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  • Map of Thailand | Map of Thailand | Rough Guides
    balmy turquoise waters and countless islands studding its coastline Thailand is an astonishingly varied treasure trove for travellers Discover the best this diverse destination has to offer from rock climbing above the Andaman seascapes or wandering the historic walled city of Sukhothai to kayaking among the awesome limestone outcrops in Ao Phang Nga Use our map of Thailand below to start planning your trip Take to the water and learn to dive in spectacular undersea world of Ko Tao an island that boasts a glittering coastline flecked with coral reefs In Chiang Mai visit ancient Buddhist temples or indulge in an improving cooking massage or meditation class Tuck into the finest seafood at Hua Hin s beachside restaurants and in be dazzled by the beautiful Grand Palace in Bangkok Find out more about Thailand Interactive Thailand Map Regions of Thailand Click the links below to find out about your chosen region 1 Bangkok 2 The central plains 3 The north 4 The east coast 5 The northeast Isaan 6 Southern Thailand the Gulf coast 7 Southern Thailand the Andaman coast 8 The deep south Related Ebooks The Rough Guide to Bangkok View Guide The Rough Guide to Thailand View Guide

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/maps/asia/thailand/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Places to Visit in Thailand | Thailand Travel Guide | Rough Guides
    Guide to Korea View Guide Rough Guides Snapshot Malaysia Kuala Lumpur View Guide Central Honshu Rough Guides Snapshot Japan View Guide The Rough Guide to Southwest China View Guide With sixteen million foreigners flying into the country each year Thailand is Asia s primary travel destination and offers a host of places to visit Yet despite this vast influx of visitors Thailand s cultural integrity remains largely undamaged a country that adroitly avoided colonization has been able to absorb Western influences while maintaining its own rich heritage Though the high rises and neon lights occupy the foreground of the tourist picture the typical Thai community is still the farming village and you need not venture far to encounter a more traditional scene of fishing communities rubber plantations and Buddhist temples Around forty percent of Thais earn their living from the land based around the staple rice which forms the foundation of the country s unique and famously sophisticated cuisine Tourism has been just one factor in the country s development which since the deep seated uncertainties surrounding the Vietnam War faded has been free for the most part to proceed at death defying pace for a time in the 1980s and early 1990s Thailand boasted the fastest expanding economy in the world Politics in Thailand however has not been able to keep pace Since World War II coups d état have been as common a method of changing government as general elections the malnourished democratic system when the armed forces allow it to operate is characterized by corruption and cronyism Through all the changes of the last sixty years the much revered constitutional monarch King Bhumibol who sits at the pinnacle of an elaborate hierarchical system of deference covering the whole of Thai society has lent a measure of stability

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  • Explore Destinations | Travel Guides | Rough Guides
    to go Getting there Travel via neighbouring countries Getting around Accommodation Food and drink Culture and etiquette The media Festivals Entertainment and sport Spas and traditional massage Meditation centres and retreats Outdoor activities Travelling with children Travel essentials Inspiration Things not to miss Itineraries Features Gallery Explore Bangkok The central plains The north The east coast The northeast Isaan Southern Thailand the Gulf coast Southern Thailand the Andaman coast The

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  • Vietnam Facts | About Vietnam | Rough Guides
    View Guide Rough Guides Snapshot Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City View Guide Rough Guides Snapshot Vietnam Hanoi View Guide The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia On A Budget View Guide The Rough Guide to Taiwan View Guide Kyushu Rough Guides Snapshot Japan View Guide The Rough Guide to Korea View Guide Pocket Rough Guide Hong Kong Macau View Guide The Rough Guide to Bangkok View Guide The Rough Guide to Seoul View Guide Vietnam Fact file The Socialist Republic of Vietnam the Capital of which is Hanoi is one of the world s last surviving one party Communist states It shares land borders with China Laos and Cambodia Vietnam comprises over 330 000 square kilometres with more than 3400km of coastline Vietnam has a population of ninety million of which around seventy percent live in the countryside giving Vietnam some of the highest rural population densities in Southeast Asia Over half the people are under 25 years old and thirteen percent belong to one of the many ethnic minority groups Over half of the Vietnamese population earn their living from agriculture The average per capita income hovers around 1000 a year though many people survive on less than 2 a day During the last decade the Vietnamese economy has grown at over seven percent a year Vietnam has transformed itself from being a rice importer before 1986 to become the world s second largest rice exporter after Thailand The percentage of households living in poverty has fallen from seventy percent in the 1980s to around ten percent today Vietnam is home to a tremendous diversity of plant and animal life including some of the world s rarest species a number of which have only been discovered in the last few years The Asiatic black bear Sarus crane and Golden headed

