cycling around the world

Sometimes it is just best to get on your bike. When traveling we have found that sometimes the best way to get around and discover a new town is by hiring a bike and venturing out on your own accord. You have no rules, no itinerary and the freedom to do as you please. The best part about it is while you’re traveling you are still getting in that daily routine of exercise, without even knowing it! Here are a few places we have been then hopped on our bikes to discover.
Switzerland: Annecy is an adorable little town just 30 minutes outside of Geneva. During the cooler months it’s a winter wonderland (which is when we’ve visited in the past), but last time we went in summer turned out to be an unexpected delight. There are endless cycling tracks that have an incredible view no matter which way you look, and it’s a relatively flat and relaxing ride if you stay around the lake (pretty steep once you get into the Alps!). We spent an afternoon riding around one half of the lake, stopping at small beaches along the way. We even took our cycling skills to water and hired a paddle boat for a morning adventure.
Vietnam: One of the best towns in Vietnam to get on a bike and ride around is Hoi An but if you are keen, a bike tour from North to South is also highly recommended. In the town of Hoi An the roads are quiet, and biking is a great mode of transport – it’s how the locals get around. Use the bikes to get out of the main area of town and either jump onto the ferry to cross the river or ride out to Cua Dai beach. If you choose to travel the whole country (around 18-20 day tour) be prepared for big days, busy roads, lots of laughs, lots of people, lots of motorbikes and lots of fun. And a few good massages in between!
France: Paris is a brilliant city to explore on a bicycle. There are designated tracks, the city is spread out but flat and they make it so easy to hire a bike through a program called Velib. It makes you feel like a local and you don’t miss all the in-between bits like you would if you took the metro. We have told you before in our Paris guide, but we would definitely recommend joining a Fat Tire Bike Tour – it’s great because you’ll be orientated and learn all the fascinating history Paris has to offer, and you do all of it whilst working off your morning croissant (or 3!)
China: Yangshuo is a small town in China and very popular with tourists but many only come for a day trip. We recommend spending at least two days here so you can hire a bike to discover the gorgeous countryside. Bike hire is not expensive so get one for a good few hours. There are many tracks to follow or you can do a guided bike tour. We recommend heading out through the small villages, vegetable and rice fields, rivers and across the landscape of the large incredible rock casts to finish at Moon Hill Village. Here you will get a great view before returning back to town. Most bike tours are around 20km however they are not difficult (mostly all flat).
Photos by Sarah Reid
South Africa: Johannesburg may be an unlikely place to go for a ride, but jumping on a bike is the best way to see Soweto. One of our friends, Sarah Reid, opted for the day bike tour of Johannesburg and she says it was a fabulous experience. Ride through a shanty town and compare it to the middle and upper class of the city, get thick into the history of the apartheid and open your eyes to a different perspective on everything South African. Make sure you don’t miss trying some of the local beer at the underground shabine (bar).
New York: Ok so we wouldn’t recommend cycling around the busy streets of New York unless you’re really experienced and brave due to the fact that there are a lot of aggressive drivers and not a lot of room to steer clear of them. But Central Park is perfect for cycling – it’s so big thats it’s almost essential to hire one if you only have a short time to explore. It is best to start at the South end and go in an anti-clockwise direction. Another great spot to cycle in the city is along the East and Hudson River where there are excellent tracks almost the full length of Manhattan Island, and you end up at Staten Island Ferry so jump on board (it’s free) and take advantage of the views of Statue of Liberty and the Financial District.
Argentina: When we first arrived in Buenos Aires, we joined an afternoon bike tour to get orientated and understand the local history and culture. Although it was a quick trip, it exposed us to areas we wouldn’t normally venture into and areas where we knew we wanted to go back and spend more time. Whilst in Argentina, we were lucky enough to spend a week in Mendoza which is famously known for the wineries. To burn off all the calories from the wine and delicious food, we took the unusual route of cycling between wineries each day. The roads are rural and therefore pretty quiet which was ideal especially by the time you got to the third winery of the day!
Indonesia: Bali is a place of beauty and the best way to spend at least half a day is by bike. We’ve already given you an outline of biking in bali but we had to tell you twice because it was that much fun. Start on top of a hill and make your way down stopping along the way in villages, temples, rice fields and a coffee plantation. A great way to spend a morning in Bali.
Laos: In the small town of Luang Prabang hiring a bike is probably the best thing you could do. Bike hire costs next to nothing and the town is pretty much flat so there is no need to worry about hills. Use your bike to go from temple to temple or head out of town and discover the villages on the outskirts. With the help of a map make your way across the river and head to Ban Xang Khong, a small textiles village with weaving and paper making.

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