Notes from the Road: A Research Trip in Vietnam & Cambodia

From ancient forts and glittering temples to jungles humming with fascinating wildlife, nowhere in the world contains as much diversity as Southeast Asia. Cambodia & Vietnam are the jewels in its crown, combining the crème de la crème of activities for all tastes and ages. 

There are endless temples and waterfalls to explore, mind-blowing cuisine to sample and bike trails through every landscape imaginable. Mountains, forests, vibrant cities, tranquil rice paddies, through world wonders like Angkor Wat and even high above the clouds. For foodies, its bustling cities combine local cuisine with touches of French, Japanese and Chinese. For local experiences, the people are proud to share their culture and traditions through colourful festivals, handicrafts and ancient wellness rituals.

On my recent research trip to Cambodia & Vietnam, I had the opportunity to reconnect with our incredible local team, exploring the region for the first time in two years due to restrictions. It’s clear that Southeast Asia underwent a distinct shift over the last few years, so a few thoughts raced through my mind during my flight: would I spend the first day scoping out new hotels or bike routes? Do I have enough time to visit the night market? Is my favourite spot for Cau Lau still open in Hoi An? (it was indeed, and I had two bowls of the local noodle for breakfast!). 

Upon landing in Vietnam, I met with our network of local guides and drivers that have been working with B&R for the past 10-15 years. I embarked on a five-day trip with the team; we scoped out more new bike routes, ate great seafood, noodles and pizza, and visited some hotels new to our trips for 2023 and 2024.

We had the opportunity to visit one of my favourite hotels on our Vietnam 25th Anniversary Expedition trip, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. This beachside retreat is only accessible by water and was recently voted one of the best hotels in Asia by Conde Nast Traveller. There are endless private beaches and waterfalls to explore, and each villa is complete with its very own plunge pool. I’ve planned out an entire beach day dedicated to getting the best out of this unique stay, and I’m so excited to share it with my travellers.

We also had the chance to visit Zannier Bãi San Hô, another hotel highlight on trip. Stepping into this wellness haven, I was surrounded by incredible mountain vistas and a beautiful beachfront. The property is hidden among an untouched coastline and surrounded by a beautiful coral bay, the perfect retreat mid-trip to stretch your legs after all that biking.

In Cambodia, everyone is thriving, happy and ready for travellers. The country interestingly seemed to have kept their heads down during the pandemic and focused on new biking infrastructure. I spoke with some drivers around Angkor Wat and discovered bike paths new to B&R, which I’m so excited to share with my travellers on our Cambodia & Vietnam Biking trip.

Below are the highlights from my research trip, from biking the longest wooden bridge in Vietnam to sampling organic delicacies over unforgettable views.

All smiles from our team of incredible Vietnamese guides! From left to right: Quyen, Tuan, Viet, Quan and An.

Fishing boats at anchor. They generally cruise the waters overnight

Temple hopping on two wheels. Here our long-time guide Viet is explaining the significance of the Buddhist temple we stopped by.

A wonderful bike ride among Vietnam's brilliant green rice paddies. Here the only traffic in sight is the local children heading to school.

Spinning along Vietnam's longest wooden bridge on our Day 7 bike ride.

Breakfast with a view at Zannier Bãi San Hô. The morning coffee and mountain vistas are fantastic.

Each room at Zannier Bãi San Hô comes with a bike, I peddled to the beach for a morning swim.

Shortly after returning home from my research trip, I had the chance to update our Scheduled itineraries with all of the new bike routes, hotels and activities we discovered, and I'm thrilled to share them with my travellers. While there's so much to see and do in Vietnam and Cambodia, I'm certain the trips below will have you fully immersed in the Pandora's box of possibilities that await in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam 25th Anniversary Expedition: a 12-day biking adventure from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.

Cambodia & Vietnam Biking: an 8-day biking adventure from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Hue or Danang, Vietnam.

Nathan Lane

Regions of expertise: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Oman, Jordan, Veneto

Feeling inspired to experience the wonders of Vietnam and Cambodia for yourself? Get in touch with Nathan Lane to chat travel.