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/vietnam/fact-file/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Where to go in Vietnam | Rough Guides
    more messing about on the water and visiting a floating market which is easily arranged at Cai Be and Can Tho Da Lat the gateway to the central highlands is chalk to Ho Chi Minh City s cheese Life passes by at a rather more dignified pace at an altitude of 1500m and the fresh breezes that fan this oddly quaint hillside settlement provide the best air conditioning in Vietnam Minority peoples inhabit the countryside around Da Lat but to visit some really full on montagnard villages you ll need to push north to the modest towns of Buon Ma Thuot Pleiku and Kon Tum which are surrounded by E De Jarai and Bahnar communities Opt for Kon Tum and you ll be able to visit minority villages independently or join treks that include river rafting Northeast of Ho Chi Minh City Highway 1 the country s jugular carries the lion s share of traffic up to Hanoi and the north though the recently completed Ho Chi Minh Highway offers drivers a tempting alternative route For many people the first stop along Highway 1 is at the delightful beach and sand dunes of Mui Ne fast becoming one of the country s top coastal resorts Further north Nha Trang is another beach resort that also boasts a lively nightlife and the tirelessly touted boat trips around the city s outlying islands are a must North of Nha Trang near Quang Ngai Son My village attained global notoriety when a company of American soldiers massacred some five hundred Vietnamese including many women and children unspeakable horrors continue to haunt the village s unnervingly idyllic rural setting Once a bustling seaport the diminutive town of Hoi An perches beside an indolent backwater its narrow streets of wooden fronted shophouses and weathered roofs making it an enticing destination Inland the war battered ruins of My Son the greatest of the Cham temple sites lie mouldering in a steamy forest filled valley Da Nang just up the coast lacks Hoi An s charm but good transport links make it a convenient base for the area From Da Nang a corkscrew ride over clifftop Hai Van Pass or a straight run through the new 6km long tunnel brings you to the aristocratic city of Hué where the Nguyen emperors established their capital in the nineteenth century on the banks of the languid Perfume River The temples and palaces of this highly cultured city still testify to past splendours while its Imperial mausoleums are masterpieces of architectural refinement slumbering among pine shrouded hills Only a hundred kilometres north of Hué the tone changes as war sites litter the Demilitarized Zone DMZ which cleaved the country in two from 1954 to 1975 More than three decades of peace have done much to heal the scars but the monuments that pepper these windswept hills bear eloquent witness to a generation that lost their lives in the tragic struggle The DMZ is most easily tackled as a day trip

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  • Best Time To Visit Vietnam | Rough Guides
    along the central coast and the eastern edge of the central highlands Within this basic pattern there are marked differences according to altitude and latitude temperatures in the south remain equable all year round while the north experiences distinct seasonal variations In southern Vietnam the dry season lasts from December to late April or May and the rains from May through to November Since most rain falls in brief afternoon downpours this need not be off putting though flooding at this time of year can cause problems in the Mekong Delta Daytime temperatures in the region rarely drop below 20 C occasionally hitting 40 C during the hottest months March April and May The climate of the central highlands generally follows the same pattern though temperatures are cooler especially at night Again the monsoon rains of May to October can make transport more complicated sometimes washing out roads and cutting off remoter villages Along the central coast the rainfall pattern reverses under the influence of the northeast monsoon Around Nha Trang the wet season starts with a flourish in November and continues through December Further north around Hué and Da Nang the rains last a bit longer from September to February so it pays to visit these two cities in the spring Feb May Temperatures reach their maximum often in the upper 30s from June to August when it s pleasant to escape into the hills The northern stretches of this coastal region experience a more extreme climate with a shorter rainy season peaking in Sept and Oct and a hot dry summer The coast of central Vietnam is the zone most likely to be hit by typhoons bringing torrential rain and hurricane force winds Though notoriously difficult to predict in general the typhoon season lasts from August to November

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  • Getting there | About Vietnam | Rough Guides
