Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

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  • Reviewed February 2018
    Dave Sommerville

    Cycle Vietnam

    While it’s ostensibly a cycling holiday, there was much more to the trip than that. My highlights: - snorkelling off Whale Island - the cycling descent from Da Lat, we descended from over 5,000ft to sea level in only a couple of miles - cycling through Hoi An and Hué - kayaking in Ha Long Bay - the food, it was invariably fantastic - the hotels which were far more luxurious than we had envisaged - Cu Chi tunnels - War Remnants museum in Saigon - very harrowing - cycling up and down the Hai Van pass - children in the villages and small towns shouting and waving at us The whole trip was just one massive and immense experience - unforgettable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I couldn’t single anything out, I loved all of it. It’s an amazing country to visit. We always felt like we were on a great adventure, which sounds corny, but it was just such an inspirational and fascinating experience.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Loc, our guide, was first class, a top man in every way. Tan, Truong and Ly, our cycle support crew were fabulous, they couldn’t do enough for us. Don’t bother bringing snacks for the cycling days, your support crew will NOT let you go hungry!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t be nervous about the cycling, it’s really not too hard if you’re reasonably fit. Take part in everything, embrace it all.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We had only one down moment - saying goodbye to our faithful bikes and support crew!
  • Reviewed January 2018
    Charlotte F

    Inspirational Vietnam

    This trip is wonderful and is up there as one of my best holidays, ever. It is suited for people that are willing to go with the flow – we were lucky that all 18 of us were of similar ability, like-minded and happy to have a go. You need to have reached a base level of fitness and be comfortable with road traffic but most of the cycling is on country roads, with some hills and breath-taking scenery. The trip is structured to gradually build up your fitness and miles so by the end, I felt I was achieving far more than I had ever expected.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was all inspirational, but the highlight was cycling up the Hai Van Pass, then down, past exotic beaches and lagoons. The Vietnamese are so welcoming and all ages shout “Hello” as you cycle pass.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Long Li, our guide was fantastic at keeping the energy levels high. His sense of humour, encouragement, attentiveness, even during meal times meant that we couldn’t have been in better hands. His historical knowledge meant that all the visits came alive. Even losing my luggage on the way there, between Kuala Lumpur and HCMC didn’t spoil the holiday as Long contacted the airline and ensured that it was delivered to the hotel just a few hours later. He organised the best karaoke on the overnight train to Hanoi which will go down as an epic evening. Also Sow, our driver was always there with coconut sweets, fresh water melon, fresh mango, nuts, dried fruit and many other luxuries, and the fresh cold lime juice hit the spot every time. Len, our truck driver and Suel our sweeper/back stop, were so supportive and even ran around re-filling our water bottles during our breaks !

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is a very busy trip and there is a lot of packing and unpacking so travel lighter than I did ! There are opportunities to do laundry. If you’d like more time in HCMC or Hanoi, it’s worth having 1-2 days extra at the beginning or the end. The weather is changeable so you need both T-shirts/shorts as well as a wet weather jacket. It can also be cool so you need a sweatshirt and long trousers. Some people brought their own saddle but I found just a gel cover was sufficient. It was useful to have a small handlebar bag and to learn to take photos on the move as there is not a lot of time for stopping.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Overall, the trip was a joy from beginning to end.
  • Reviewed January 2018
    rachel wright

    Cycling Vietnam

    This trip exceeded all expectations. It is a very busy trip but the organisation and planning is exceptional. Everything happened on time and exactly as described in the trip notes. Our trip was full and had an interesting balance of 16 ladies and 2 gentlemen! The group was delightful and gelled immediately and our cycling abilities were of a similar standard. The cycling was excellent and was planned to prepare us for the final day ascent of the Hai Van Pass. I was slightly nervous before the trip wondering whether I was fit and enough and would I be lagging behind. It turns out we all had similar fears but they were ill founded. Each day the cycling was either longer or mote challenging so building up our confidence and fitness. We are all delighted to make the 100k day - despite a full on coastal head wind all day. Our leader Long and his support team were exceptional. Every 15-20 k we were meet with wonderful snacks and fresh fruit and whilst we grazed they filled up our water bottles. Vietnam is a fascinating country and you really do get to see so much of it and learn so much about its history. The people are very friendly and welcoming. Hotels were much better than expected .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the peak of the Hai Van pass after an hours grind. We are felt pretty emotional as we had all supported and encouraged each other on this challenge,

