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Slow cycling tours from Hue: Essential guide

Vietnam is a great country for cycling holidays thanks to its diverse typography and cultural richness. Among all, Hue is an ideal place to enjoy the art of slow travel by bicycle. Instead of diving into technical aspects, this “Slow cycling tours from Hue: Essential guide” provides you with useful information to plan safe and meaningful exploration. Especially, the recommended day trips would be very interesting for whoever looking for authentic cultural experiences. It suits all families with kids, couples, and small group travelers.

1.       Why is Hue an ideal destination for slow cycling tours?

1.1. The diversity of landscape and topography

“The essence of natural configuration” is a worthwhile term to describe the high diversity of Hue topography. Mountains occupy 70% of the area. The rivers, streams, lagoons represent 20%. The farming and living delta share the remaining 10%. That terrain is like a miniature of Vietnam. Just take a staycation in Hue, you can fully experience the richness of culture, nature, lifestyle.

Bicycle by the river and rice field
Slow cycling in the rural spaces of Hue

1.2. The proximity of tourist destinations

Hue’s territory lies its back on the Truong Son Annamite mountain ranges in the west and looks towards the vast east sea. The north and the center are ancient villages, ancient capital with unique heritage values. The south is shielded by Hai Van pass.

Interestingly, most of the scenic spots are located within a radius of about 50km from the city center. Indeed, you can slowly explore Hue and the surrounding area only with a bicycle.

1.3. Hue citizen’s slow living lifestyle and the love of cycling

As you know, people often compare the life in Hue runs as slowly as the Perfume River flows. Local authorities and citizen are pursuing a green strategy to make Hue a smart, plastic free and cycling city. You can easily see monks, elderly people, young ladies in white “Ao Dai” cycling leisurely on tree-lined streets. In Hue, bicycles are a part of local lifestyle.

Moreover, biking is a favorite sport activity in this slow city. In the early morning, many cyclist groups gather in central meeting points before spreading out into many directions. While in Hue, you may feel surprised to see many coffee shops super busy between 6-7 am. It is a convivial time and daily routine for cyclists to enjoy a slow drip coffee with cheerful conversation.

Hue people cycling along the Perfume River
Morning cycling in Kim Long village, along the Perfume River

1.4. A bicycle friendly road network and handy bicycle services

Hue is a green city, a masterpiece of urban architecture from the Nguyen dynasty, the French era and until today. The greenery is not only from the vegetation but also from natural rivers, canals, mountains, lagoons, and the sea. Visitors to Hue really indulge with green spaces and feel inspired to use eco-friendly means of mobility.

Furthermore, bicycle rental are abundant. You can easily find bicycles for rent along tourist streets such as Pham Ngu Lao, Chu Van An, Hung Vuong, and Le Loi. A casual bike with average quality costs 50k-100k VND a day as rental fee. Some suppliers may offer better quality mountain bikes, with helmets included. In addition, you can also ask the hotel to arrange bicycles for you.

As introduced, nature endows Hue with a diversity of topography and landscapes. Within 5-10km, you can explore many heritages in the city center and the ancient villages in the vicinity of Hue. For professional cyclists, longer cycling to the surrounding districts are an opportunity to truly immerse in magnificent nature.

As an overview, we have divided cycling routes into several categories following your level and distance.

Map of Hue and surroundings: the proximity of tourist destinations for cycling tours
Diverse topography and close proximity offers various possibilities for slow cycling tours from Hue

2.1. Cycling around the city center

If the Seine divides Paris into two parts “Rive Gauche” and “Rive Droite”, the Perfume River similarly features Hue city with northern bank and southern bank.

Cycling the northern bank includes the Imperial City and cluster of monuments within the Citadel such as Tinh Tam Lake, Luc Bo “Six Ministries”, Uncle Ho childhood memorial house, etc. You can also expand further towards Dong Ba market, Gia Hoi old town which used to be a bustling commercial town by Minh Huong Chinese settlers.

On the southern counterpart, the cycling tour will follow Le Loi street, along the Perfume River, An Cuu River, and Hue railway station, Phu Cam cathedral, the Redemptorist church and other French-style relics. Extend to the east of Hue center, you can visit Con Hen area and Vi Da village.

The road is flat but there may be moderate traffic. You’ll have plenty of stops to visit monuments, shop, and experience food. Take a few hours or a day to explore.

Cycling around Hue Citadel
The Citadel offers many safe and tree-lined streets with many cultural heritages

2.2. Cycling ancient villages nearby Hue

There are many beautiful villages in the vicinity of Hue, such as Kim Long, Thanh Toan, Thuy Bieu, Bao Vinh. After shortly escaping the center (approximately 3-5km), you will pleasantly take in bamboo shaded road or green alleys, cycling path through rice fields and vegetable gardens. You can go zig zag to cycle as much as you like. It is possible to get lost sometime but with a good sense of direction, you will easily find your return to the city.