    since travel agents policies on this vary Even when an overnight stay is not required going to Vietnam can be a great excuse for a stopover most airlines will allow you one free stopover in either direction From Australia and New Zealand A reasonable range of flights connects Australia and New Zealand with Vietnam with Qantas w qantas com Vietnam Airlines w vietnamairlines com and Jetstar offering direct services from Australia The alternative is to fly to another Asian gateway such as Bangkok Kuala Lumpur Singapore or Hong Kong and then either get connecting flights or travel overland to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City By far the cheapest flight from Australia is the daily Jetstar service to Ho Chi Minh City from Sydney AUS 390 one way via Darwin AUS 250 one way Both Vietnam Airlines and Qantas operate direct flights to Ho Chi Minh City from Melbourne and Sydney low season scheduled fares start at around AUS 1100 with Vietnam Airlines with Qantas often a little cheaper If you want to stop off on the way there are good deals to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with Malaysia Airlines via Kuala Lumpur Singapore Airlines via Singapore and Thai Airways via Bangkok all costing around AUS 1100 to AUS 1500 Cheaper still are the fares offered by Tiger Airways a discount airline operating daily flights between Perth and Singapore one way fares sometimes dip below AUS 200 From Singapore you can get an onward flight to Hanoi from around AUS 100 one way or Ho Chi Minh City from around AUS 55 one way From New Zealand low season fares with Malaysia Airlines Thai Qantas and Singapore Airlines are all around NZ 1500 to NZ 2200 with a change of plane in the carrier s home airport From neighbouring countries It s increasingly popular to enter Vietnam overland from China Laos or Cambodia an option that means you can see more of the region than you would if you simply jetted in However it must be said that regional air connections are becoming better and better you can fly from many cities in Southern China from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap with Cambodia Angkor Air bookable through codeshare partner Vietnam Airlines or from Vientiane with Vietnam Airlines or Lao Airlines w laoairlines com From China there are three overland possibilities The Beijing Hanoi train enters Vietnam at Dong Dang north of Lang Son where there s also a road crossing known as Huu Nghi Quan The border is also open to foot traffic at Lao Cai in the northwest and Mong Cai in the far northeast From Laos six border crossings are currently open to foreigners Lao Bao the easiest and most popular some 80km west of Dong Ha Cau Treo and Nam Can to the north and northwest of Vinh Na Meo northwest of Thanh Hoa Bo Y northwest of Kon Tum and Tay Trang just west of Dien Bien Phu While it s perfectly possible and cheaper to use local buses to and from the borders international bus services also run from Savannakhet and Vientiane to Hanoi Dong Ha Vinh Da Nang and other destinations in Vietnam these direct services are recommended as regular reports of extortion continue to come in from those crossing independently From Cambodia you can travel by air conditioned bus 9 14 from Phnom Penh straight through to Ho Chi Minh City via the Moc Bai crossing Cheaper operators charge half these prices but use old buses and usually get you to switch at the border Many tour companies in Phnom Penh will be able to organize boat plus bus services which are a fun way to cross the border There are two crossings in the Mekong Delta area Vinh Xuong and Tinh Bien which are respectively 30km north and 25km west of Chau Doc There are also border crossings at Xa Xia on the coast west of the delta which is useful if you are coming from Kep or Sihanoukville on the Cambodian coast and at Le Thanh in the central highlands making it possible to go from Banlung in northeast Cambodia straight through to Pleiku As long as you have a valid visa crossing these borders is generally not a problem though you may still find the odd Vietnamese immigration official who tries to charge a processing fee typically one dollar Most border gates are open from around 7am to 5pm and may close for an hour over lunch Organized tours If you want to cover a lot of ground in a short time in Vietnam or have a specific interest an organized tour might be worth considering Specialist tour operators offer packages that typically include flights accommodation day excursions and internal travel by plane train or road These are expensive compared to what you d pay if you arranged everything independently but the more intrepid tours often feature activities that would be difficult to set up yourself There s a wide variety of all inclusive packages available as well as organized tours that cover everything from hill tribe visits to trekking and biking Tours range in length from a few days to several weeks and you can choose to explore Vietnam only or combine a tour with Laos and Cambodia Alternatively you can make arrangements through local tour operators in Ho Chi Minh City Hanoi and other tourist centres either before you arrive or on the ground they ll arrange your entire trip or just the first few days to get you started Fixing it up before you arrive saves time though all local operators will also arrange an itinerary for you on the spot Prices will be generally cheaper with a local operator and they should have more in depth local knowledge However you ll need to check carefully that they re financially sound reliable and can deliver what they promise never deal with a company that demands cash upfront or refuses to accept payment by credit card

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  • Getting around | About Vietnam | Rough Guides
