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Biking Vietnam Tips

1. Pack light.
You only need 3 or 4 T-shirts, a pair of shorts, bathers and sandals. Think about bringing laundry detergent to wash your clothes yourself - it can also double to clean bikes.

 

2. Start a group fund.
Have everyone throw in a couple hundred dollars and fund all meals and small purchases from this fund.

 

3. Bring a Vietnamese translator.
Outside the cities, very few people speak English. A bicycle trip is still possible without a translator, but it’s much more difficult.

 

4. Consider hiring a van and driver.
This costs about $100 per person, but after being brought water and food and having your hotels found, you’ll feel it’s worth ten times that.

 

5. Bring a spare set of wheels.
One person can bring a front wheel, while another brings a rear. With a big group, a few punctures and broken spokes are inevitable. That being said, everyone should put on new tires before departing.

 

6. Consider bringing a competent bike mechanic.
There’s no such thing as a bikeshop in rural Vietnam. At least make sure someone who knows the basics (adjusting gears, truing wheels, replacing cables, re-greasing bearings, etc) is riding with you.

 

7. Don’t forget necessities.
These include:
Babywipes for wiping down the bike, your shoes, your hands, etc. You can buy these at any shop in Vietnam.
Sunscreen…lots of it. It’s difficult to find in rural Vietnam.
Gloves: With all the sweat and sunscreen on your hands, you may long for a pair of gloves.
Chain lube. Wipe down your chain with baby wipes every day and lube your chain every morning.
Electrical tape comes in handy for many things.
Free WiFi is generally accessible – even in rural towns. Computers are usually available in hotels and basically free.
Mobile phones. Most current dual mode GSM phones work on the Vietnamese mobile networks (900MHz and 1800MHz). Buy a SIM card and minutes for $10 (from Vinaphone) and it will likely never run out.
Earplugs. Your companions may snore. It’s important to get a good night’s sleep.
First Aid kit. Some roads aren’t too safe. Bring a good kit with lots of saline, gauze, disinfectant, etc.
Travel insurance. For less than $100 you can get unlimited medical coverage and $4k for lost or damaged belongings.
Energy foods. Bring gels and bars for snacks en route - otherwise you may be stuck eating only bananas.

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