In case you prefer a well-organized wandering with immersive experiences, then you should consider one of Slow Travel Hue’s cycling tours. Each village tour has its unique theme and integrated activities. Most tours will last a day and include a lunch at local home. Total cycling varies from 10-20km with many stops, on flat roads.

Cycling tour to Thanh Toan village with rural experiences

2.3. Cycling upstream the Perfume River to visit royal mausoleums

The Nguyen Dynasty flourished over the course of more than 400 years in Hue. Beside the Imperial Citadel and prominent relics in the city center, the mausoleums of Nguyen Emperors form part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritages. These majestic landscape-architecture mainly hidden on pine hills, in the upstream of the Perfume River. The furthest one is Gia Long’s mausoleum about 16km from Hue, and closer are the mausoleums of emperors Minh Mang, Khai Dinh, Thieu Tri, Tu Duc.

Likewise, this part of Hue is endowed with beautiful scenery. In the old days, the monks chose to set up thatched temple for meditation which now become important Buddhist pagodas. You may visit Tu Hieu Pagoda, Thien Ton Pagoda, and Tu Dam Pagoda.

This road will have uphill and downhill cycling. Though the roads are well paved, you need to be fit and use a quality bike for these routes.

Emperor Gia Long mausoleum is nestled in spectacular Thien Tho mountain ranges (Image source: Vnexpress.net)

2.4. Cycling along the lagoon and the sea

The lagoon and coastal zone are located about 10-15km from Hue to the east. Since some of the routes are a bit bumpy and the total distance is up to 30-40km, you need good health and good bike.

Not only boasting a unique eco-system, this part of Hue also features distinctive folk culture, crafts, and traditions. You can combine a bicycle tour with a boat ride on the Tam Giang lagoon and learn fishing with traps and nets. Ru Cha mangrove is a green destination that worth exploring.

2.5. Intensive and multi-day cycling to the surroundings of Hue

Professional cyclists certainly feel tempting to tour the surrounding or even connecting with Da Nang, Hoi An, Phong Nha by bike. The round trip can take up to 150 to 200km, thus you need to split it for at least 2 days or use support vehicle.

Located 60km south of Hue city, the scenic cluster with Canh Duong, Lang Co Beach, Lang Co, Cau Hai lagoon and Bach Ma National Park can be the starting point for an appealing cycling journey. Make a detour from the national road 1A at Phuoc Tuong Pass, you cross Vinh Hien bridge and follow road 49B to explore Ham Rong beach, Tuy Van mountain. Continuing along the lagoon, you will pass by the ghost city of Vinh Thanh and beautiful beaches of Hue.

To the north is Phong Dien district with a nature reserve, home to diverse flora, fauna, and a famous healing hot spring. This place is ideal for you to combine cycling and wellness stay. It is possible to extend the loop by connecting with Phuoc Tich ancient village, My Xuyen wood carving, Pho Trach rush weaving village. To return, you follow the national road 49 bordering Tam Giang lagoon. Stop by Ngu My Thanh fishing village, known for its heartbreaking sunrise floating market.

Heading west, you can conquer A Luoi mountains and Ho Chi Minh Trails. This is a tough challenge due to its ascent and twisting roads. Unless you are fond road touring, we would recommend travelling by car and save your time for cultural immersion such as practicing zeng brocade weaving.

Cycling around Ta Oi ethnic villages in A Luoi, 70km from Hue

3. Which types of bikes are suitable to explore Hue region?

In general, with the flat terrain in Hue and the close distance, utility bikes are almost suitable for many people. The bike needs to be in good state, without a flat tire. The breaks are responsive and saddle adjustable. You may also need a front cart to store bags, water bottles. If cycling in the city, you do not need to worry too much if your bike breaks down. There are fair enough bike repair shops nearby, or the supplier will exchange it for you.

For families with kids, you should ask for a suitable baby seat or kid bike. “Bike trailer” or tandem are not very common in Hue. Given its length, you also don’t feel secure when cruising in the city traffic.

Our favorite pick is a hybrid or cross bike. It’s a combination of road and mountain bicycle. It helps you move quickly and comfortably in the city due to its large wheelbase. At the same time, tire covers get along well with dirt roads in rural areas.

Slow Travel Hue is using cross bike and utility city bikes that suit well for most of leisure cycling guests.

Certainly, you can easily get quality mountain bikes, such as Giant, Trek. For this type, you need to request the right size for the most comfortable exploration. With uphill cycling and longer than 20km, mountain bikes are the better choice.

