Our trip begins in Ho Chi Minh City, a vibrant metropolis of over nine million people and the nexus of Vietnamese commerce and economic revival. We provide one group transfer from the airport to our hotel. At 3pm our guides will be waiting in the hotel lobby to welcome you and provide a bike fitting, followed by dinner at a nearby local restaurant. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. Dinner included.
This morning we leave the teeming traffic for the quiet countryside. We cycle along flowing canals, vast rice fields and small villages to the legendary Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnels were an important part of what is locally referred to as the "American War". The Vietnamese used the extensive tunnel system to move their artillery, making it difficult for troops to pinpoint their location. A few short sections of the tunnel have been preserved as national historic sites and provide guests a firsthand perspective of what underground life was like. We lunch on the banks of the Saigon River and then return to Ho Chi Minh City late afternoon.
For dinner, we learn Vietnamese cooking techniques at a local restaurant. A professional chef will guide us in preparing a few signature dishes. All meals Included.
Transfer: 4 hours; Cycling: 19 miles, 2 hours; Terrain: mostly flat.
We depart Ho Chi Minh City and transfer about two hours to My Tho, the gateway to the Mekong Delta. After a journey of nearly 2,500 miles from its origins in the Tibetan Plateau, the Mekong River and its tributaries wind through this incredibly prolific agricultural region of Southern Vietnam before mixing with the saline waters of the South China Sea. Today's ride will lead us directly into the heart of the rural Mekong. After a short ferry crossing of the Tien Giang River at My Tho, we begin our ride along narrow lanes, past banana plantations, fields of sugar cane and through the lush green landscape of the Delta. This afternoon we arrive in the town of Cai Be and cycle to the lovely Mekong Lodge, an eco-lodge set among fruit orchards on the banks of the Tien River. Overnight in the Mekong Lodge. All meals included.
Transfer: 2 hours; Cycling: 31 miles, 3.5 hours; Terrain: undulating dirt roads sections of narrow trail.
An early morning boat picks us up at the lodge and transfers us across the river. Rural scenery lines our cycling route all the way to Can Tho. We cross small estuaries on bridges made of wooden planks and larger rivers by ferry. There is plenty to see along the way, from the contrasting architectural styles of ethnic Khmer homes, to the numerous colorful Khmer temples, and the fascinating river scenes that could be taken straight from a postcard. As the day progresses the landscape changes to open rice fields flanked by palm and coconut trees. Quiet country roads slice through the many small villages offering a glimpse into the lives of the local people. Today's ride explores the true essence and pace of life in the Delta. Dinner and overnight in Can Tho. All meals included.
Transfer: 2.5 hours; Cycling: 37 miles, 5 hours; Terrain: undulating dirt roads sections of narrow trail.
After breakfast we catch a boat to the Cai Rang floating market. From here we cycle at a gentle pace, weaving our way through the bustling morning market along the banks of the river. We marvel at the numerous cottage industries, timber merchants, coconut shredders and dock workers loading and unloading rice from waiting boats. If we're lucky, we may be offered a chance to sample some of the local fruit by one of the market vendors. After our market visit and a relaxing lunch stop, we return to our bikes and pedal along a tiny road leading upstream towards Co Do. From here we transfer by ferry to Chau Doc, home to a diverse population of Khmer, Cham and Chinese practicing Buddhism, Catholicism and Islam. We spend the night in Chau Doc, our last stop before crossing the border into Cambodia. All meals Included.
Transfer: 2.5 hours; Cycling: 38 miles; 5 hours; Terrain: mostly flat.
Today we journey by boat to the Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh. We cross the Cambodian border at a checkpoint on the water and then head northwest on a tranquil voyage. Phnom Penh is majestically located at the confluence of the mighty Mekong and Tonl��� Sap Rivers. Its wide tree-lined boulevards and many colonial-era buildings add to the allure of the city. Here Asian and Western traditions meet in a fascinating way. This afternoon we tour by cyclo, a type of tricycle used in this region for transporting people and goods over short distances. We visit the Royal Palace, Wat Preah Keo and the National Museum before checking into our hotel to freshen up for dinner. All meals Included.
