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Cycling Vietnam

Cycling Vietnam

March 16 - 29 I hosted a group of 16 Canadians on a private Exodus Travels tour:  Cycling Vietnam.  It was an incredible success!  Everyone on the trip had a fabulous time. As anticipated, our group of 16 Canadians, including one expat who flew in from Australia, got on fantastically. Many new friendships were created and old acquaintances renewed.  Several folks in the group were connected to Urban Poling in some way, either involved with the company or Nordic walking participants.   Five were connected to me through previous cycling trips.  Four members of the group had joined me on the previous 2018 Exodus tour, hiking Italy's Amalfi Coast. 

We ranged in age from mid 40's to mid 70's, with only a handful of the group having done any previous cycle touring or private group travel.  Without exception, everyone loved the experience of discovering a new country by bike and loved sharing the experience with a like-minded group of active people.  

From the start, our tour leader, Tri, referred to us affectionately as "my family" and indeed before long we all felt like one big extremely happy family.  And he treated us as such.  Always enthusiastic, always funny, he shared with us many personal stories and thrilled us with knowledge and passion for Vietnam.  It is hard to put into words the value he added to our adventure.  He handled the detailed logistics perfectly for each day, making our daily experiences seamless, moving us from place to place, activity to activity by bike, coach, train, boat.  What is more, he kept us safe.  Expertly teaching us how to ride the roads of Vietnam, cross the streets and ensuring our safe and enjoyable passage through some very, very chaotic and busy intersections.  

Our two week tour took us from Ho Chi Min City in the south, to Hanoi in the North, a total distance of just over 1600 km.  We cycled about 500 km of this distance, being transported by private coach and an overnight train for the rest.  We cycled for nine days and the distances were as follows: Day 2 - 31 km; Day 3 - 60 km; Day 4 - 60 km; Day 5 - 90 km; Day 7 - 100 km; Day 8 - 51 km; Day 10 - 87 km; and Day 11 - 25 km.  

Most of the route was classified as “gently undulating” although there were a couple of challenging bits.  The biggest cycling challenge was also the most stunning ride of the tour, the 10 km ascent up coastal Hai Van pass followed by a thrilling 10 km descent back down to sea level.  Several sections of the ascent where up a grade of 10% which was very challenging.  As I was experiencing knee pain on training for the ride in January and February, I opted at the last minute to upgrade to an e-bike.  I ended up being very grateful for this decision as it made all of the riding a most pleasant experience without the challenge of cycling the hillier sections.  It firmed my decision to opt for an e-bike on future cycling trips.  This also allowed me the opportunity to continually ride to the front of the group, take lots of photos which would invariably result in my falling to the back of the pack.  Then I would ride through the group, chatting with the various group members and then gaining the front of the pack again.  

The weather was constantly hot and humid, with zero rain and the temperature hovering around 40 degrees Celsius.  We were provided frequent rest stops where we enjoyed cold water and lemonade with a pinch of salt, exotic fresh fruit, along with energizing snacks.  At times, people choose to take a brief break by riding in our air conditioned private coach.  Everyone soon got in the habit of dousing themselves with cool water on the rest stops. 

This two week tour was not simply a cycling tour.  There were lots of different activities interspersed with the cycling.  Indeed, I found it to be a perfect combination.  We visited the fascinating Cu Chi tunnels outside of Ho Chi Min City, where the Viet Cong created a massive network of tunnels to combat the superbly equipped American forces during the “American War.” Soldiers used these underground routes to house troops, transport communications and supplies, lay booby traps and mount surprise attacks, after which they could disappear underground to safety. We had a two night stay and a full day on Whale Island which included a boat tour and snorkelling. We spent two nights in the historic UNESCO world heritage site of Hoi An.  Our time in this ancient place included exploring the old walkable city area on foot, visiting a museum, a musical performance and visiting a tailor shop where most of our group had custom clothes ordered and made within a 24 hour period.  Many of the group also attended a cooking class while others continued to site see on foot and/or shop.  We stayed overnight on a boat in Ha Long Bay, another UNESCO site.  This excursion also including visiting the Surprise Cave system and sea kayaking in the bay.  We also had a guided tour of Hanoi, visiting a few of its most famous sites.