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic!. Long was amazing from start to finish. How he kept up his constant enthusiasm and energy over 14 days I do not know. Nothing was too much trouble. Every meal he always checked that we were happy with our choices, often served us and would be in the kitchen checking everything. His knowledge of the country and its history was superb. He organised karoke and a party on the overnight train journey and always was keen to ensure we were having a good time. I left some jewellery behind on Whale island and he saw to its safe return to me in Hanoi.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a very full on trip so don't expect much downtime. Travel light ( I didn't!) as there is a lot of unpacking and repacking - most nights. Travel pillow is usefully on the bus . Travel soap and portable washing line are useful. Take a small handlebar bag for carrying suncream, jacket and toilet paper. Tailors in Hoi An are superb so do take some clothes you may wish to have copied. Look into your own flights. The Malaysian Airlines route is long and slightly out of the way.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just book it! Amazing experience
  • Reviewed January 2018
    Alan Imeson

    Cycling Vietnam

    Our group of 18 was expertly looked after by the leader and support team. At the end of each day we looked forward to the meals proposed by the leader and all were excellent. The trip gave a good insight into rural and urban Vietnamese life and the leader was very knowledgeable about the many cultural sights on the trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A highlight was an 18 mile downhill ride in the Central Highlands from Dalat travelling through the National Park with dense woodland and many cascading waterfalls.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The leader was very passionate about Vietnam and had a great sense of humour which kept the whole group fully engaged throughout the trip. He was very knowledgeable about the historic sites and cultural places along the route and in the cities. Nothing was too much trouble and he was available to us at all times. His menu selections for our meals including our 'optional' meals, which everyone took, were outstanding

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It can rain - heavily - but it is warm!
  • Reviewed January 2018
    tony whelan

    Fantastic Vietnam

    Brilliant trip from start to finish, loved every minute and would recommend to anyone. Chi our guide was a fountain of local knowledge (not bad on Karaoke either btw) and the rest of the team, Li, Chun and Tang were great support, always on hand to help with the bikes or share out fresh fruit and drinks on our stops. Vietnam was incredible, everyday a real adventure from the Cu Chi Tunnels, to the amazing scenery at Halong Bay. Along the way we enjoyed the tranquillity of Whale Island versus the madness of Saigon and Hanoi, the picturesque towns of Dalat, Hoi An and Hue and an overnight train that gave a taste of daily life for regular folk in Vietnam. The itinerary was generally very busy, most days starting at 6.30am for breakfast but was so well organised that there was no time wasted and the odd couple of hours were nicely taken up with a massage or a cool beer. We were blessed with a lovely group of people and my friend Wack who entertained us non stop. I have great memories of the people, the places, the scenery, the food, the fun and cycling 10km up the Hai Van Pass, this was one trip that will live long in the memory and be very hard to surpass!!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many great moments on our trip but the most inspirational and humbling for me was the spirit of the Vietnamese people, from happy smiling school kids shouting hello as we cycled through their villages to the hard working people in the fields planting rice or ploughing fields with Water Buffalo always managing a smile or a wave. It made me appreciate what I take for granted in my comfortable life.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chi was fantastic, great knowledge, answered every question that was put to him, managed all aspects of the trip perfectly, great restaurant recommendations and good fun to be with.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a shoulder bag for the overnight stops or change of clothes for the longer bus trips after cycling when main luggage isn't accessible. Try the local tailors in Hoi An, amazing quality and very reasonable. Take your own food on the overnight train, the canteen gets very busy. Use taxis in Saigon and Hanoi even for short distances, they're cheap and it's safer than walking (crossing roads). Take a book for the coach rides.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Alan & Linda Ward - Dunn

    What a fantastic experience, led by a wonderful guide!

    This was our first organised cycling holiday, recommended by friends who had been to Cuba with Exodus. One of us is a regular road cyclist, the other spent 8 months wondering why she'd signed up for a cycling holiday and endeavouring to get cycle fit through spin classes. Both of us loved it. Our group of 18 plus our fabulous four support team (Lam, Y, Long and Tan - apologies for spelling) got along from the start and made the trip interesting, challenging, varied and thoroughly enjoyable. Lam was endlessly encouraging and confident in our ability - even when some of us weren't! He is the perfect cycle leader who also knows his country so well and his pride and enthusiasm in it shone through. The whole trip was really well organised, despite the itinerary having to be slightly amended due to a recent typhoon, and all the lunch stops and recommended evening restaurants provided excellent local cooking and great value. Y sorted out any mechanical issues quickly and Tan and Long were a welcome sight with their smiles and waves at every snack/drinks refuelling stop or tricky junction! Along with the cycling, we made many stops - scheduled and unscheduled - to experience and understand local culture, everything from peppercorns, rubber, coffee and dragon fruit farms to water buffalo, ducks, temples, war memorials and museums. The weather was mixed, and we did get very wet on a couple of days but Lam organised local (very cheap) laundry whenever possible which let us get our wet and dirty clothes clean and dry. All in all, It was a truly rewarding fortnight which showed the diversity from the south to the north and the friendliness of the Vietnamese people throughout. We would definitely recommend and are planning our next trip with Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing all the cycling including the Hai Van pass; the 30k downhill; Ha long Bay was a bonus - great cruise and food - loved Hoi Ann - the wildlife , the friendly reception we got in some of the remoter villages was also brilliant and Hanoi was fascinating. Wished we could have stayed a little longer

