Cycling is probably one of the most quintessential childhood experiences – your first mode of transport that gives you the freedom to explore the world (even if it’s your own little street). To help rekindle that childhood wonder of discovery, we put together a list of five bicycling trips that let you travel the world at a more leisurely pace – from Vietnam to New Zealand to right here in India. These trips are suitable for solo travellers or large groups, with varying levels of difficulty, though nothing too extreme.
A regular on the bucket list of cycling enthusiasts, the route from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh runs the length of Vietnam from north to south, along the coast. Though the NH1 is extremely noisy and busy since it is the arterial road of the country, it is well worth the visit. The journey offers a mix of environments – from bustling cities, to paths winding through hills and paddy fields to quiet, coastal villages studded along the South China Sea’s Vietnamese coastline. The journey takes between two to three weeks depending on how fast you ride. Given Vietnam’s tropical weather, the rains are a presence through the country at different times of the year. But the period between September-December and March-April are usually dry. Companies like Spice Roads and Velo Asia offer packages.
Central Otaga is a veritable gold mine, literally, of cycling paths, with something for all skill levels. The region is home to old gold mines, operating vineyards, mountains that offer thrilling downhill rides and an old rail line that still exists in parts. The region is home to the Rail Trail, a 152km-long route that follows the former Otago Central Railway route. You can also make your way through the beautiful Roxburgh Gorge. Depending on the age group you’re travelling with, local operators, like Cycle Central Otago, will customise itineraries for your crew. You can also plan your own trip with helpful resources available online. The ideal time to make the trip would be between September, when New Zealand’s spring season begins, to May, when autumn is wrapping up. Remember to always apply plenty of sunscreen when you’re out on the trails.
Bicycles aren’t the first mode of transport that come to mind when you think of exploring Kerala, but you’d be surprised at the number of bike tours available. Pick from historic temples, rolling tea plantations, untouched coastlines and lush wildlife reserves in “God’s own country”, complete with houseboat stays and Chinese fishing nets. Tour operators like Spice Roads, Kalypso Adventures and India On Bicycle offer everything from daylong rides to a week’s worth of pedalling. Though Kerala is beautiful in the monsoons (June-September), the weather isn’t ideal for cycling. So plan your trips in the latter half of the year, from September-March, before summer sets in.
Morocco’s stunning mix of landscapes – mountains, coastlines, deserts, lush olive groves – make it a breathtaking and sometimes challenging country to explore on a bicycle. The flatter regions are near the Atlantic coast and the Atlas Mountains act as a gatekeeper to the desert in the south and west. Most tour itineraries are a mix of the country’s varied landscape, taking riders through African souks, oases, interactions with local tribesman and seaside routes for the perfect blend of sun, sand and surf. You can pick from tour companies like KE Adventure Travel, Exodus and Backroads. Depending on where you are in Morocco, temperatures can range from scorching hot to bone-chilling cold, which is why you should plan your visit during the country’s spring (March-May) or autumn (September-October) months.
Synonymous with cycling thanks to the Tour de France, this country is an absolute joy to explore on wheels. Like many others on this list, it has its fair share of mountains, valleys, hamlets, mind-bogglingly good food and vineyards to keep you company as you weave your way through the countryside. Some of the most beautiful regions to explore include Provence and the Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Whatever you want your trip to be, you’re bound to find it in France. Take a look at the itineraries from companies like Biking France, Trek Travel, Discover France and French Cycling Holidays. The best periods to bike through France are during the country’s spring and autumn seasons. The weather isn’t too harsh, and neither are the rates.
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Kamakshi Ayyar is a former member of NGT India's digital team. She is partial to places by the sea and desserts in all forms. When she isn't raving about food, she's usually rambling on about the latest cosmic mysteries. She tweets as @kamakshi138.