Lonely Planet: love it or hate it, there’s no denying the Aussie-birthed empire of travel guides, which was recently snapped up by BBC Worldwide, is among the most influential sources of travel information in the world. Despite that the leverage Lonely Planet guides once wielded to shape not just individual travel experiences but the destinations as well, is slowly waning in this age of social media and TripAdvisor, a word from LP still packs a wallop, even with its Web-only features. So it’s worth mentioning that, earlier this summer, Lonely Planet revealed its subjective list of the world’s 10 best cycling routes, and Vietnam’s nation-spanning National Highway 1 clocks in at No. 7.
This iconic road runs the length of the narrow country from north to south. It is the most popular cycling route in Vietnam, a long but immensely rewarding trip along the best parts of Vietnam’s coastline. The route has some reasonable hills, climaxing in the mighty Hai Van Pass (496m) – with a breathtaking descent as pine-clad mountains loom to the west and the South China Sea vanishes into the east. Take the time along the way to gaze at networks of lush rice fields blanketing the hidden valleys below; fish, snorkel or dive the turquoise waters of the coast; and soak up the atmosphere of delightful rural hamlets.”
All true, though what that blurb doesn’t mention is that the vast majority of Highway 1 is also a major commercial route, choked with exhaust-spewing trucks and semi-trailers whose drivers consider their vehicles’ ear-splitting horns more important to navigation than steering wheels or brakes. We personally prefer the smaller back roads, less crowded with menacing vehicular traffic and industrial sprawl, and in our opinion a far better way to see the rural countryside. But we won’t argue with LP that two-wheels makes for a splendid way to see the country.
For other alternative options to organize bike tours, visit Bikemunk!