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lam is an absolute credit to Exodus. He works extremely hard to make sure everyone was ok and his planning was meticulous - right down to where the 'happy bush' was at each rest stop. He was always cheerful and managed to reach the right balance of keeping us close when road or traffic conditions required and letting us go at our own pace whenever he could. His research for lunch and evening meal destinations was always sound and great value and he really felt like one of the team

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Book this trip, you won't regret it. Good to very good hotels, comfortable beds, great way to experience Vietnam for moderate to experienced cyclists. Great shopping in Hoi Ann and Hanoi, leave space in your suitcase or buy another like we did!
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Pamela Woodward

    cycling vietnam

    We were "blown away" over and over again on the trip. Our guide Lam and the support team were beyond excellent. They seemed to know what we needed before we did. Everything was done with a smile and a positive attitude. Over and over again they were checking our bikes and gear. I am so very very impressed with them!!! The weather was hot hot hot in some places and torrential rains in other places. Luckily, no wind. I am coming off from a previous biking injury (broken back and sacrum) and am also taking medication that inhibits my physical ability so I usually finished towards or at the end of the group. I also was not able to finish the Pass however, the guides made every effort to help me out and let me ride in the bus when needed--with no frowns given. The bike rides down the two passes were amazing and had me shouting with joy. The food--excellent. The places Lam had chosen for us to eat were safe for our foreign stomachs as well as being traditional Vietnamese food and good as well. The mid ride refreshments perfect--and often. I have such a positive feel for this trip and the excellent guides. I have been fortunate to have been on several trips with 3 extended biking trips and this trip with the guides, scenery, cycling route... was one of the best.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The day I completed the 95 KM day. I have some physical deterrents so I was super excited that in spite of them, I was able to do it. Also, the descent from the two passes. Wow, what a ride! Also, the almost comical riding in the torrential rains with a smile on our faces. The continual "Hello" from the children. We, being from the US did not know how we would be received and the positive attitude and embracing by the Vietnamese was a lesson as well as a humbling experience.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lam, our leader---oh my gosh! Excellent. Like I mentioned, I have been on several guided trips and Lam was one of the best I have experienced. Lam was accompanied by 3 others--Tang, Long, and Y. They anticipated what we would need before we even knew we needed things. They worked so well together. What a team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather can be extremely hot as well as humid. I don't think, unless you live in similar weather systems, that you can fully prepare for that. Train and do what you can to prepare but even if you cannot do the hills and passes, you can still be a part of the adventure. If having to ride in the bus once or twice gets you to experience this adventure, then "just do it". As I get older, I realize that I do not have to be first but to be part of it is so fulfilling.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only hesitation I had with the trip was that there seemed to be several on the trip that were in extremely good cycling condition. They seemed to want to push the pace and wanted to be first or near it. Since this was my first time in Vietnam, I wanted to experience the countryside and it's people and stop to take photos, or marvel at something I saw or stop and go back to take a photo when I passed a school with young students and everyone of them called out "Hello" to me. Lam, our main guide kept stressing that this was a holiday but I felt that if I stopped to take the photos I wanted, I would keep the others back. This was a frustration. This was not Lam's doing but more the pressure from many of the other cyclists. I can do the push push push here at home with just concentrating on the road in front of me and seeing how hard I can cycle but in a new country, I want to experience that country--not the push. I don't know what to suggest to change this... one of the extremely fit cyclists would turn around and redo some of it. Perhaps this could be something suggested in situations like this. ???
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Gudrun Meisl

    Highlights of vietnam

    A fun way to see a lot of vietnam

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Some great downhill, giggling children wherever you say hello

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Danh was great fun and worked very hard to make this an enjoyable trip. I would have never tried egg coffee otherwise

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's a very busy itinerary. There is hardly any time to see Saigon. If you can, book an extra day or too before and after the trip. The bikes are good but bringing your own saddle is worth considering. The traffic can look scary but drivers are very respectful. Don't hesitate or break and everything will flow around you.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Tony Glaser

