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

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260 Reviews

  • Reviewed March 2018
    Allistair Stark

    A grand tour by bike through Vietnam.

    This is a full on tour, with so much to see, and some great cycling. Highlights were the unexpected two nights on Whale Island, and the 34km - thirty four - continuous downhill from Dalat, through jungle on winding roads. This tour is classified in difficulty the same as Indochina & Angkor, but this is wrong. It is without doubt more difficult cycling, with a lot more elevation, and if done in the dry season fairly continuous headwinds. (We did the two tours back to back). However bus support is excellent. The temperatures in the south are the same as the Indochina tour - early thirties - but we obviously cooler at Dalat due to altitude, and as we got further north, particularly after the Hai Van pass. There is overall less to see in terms of temples etc, but much more in terms of scenery, and the cycling in general is a bit more interesting. Hanoi and Saigon are really interesting cities for anyone with any interest in recent history, but Hoi An is a gem of a city, relatively unknown to most people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The people. So friendly, almost without exception. (I dropped money in a wallet in Hanoi without realising, and was pursued by a young mother out with her children calling after me, to give it back. The thing is that whilst incredibly grateful, I didn't feel at all surprised at this)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Nguyen Tan Danh or Danh, also known to all as the 'Happy Buddha' He was simply wonderful. He is so organised, and always willing to go the extra mile to make things better, always volunteering extras. For example, having watched a large group from another country arrive in our Hanoi Hotel whilst we were there, tired and confused from their flights and all wanting the attention of a rather harassed looking leader - we compared it to how Danh almost without exception had organised all our rooms prior to arrival at hotels so we just walked in and picked up keys. He'd also got all our passport details and did all this in advance or on the road too! Five star service plus! He was also a font of knowledge on the history and geography of Vietnam and always a pleasure to talk to. As for food and coffee, he always found interesting out of the way places to visit, we will never forget the tiny cafe up a back stairwell and the 'special 'Hanoi' coffee - with eggs' which sounds dubious, but is actually completely delicious (think coffee flavoured meringue). We were very lucky to have Danh as our group leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are not a regular cyclists, do get saddle fit. We are not cyclists, but did three months on and off prior to going. Do take your own pedals/saddle if you want, they are no problem to fit for the bike team, and you'll most likely find them more comfortable than the ones on the bikes. You will want to carry a camera; the bikes are mountain bikes with disc brakes - the handlebars are quite thick and many front panniers (like ours) didn't fit. Some folk had bought relatively cheap ones from Decathlon with long velcro straps which fitted fine. I ended up using a small rucksack, this causes a pretty sweaty back. Don't worry about malaria, but you will need DEET as mosquitoes and mosquito borne diseases such as Dengue are. Consider buying a knock down fly spray for use where there are mosquitoes in the rooms, such as Whale Island and to spray under your mosquito net. We would also take plug in mosquito coils and tablets for the same reason. Consider staying extra nights at the start/finish if you want to see Saigon and Hanoi, otherwise there is very little time, and there is plenty to see for a couple of days in each.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    More for Exodus, just two points; It would be worth differentiating between the Cycle Indochina and Cycle Vietnam in terms of difficulty. Whilst it is generally hotter in the latter, Vietnam is much more hilly and the cycling is harder overall. If Indochina is easy/mod then Vietnam is moderate. Also there was one leg which by common consent was pretty unenjoyable, we did 22km along a dead straight main road north of Whale Island. Whilst there are clearly issues about loading/unloading bikes, this might have been a better option than the cycle.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    John Dingley

    Great trip, great guides, read the trip notes carefully

    I loved the trip - some magical moments and great rides - great company, wonderful food, superb team....Everybody else's reviews i totally aree with, it was wonderful. But not enough reviews on here tell the full story, so here as some things to be aware of Too long spent in the bus transferring from place to place - that was a real downer. The transfer to some hotels took hours, and when we arrived their didnt seem any reason why that location was chosen, especially in the early part of the trip in the south. The days are really full-on, dont expect any time for site seeing and lazing around. Very early starts every day. A couple of days had rides that were almost boring - long main roads just nocking out the KM's. I think exodus could plan these a little better. I'd have preferred more backroads, even if that meant lower quality hotels at the end of it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The downhill descent from Dalat was great fun and lifted the whole group. The cocktail party on the overnight train helped pass the time. But the kids running out to try and get a hi5 or a simple hello really made it.... and oh yes, helping a lady upright her overladen moped that had gone off the side of the road was a moment i'll never forget.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Happy Buddha was probably the hardest working guide we have had. His attention to detail was faultless - checking into hotels - and out - was a breeze because he booked rooms ahead and arranged all of the passport copies - and that can gain you 30 mins a day so priceless on such a hectic trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    the coach to Ha Long bay and back was 4 hours each way, which is a bit of a drag. We learned afterwards that there was a seaplane that cost $175, took 45 mins. We really wished that we'd pre-booked that for a flight back to Hanoi - it would have been unforgettable ! Also, you wont need half as many clothes as you think. Dont overpack, lots of opportunities for very cheap laundry. However, take a washing line so that you can dry stuff that youve hand washed.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We did back to back trips - Indochina and then Vietnam. It was quite easily do-able for the cycling part, but living out of a suitcase for 4 weeks was a bit tiresome. Personally, if you are trying to decide which to do, i think the indochine trip was far better - Cambodia stole our hearts and Ankor Wat was simply breathtaking. You get to sample 3 very different countries on that trip.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    LINDA LAMOTTE

    Vietnam by bike - what a perfect way of visiting this country

    This trip was absolutely brilliant, a perfect way of visiting a country, by bike. We really felt part of the scenery and the locals were so welcoming, the cycling was interesting, safe, challenging but not too much, everyone could go at their pace as we had plenty of stops to allow the slower members catch up and have a break too. Every hotel we stayed in was over our expectations, clean spacious with very welcoming staff. The food was out of this world, fresh, local delicious and none of the group had any problems at all. Our guide, the driver and the mechanic were so knowledgeable and really kept an eye on each of us during our trip. We had fresh water and refreshments throughout our cycling and the excursions were great . Vietnam is really a great place to visit, so varied and interesting. I truly recommend this trip to any one that enjoys cycling and it was the perfect way to visit a country; I thank our guide Son who made each one of us feel as ease and handled us well. The guide and driver of our bus were very helpful and so was our mechanic. Well done Exodus!!!!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day was just perfect,

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, he really knows how to make each individual feel at ease and kept us all in good spirit. Well organised and so cheerful, couldn't have asked for any better.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    To bring a neck cushion for the bus ride as we often needed a nap . Lots of insect repellent and sun cream of course. To bring warm clothes too.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would definitely recommend this trip
  • 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. ???