It was sobering to learn of the struggles the country has gone through during the Indo-China occupation, the French colonial period and the horrible “American War.” Yes, there is a lot of poverty but also lots of progress being made. Oh…. And there are several hundred scooters or motor bikes for every vehicle on the road.  It was wonderful to be greeted by welcoming locals everywhere we went.  It was especially touching to be greeted with super enthusiastic “hellos” by hundreds of school children we met along our route.  

Thank you Exodus for another absolutely unforgettable adventure.  Thank you Tri.  Thank you Jenni Evans for all the behind the scenes work you did over the years on this tour.  Thank you to my fellow travellers who really put this experience over the top and thanks to my husband Colin who encouraged me to do this trip in the first place and to persevere through the disappointments and delays. It was a very, very special experience. 

What to wear & bring (Spring, Summer, Fall):

  1. Wear comfy casual clothes.
  2. Bring a warm extra layer & rain jacket, just in case.
  3. Running shoes are fine while light trail or hiking shoes provide even more support and are ideal.
  4. Please no flip-flops or sandals.
  5. Leave purses at home. A small backpack is a great bring-along.
  6. Don't forget your water, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, insect repellent and your camera.

What to wear & bring (Winter):

  1. Wear a long sleeve t-shirt/thermal underwear top plus 1 or 2 layers (i.e.: light fleece top, heavier fleece top) & a wind/waterproof shell. Heavy winter parkas and snow pants are usually too warm.
  2. Wear winter boots or lined hiking boots. Icers, which go over your footwear to prevent slipping, are provided when necessary.
  3. Leave purses at home. A small backpack is a great bring-along.
  4. Bring water, gloves/mitts, a hat/headband, scarf/buff/neck warmer, tissues/handkerchief, sunglasses and don't forget your camera!

Reserve OnLine:

It’s as easy as 1-2-3! Simply click the "Book Now" button, select your preferred date to check availability, fill in your personal details and then make a secure payment via credit card. The system will automatically send you a confirmation of your session with the relevant details.

Liability Waiver:

Liability waivers are a necessary part of any commercial activity experience. I recommend that you take the time now to review this legal document that you will be required to sign before we start our clinic or walk together:

View the Waiver

Your Health & Physical Activity Readiness:

We ask guests who are experiencing cold symptoms and symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home and practice self-isolation under the direction of the appropriate governing body. For almost everyone, the benefits of physical activity far outweigh any risks. For some individuals, special advice from a Qualified Exercise or health care provider is advisable before becoming more active. This questionnaire is intended for all ages – to help move you along the path to becoming more physically active.

Please review this Questionnaire if you have concerns about your health or fitness level for participating in Nordic walking.

Cancellation Policy:

Full refunds are given if a cancellation is received 24 hours or more prior to the clinic or tour date. No refunds are given with less than 24 hours notice. Clinics/tours go rain or shine. If the weather is extreme, then it may be cancelled with a full refund given.

Malcolm Hotel

Canmore Public Parking


Parking is available on-street or in public lots throughout Canmore. It is a good idea to arrive early on busy days to locate suitable parking.

Malcolm Hotel - Onsite


Restrooms are available at the Malcolm hotel in the lobby.

Canmore Public Restrooms


Public restrooms are available within a short walk:

Canmore Public Restrooms - Trailheads


Public pit toilets are available at all trailheads.

Canmore Various

Where to meet:

Starting locations will vary seasonally with instructions included in your booking confirmation.


Parking options will vary by location with details included in your booking confirmation.

Tour Canmore

Various Canmore Trailheads

Canmore Walking Tour 1.5 Hour

Canmore Walking Tour 3 Sisters

Hikes Cognito Form

Winter Hikes Cognito Form

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