“There’s a real team spirit to this group cycling vacation that will teach you as much about Vietnamese local life as it will show you the country’s exceptional natural beauty.”
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) | Cu Chi Tunnels | Mui Ne | Dalat | Central Highlands | Bidoup National Park | Nha Trang | Snorkeling at Dai Lanh Beach | Coastal ride to Quy Nhon | Hoi An | Hoi An Old Quarter | Hai Van Pass | Hue | Overnight train to Hanoi | Hanoi | Temple of Literature | Hoa Lo Prison
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Take padded shorts and some chamois cream: cycling plus humidity does not a comfortable bottom make.
Small group tour. 4-16 adults (min. age 16) with a tour leader.
Moderate. Avg. daily distance 43 miles.
11 nights hotel, 1 night boat, 1 night sleeper train.
Solo travelers welcome. Single rooms available with surcharge.
All breakfasts, 10 lunches, 1 dinner.
Accommodation, all transport and listed activities, tour leader, flights and transfers (if booked).
Small group vacation
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.
We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!
Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.
Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.
“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.
“The accommodation will be basic” Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.
“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.
“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson
Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando
Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
Responsible tourism: Vietnam small group cycling vacation
Accommodation and Meals: We will spend 11 nights in a variety of comfortable hotels and one night on a houseboat. This combination of locally run accommodation contributes directly to the community as staff are from the area and food is grown and sold locally. Many of these places also have environmental policies which reduce waste, water usage and energy expenditure. Where meals are not provided, your guide will be able to point out several smaller restaurants, cafes and markets, like in Hanoi old quarter, Hoi An market or Ben Thanh. There are some weird and wonderful regional specialties to try with plenty of fresh produce available in most areas. Meals consist mainly of rice, vegetables and frilled or stir fried meat. The staple dish is ‘Pho’, which is a noodle broth with veg and meat. You can buy it from roadside stalls very cheaply, as well as the more established restuarants you will be visiting during the trip.
Activity: Few vacations have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a cycling trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. Optional activities include swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving, so these are equally eco-friendly. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints (or tyre tracks!) although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants and to purchase traditional gifts and crafts. Also, by sightseeing and visiting cultural sites (like the Emperor of Jade and Giac Lam pagodas, the War Remnants Museum, Hue citadel, the Temple of Literature and Hoa Lo Prison) our entrance fees go towards upkeep of these important sites.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Local Craft & Culture: We do a lot to celebrate the cottage industries on this tour, as this is not only a way to directly benefit the locals but it is also hugely fascinating and enjoyable for travelers. For example, in Mekong, we visit a lot of these small businesses and factories which sell handmade coconut sweets, rice paper, soya bean sauce, popped rice and popcorn amongst other things. There is also the option to see a traditional folk dancing or water puppet show at Hanoi. This encourages local customs to continue and creates employment opportunities. In Hoi An, we also stop by a shop called ‘Reaching Out’, which sells gifts handmade by artisans with disabilities – helping them to develop their talent and independence.
A Fair Deal: We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. Our leaders and guides have been trained in responsible travel and actively encourage our suppliers, drivers, and other members of our team to respect the environment, protect the culture and support the local economy. They have also completed Child Safe training which enables them to take positive action should they encounter children at risk as well as educating clients re child protection within tourism.
Charity: In Hanoi, we encourage groups to have a communal meal at KOTO, which is an NGO that provides a two year course in hospitality, English and life skills training to groups of 16-22 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students also receive accommodation, food, medical check-ups and treatment whilst they are being trained. Many of the 400+ graduates have gone on to continue developing their careers at KOTO restaurants or have gained employment elsewhere with their training so this is a great initiative to support.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.
Reviews of Vietnam small group cycling vacation
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.
I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 13 Apr 2015 by Cath Lysley
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Climbing the Hai Van pass. We all made it to the top and were supported throughout by our guide Danh who gave us cold drinks and cheered us on. The food was also great and we were treated to genuine local cuisine, all delicious.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Take more money than recommend, especially if you want to take presents home or drink wine with you evening meal. Some people couldn't get money out of the ATMs so tell your bank that you are going to Vietnam. You don't really need US dollars, just take Vietnamese money out. Don't take any energy bars, the support truck carries fresh fruit, nuts and snacks. Nobody ate their energy bars. You need to be fairly fit for this trip so if you haven't cycled for a long time, get out on your bike for at least 6 rides of about 20 - 30 km to strengthen your legs. Definitely take a padded saddle cover, a few people who didn't suffered from saddle chafing.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
We ate at small, local "family" restaurants and our trips such as the boat ride and Halong Bay supported local tourism. Cycling is the best way to travel and has little environmental impact.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
It was an excellent vacation. We were lucky to be in a group where everyone got on so well. The person that made it work so smoothly was our guide Danh. He was fantastic, full of energy and enthusiasm and kept us informed of everything we had to do. He guided us across tricky traffic and kept watch over us when cycling. He worked so hard and thought of so many little things to enhance the trip. He took us to a small cafe to try "egg coffee" which we all thought would be disgusting but was in fact delicious. He was funny and told jokes and I think the whole group felt a huge amount of affection for him.