    A great trip

    A great trip overall, which I would recommend. The itinerary was good, the hotels (with 1 exception) were really good, the trip leader (Le Long) was fantastic, the bikes and support team were good, the food was good, and Vietnam is very interesting. However the itinerary is very busy - although some down time is built in, there were lots of early mornings, and a lot of cycling time (good) and bus time (not so good), so there was not as much time for sightseeing and soaking up culture etc. as I would have liked - we rode past a few places I would love to have stopped an spent time exploring. There would be no solution to this other than making the trip a couple of days longer - so I am not complaining at all, just noting the reality - this is the only reason I give it 4 rather than 5 stars - 4½ would be more appropriate

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The long downhill ride on the 5th day. I loved riding through the markets and town of Dalat

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely fantastic - simultaneously very efficient and the life and soul of the party!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You might need a few days off after all this activity - especially if you are prone to jet lag problems if you are traveling from the UK or the US. I would also suggest getting to Ho Chi Minh City a day or two before the trip starts, to get over jet lag and also to explore the town a bit (there is no time for this in the trip itself) - I would recommend a back-of-the-motorbike city tour, the War Remnants Museum, the cocktail bar at the top of Bitexco Tower, among other. Vietnamese city traffic (mainly motorbikes) looks absolutely scary, but is not at all - all the motorbikes just flow around you like a school of fish, and the (relatively few) cars and trucks are very aware of 2-wheeled traffic and respectful. Everyone is friendly

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    One of our overnight destinations was destroyed by the typhoon that came 2 weeks before our trip - Exodus handled this very well and the alternative accommodation was great
  • Reviewed November 2017
    jill baker

    Fabulous cycle tour and bus, train, boat journeys across Vietnam from S to N.

    Overall, the trip deserves 10/10. Everything was great: the country, the scenery, the people, the weather, the group, the organisation, the guide and the support team. Danh, our guide, gets a special mention for his excellent and informative leadership.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Highlights - Cu Chi tunnels, Hoi An, Halong Bay and cycling through some of the rural landscapes - rice fields, dense vegetation, water buffalo, and the villages with local markets. The war museums in HCMC & Hanoi were poignant and at times disturbing, they were also heartening, and to me were an essential part of a visit of Vietnam.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Danh, the Happy Buddha, was an excellent guide/leader. On some trips the guide just steers the ship and perhaps does so quietly in the background, only there when needed. Not on this trip. This was very much Danh's tour. He was very informative in history and culture. He provided lots of advice for places to eat and his recommendations never disappointed. They were not the cheapest but they were good. He ran a kitty his way, which being a generous kitty, was able to supply some nice surprises (no spoilers). He explained everything we needed to know, daily. However, we were a large group of 18no, and sometimes it was difficult to hear in the bus with his rapid delivery, his accent and the background noise. Danh and the support team (total 4no) looked after us as cyclists very well indeed, by seeing us safely across junctions, servicing the bikes, and providing frequent drink & snack stops. Danh really did improve my overall Vietnam experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The cycling was mainly flat with only a couple of days with ascents. I wondered how I would cope cycling in the heat (max 37deg) and high humidity but I'm pleased to say that whilst you're moving on the bike it is very pleasant. As soon as you stop, you're seeking the shade. The animals, often found meandering on the road...cows, water buffalo, dogs...all seemed very content and chilled. I didn't have the rabies jab before travelling and this was never a worry. If you like fresh seafood, spicy food, fruit and veg, strong smooth coffee, you'll love the local restaurants, cafes and street food. Freshly prepared eggs for breakfast. Every meal was a joy. It is generally a very cheap country to eat and drink...though as anywhere that depends where you go. We paid up to 120,000Dong (£4) for a can of beer in HCMC and we also paid 4,000Dong (8p) for a glass of fresh beer in Hoi An. And the fresh beer was the nicest! Oh yes, the overnight train is an experience, and more comfortable than you might imagine. MOV - get it booked, you'll love it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Very minor things which could be improved. The private bus was designed for local people, not the larger westerner, so many of us found the seats a little uncomfortable. A whole day was spent in Hue before the overnight train and whilst the visit to the temple/citadel was interesting it was tough going. An option to cycle in Hue would have been good or less time in Hue if the programme could be rejigged. I would have happily spent longer in Hoi An, a magical place. There is little time in either city at the start/finish of the trip but it would be difficult to cram any more into the already fast paced agenda. I added a couple of extra days at each end to explore the cities (HCMC & Hanoi) and I'm glad I did. I also managed a Mekong Delta tour before the Exodus tour started, which I'd recommend.
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