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Riding a Cyclo in Vietnam: A Unique and Authentic Experience

February 27, 2024
Riding a Cyclo in Vietnam

Riding a Cyclo in Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam is a country known for its vibrant culture, delicious food, and stunning landscapes. But one of the most unique and authentic experiences you can have in Vietnam is riding a cyclo. This traditional mode of transportation has been a part of Vietnamese culture for decades and offers a truly immersive way to explore the bustling cities and charming countryside. In this blog post, we will dive into the world of cyclos in Vietnam, from their history and allure to how to arrange a cyclo tour and the best experiences to try. So hop on and let’s take a ride through the fascinating world of cyclos in Vietnam.

The Meaning of Cyclo in Vietnam

Before we delve into the details of riding a cyclo in Vietnam, let’s first understand what a cyclo actually is. A cyclo, also known as a pedicab or trishaw, is a three-wheeled bicycle taxi that originated in Japan but became popular in Vietnam during the French colonial era. It consists of a seat for passengers at the front, while the driver sits behind and pedals the bike. The name “cyclo” comes from the French word “cyclo-pousse,” which means “pedal-push.”

In Vietnam, cyclos are an integral part of the local transportation system, especially in big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They are often used for short trips around town, sightseeing tours, or even as a form of street vending. However, with the rise of motorbikes and cars, the use of cyclos has declined over the years. But they still hold a special place in the hearts of locals and tourists alike, as they offer a more leisurely and authentic way to explore the streets of Vietnam.

The History of Cyclos in Vietnam

The history of cyclos in Vietnam dates back to the 19th century when the French introduced them as a means of transportation for their officials. They were initially used by the wealthy and elite, but with time, they became more accessible to the general public. During the Vietnam War, cyclos were used to transport goods and supplies, and after the war ended, they became a popular mode of transportation for locals and tourists.

Today, cyclos are not only a form of transportation but also a symbol of Vietnamese culture and heritage. They have become an iconic part of the country’s landscape, and many travelers seek out a cyclo ride as a must-do experience in Vietnam.

The Allure of the Cyclo in Vietnam

So why should you choose to ride a cyclo in Vietnam? What makes it such a unique and alluring experience? Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why a cyclo tour should be on your Vietnam bucket list.

Slow and Scenic Ride

One of the main reasons people opt for a cyclo ride is that it offers a slow and scenic way to explore the city. Unlike motorbikes or cars, which can be fast-paced and overwhelming, a cyclo allows you to take in the sights and sounds of Vietnam at a leisurely pace. You can sit back and relax while your driver navigates through the bustling streets, giving you a chance to soak in the vibrant atmosphere and take photos along the way.

Authentic Local Experience

Another allure of riding a cyclo in Vietnam is that it offers an authentic local experience. Your driver, who is often a local, can give you insights into the history and culture of the places you visit. They can also recommend hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path spots that you may not find on your own. Plus, interacting with your driver can give you a glimpse into the daily life of Vietnamese people and their warm hospitality.

Environmentally-Friendly Option

In a world where sustainable travel is becoming increasingly important, choosing to ride a cyclo in Vietnam is an environmentally-friendly option. These traditional bicycles do not emit any harmful gases and are powered solely by human energy. By choosing to ride a cyclo, you are reducing your carbon footprint and contributing to the preservation of the environment.

How to Arrange a Cyclo Tour?

Now that we have covered the allure of riding a cyclo in Vietnam, let’s move on to the practicalities of arranging a cyclo tour. Here are some tips to help you plan a memorable cyclo experience in Vietnam.

Choose a Reputable Company

The first step in arranging a cyclo tour is to choose a reputable company. With the rise in tourism, there are many tour operators offering cyclo tours in Vietnam. But it’s essential to do your research and select a company with good reviews and a proven track record. You can ask for recommendations from friends or check online reviews to find a reliable and trustworthy operator.

Decide on Your Route

Next, you need to decide on your route. Some popular cities for cyclo tours in Vietnam include Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, and Hoi An. Each city offers a unique experience, so it’s best to research and choose the one that aligns with your interests. You can also opt for a customized tour, where you can choose the places you want to visit and the duration of the tour.