For non-cycling guests to join the tour, cyclo or motorbike (pillion riding) can be an option. Cyclo or rickshaw is leisurely slow, eco-friendly and contributes to creating jobs and income for local people.

Family cycling in front of a village temple
Family friendly cycling with different types of bikes

4. When is the best time for cycling tours in Hue?

Every time can be best if we are on the right place, take part in the right activity and give it enough of time. In other words, knowing the climate is one thing, knowing the activities, local characteristic has equal importance

4.1. Hue climate and seasons

Situated in the central region of Vietnam, Hue lies at the convergence of northern and southern climates. The North has four distinct seasons Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. The South has only rainy and dry seasons. Meanwhile, Hue has all four seasons with its own characteristics. The rainy season lasts from late autumn to early spring. The rest is the sunny season. It is especially very hot in June to August.

Heavy rain season starts from September to December. Drizzle continues until April when thunderstorms in early summer appear. The rain is a specialty of Hue, a unique natural feature that contributes to Hue’s unique lifestyle and aesthetic.

The rain also helps to cool down and bring deeper feelings. If fully equipped, and with the right preparation, you will find the slow cycling tour in the rainy season to be an enjoyable experience.

Tours around the city center is operational all year round. You can combine a bicycle tour around the Citadel with cultural visits, food stops to enjoy specialties, lotus tea or “salt coffee”. If interested in arts and crafts, you can join HOPE vocational training center for disabled children or Truc Chi Garden to create a bamboo arty paper craft. When in Hue, live like Hue people, you will enjoy the rain, instead of complaining about it.

Have you tried salty coffee “Cà phê Muối” on a rainy day?

4.2. Faming calendar, folk events.

With rural tours, it is important to consider agricultural calendar and folk festivals. In Hue, rice farming has two crops, Winter-Spring and Summer-Autumn. As a matter of fact, from September to December, farmers usually let the land rest and plant nothing in the fields. Nevertheless, with many stories to learn about village culture, hands-on experiences, your rural immersion stay meaningful.

The best season to see the fields in Hue will be from April to August. This is also the season of many folk festivals. If lucky, you can attend a Spring or Autumn Rituals and other harvest celebrations like boat racing, fish praying ritual, traditional wrestling festival.  

In the winter months and before Tet holidays, some traditional craft villages are at their busiest. You can visit Thanh Tien paper flower village, Sinh folk painting, Dia Linh village producing earthenware amulets of the Kitchen God and Kim Long village making candied ginger.

Spring is the season for flowers blooming and fruits ripening. The garden houses in Kim Long will be very beautiful and full of fragrance to welcome you. From March, Thanh Tra pomelo flowers will perch white bunches. That is the typical scene of Thuy Bieu ancient village. Around September, when joining “Wandering flavourful Thuy Bieu village” cycling, you will enjoy the refined taste of Thanh Tra pomelos.

4.3. Your time disposal for cycling

Depending on how much you like cycling, you can decide the best timing. If it’s just a short round of 1-2 hours, you can do it at any time. However, if having a choice, you should start around 9-10am in the winter when the sky becomes clearer, or 4-5 pm in the summer to avoid the heat.

With one day tour, you have more time and can start at 9am. However, in hot season, we recommend starting at 8 o’clock or earlier if possible. You can end the tour at 4pm, to enjoy by the pool, or rest before going to explore Hue in the evening.

With Slow Travel Hue cycling tours, we arrange many stops for you to rest and avoid the heat. We can also customize cycling distance according to the weather or choose alternative routes.

Concerning available routes, if you only have half a day, you should prioritize cycling within Hue city center. If you have 1-2 days, opt for a village immersion tour with different themes and cultural heritage. Longer tours to mountainous areas and lagoons will be suitable for guests who have about 3-5 days.

5. What do SLOW cycling tours from Hue entail?

Firstly, the concept of SLOW entails unique features that are encapsulated in the acronym CASTLE

C for Connecting People. We value positive contamination between visitors and hosts, among the tourists themselves. Travelling is about sharing and seeking to understand.

A for Authenticity. It’s genuine, not staged, not commercialized. We get off the beaten track and classic tourist trails to explore authentic places.

S for Sustainability. We embrace eco-friendly practices. The cycling and activities must support local economies, promote the integrity of culture, traditional values.

T for Tempo giusto. To demonstrate, the tours have highlights, experiential activities but not rigidly fixed in timing. The itinerary can be customized according to the interests, rhythm.

L for Length. Spend enough time for preparation to create long-lasting memory. Each tour is like a handmade product, with deep involvement from the operator, the guide and host community.

E for Emotions. “Fulfilling in Connecting”. The expert and local guides, the hosts are storytellers than just delivering information. Every shared story or activity you take is meant to generate genuine emotions.