Boat Transfer: 6 hours; Cyclo tour; 1.5 hours
Following the path of the mighty Mekong River, we spend the day cycling through the tropical countryside, passing fruit plantations and traditional Cambodian villages. We break for a tasty picnic lunch in a local setting before continuing to the city of Kampong Cham. Here we can rest our legs for the remainder of the day or head out for a short walk along the waterfront.
Transfer: 1 hour; Cycling: 40 miles; 5 hours; Terrain: mostly flat.
Today we put in solid day of riding, covering 40 miles of classic Mekong landscapes. From Kratie, we take a short ferry ride to to Koh Trong Island, a traditional Khmer village situated in the middle of the Mekong River. Koh Trong is famous for its pomelo, a citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia, which we'll sink our teeth into as we make our way around the island via ox-drawn cart. At the island's central pagoda we have the opportunity to participate in a special activity: a tree-planting volunteer project begun by a local farmer to repopulate the once densely forested island with endemic trees. We overnight on Koh Trong, enjoying the remainder of the day soaking up the relaxed atmosphere of this beautiful island.
Transfer: 1 hour; Cycling: 38 miles; 4.5 hours; Terrain: mostly flat.
Fortified from a breakfast of fresh fruit and coffee, we head out to Kampi, one of the best spots along the river to view the rare Irrawaddy dolphins. We board a local boat with the hope of spotting one of these interesting creatures that bear a resemblance to a small Beluga whale. After dolphin viewing in Kampi, we drive to the town of Strung Treng for lunch before continuing north. Our final destination is the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear, a UNESCO World Heritage Site perched 1,722 feet up on the edge of a cliff with stunning views for miles around. The sunset?s glow amplifies the detailed carvings and lintels as we walk with our guide learning the fascinating history of this remote Khmer temple.
Transfer: 7 hours
This morning we drive to a remote archaeological site of Koh Ker hidden deep within the Cambodian jungle. Built in the year 922, Koh Ker was briefly the ancient capital of the Khmer empire. The site is massive, spanning 81 square miles and more than 180 different sanctuaries with very few other visitors. Of particular interest is the unique pyramid-style temple which has seven separate tiers and rises 118 feet high?the largest of its kind in the country.
Next we enjoy a beautiful three-hour ride through rolling hills to the picturesque temple Beng Mealea. Laden with massive strangler figs whose roots grip the temple walls, Beng Mealea encourages our exploratory spirit to delve deeper into the ancient ruins, one of the few in Cambodia we?re allowed to climb through. After trekking through the temple and surrounding forest, we transfer to Siem Reap to conclude our day. All meals included.
Transfer: 2.5 hours; Cycling: 36 miles, 4.5 hours; Terrain: rolling hills
After breakfast, we cycle over quiet backroads to explore the massive Angkor temple complex. We visit the ancient capital of Angkor Thom, the 54 towers of the Bayon Temple and Ta Prohm?reclaimed by nature?s firm and unyielding grip. As our adventure nears its end, it's safe to say that we saved the biggest highlight for last. Angkor Wat?considered the largest religious structure in the world (originally Hindu, then Buddhist). Representing Mount Meru, the home of the gods, the temple is renowned for its intricate carvings of over 3,000 aspara, or "heavenly nymphs" and beautiful bas reliefs depicting various epic battles and religious events. Over the years, it has become the symbol of Cambodia and is a source of great national pride. Arriving before sunset, we have ample time to explore this unforgettable site when the light is perfect. Tonight we are treated to a lovely farewell dinner in a traditional wooden Khmer villa.
Cycling: 18 miles; Hours in the saddle: 2.5; Terrain: flat with a small section of trail riding.
Our adventure ends after breakfast. One group transfer to the airport is provided for those departing today. Or extend your stay in Siem Reap and explore more of the wonders of Angkor independently. Breakfast included.