Dec 02 2011
Renting a bicycle has always been a good way to explore Hoi An and its surrounds: it’s cheap, they’re never banned from the streets (other vehicles are forbidden at various times of the day), they provide a lot of freedom and you get to feel like you’re compensating for that last portion of wontons. I spent every day on a bike on my last visit and, apart from getting sunburned on the back of my hands, loved it.
It’s easy enough to venture out on your own to the beach or other spots around the area, the pottery village or just for an aimless drive — I did all three — but organised bike tours seem to be in vogue and receive rave reviews from participants, particularly for the insight they offer into local life.
Sleepy Gecko, a bar over on Cam Nam Island, offers full- and half-day “Byke tours” through the surrounding area. In addition to taking in the sights of rural Vietnam, the full-day tour also visits a fish sauce factory, a rice wine business, a peanut product plant, a woodworking village and a village specialising in making reed mats, to name but a few. The half-day course follows a similar but abbreviated route. It’s taken at an easy pace, so there’s no need to worry about being left behind if you’re a bit out of practice on two-wheels.
Steve, the owner, has lived in the area for eight years and goes on every trip. “You’ve seen all the tailor shops, the Japanese Bridge, pagodas, temples and ancient houses – now it’s time to see the real Vietnam.” He reckons participants who do the half-day trip (US25) always wish they had done the full-day one (US$35).
Similar tours are offered by Heaven and Earth Bicycle Tours, a French-Vietnamese-run company. They operate morning and afternoon tours, as well as a “Fullmoon Tour”, which includes an overnight stay with a Vietnamese family. Prices range from US$15 to US$69.
The “Love of Life” bicycle tour is another one that receives solid reviews and who can resist a company that uses the tagline: “For a happy heart and a happy soul”? Cute.
Finally, if you’re looking for something a little more energetic, try Phat Tire Adventures’ two-day ride from Hoi An to Hue. Covering 110km the route includes a 10km climb to the top of the Hai Van pass. More relaxed tours around the local area — including a day trip out to My Son — are also available.
To 5 Thon Xuyen Trung, Cam Nam, Hoi An
T: (0908) 426 349
Heaven and Earth
57 Ngo Quyen, Hoi An
T: (0510) 3864 362
Phat Tire Ventures
62 Ba Trieu Street, Hoi An
T: (0510) 3917 839
Love of Life
25 Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hoi An
T: (0510) 3939 399
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