Overview

Our goal is simple : to explore South-East Asia via bicycle.

Unlike most people leaving for such an adventure, we’re lucky to have no time constraint. There’s no boss waiting for us to be back in a few months, so we tried not to over-plan our trip. As we’ll travel by bicycle, we will need some flexibility in order to handle rest days or bad weather ! Moreover, unlike our trip to Ireland last year, we won’t need to book accommodations ahead of time, which gives us a lot of leeway.

Planned itinerary

Our first loop should be around 7000km long.

We’re currently cycling in Vietnam, where we plan to ride from Da Nang (in central Vietnam), where Thanh’s family lives to the South-Cambodia border. Our detailed itineray in Vietnam can be found here.

A short ride in Cambodia will lead us to Thailand, where we’ll ride towards Chiang Mai and the beautiful Northern mountains. Northern Laos will be our next destination, then back to Vietnam. Once there, well… we’ll decide how to continue. We may return to Danang for a well-deserved break, although if we have time I’d love to explore Yunnan and Sichuan !

You’ll find the current ever-changing draft, hosted at A contresens’ trip planner (French inside)

Why South-East Asia ?

Landscape

There’s some seriously stunning landscape there. Whether you like mountains or prefer beaches, as long as you get out of large cities, you’ll find extremely enjoyable scenery.

Koh Phangan, Thailand

Even riding on the ever-present rice fields is a treat for the eyes, when they show their bright green color ! (and don’t get me started about terraced rice fields…)

Food

Let’s face it, we just love eating. And we just suck at taking pictures of food, so practicing this will provide us a good excuse to order plenty of meals !

I felt in love with Sichuan food during my first trip there, and the Thai food we had was excellent. While my solo culinary experiences in Vietnam were so-so, Thanh’s own cooking is yummy, and so is her mom’s. As a result I have high hopes for our return trip there, as she may order better food than I did !

Moreover, as a vegetarian, it’s rather easy for me to find meatless food in Asia. People who’re extra-strict about vegetarianism may be in trouble though (the broth is often made of meat, there’s fish sauce in many dishes…).

Finally, dishes on the street or in small eateries are extremely cheap. You clearly won’t go to these places for their trendy appearance; however they’ll often serve excellent food for an unbeatable price. Moreover, it’s an excellent way to immerse yourself in a country’s everyday life !

Contrast with our everyday life

If lifestyle in large Asian cities tends to become more and more western-like, it changes radically as soon as you travel in the countryside. I tend to appreciate this kind of ‘cultural shock’, although I must admit that it may be extremely annoying sometimes.

Price

While it’s entirely possible to spend a lot of money there if you only stay in high-end resorts or fly a lot, most cost-conscious travelers will appreciate Asia for its low cost. Double rooms are easy to find for around $10, and food is extremely cheap. (Did I mention that it was also excellent ? 🙂 ). Cycling will also allow us to cut the transportation cost.

Why cycling ?

In our opinion it’s the best way to discover a place.

If you’re not in a hurry, you’ll appreciate being able to enjoy every bit of the scenery, and spot details you’d have missed otherwise. It provides much more freedom than buses, as you can stop at will to take pictures at will. It encourages conversations, as people are curious as to why you’re suffering on your saddle instead of using supposedly  more comfortable transportation means. And finally, it keeps you fit, allowing you to enjoy even more delicious food !