All things considered, Slow cycling tour does not emphasize a fixed schedule and try to tick off many must-sees. Each cycling tour will take at least half to a full day, including lunch at a local house. There is a thorough theme that connects all visiting places and activities. The hands-on experiences such as farming, cooking, crafting are the highlights of the tour, which you will hardly get on a self-exploration or normal tourist trails.

Tea and talk with local
Family enjoy slow travel in Thanh Toan village

6. How to enjoy a safe and slow cycling tour from Hue?

Let’s wrap up some essential tips that will help you prepare to enjoy a safe and slow cycling tours.

6.1. Choose the best timing

First, you need to know how much time you want to spend on cycling. A few hours, a half, or a day, or several days. We have introduced diverse cycling routes according to distance and terrain, as well as density of attractions. Give yourself enough time to roam and experience. See travel as a journey rather than a destination.

6.2. Pick the right theme and experience

Do you have a great love for culture, history, or shopping? Are you passionate about local food or traditional craft villages? Do you prefer spending a lot of time on interactive activities than riding as much as possible. In Hue, there are many choices for you, you just need to research carefully, or tell the tour operator of your preferences to adjust accordingly.

With Slow Travel Hue, every trip is a personalized journey.

6.3. Select a suitable bike

Sport mountain bike may suit the routes which are longer than 20km or to deal with steep, bumpy dirt roads. However, if you’re not used to riding a bike with gear and aren’t sure what size is right for you, we recommend choosing a casual utility bike or a hybrid.

All you need is a basket to hold a few essentials, the brakes and saddle are in good working order. You will be more confident and comfortable when riding them on flat country roads within 15-20km. Let’s save your mind for other highlights.

6.4. Safe riding

Different from other cities, Hue is still a green, cycling friendly city. The traffic density is not too high. Still, you should pay attention to some basic principles to ensure safety:

  • Adjust the saddle’s height before starting. You should give a test ride to see if anything uncomfortable or ask to change the bike if concerned.
  • Helmet is essential. We also have a first aid kit and basic tool kit.
  • Go in single row and keep right. Pay attention to keep a distance from the person ahead and behind in case of sudden pause
  • Look for hand signals from the leader or companion. For example, go slow, turn left, right, stop.
  • Whenever you feel insecure, just stop. For example, when crossing the intersections, narrow streets, you can walk with the bike or ask your guide, company for assistance.
  • Take advantage of dedicated cycling paths and green routes when possible.
  • If heavy rain blocks your view, or it’s too hot, you should make a pause. Slow Travel Hue tours often connect many rest stops for you to avoid rain and heat.

6.5. Clothing, shoes, accessories

Unless you aim for long distance pro biking, you can outfit with bike jacket, windshield or gloves, specialized shoes. Otherwise, most easy cycling in the urban or rural space are very gentle. The road is flat, so you just need to have comfortable clothes for outdoor activities.

Of course, in the cold rainy season, you can put on a windbreaker. Or in the hot season, you bring more sun cream, sunglasses. We provide raincoats, umbrellas, and conical hats during the cycling and activities.

6.6. Eating & drinking

Be sure to drink enough water to avoid becoming dehydrated, especially in the hot season. To avoid plastic landfill, you’d better bring refillable bottle and get refilled regularly. During Slow Travel Hue tours, you will also have many stops to drink tea and enjoy refreshment.

Food is an important part of slow tours. You will have the opportunity to taste street food, specialties, or join hand in preparing a home-cooked meal. If you have any special diet request such as vegetarian, allergies, please notify the company to adjust the menu accordingly. Even though, most of the selected eateries satisfy food hygiene criteria, you may still need to be prudent with fresh herbs, spicy that you are not used to, to avoid stomach upset.

A slow traveler joins elderly villagers at a ceremony
Friendly seniors in Thuy Bieu village invited our Slow traveler to join the ceremony and meal.

At this point, you have had an overview of the diverse topography, natural and cultural richness, and the climates of Hue. Given the variety, density, and distance of attractions, there are plenty of opportunities to do different types of bike tours. You can easily rent suitable bicycles for self-guided exploration or choose a slow cycling tour that meet your interest.

Ultimately, we hope that the “Essential Guide for Slow Cycling Tours from Hue” will not only provide information but also guide you to the right options and experiences. Do not forget the safety tips, and the preparation to have a meaningful journey of discovery.

Finally, if you are an enthusiast of Slow travel, “slow food”, “staycation”, trekking & camping, then check other Slow Travel Hue’s tours here.

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Our mascot is a humanised turtle wearing a heart shaped shell, travelling slowly and happily. The head leans on Sustainability to promote a “tourism that respects both local people and the traveler, cultural heritage and the environment”. Our heart shares Happiness or “Fulfilling in connecting”. Our hands embrace Nature to provide eco-friendly services.

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