    Phong Five Reunification Express services depart daily from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and vice versa a journey that takes somewhere between thirty and forty hours Most services arrive between 3am and 5am in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City On the northern lines four trains per day make the run from Hanoi to Hai Phong 2hr 30min and two to Dong Dang 6hr There are also four night trains 7 8hr and a day service 9hr to Lao Cai Trains usually leave on schedule from their departure points and though delays can stack up further down the line they re rarely too severe Note that the only truly reliable way to learn the schedule is by checking those printed on the station wall Classes When it comes to choosing which class to travel in it s essential to aim high At the bottom of the scale is a hard seat which is just as it sounds though bearable for shorter journeys the carriages however tend to be filthy and since the windows are caged views are poor and one can actually feel like an animal Soft seats offer more comfort especially in the new air conditioned carriages some of which are double decker the newer berths unfortunately tend to have flatscreen TVs operating at an ear splitting volume On overnight journeys you d be well advised to invest in a berth of some description though since the country s rolling stock is being upgraded it s not always possible to know exactly what you re getting The new hard berth compartments are now quite comfortable and have six bunks three either side the cramped top ones are the cheapest and the bottom ones the priciest though some of the old hard as nails relics remain in service Roomier soft berth compartments containing only four bunks are always comfortable Note that luxury carriages are attached to regular services on a couple of routes from Hanoi Those on trains to Hué and Da Nang are operated by Livitrans w livitrans com and to Lao Cai by an assortment of companies Facilities All Reunification Express trains now have air conditioning as do the overnight Lao Cai trains which have been upgraded with luxury soft sleeper carriages All trains are theoretically non smoking the rules are obeyed by and large in the sleeper rooms though in hard seat class even the guards will be puffing away All train carriages have toilets though again it s hard to know what to expect Most are fine if a little grubby though many are squat in nature the latter are far more likely to be dirty and to be devoid of paper or running water Those in the soft sleeper carriages are proper sit down toilets and are comparatively clean Simple meals are often included in the price of the ticket but you might want to stock up with goodies of your own You ll also have plenty of opportunities to buy snacks when the train pulls into stations and from carts that ply the aisles Tickets Booking ahead is wise and the further ahead the better especially if you intend travelling at the weekend or a holiday period when the lower sleeper berths are often sold as six seats resulting in chaos Sleeping compartments should be booked at least a day or two before departure and even further ahead for soft sleeper berths on the Hanoi Hué and Hanoi Lao Cai routes It s not possible to buy through tickets and break your journey en route each journey requires you to buy a separate ticket from the point of departure Getting tickets is usually pretty painless at the station though hotels and travel agencies will be able to book for a fee sometimes as low as 50 000 though often much more Fares vary according to the class of travel and the train you take as a rule of thumb the faster the train the more expensive it is Prices which are always quoted in dong change regularly but as an indication of the fare range on the most expensive services from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City you ll pay around 1 500 000 for a soft sleeper berth and around 1 250 000 for a hard sleeper in the slowest trains the equivalent fares for Hanoi to Hué are 750 000 and 650 000 respectively Prices to Lao Cai vary from 80 000 for a hard seat on the day train to over 300 000 for a soft sleeper By bus Most travellers use buses to get around Vietnam but never actually see a bus station This is because the lion s share of tourist journeys are made on privately operated services usually referred to as open tour buses which usually operate not from stations but the offices of the companies in question The term comes from the fact that such companies typically sell through tickets between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi with customers free to stop off for as long as they like at the main points en route Da Lat Mui Ne Nha Trang Hoi An Da Nang Hué and Ninh Binh There are however drawbacks to doing this Away from these private affairs national bus service s link all major cities in Vietnam and most minor towns too though travellers only tend to use them off the open tour route open tour buses have air conditioning limited seating and fixed timetables which instantly gives them the edge over national services In addition the fact that they don t pick up on route makes them faster too and competition is so fierce that prices are almost as low as the national bus network Open tour buses On the whole open tour buses are a reasonably comfortable way to get around Vietnam these buses also call at the occasional tourist sight such as the Marble Mountains and Lang Co which can save considerable time and money when compared to doing the same thing independently Buses are usually quite decent but don t expect too much leg room or any on