On two wheels

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Traversing the countryside on a bicycle has much more to recommend it than gazing through the window from the confined interior of a tour coach.

It's possibly the best way to see the Mekong Delta, and it just so happens that Saigontourist and Fiditour offer a guided tour of the region tailor-made for cycling enthusiasts.

Starting in Ho Chi Minh City, the cyclists and their bicycles, along with a doctor or two, travel by bus to the center of Tan An, the main town of Long An Province.

It's much safer this way as the traffic on the main road can be hazardous.

The bus drops everyone off at a temple where the tour party can learn about the home-grown Cao Dai faith.

From Tan An, it's 25 kilometers of pedaling to get to the town of My Tho in Tien Giang Province, where the party visits a garden and Vinh Trang Pagoda, and takes a boat to Thoi Son Island.

Ben Tre Province to the immediate south comes next. The itinerary here includes visiting coconut gardens, canals, a busy town market and a rice farm.

Day three starts out with a trip to Cai Mon in Ben Tre's Cho Lach District, which enjoys nationwide renown for its fruit and ornamental plants.

From Cai Mon, the journey continues along charming country roads, with stops at several orchards along the way, and into Vinh Long Province.

The accommodation in Vinh Long is a pre-arranged homestay, and comes after a busy day of cycling.

Before sleep, the tourists can eat grilled snakehead fish they have just caught, drink rice wine, and watch a traditional music show.

Saigontourist Travel Service Co.
49 Le Thanh Ton Street,
District 1, HCMC
Tel: (08) 3 827 9279

Fiditour
129 Nguyen Hue Boulevard,
District 1, HCMC
Tel: (08) 3 914 1414

The next day begins with a run to the province's main town, also called Vinh Long, and ends in Can Tho City.

In between there are markets and villages to see in Long Ho District, and a Khmer village to visit in Ba Can.

Early the next morning, the tour party catches a boat from Ninh Kieu Quay for a trip to the famous floating markets at Cai Rang and Phong Dien.

The day's itinerary also includes a bike excursion to Bang Lang Bird Sanctuary about 20 kilometers from Can Tho.

More information is available from Saigontourist or Fiditour.

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