Day 1: Hanoi City Tour
City tour of Hanoi with long stop at the imposing Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and serene One Pillar Pagoda followed by lunch at a popular outdoor cafe where your guide will give an informal "survival" Vietnamese lesson. Afternoon stroll through the vibrant Old Quarter with a stop at a family home. Welcome and orientation dinner at Vietnam's most elegant French-Vietnamese restaurant followed by a delightful traditional water puppet performance, unique to Vietnam. Overnight at the Sofitel Metropole located on central Hoan Kiem Lake and built in 1901. All meals included.
Day 2: Hanoi to Hue
Morning airline transfer to the ancient Imperial Capital of Vietnam. After arrival we will test our bikes cycling along the Perfume River to two wonderful examples of Imperial architecture, the majestic Khai Dinh and Tu Duc Royal Tombs. After lunch, cycling through the Citadel, familiar from images of the 1968 Tet Offensive, and to the peaceful Thien Mu Pagoda. Dinner free to partake of Hue's local delicacies such as crab soup, ban sao — Vietnamese pancakes, and frozen creme caramel. Accommodation at the Morin on the banks of the Perfume River. Meals: (B) and (L).
Day 3: Hue to Hoi An
A full-day cycling one of the most scenic routes in Vietnam. Depart Hue along a unknown coastal road with no traffic to the Hai Van Pass. Our route passes by rural villages and the picturesque Lang Co Lagoon, then ascending the six-mile road over the Hai Van offering stunning views of the coast and a thrilling descent on the backside to the green rice fields and white-sand graveyards around Danang. Continued riding or shuttle in the van the remaining route to avoid traffic near Danang. Eighty two mile later, arrive afternoon Hoi An, typically a favorite stop. Accommodation at the 5-star French Victoria Beach Resort. All meals included.
Day 4: Hoi An
City tour of Hoi An, an ancient Japanese port of trade. Much of Hoi An's rare wooden architecture remains in this small, pleasant town. We will explore the elegant pagodas, bustling riverfront marketplace and distinctive cuisine. Cycling to Cua Dai Beach on the South China Sea for beach combing. Late afternoon Vietnamese cooking demonstration in town featuring local specialties by one of Vietnam's most talented chefs, or free time on your own for a boat excursion on the river. All meals included.
Day 5: Hoi An to Phuoc Son
After breakfast, ride or shuttle outside the busier traffic around Hoi An. Ascending on quiet, country road into the mountains of the central highlands, passing through green hills, jungle forest and sparse villages. Challenging climbs until picnic lunch. After lunch, rolling hills and lush scenery all the way to small, picturesque town of Phuoc Son, set in a mountain valley near a cascading river. The area is also home to many hilltribes. Overnight at local guesthouse. Total mileage 78 miles. All meals included.
Day 6: Phuoc Son to Kontum
Full-day riding undulating hills and some of the nicest scenery in Vietnam, passing mountain valleys and thick forests adjacent to national parkland. The route also covers sections of the famed Ho Chi Trail. Hilltribe villages dot the landscape and we'll stop for lunch in one. After lunch, continued riding until sunset and transfer to Kontum City, a small highlands town also well known from the war period. Total mileage 85 miles. Accommodation at mini-hotel. All meals included.
Day 7: Kontum - Pleiku to Ban Me Thout
Morning shuttle to Pleiku, a large scenic central highlands city. Cycling from over the Ham Rong Pass from Pleiku passing many nearby former military bases, including Plei Me and the Ia Drang Valley. After rolling hills, the route settles down to mostly flat road, passing pine forests, tea and coffee plantations, and Montagnard "hilltribe" villages. Late arrival in Ban Me Thout. Total cycling mileage 80 miles. Accommodation at mini-hotel. All meals included.
Day 8: Ban Me Thout to Dalat
Another long day with several long passes through pretty valleys, countryside, and grueling passes. After breakfast, shuttle up the road for about an hour and a half to beautiful Lak Lake. From here, riding to Dalat over several passes, through forests and past hilltribe long houses. Late afternoon arrive in the jewel of the highlands. Dalat, a former French hill station with railway station, cathedral, and hundreds of dilapidated villas. Tonight we return to luxury, staying in magnificent Sofitel Palace, a beautifully-restored French colonial period hotel. Dinner in the city center at Famille Long Hoa. Total cycling mileage 72 miles. All meals included.
Day 9: Dalat
A half-day spin to see Dalat's more interesting sites, including monk Vien Thuc’s Pagoda, Bao Dai Palace and the eccentric Valley of Love. Lunch near the central marketplace. The gem of Vietnam, Dalat was where the French came for relief from the heat of Saigon and hundreds of well-preserved colonial villas cover the hills. Also a center for exotic game hunting — even Teddy Roosevelt had a villa here. Afternoon and evening free to sightsee, rest or partake of the many good restaurants in town. Meals: (B) and (L).
Day 10: Dalat to Phan Thiet - Mui Ne
Departing from Dalat by bus or bicycle, most of the day will be spent descending back down to the coastal plain and the famous sand dunes of Mui Ne on the southern coast. Nearby Phan Thiet is famous for Nouc Mam, or industrial-strength fermented fish sauce, coveted by Vietnamese far and wide. Off the shore, hundreds of colorful fishing boats dot the coastline. After afternoon arrival, massage and dip in the ocean or pool. Dinner free to sample one of the many great local seafood restaurants. Overnight at the tranquil Mui Ne Beach Resort. Approximate mileage 67 miles. Meals: (B) and (L).
Day 11: Mui Ne. Day free in Mui Ne to laze by the pool, snorkel, boat, kite surf or explore the incredible sand dunes along the coast. Optional afternoon cycling ten miles to Hon Rom Beach and back. Dinner in Phan Thiet. Overnight at the Mui Ne Beach Resort. Meals: (B) and (L).
Day 12: Mui Ne to Saigon. Rise early for cycling to Binh Chau, along a small coastal road. Lunch in Binh Chau followed by visit to the hot spring resort for massage, hot springs and shower before three hour bus shuttle to Saigon. Farewell dinner in Saigon. Accommodation at the finest hotel in Saigon, the 5-star Caravelle. All meals included.
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Asia Vietnam Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring Cultural Journey
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