board toilets some of the more expensive services have them but the vast majority will pull in every few hours for a combined loo and snack break This tends to be at mediocre and overpriced restaurants it s a good idea to arm yourself with snacks before your journey Another downside to open tour buses is that you ll be encouraged to book into the company s own or affiliated hotels usually right next to the drop off point though there s nothing to stop you staying elsewhere Services tend to run on time and on longer trips some take place overnight Most of the overnight buses are filled with sleeper berths which sounds nice and comfortable but these are Vietnamese roads and Vietnamese drivers don t expect to get too much sleep Also note that some operators are more reliable than others Mai Linh and Hoang Long have good reputations though some other operators have very poor standards of service Ticket prices vary widely depending upon which company you choose and if you re booking a through ticket how many stops you d like to make en route sample prices are 35 and up from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi 25 from Ho Chi Minh City to Hué and 5 from Hué to Hoi An You can either make firm bookings at the outset or opt for an open dated ticket for greater flexibility in which case you may need to book your onward travel one or two days in advance to be sure of a seat Alternatively you can buy separate tickets as you go along which is recommended Each main town on the itinerary has an agent one for each operator where you can buy tickets and make onward reservations To avoid being sold a fake ticket or paying over the odds it s best to buy direct from the relevant agent rather than from hotels restaurants or unrelated tour companies Other buses On the national bus network the government is slowly upgrading state buses replacing the rickety old vehicles with air conditioned models particularly on the more popular routes It s not uncommon to find yourself crammed in amongst the luggage which could be anything from live pigs in baskets to scores of sacks of rice Progress can be agonizingly slow as buses stop frequently to pick up passengers or for meal breaks Among older vehicles breakdowns are fairly common and can sometimes necessitate a roadside wait of several hours while driver fare collector and mechanic roll up their sleeves and improvise a repair Tickets are best bought at bus stations where fares are clearly indicated above the ticket windows Prices are usually also marked on the tickets themselves though there are still occasional cases of tourists being charged over the odds particularly in more rural destinations especially those from the Lao border For long journeys buy your ticket a day in advance since many routes are heavily oversubscribed Privately owned minibuses compete with public buses on most routes they sometimes share the local bus station or simply congregate on the roadside in the centre of a town You can also flag them down on the road If anything they squeeze in even more people per square foot than ordinary buses and often drive interminably around town touting for passengers On the other hand they do at least run throughout the day and serve some routes not covered by public services Such services are ticketless so try to find what the correct fare should be and agree a price before boarding having the right change will also come in handy You may also find yourself dumped at the side of the road before reaching your destination and having to cram onto the next passing service Most major cities have their own local bus networks though prices and standards vary Try to ascertain the correct price and have the exact money ready before boarding as fare collectors will often take advantage of your captive position By ferry and boat A boat tour around Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam s most enjoyable trips while scheduled ferries sail year round weather permitting to the major islands off Vietnam s coastline including Phu Quoc Cat Ba and Con Dao In addition ferry and hydrofoil services run from Hai Phong to Cat Ba and hydrofoils from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau and from Ha Long City to Mong Cai and Bai Tu Long Though they are gradually being replaced by bridges a few river ferries still haul themselves from bank to bank of the various strands of the Mekong from morning until night By car and jeep Self drive in Vietnam is not yet an option for tourists and other short term visitors However it s easy to rent a car jeep or minibus with driver from the same companies agencies and tourist offices that arrange tours This can be quite an economical means of transport if you are travelling in a group Moreover it means you can plan a trip to your own tastes rather than having to follow a tour company s itinerary Prices vary wildly so it pays to shop around but expect to pay in the region of 50 per day for a car and 90 per day for a jeep or other 4WD depending on the vehicle s size age and level of comfort When negotiating the price it s important to clarify exactly who is liable for what Things to check include who pays for the driver s accommodation and meals fuel road and ferry tolls parking fees and repairs and what happens in the case of a major breakdown There should then be some sort of contract to sign showing all the details including an agreed itinerary especially if you are renting for more than a day make sure the driver is given a copy in Vietnamese In some cases you ll have to settle up in advance