden tourist and backpacker trail, then you will find some of the most open and friendly people you will meet in Asia. It’s mostly backpackers who hate the Vietnamese. But they also often act like pack animals in Vietnam. Most of them travel the same route and stay in the same hostels. Do not really meet Vietnamese, other than those who serve them food and drinks and sell them things. These Vietnamese often just look at backpackers as a bunch of cheap Charlie’s who won’t pay the real cost of things. Vietnamese do not have the same facade as Thai people. Thai’s will often smile and say think you even if they think you are a total idiot. Vietnamese are much more direct in this matter. But I think this is great. It makes it easier to create lasting friendships with Vietnamese than with most other nationalities in the region, in my opinion.

On the road in Vietnam.

On the road in Vietnam.

On top of that, Vietnam has some of the best and healthiest food on the planet. Then you can maybe understand why I love cycling Vietnam and why I have been to the country 31 times so far.


  1. We are currently in Vietnam and about to take a night train to Hue. Hoping to do some cycling further south. I agree entirely with you about backpackers and it has changed since I was one in the 80s and 90s. Enjoyed reading your blog and the tips.

  2. Police here look exactly the same. I wish!

  3. Pingback: 2 wheels is enough in Vietnam and Cambodia. - Travelling Claus

  4. “ a bunch of cheap charlies who won’t pay the real cost of things..”

    Claus, now YOU wouldn’t be trying to sell me something now WOULD YOU? LOL.

  5. What a nice blog! Agree 100%
    I cycled there 2 times in the 90 s and didn’t really enjoyed as the traffic was so fast and dangerous. Went back 2 years ago and again last winter and just love about everything.
    I enjoyed the delta but loved the mountains in the North.
    Always cycling..

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  8. michael mcnamara

    i also agree about the Vietnamese people. I have ridden all over Ha Noi, mostly waiting for my wife to finish work. The food is very “accessible” to people with limited palates (banh Mi is a pate and salad sandwich) but also exotic if you wish. (tiet khan is duck blood jelly). Its mostly flat but up north is crazy steep. plus there lots of bikes

  9. Jane Banfield

    Help please. I am a grandmother from New Zealand heading out of Hanoi by bike on Saturday to Luang Prabang. First stop Hoa Binh. Can anyone tell me if Route 13 is currently closed? It seems so on Google Maps? Also is there an alternative to my Google Maps which doesn’t seem to show bike or motorcycle only car mode?

    • I do not know if the road is closed. But even if there is road works going on, then you can usually cycle there anyway. Normally they just close for motorised transport when they have road construction going on. Just be ready for a bit of off road conditions I would say.

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  11. We are looking for an organised cycling holiday for 5 days. But it’s really hard to find one?

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