A History of Cycling in Vietnam

How Vietnam Became a Cyclist's Paradise

The Origins of Bicycles In Vietnam

The bicycle was introduced to Vietnam during the French colonial period, which lasted from the mid-19th century until the mid-20th century. French colonialists brought bicycles to Vietnam as a means of transportation, and the locals quickly adopted them as a more efficient way to get around.

At first, bicycles were primarily used by the French and the Vietnamese elites, but over time, they became more accessible to the general population. In the early 20th century, bicycle races became popular in Vietnam, and many cycling clubs were formed.

During the Vietnam War, bicycles became an essential mode of transportation for many Vietnamese people due to the scarcity of fuel and other resources. After the war, bicycles continued to be a popular mode of transportation, especially in rural areas where cars and motorbikes were less common.

Bicycles During the Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, bicycles played an important role in transportation and logistics for both the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army.

Bicycles were commonly used by the Viet Cong to transport weapons, supplies, and troops along the Ho Chi Minh trail, which was a network of roads and trails that ran through Laos and Cambodia and supplied the communist forces in South Vietnam. Bicycles were well-suited for this type of terrain, which was often rough and difficult to navigate with vehicles.

Bicycles were also used by the North Vietnamese Army for transportation and logistics, particularly in the early stages of the war when resources were scarce. The army used bicycles to transport supplies and equipment, and they were often modified to carry heavier loads. Some bicycles were even used to transport wounded soldiers.

Bicycles played a key role in the success of the communist forces in the Vietnam War, as they were a reliable and efficient means of transportation in difficult terrain. Today, bicycles remain an important mode of transportation in Vietnam, particularly in rural areas where cars and motorbikes are less common.

The Motorbike Invasion

In the early 1990s, the Vietnamese government began to liberalize the economy and open up to foreign investment. This led to an increase in trade and commerce, and with it came a growing demand for faster and more efficient transportation.

At the same time, the Vietnamese government also began to relax restrictions on motorbike ownership and production. Prior to this, motorbikes were seen as a luxury item and were only available to a select few. But with the new policies, motorbikes became more affordable and accessible to the general population.

The first locally-produced motorbike in Vietnam was the Vinamotor, which was introduced in the early 1990s. This was followed by other domestic brands such as Minsel and Pega, as well as foreign brands like Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki.

Motorbikes quickly became popular in Vietnam, particularly in urban areas where traffic congestion was a major issue. They were faster and more convenient than bicycles, and they offered a level of status and mobility that was previously unavailable to many Vietnamese people.

Today, motorbikes are the most common form of transportation in Vietnam, with an estimated 45 million registered motorbikes on the roads. This has led to significant challenges, such as air pollution, traffic accidents, and congestion. However, the Vietnamese government has implemented various policies to try to address these issues, such as promoting public transportation, building bike lanes, and encouraging the use of electric motorbikes.

Vietnam, A Country for 2 Wheels

Vietnam is a country with a rich and diverse landscape, which makes it an ideal destination for those who love to explore on two wheels. The country's winding roads and mountainous terrain provide a challenging and rewarding experience for cyclists and motorbike riders alike. From the stunning coastal roads of the central coast to the winding mountain passes of the north, there are countless scenic routes to explore. Along the way, visitors can take in the sights and sounds of Vietnam's bustling cities, charming villages, and stunning natural scenery.

One of the reasons why cycling and motorbiking are so popular in Vietnam is because they offer a unique way to experience the country's culture and history. Many of Vietnam's most iconic sights, such as the ancient town of Hoi An, the historic capital city of Hue, and the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail, can be explored on two wheels. Cycling and motorbiking also offer an opportunity to interact with the locals and experience the country's famous hospitality firsthand. Vietnamese people are known for their friendliness and welcoming nature, and many will be happy to chat with visitors or offer advice on the best places to visit.

The love for two-wheeled transportation is also evident in Vietnam's local culture. Many shops and restaurants are designed to accommodate cyclists and motorbike riders, with bike racks and parking areas readily available. There are also many cycling and motorbike tours available, which offer a chance to explore the country's most scenic routes with the guidance of experienced local guides. For those who prefer a more independent experience, it's easy to rent a bicycle or motorbike and set off on your own adventure.

Modern Cycling Tours In Vietnam

In recent years, cycling tours have become increasingly popular in Vietnam, as visitors look for unique and authentic ways to experience the country's culture and natural beauty. There are now many companies offering cycling tours in Vietnam, ranging from leisurely half-day rides to multi-day adventures that cover hundreds of kilometers.

One of the most popular destinations for cycling tours in Vietnam is the Mekong Delta region in the south of the country. This area is known for its lush rice paddies, winding canals, and vibrant local culture. Cycling tours in the Mekong Delta often include visits to local villages and markets, where visitors can sample traditional foods and learn about the daily lives of the people who call the region home.

Another popular destination for cycling tours in Vietnam is the central coast, which is known for its stunning beaches, historic sites, and scenic mountain passes. Cycling tours in this region often include visits to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Hoi An and Hue, as well as scenic rides along the Hai Van Pass and the coastal roads of Da Nang and Nha Trang.

North Vietnam is another popular destination for cycling tours in Vietnam, particularly in the mountainous regions of Sapa and Ha Giang. These areas are known for their stunning natural scenery, including towering mountains, terraced rice fields, and ethnic minority villages.

Cycling tours in North Vietnam often include visits to local markets and villages, where visitors can learn about the traditional cultures and lifestyles of the various ethnic minority groups that call the region home. Highlights of a cycling tour in North Vietnam might include cycling through the rice terraces of Sapa, visiting the colorful markets of Bac Ha and Dong Van, or crossing the breathtaking Ma Pi Leng Pass.

Cycling tours in North Vietnam are typically more challenging than those in other parts of the country, due to the mountainous terrain and cooler temperatures. However, the rewards are also greater, with stunning scenery and a unique cultural experience that is hard to find elsewhere in Vietnam.