We had to get up early for our Hanoi bike tour. Luckily, when we arrived at the Friends Travel Vietnam office at 8.15am, we were immediately greeted by friendly and welcoming staff plus a delicious Vietnamese iced coffee to wake us up… we were definitely off to a great start!
Whilst we drank our coffee we were introduced to two other people who would be joining us on the bicycle tour. This gave us a great opportunity to socialise with other travellers and share some useful tips for our stay in Hanoi.
Shortly after our coffees we were given a bottle of water each and taken to our pristine, bright red bicycles. Having rented numerous bicycles across Southeast Asia it is fair to say these were a cut above the usual cranky chains and dodge brakes!
Our Hanoi Bike Tour Begins!
The first ten minutes of the tour was a true introduction to the crazy and rather scary junctions in Hanoi, however our tour guides expertly navigated the chaotic junctions to ensure we felt safe throughout.
Our tour started within the Old Town and our first stop was a local pagoda. The pagoda was covered in glittering displays dripping in gold and we witnessed a small number of locals praying. It was a bubble of tranquility within the hectic streets of Hanoi. Our second stop was St Joseph’s Cathedral right in the heart of the Old Town.
We were given time to walk around the church and then as with each stop the tour guides gave us a brief overview of the history. Our next stop was a local street food vender to pick up some savoury doughnuts… yum!
Food & Drink
Before embarking on the ‘Real Bicycle Experience’ we didn’t realise there would be food included so this was a very pleasant and very welcome surprise!
The doughnuts were deep fried and filled with a savoury filling, which included very finely diced green beans. Although different to our usual taste it was great to experience some local cuisine and gave us the confidence to try something a little outside the box.
After our doughnut stop we cycled further out of the Old Town and across the Long Bien Bridge, the oldest bridge in Hanoi. We took in the breath taking scenery of the Red River below and made our way through the winding backstreets of Hanoi to our next stop, a floating bar.
Here we were served with an ice cold lime juice and given the chance to rest our slightly tired legs and recover from the manic traffic that covers Hanoi. It is safe to say you never quite get used to those junctions!
Floating Villages and Market Stops
Our next stop was a traditional floating village where we explored the locals flouting houses and enjoyed some local fruits and fresh green tea. It was amazing to experience a different side of Hanoi riding down tiny alleyways lined with palm trees, far away from the busy traffic. After that, we then made our way to a local market.
During our cycle through the market we stopped at a small fruit stool where our guides picked up some fresh pineapple. We started to head back to the Old Town where we stopped at a street food vender and sat down at typical plastic table with tiny plastic stools.
We were treated to yet more traditional cuisine including a delicious set yoghurt dessert, coconut yoghurt with fresh exotic fruit and of course our recently purchased pineapple!
The Real Hanoi Bicycle Tour – Our Verdict
We would highly recommend this tour, not only does it give you a flavour of Hanoi life but being treated to traditional cuisine and refreshing drinks along the way allows you to experience yet another aspect of life in Hanoi. Even though it rained for part of our trip, this did not dampen our spirits. We simply popped on a poncho (provided by the company) and cycled on!
This tour takes you 10 kilometres from the city centre, enabling you to explore much further than simply by foot and you will see parts of Hanoi that you could never discover by yourself in a short amount of time. The tour guides were exceptional, very skilled and brought a great atmosphere to the tour group.
It is definitely not a tour for the faint hearted but is certain to immerse you in Hanoi life. Each element of the tour was expertly planned to ensure that we felt spoilt throughout, whether that be by stunning views, being engrossed in local history or simply enjoying an ice cold beverage!
This tour is the first in a series of ‘Real Experience’ tours provided by the Friends Travel Vietnam team that we have been fortunate enough to review. These tours are designed to provide you with a truly authentic tour experience that goes above and beyond the typical tourist experience. We have absolutely no doubt in recommending this company and have been provided with a flawless service throughout.