though if possible it s best if you can arrange to pay roughly half before and the balance at the end By motorbike Motorbike rental is possible in most towns and cities regularly frequented by tourists and pottering around on one can be an enjoyable and time efficient method of sightseeing Lured by the prospect of independent travel at relatively low cost some tourists cruise the countryside on motorbikes but inexperienced bikers would do well to think very hard before undertaking any long distance biking since Vietnam s roads can be distinctly dangerous The appalling road discipline of most Vietnamese drivers means that the risk of an accident is very real with potentially dire consequences should it happen in a remote area Well equipped hospitals are few and far between outside the major centres and there ll probably be no ambulance service On the other hand many people ride around with no problems and thoroughly recommend it for both day trips and touring The best biking is to be found in the northern mountains the central highlands and around the Mekong Delta while the Ho Chi Minh Highway offers pristine tarmac plus wonderful scenery Some also do the long haul up Highway 1 from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi or vice versa a journey of around two weeks averaging a leisurely 150km per day There s no shortage of motorbikes for rent in Vietnam s major tourist centres the average rate is around 7 per day with discounts for longer periods You ll sometimes be asked to pay in advance sign a rental contract and or leave some form of ID a photocopy of your passport should suffice If you re renting for a week or so you may be asked to leave a deposit often the bike s value in dollars though it might also be your air ticket or departure card In the vast majority of cases this shouldn t be a problem Although it s technically illegal for non residents to own a vehicle there s a small trade in secondhand motorbikes in the two main cities look at the noticeboards in hotels travellers cafés and tour agents for adverts So far the police have ignored the practice but check the latest situation before committing yourself The bike of choice is usually a Minsk 125cc particularly for the mountains it s sturdy not too expensive and the easiest to get repaired outside the main cities Whether you re renting or buying remember to check everything over carefully especially brakes lights and horn Wearing a helmet is now a legal requirement and most rental outlets have helmets you can borrow sometimes for a small charge though they may not be top quality Note that international driving licences are not valid in Vietnam but you will need your home driving licence and bike registration papers You also need at least third party insurance which is available with the aforementioned documentation at Bao Viet insurance offices Though road conditions have improved remarkably in recent years off the main highways they can still be highly erratic with pristine asphalt followed by stretches of spine jarring potholes and plenty of loose gravel on the sides of the road Repair shops are fairly ubiquitous ask for sua chua xe may motorbike repairs but you should still carry at least a puncture repair kit pump and spare spark plug Fuel xang is cheap and widely available at the roadsides often from bottles Finally try to travel in the company of one or more other bikes in case one of you gets into trouble And if you want to get off the main highways it really pays to take a guide By bicycle Cycling is an excellent way of sightseeing around towns and you shouldn t have to pay more than 50 000 per day for the privilege even outside the main tourist centres While you can now buy decent Japanese made bikes in Vietnam if you decide on a long distance cycling holiday you should really bring your own bike with you not forgetting all the necessary spares and tools Hardy mountain bikes cope best with the country s variable surfaces though tourers and hybrids are fine on the main roads Bring your own helmet and a good loud bell a rear view mirror also comes in handy When it all gets too much or you want to skip between towns you can always put your bike on the train though not on all services check when buying your ticket for a small fee take it to the station well ahead of time where it will be packed and placed in the luggage van Some open tour buses will also take bikes free if it goes in the luggage hold packed up otherwise you ll have to pay for an extra seat If you want to see Vietnam from the saddle there are several companies that offer specialist cycling tours In addition to a few of the international tour operators there are local outfits such as Phat Tire w phattireventures com Organized tours Ever increasing numbers of tourists are seeing Vietnam through the window of a minibus on organized tours Ranging from one day jaunts to two or three week trawls upcountry tours are ideal if you want to acquaint yourself speedily with the highlights of Vietnam they can also work out much cheaper than car rental On the other hand by relying upon tours you ll have little chance to really get to grips with the country and its people or to enjoy things at your leisure Hordes of state owned and private tour companies compete for business see our lists of well established agents in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi While a few companies now put together more innovative itineraries the vast majority offer similar tours However it pays to

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