About this Blog

Welcome!

The posts in this blog contain daily ride details, links to route maps, some photos and guesthouse details for each day of a solo tour from Bangkok to Saigon through December 2012 and the early part of January 2013. For an overview of the trip, see the trip summary. You can access individual posts from the links in the summary or all posts for a given month from the links in the Posts list.

I travelled light, carrying only what fitted in a Topeak bar bag and rack pack. For a list of what I took with me, see the gear list.

The bike I brought from Australia for the trip was my eight-year-old Merida Matts Special Edition MTB. It runs 36-hole DT Swiss EX5.1D rims, laced with DT Swiss spokes to Phil Wood hubs. Tyres are Schwalbe 26 x 1.35 Kojaks.

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I used a Garmin Edge 500 GPS cycle computer to record daily ride details and route maps. I also carried a SPOT Connect GPS tracker to keep family and friends back home up to date on my location.

Questions? Check the FAQ, but also feel free to contact me via a comment on this blog.

Enjoy browsing through the posts. I hope they inspire you!

“The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do, just as one pleases” (William Hazlitt)

Other links:

  • Nice day for a ride – Simon’s recently completed Bangkok-to-Saigon adventure (November 2014-January 2015)
  • Saigon to Bangkok – Laurie’s report from his ride, in July-August 2013, along essentially the route I took, but in the other direction
  • Cycle Malaysia – posts from a two-week round-trip ride I did from Singapore up the west coast of the Malay peninsula to Melaka
  • The VFR Files – occasional posts about my Honda VFR800

15 responses to “About this Blog

  1. Hi David,

    Great and straight forward write up. I have been thinking about doing the same trip as you did but from Hanoi (one of my must do is Halong Bay) to Bangkok. The longer I thought about it the less enthusiastic I became about it since I started hearing stories about getting ripped off, robbed etc… I even spoke to some Vietnamese people living in Melbourne and they said not to do it alone? I must admit those Vietnamese people have been living in Australia for may years and are maybe not up to date anymore with what is happening in their country. Reading your story it seems to me that it wasn’t like that at all.

    The main rip off nowadays seem to be the airline charges to bring a bike.

    I also liked that you mentioned the money issue. That was one of my other concerns. It seemed that carrying preloaded credit cards is the way to go.

    So, after reading your story I did get my hopes up again and might reconsider.

    I do have other trips in my head like cycling from Peru all the way down to Chile and also an extended trip in Europe.

    Thanks for the info,

    Eddy

    • Hi Eddy,
      Sorry for the delay in replying to you – I’ve been away this past week.
      Good to hear you are considering reconsidering after reading through the blog! I think that often it’s making the decision to do a trip we’ve long thought about that’s the hardest part of the trip itself!
      Happy to catch up for a coffee if you’d like some further encouragement. (I’m assuming you’re in Melbourne.)
      Best wishes
      David

      • Thanks for coming back to me David. Yeah, I live in Keilor Downs, not so far from Melbourne. Good idea to have a coffee some time.

        I am still preparing for the trip. I probably will start off in Europe since I want to visit my family in Belgium (that’s where I do have the cycling bug from) and go on to Asia. There’s so much to think about! Bike transport. What kind of trailer (I will go with the extrawheel trailer I reckon. Vaccinations. Insurance. Money (Got myself some prepaid cards). It looks to me that the trip on itself will be easier than all the preparations.

        Cheers,

        Eddy

      • Could catch up at a cafe somewhere in the inner north early-ish one Saturday morning, Eddy, if that suits. (I’m in Burwood, but quite ok with coming into Fitzroy or Brunswick or Northcote or around those areas.) Let me know if that works for you and some possible dates.

  2. Hi David – some great info here. You have inspired me to do the same.

    Trip (and blog). Not sure which is going to be more challenging!!

    But tickets are booked (leaving Nov 20) and blog has been created, so I’ve made a start.

    I have a Garmin that I mainly use for running and love the maps it creates. A really great reminder of adventures past.

    I notice you are in Europe at the moment, if you are back before I leave it would be great to catch up and pick your brains for the bonus material.

    Thanks for inspiring me. What a trip it will be!

    • Well, I’d say that buying your tickets is a great start! And you’re going at a good time of the year, too.
      I won’t be back in time to do the brain-picking thing with you before you depart, but happy to catch up via a Viber or Skype call beforehand if you want.
      Best wishes, and good luck with the trip prep.
      David

      • Yes, indeed. Committed. Thanks for the offer to help – I’ll see how my prep goes and get back to you with queries!

        best, Simon

  3. Pingback: 4 weeks to go! | My Blog

  4. David:

    Great blog – I enjoyed reading all of it. After several long-distance bike tours in Europe , I’m considering doing a similar trip to yours but on a shorter time-frame.

    My tentative itinerary is (overnights in parentheses):

    Bangkok (Fri, Sat)
    Pattaya (Sun)
    Chanthaburi (Mon)
    Battambang (Tues)
    Siem Riep (Wed)
    Kampong Thma (Thurs)
    Phnom Penh (Fri, Sat)
    Svay Reing (Sun)
    Ho Chi Min (Mon)

    I would love to run this by you and get your thoughts on this route/distances. I cycle about 70-80 km per day as part of my regular commute, so I am in good shape to cover the long distances but some questions arise.

