I took extensive notes during this trip, hoping to write an educational, upbeat article about bicycling Vietnam alone. That, of course, was contingent upon me completing the ride. Well, the good news is that I did make it all the way to the DMZ, just over 1300 kilometers. The bad news is that it was hard for me. It would have been easy to conveniently forget some of the annoyances, and written a glowing review of the experience, but unless you're like Walter, the Belgian, or Mike, the American I spoke with before heading over, you might be in for a surprise. What it boils down to is this: Bicycling Asia is a lot different from bicycling in the US or Europe. Looking back though, I'm glad I did it. And I'll go back again...

PS... I did this route in February 1995. I expect that the country's changed a lot since then. For a similar adventure today, you might want to consider routes other than Highway 1....

The numbers:

Distance Traveled:

1307 kilometers (810 miles)

Number of Days:

Twenty days total, 7 of which were "rest" days

Average Distance:

100 kilometers (62 miles) per biking day


Bike, an 11-year-old model, weighed in at 33 lbs (including the weight of the full 1.5-liter water bottle). Baggage weighed an additional 30 lbs. Total weight: 63-lbs.


Equipment: $400 to upgrade $300 1983 bike and buy new oversized water cage, tires and tubes.

Visa: $90

Vaccinations and Prescriptions: $200

Flight: $1,225 (high season, and a premium carrier)

Accommodations: Accommodations for 20 days ran $341, or $17.05/day. I splurged on hotels, particularly during the first half of the trip. Ten dollars a day, or less, should be possible. (Note: The easiest way to reduce hotel expenses is to share -- price was per room, not per person, and usually the room had more than one bed. Also -- room rates are negotiable. Once I figured that out, I almost always was able to knock off a few dollars.)

Other Expenses: food, bottled water, beer, international phone calls, postcards and postage, film, film developing, boat tours (Nha Trang and Hue), museum fees (Cham ruins, Hue, etc.), airport departure taxes


I started the trip weighing ~155 pounds (=70k). Even though I spent 5 days at the end of the ride hanging-out, eating and drinking, in Saigon, I came back to America about 13 pounds lighter than when I left.
Photography was an important part of the trip for me -- and always a welcome excuse to rest my knees!
Here are a few more photos I like:
2008-2014 by Bill Fridl  ( billfridl@gmail.com )
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