Central Vietnam by Bike: Rice Paddies and Smiles

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After falling absolutely head over heels for the city of Hoi An, I was very reluctant to spend any time outside of it while I was in the area.

However, a persuasive tour group coupled with my weak will (and the fact that I suffer from FOMO) led me to sign up for a morning bike tour through the countryside around Hoi An.

And I'm so glad I did.

Cycling in Vietnam

My Intrepid Travel group joked throughout our whole Vietnam tour that it really should have been advertised as an active or cycling adventure due to the number of optional bike tours we all went on. We spent roughly 12 hours on bikes over the course of a week, traversing the roads, ruts, and countryside lanes that are the *real* windows into Vietnam.

Vietnam countryside

On this particular bike tour, we were out of Hoi An by 7:30 a.m., making for the countryside for an easy morning jaunt. The sun was just high enough to glint seductively off the rice paddies that surround the the city, reminding me just how BEAUTIFUL Vietnam truly is.

Vietnam rice paddies

We rode through a maze of rice paddies, stopping to help do some farming and to meet a friendly local water buffalo.

Farming in Vietnam

Water buffalo

We stopped at a colorful countryside cemetery, where we learned that, after a body has been buried for 3 years, it is exhumed and the bones are cleaned by the family before being re-buried.

Cemetery in Vietnam

Cemetery in Vietnam

Along the way to the Thu Bon River, we stopped at a local school yard and played soccer with some excitable kids.

Kids in Vietnam

Kids in Vietnam

Our tour ended with us loading our bikes onto an old boat and cruising up the Thu Bon River back to downtown Hoi An.

Thu Bon River in Hoi An, Vietnam

Thu Bon River in Hoi An, Vietnam

We sat smiling, some of us flicking through the photos we had taken along the ride and agreeing that this was one of the best mornings in Vietnam so far.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Rice fields in Vietnam

If you ever head to Vietnam yourself, I would highly recommend getting on a bike and getting out of the city. The countryside is where the real Vietnam lies.


When you travel, what do YOU do to get a feel for a new country or culture?



*Note: I visited Hoi An as part of a complimentary tour of Vietnam and Cambodia with Intrepid Travel. However, this bike tour was an optional extra that I paid for myself. As always, opinions are completely my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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31 Comments on “Central Vietnam by Bike: Rice Paddies and Smiles

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  1. […] market. We played an impromptu soccer game with a group of kids in Hoi An. And, on every bike tour we took through the countryside, kids would run out of their houses simply to wave, yell […]

    Adding this to our travel list. Your story was lovely to read, it seems like Vietnam really is a great place to go and explore

      I really enjoyed my time in Vietnam, and would definitely recommend it!

    I think my favorite photo might be of the one with the sunrise, simply gorgeous. The cemetery looks fascinating, I love the vibrant colors that are used. It also reminds me of cemeteries in Louisiana where people are also buried above the ground!

      I loved the colorful cemetery, too. I saw similar ones in Central America, though I don’t have any photos of them!

    Stunning photos! This looks like an awesome experience. I did kind of the same, but not on purpose. My boyfriend and I were trying to ride to the beach and instead we ended up in this remote village with no idea which way to go. No one spoke English and then the kicker was when he got a flat tire! We were so far from where we started riding! Luckily we eventually found someone to fix it and got some directions back into town. It sure was an adventure! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Oh geez, that DOES sound like quite an adventure, Jessica! But hey, at least you got a cool story out of it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Wow.I am so looking forward to SE Asia. I was planning on it a couple of weeks back, and now would up in Macedonia.( And it’s cold!) I will probably be to Asia in Aug/Sept( With my scheduling…prob the worst time of year weather wise?)
    Fantastic pictures, I will defiantly look into the bike tour!

      SE Asia is great. And, honestly, I don’t think there’s a “worst” time of year there. Most people say that even in the rainy season it’s not bad. You might get a downpour once a day, but it doesn’t get cold or anything like that!

    The cemetery reminded me in a way of the ones I saw in New Orleans.

      Oh yeah? Cool! I would probably like cemeteries in New Orleans then. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Riding through the country on a bike is something very different. One is so near to the environment and the people. Emotional attachment is the best part of travelling. Great, that you love it as well!

    I agree completely that as fun as the cities are, the countryside is really what makes Vietnam so spectacular and special. For me, it’s the one place in Asia that really looks like you stepped into a 50 year old National Geographic and are on another planet. So beautiful, not just the scenery, but the people too!

      I could not agree more, Steph! Rural Vietnam is like a postcard or, like you said, something right off the pages of National Geographic.

    How beautiful. I love the sunset shot! Vietnamese kids are just about the cutest ever.

      Thanks, Kristen!

      And yes, I agree about the kids. I’ve already informed my mother that if I ever adopt a child, it’s going to be from Vietnam!

    Beautiful photos as always Amanda. Its always nice to see the countryside out side of the cities when travelling where ever you can. Every place I visit I always look for locals and see where they go. Which shops they frequent, or restaurants and cafes they eat at. And then follow. Its a more authentic experience (although I do love the touristy places from time to time) which gives you a little bit of insight into their culture and daily life.

      That’s a really good method, Jen! I try to do that when looking for restaurants. Though, like you said, sometimes the touristy spots are good, too!

    I feel like so many bloggers are in (or are blogging about being in) Vietnam right now! What a stunning place, and the bike tour looks like a great way to get out of the city. Pretty cool idea to put the bikes on a boat and cruise back too. Also – cleaning the bones thing? Kinda gross?

      Haha, yeah, there DID seem to be a lot of us in Vietnam at the same time! Totally randomly, of course, and we were all doing our own things. But yeah. Great to see more people traveling there and writing about it.

      And yes. I thought the cleaning the bones thing was super weird and kinda disgusting. But it’s a cultural thing! I think most people there these days go the cremation route though…

    Ah, that looks perfect! I’m heading to Vietnam this summer and cycling looks like the ideal way to see the beautiful countryside. Despite what some others say, I am hoping that Vietnam will be one of my favourite spots…

      Well, Vietnam was MY favorite country in Southeast Asia. So hopefully you will enjoy it, too!

      Definitely get on a bike if you can!

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