    Can this route be taken in the rainy season, i.e. August or September?

    I know you address this briefly in the your FAQs, but are the roads in good enough condition to use a racing bike with 25 mm tires? Even if there are a few rough stretches, I want to be able to cover the sealed parts quickly (25-35 km/hr). I imagine some of the stretches are better even since you were there.

    What do you think about using the national highways for nearly the whole route? Highways 3 and 36 in Thailand, Highway 57 in Cambodia to Battambang and Highway 6 from Siem Reip to Phnom Penh, and Highway towards Saigon. I am used to busy New York City traffic but are some stretches simply too crazy for safe cycling.

    If you were doing the trip again, would you recommend cycling from Battambang to Siem Riep instead of the boat ride?

    -If it would be easier for you to discuss by phone rather than provide a written response, might you kindly send me an email at dwenger36@gmail.com with your contact info and good time to get in touch. I would really appreciate it.

    Many thanks,
    David

    • Glad you enjoyed the blog, David. Some feedback for you:

      > My tentative itinerary
      > …
      > Siem Riep (Wed)
      Have you allowed time for visiting the Angkor complex (around 8 km from Siem Reap)? There’s much more to it than Angkor Wat (see here). It’s worth allowing a day at a minimum, in my view!

      > Siem Riep (Wed)
      > Kampong Thma (Thurs)
      > Phnom Penh (Fri, Sat)
      Siem Reap to Phnom Penh is 320 km via NH6. I might be misreading your itinerary, but if you’re planning to do it in two days they’d be BIG days in the saddle.

      > Svay Reing (Sun)
      > Ho Chi Min (Mon)
      I haven’t travelled that route. Looks like the main highway.

      > Can this route be taken in the rainy season, i.e. August or September?
      It shouldn’t be impassable, but it really does depend on the sort of wet season they’re having and the daily weather patterns, the condition of the roads, the volume of traffic, your appetite for riding in those conditions, etc. I wouldn’t want to be riding in heavy monsoonal rain in heavy speeding traffic on the dual carriageway down to Pattaya, nor in similar traffic conditions through road works heading into Phnom Penh. Weather summary for August in Cambodia here and for September here.

      > are the roads in good enough condition to use a racing bike with 25 mm tires?
      > Even if there are a few rough stretches, I want to be able to cover the sealed parts
      > quickly (25-35 km/hr). I imagine some of the stretches are better even since you were there.
      Some of the roads will be in good condition and you’ll make good time on them, in Thailand particularly. In Cambodia well that’s another story. The good roads are good, but some are still in a state of disrepair / reconstruction and it’s along those stretches that you’ll find it tough going on a bike with narrower tires. Some interesting notes on the state of the road between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh here.

      > What do you think about using the national highways for nearly the whole route?
      OK, unless it’s raining cats and dogs (see comments above). I wouldn’t ride at night and would aim to start riding each day soon after daybreak. There are more kampongs and roadside stalls along the main roads, which can be very welcome.

      > would you recommend cycling from Battambang to Siem Riep instead of the boat ride?
      No, I’d do the boat trip again (and again …)! A great experience. I don’t know whether it’s affected by the wet season though – Tonle Sap rises at that time of year and there’d be lots of water in the Sangker River and across the marshes.

      Happy to have a chat via Skype if you would like to discuss the above or have more questions.

      David

      • Some great advice. Some additional comments are:

        Route looks fine but you are sort of missing out on so many things by doing it so quickly. The real enjoyment is coming off those main highways when you can. Can you take more time??

        I did some of your trip Nov 2014 to Jan 2015. Roads were pretty good to excellent. Except for a torrid stretch from STung Treng to Kratie – which you aren’t headed down anyway.

        Rainy season isn’t ideal but may not be too much of a problem. Storms come and go, and are a nice way to cool down, more relaxed off the highway!! Not sure how much flooding of roads would occur but minimal on the main roads.

        Second the boat trip to Siem Riep. Wet season will make it an even easier trip with high water levels!!

        Simon

      • David + Simon: Thanks very much for the helpful feedback, info, and links. I appreciate it and it’s all duly noted.
        I know I’m trying to squeeze in a lot in a compact time frame but I don’t have more than 10/11 days for the trip. And I’ve alwayas like the novelty of cycling through several different countries. (Loved riding Amsterdam->Venice in 8 days.) I would take detours off the main roads as time allowed and depending on conditions (with potential options researched in advance).
        With the feedback on the boat from Battambang, and given the rainy season maybe allowing an early afternoon arrival, I’m up in the air about an extra day in Siem Riep.
        I’m still leaning toward taking the racing bike (especially if I can squeeze on 28 mm tires) and crossing my fingers I can get through the rough sections.
        Thanks again very much. I think I have enough info to make some plans. I’ll keep in touch.
        -David

      • I had a quick look for some more information about the current state of NH6. I couldn’t find anything hot off the presses, but did come across a ride report from January last year, National goat track 6. The title says it all! Any under-construction road would be heavy going in the wet, but there are plenty of minibuses providing passenger services along sections of NH6 and you could always hitch a ride with one of them to get you over a bad stretch.
        It would be good to hear how you go, David. Perhaps when you get back you could post a summary of the trip letting us know how it was, what condition the roads are in and how the weather was for you.
        Safe travels!

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