Negotiate the Price

Cyclo tours in Vietnam are usually priced per hour, and the cost can vary depending on the location and duration of the tour. It’s essential to negotiate the price beforehand to avoid any misunderstandings later. You can also ask for a discount if you plan to book multiple tours or have a large group.

How Much Does a Cyclo Tour Cost?

The cost of a cyclo tour in Vietnam can vary depending on several factors, such as the location, duration, and number of people. On average, a one-hour cyclo tour can cost anywhere from $5 to $10 per person. However, prices may be higher in popular tourist areas or during peak season. It’s always best to negotiate the price beforehand and agree on a fixed rate to avoid any surprises.

Here is a breakdown of the approximate cost of a cyclo tour in some popular cities in Vietnam:

City Duration Cost (per person)
Hanoi 1 hour $5 – $7
Ho Chi Minh City 1 hour $6 – $8
Hue 2 hours $10 – $12
Hoi An 2 hours $8 – $10

It’s worth noting that these prices are just estimates, and they can vary depending on the operator and your negotiation skills. It’s always best to do your research and compare prices before booking a cyclo tour.

Best Vietnam Cyclo Tour Experience

Now that you know how to arrange a cyclo tour and how much it costs, let’s explore some of the best experiences you can have while riding a cyclo in Vietnam.

Explore the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a maze of narrow streets, bustling markets, and ancient temples. The best way to explore this chaotic yet charming neighborhood is by taking a cyclo tour. You can weave through the busy streets, stopping at famous landmarks like Hoan Kiem Lake, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, and the Temple of Literature. Your driver can also take you to hidden alleyways and local cafes, giving you a taste of the real Hanoi.

Discover the Hidden Gems of Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is a bustling metropolis with a rich history and culture. A cyclo tour is an excellent way to explore this vibrant city, as you can cover more ground than on foot. Your driver can take you to popular attractions like the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Reunification Palace, and Ben Thanh Market. But the real charm of a cyclo tour in Ho Chi Minh City lies in discovering the hidden gems, such as local markets, street food stalls, and traditional coffee shops.

Take a Sunset Tour in Hue

Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam, is a city steeped in history and culture. One of the best ways to experience the beauty of this city is by taking a sunset cyclo tour. You can ride along the Perfume River, passing by ancient pagodas and royal tombs while the sun sets behind the mountains. It’s a magical experience that will leave you in awe of the city’s beauty.

Cycle Through the Countryside of Hoi An

Hoi An is a charming town known for its well-preserved ancient architecture and lantern-lit streets. But beyond the bustling Old Town lies the peaceful countryside, where you can experience the authentic rural life of Vietnam. A cyclo tour through the countryside will take you through rice paddies, coconut groves, and fishing villages, giving you a glimpse into the daily lives of locals. You can also stop at a local farm or market to try some fresh produce and interact with the friendly villagers.


Is it safe to ride a cyclo in Vietnam?

Yes, it is generally safe to ride a cyclo in Vietnam. However, it’s always best to choose a reputable company and negotiate the price beforehand to avoid any scams or misunderstandings.

Do I need to tip my cyclo driver?

Tipping is not mandatory, but it’s always appreciated. You can tip your driver based on the quality of service and your overall experience.

Can I customize my cyclo tour?

Yes, many tour operators offer customized cyclo tours where you can choose the places you want to visit and the duration of the tour.

Are cyclos eco-friendly?

Yes, cyclos are an environmentally-friendly mode of transportation as they do not emit any harmful gases and are powered solely by human energy.

Is it necessary to book a cyclo tour in advance?

It’s not necessary to book a cyclo tour in advance, but it’s recommended, especially during peak season, to ensure availability and avoid any last-minute price hikes.


Riding a cyclo in Vietnam is more than just a mode of transportation; it’s an experience that will immerse you in the country’s culture, history, and way of life. From exploring bustling cities to discovering hidden gems in the countryside, a cyclo tour offers a unique and authentic way to see Vietnam. So the next time you visit this beautiful country, make sure to hop on a cyclo and take a ride through its vibrant streets.