“A Tourist’s Guide to Love” is a rom-com movie that recently dropped on Netflix that follows the protagonist’s adventures throughout Vietnam. And, regardless of the quality or plot of the show, it is perhaps the best showcase of Vietnam’s beauty ever to grace Western media. That fact alone makes all of us at Mr Biker Saigon huge fans of the show, because we’re all truly passionate about showing the world the rustic beauty of the real Vietnam.
In this post, we’ll go through all of the notable filming locations used in “A Tourist’s Guide to Love” and look at them from a cyclist’s point of view, from the north to the south of Vietnam (although not necessarily in that order). We’ll also discuss which of Mr Biker’s tours will enable you to explore each of the locations.
Saigon, also known as Ho Chi Minh City, is the meetup point and first stop for main character the tour group of main character Amanda Riley, played by Rachel Leigh Cook. Most of the places she visits in Saigon (all of which are listed below) are very popular tourist destinations and so will not be included on Mr Biker’s Saigon Velo Tour, our only tour that actually takes cyclists through the streets of Saigon. That’s because, to be honest, the world-famous tourist attractions like Ben Thanh market are, for the most part, tourist traps. That being said, visitors who want to retrace Amanda’s steps should check out:
Tan Son Nhat Airport
Not that you’ll be able to avoid this one, but the baggage claim at Tan Son Nhat is the first time Amanda meets Sinh, the movie’s love interest played by Vietnamese-American Scott Lee.
One of the landmarks Amanda passes in the taxi on the way to her hotel.
Our Saigon Velo Tour also passes by Turtle Lake since the surrounding streets are good for cyclists and pedestrians. The walkways of the park, which criss-cross the lake, are also a great place to get off your bike and snap a few photos.
During her taxi ride, Amanda also passes one of the Chinatown shopfronts selling bright red festive banners for the Tet holiday. Saigon’s district 5 is known as the city’s Chinatown, and it is one of the locations on the Saigon Velo Tour itinerary.
New World Hotel Saigon
New World is one of the nicest hotels in Saigon, and most expensive – which, in Saigon, means over 150 USD/night.
Mr Biker aims for cost-efficiency on most of our tours, so the multi-day tours that head through Saigon (like the Vietnam South to North tour) will not stay at somewhere quite as ritzy as New World Saigon. However, our recently unveiled luxury cycling tours would include accommodation at New World or somewhere else comparable.
Ben Thanh Market
The most notable Saigon location in A Tourist’s Guide to Love is Ben Thanh Market, the large open-air market at the heart of Saigon’s tourist district.
As noted above, Mr Biker tours don’t go through Ben Thanh because it’s a bit too “on the beaten track” for us and many of our customers. Instead, the Saigon Velo tour goes to local markets that we feel provide a more authentic experience. The prices are bound to be much more reasonable, too, whether you bargain or not.
And if you want to try durian like Amanda does at Ben Thanh market, you’re in luck; the fruit is beloved throughout Vietnam and we can get ahold of it on any of our tours.
The second stop on the tour in A Tourist’s Guide to Love, Da Nang is generally considered the big city of Central Vietnam.
My Khe Beach
My Khe Beach, the white sand beach in the center of Da Nang, is very long as has one of the best-kept roads in the city running along it for kilometers. Several of our tours go through Da Nang, including the Vietnam South to North Tour and the Vietnam Central Coast Tour, and all go by My Khe Beach.
Riding a basket boat (thung chai)
You’ll pass a ton of these iconic boats if you’re taking any tour that passes through Da Nang or nearly any other Vietnamese city on the beach
My Son Sanctuary
A Tourist’s Guide to Love shows off the old-world beauty of My Son sanctuary but does not mention its torrid past. Mr Biker’s tours that pass through Da Nang will detour to My Son and won’t shy away from the historical info. Although we love Vietnam, we also want to acknowledge its past in full.
Rachel Leigh Cook said that Hoi An was her favorite filming location she went to for the movie, and it’s no big surprise; the city is a UNESCO world heritage site and easily one of the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia.
Dragon dance at Quan Cong temple
Cultural celebrations like the one taken in by the tour group at this ancient Chinese temple are hard to come by, but we try to squeeze them into our tours if your visit happens to coincide with a cultural holiday like Tet in LAte January or Reunification Day in late April. If you’re especially enthused about taking in some Vietnamese cultural performances, we’d recommend our Pleiku to Kontum Cultural Bike Tour.
Japanese covered bridge over the Thu Bon river
This wooden bridge is probably the most iconic image of Hoi An, to the point where it appears on the 20,000 VND bill. It’s hard to miss if you’re staying in the center of town.
All of Mr Biker’s tours that head through Hoi An will put riders up at centrally-located accommodations. And since Hoi An’s downtown is not very big, that means our tour-goers will have lots of opportunity to walk (although not cycle) across the ancient bridge.
One of the many shops in Hoi An selling fitted suits and other bespoke clothing
Shops like the bespoke tailor in which Amanda’s tour group got their new clothes for Tet are plentiful in downtown Hoi An. Our tours make a point to let riders stop and explore the iconic city, and spending a few hours in one of the shops getting a suit fitted (often ready for pickup within 24 hours) is a popular activity.
The water lantern festival on the same river
The water lantern festival only happens once a year, but it really is as picturesque and magical as it is depicted to be in A Tourist’s Guide to Love. The timeline for the festival in the movie is not fully realistic; it is held each year on the 14th day of the lunar calendar, which means 2 weeks after Tet (Which means early- to mid-February).
Although not credited in the film, Ha Giang is the location of Chang Village, Sinh and Anh’s hometown.
With its flat rice paddies stretching as far as the eye can see and its majestic mountains jutting into the clouds, Ha Giang is one of the prettiest but also wildest parts of Vietnam for cyclists. Mr Biker’s most advanced adventure, the Ha Giang Gauntlet, gives riders a full view of the area
The final act of A Tourist’s Guide to Love takes place in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city.
The bustling old quarter is the area the movie’s tour group stays in, and it is also the neighborhood Mr Biker Saigon’s riders stay in. It is the city’s cultural hub, with more street food vendors and famous landmarks (like the iconic Hoan Kiam lake) than anywhere else in Vietnam.
The Hanoi landmarks visited in A Tourist’s Guide to Love include:
Long Bien Bridge
Thanh Long Water puppet theater
The Temple of Literature
Hanoi Opera House
Mr Biker’s tours generally give riders free reign to explore as they wish in Saigon, so we don’t specifically visit any of these locations. However, they’re all less than ten minutes away from the Old Quarter by bike, so adventurers looking to discover Hanoi’s sites will be able to see all of them.
That’s a Wrap!
A Tourist’s Guide to Love does a better job of showing off the most beautiful and iconic parts of Vietnam than any other piece of Western media. We at Mr Biker Saigon are extremely proud of our country, and seeing it portrayed in such a loving and professional light made us indescribably happy. We hope that this short guide enables other cyclists to enjoy the sites they saw in the movie with us, too.