© Mr Biker Saigon

Unveiling Vietnam's Cycling Culture with Mr Biker Saigon

29 August 2023

Vietnam's cycling culture is a vibrant tapestry woven into the fabric of its society, offering an unparalleled way to explore the country's diverse landscapes and immerse oneself in its rich culture. As a tour operator who has had the privilege of witnessing this phenomenon firsthand, we can attest that cycling is undeniably the best way to experience Vietnam. The scenic routes take travelers through stunning coastlines, lush rice paddies, and majestic mountains, offering breathtaking views that one can savor at their own pace. The flexibility and accessibility of cycling allow for an intimate connection with the locals in smaller villages and rural areas, where the warm hospitality and rich traditions of Vietnam are most authentic.

Most travelers visiting Vietnam often opt for guided tours, luxury cruises, or exploring major cities, such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. While these experiences offer their own allure, they often limit the opportunity to truly immerse oneself in the country's soul.

And Vietnam’s soul was made to travel by two-wheelers. With a majority of the population relying on motorcycles to get around and transport goods like rice sacks the size of a pig, the country has its roads weaved into its core of life. However, not every street is made the same and some could be as narrow as a single track. Getting around in the country by car is sure to get you some distances, but being on a bicycle and riding the “veins of life” will get you even closer to Vietnamese life.

Recognizing this, we seized the opportunity to create unique cycling adventures that delved into Vietnam's lesser-known regions, ensuring a genuine and transformative experience for our clients. We carefully curated routes that blended the must-see highlights with hidden gems, allowing travelers to interact with local communities and forge genuine connections.

Early challenges

The cycling industry is fairly new in Vietnam. First, there was the challenge of not having any professional training for our staff, including myself. We were passionate about cycling and had a vision of sharing our love for it with others, but it’s one thing to ride a bike and another to manage a group of eager tourists on unfamiliar roads. Most of the cycling guides I knew (there were about a handful of them in Saigon) were working for foreigner-owned tour companies. They were all trained differently. That's when I decided to bring together a group to share our experience with others, forming the first base knowledge about the cycling industry in Vietnam.

But perhaps the biggest headache of all was finding high-quality bikes and equipment. Sure, we could've gone for the cheaper options, but we had a vision: to provide an unparalleled cycling experience. High-quality gear was non-negotiable. It was both hard-to-find, expensive, and at times, it felt like searching for a needle in a haystack. 

In order to solve this problem, we had to go out of our way and become an official dealership for Trek Bicycles. This was the only visible way we could find a big fleet of good bikes in all sizes. Fortunately, right when the pandemic hit, the revenue from selling and renting out bicycles kept us alive while the tourism industry was completely put on hold.

© Mr Biker Saigon
The ever-present dance between drivers and cyclists!

Our local drivers are used to the ebb and flow of motorists and tend to take cyclists in stride, especially tourists. They’re pretty chill about sharing the road. And here’s a little secret: our tours are smartly designed to stick to the quieter, scenic routes. This means fewer big trucks, less honking, and more of that serene, picturesque atmosphere cyclists crave. So while we pedal along soaking in the views, rest assured, there's mutual respect on these roads.

We are often kept on our toes when it comes to crafting the routes. Although the perfect route has never existed, we take different turns here and there during our trips to see what lies behind the corners. Our expatriate guests are great motivators as they encourage us to find new cycling paths everytime they come back for further exploration. The newly discovered routes expand our horizon and implement lots of authenticity into our excursions.

Some pointers

Five years ago, it would be almost impossible to find road-worthy bicycles and guides that can take travelers out exploring our diverse country. Mr Biker Saigon is proud to be a pioneer in providing excellent trips with a team of enthusiast cyclist guides and a fleet of high-quality bikes. We have been lucky to have positive feedback from guests and aim to promote the biking culture in this wonderful country. Vietnam's cycling culture is truly a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. The allure lies in its scenic beauty, cultural immersion, and the opportunity to forge genuine connections with local communities.

As we continue our journey of running a cycling tour company in an area where very little existed before, we're learning a ton. We're a work in progress, and we'd love to share a few insights we've picked up along the way. If you're considering a similar venture, here are some pointers, from our experience to yours.

1. Understand the Locale: Before diving in, take time to deeply understand the local terrain, culture, and history. This will ensure your tours offer unique experiences that resonate with both tourists and locals.

2. Safety First: Ensure the routes chosen are safe for cyclists, especially if the local populace isn't accustomed to seeing bikes on the road. Work with local authorities if needed.

3. Local Partnerships: Building relationships with local businesses can be mutually beneficial. Think cafes, artisans, or local attractions. They can provide stops for your tours, and in return, you bring them customers.

4. Community Engagement: Engage the local community early on. This fosters goodwill and can often lead to organic brand ambassadors who'll champion your cause.

5. Train & Equip: Invest in training for your staff, and ensure they're equipped with quality bikes and gear. First impressions matter, especially in a new market.

As we navigate this incredible journey of entrepreneurship, these lessons have been instrumental in winning our customers' trust. Each new connection, each smile of satisfaction from a returning adventurer, every time our name is passed along between friends – these are the milestones we cherish. Yes, there have been setbacks, but these small victories remind us of our progress. They inspire us to continue pedaling forward, committed to creating unforgettable cycling adventures for all our guests.

© Mr Biker Saigon

About Mr Biker Saigon

Established in 2016, Mr Biker Saigon has solidified its position as a premier provider of adventure cycling tours in Vietnam. With a strong commitment to sustainable travel, we go beyond exploring stunning landscapes and strive to leave a positive impact on the communities we encounter. Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures of the lands we traverse, we celebrate local traditions, savor authentic cuisine, and forge meaningful connections. Through our meticulously crafted journeys, we not only create unforgettable memories for our cyclists but also foster a global community of passionate riders, united by the love for exploration and the thrill of the open road.

Contributing members are responsible for the accuracy of content contributed to the Member News section of AdventureTravelNews.