Saigon to Cambodia via Cu Chi Tunnels
We gave ourselves the challenge of visiting the tunnels and crossing the border in one day. We thought it would be easily done... but with the intense heat, we struggled to keep to an average of 20km/h and this resulted with us cycling in the dark... again. We saw the tunnels and then made quick movements towards the border. The road was rough and we covered 28 km until we arrived at the town of Hung Vuong - still in Vietnam.
Brief: the quality of road varies throughout the day with our route consisting of at least 15 km of gravel road. The eating options slowly become less and less available, especially after leaving the Cu Chi tunnels. No available sleeping options by the tunnels.
Leaving Saigon, we were slow to start having to deal with thousands of scooters slicing past us, plus the red lights stopping our momentum. Taking the QL22 northwest for 15 kilometres, we finally had the opportunity for a "slightly" quieter road - HL2. This road continues straight on for 12 km until you can take a right onto Nguyễn Thị Rành. This again becomes quieter, and along here we had a sweet matcha latte and an ice coffee. The road bends and criss crosses, keep left on both occasions, staying on Nguyễn Thị Rành (not well signed) . There is then a pause in having to navigate, until 11km later you reach a junction with the TL15. There will be some informaton along the road also pointing out directions. Take a left on the TL15 and follow the road along - left on TL6 and there it will be on your right hand side.
There are two cu chi tunnels open to tourism and we went for the second set of tunnels, Ben Duoc. We chose this as they were less frequented and so we hoped for a "more unique experience.."
The tour was ok - the tunnels are fantastic when you picture what actually happened there, but there is a lack of information and the guide was very quick to chaperone us through...
After leaving the tunnels it was 4pm and we knew we were going to fighting against the clock to arrive before dark. Re loading the map, we planned our next section. There is only a few turns to take with a lot of rural farmland inbetween. Take a right out of the Cu Chi Tunnel complex and follow the gravel for 4km, here there will be a turning on your left that will cut the corner off and bring you to DT787. The road that cuts the corner is unnamed - and rightly so... however it's only 4km long and we're sure you've seen worse..
The DT787 is an improvement but is still gravel and requires a lot of concentration... This also slowed our speed to an average of 15km/h. We had the great fortune of cycling into a beautiful sunset, but this was slightly tainted by the reality of cycling in the dark - in the middle of nowhere... The DT787 goes on for 9km until it forks, keep right and continue up to a crossroads. Going straight or left will bring you to the highway DT782. We took the left.
At the highway continue north for 10 km until a road on the left appears - again no name. We rode these remaining 7km in the dark - so we couldn't tell you if was particularly pretty..!
Finally we saw the lights ahead and rolled into a small suburb of Hung Vuong.
Here we found a small nga Nghi town a little alleyway, some interesting street food and some of the best home-made ice cream!
The next morning we woke up early and headed for the border. Hung Vuong has a market and other options to eat. We had our last Vietnamese soup and then headed off onto the QL22 direction: Cambodia.
I hate crossing borders... Having to queue, having to pick up a form - fill it in, fill in another - give to someone - go back - fill out another... and it's not always easy having a bicycle either...
Fortunately though, at this border crossing there seems to be little trouble with officials overcharging tourists... However, it's still a wise idea to be sure of the current fee for the visa.
The area inbetween the two frontiers has become a strange casino land with bad smells and bizarre faces. It took a total of 45 minutes to get through the customs... finally we were in Cambodia - we had on our itinerary another 100km to do to our next checkpoint... But after a hard days cycle we hitched a ride all the way to Phnom Penh.