Cyclo in Vietnam Guide: Vietnam on Three Wheels

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to explore the bustling streets by cyclo in Vietnam? Welcome to the world of three wheels! In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about cyclos in Vietnam, from their historical significance to practical tips on enjoying a ride. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, hopping on a cyclo is a must-do experience that offers a unique glimpse into Vietnamese life.

History of Cyclos in Vietnam

The cyclo, a three-wheeled bicycle taxi, has been a part of Vietnamese culture since the French colonial era. Originally introduced in the early 20th century, cyclos quickly became a popular means of transportation due to their affordability and accessibility. They played a crucial role in urban development, helping people move goods and navigate the crowded streets of cities like Hanoi and Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). Over the decades, cyclos have evolved from a practical necessity to a charming tourist attraction.

Importance of Cyclos in Vietnamese Culture


Cyclos are more than just a mode of transportation; they’re a cultural icon. These vehicles have witnessed the transformation of Vietnamese cities and hold a special place in the hearts of locals and tourists alike. For many Vietnamese, cyclos are a nostalgic reminder of the past, representing a simpler time. They are also featured in Vietnamese art, literature, and cinema, symbolizing the resilience and adaptability of the Vietnamese people.

Key Cities to Experience Cyclos

While cyclos can be found throughout Vietnam, some cities offer a more iconic experience.


The old quarter of Hanoi is perfect for a cyclo ride, allowing you to soak in the historic charm and vibrant street life. The narrow streets and colonial architecture make for a picturesque journey.

Ho Chi Minh City

Experience the bustling energy of Vietnam’s largest city from the comfort of a cyclo. Areas like District 1 are ideal for exploring on three wheels.


This city offers a more relaxed pace, with cyclos providing a great way to explore its imperial past. The ride along the Perfume River and through the ancient citadel is particularly memorable.

How to Hire a Cyclo

Hiring a cyclo is straightforward. You can find them in popular tourist areas, or you can ask your hotel to arrange one for you. Always agree on a price before starting your journey. It’s also a good idea to specify the duration or destination to avoid misunderstandings.

Typical Costs of a Cyclo Ride

Prices vary depending on the city and duration of the ride. On average, expect to pay around $3 to $5 for a short ride and up to $15 for a longer tour. Negotiating the price beforehand is common practice. Remember, tipping is appreciated, especially if the driver provides excellent service or insightful commentary during the ride.

Best Times to Take a Cyclo Ride

The best times to enjoy a cyclo ride are early morning and late afternoon when the weather is cooler and the streets are less crowded. Evening rides can also be enchanting, especially in cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City where the nightlife is vibrant.

Cyclo Ride Etiquette

Respect the driver and agree on a route and price before starting. Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory. During the ride, be polite and engage in friendly conversation if the driver speaks English. It’s also important to sit comfortably and avoid sudden movements to ensure a smooth ride.

Safety Tips for Cyclo Rides

Always wear a helmet if provided, keep your belongings secure, and avoid riding in heavy traffic areas if you’re new to cyclos. It’s also wise to stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. If you’re traveling with children, ensure they are seated safely.

Environmental Impact of Cyclos

Cyclos are an eco-friendly mode of transportation, producing zero emissions and contributing to lower traffic congestion. They offer a sustainable alternative to motorized vehicles and help reduce the carbon footprint in urban areas. By choosing a cyclo ride, you’re supporting a greener way to explore the city.

Comparing Cyclos to Other Modes of Transportation

While cyclos are slower than motorbikes or taxis, they offer a unique and leisurely way to experience the sights and sounds of Vietnamese cities. Unlike other forms of transportation, cyclos allow for a more intimate and immersive experience, letting you take in the details of your surroundings at a relaxed pace.

The Future of Cyclos in Vietnam

Despite the rise of modern transportation, cyclos continue to hold a niche place in Vietnam, supported by both locals and tourists who cherish this traditional mode of travel. Efforts are being made to preserve this cultural heritage, with initiatives to train new cyclo drivers and maintain the vehicles. The integration of electric cyclos also promises a sustainable future for this iconic mode of transportation.


Riding a cyclo in Vietnam is more than just a journey; it’s an experience that immerses you in the local culture and history. Whether you’re navigating the narrow lanes of Hanoi or exploring the imperial sites of Hue, a cyclo ride offers a unique perspective on Vietnam. So, next time you’re in Vietnam, take a break from the hustle and bustle, hop on a cyclo, and let the city unfold before you on three wheels.
Ready to explore Vietnam on three wheels? Book a tour and let the rhythmic charm of this unique transportation unveil the soul of Vietnam. Don’t miss out on the adventure of a lifetime!


1. Are cyclos safe for tourists?
Yes, cyclos are generally safe for tourists. However, it’s essential to choose reputable drivers and avoid busy traffic areas. Make sure to secure your belongings and be aware of your surroundings.
2. Can I book a cyclo ride in advance?
Yes, many hotels and tour operators offer the option to book cyclo rides in advance. This can ensure you get a reputable driver and avoid any last-minute hassles.
3. Do cyclo drivers speak English?
Some drivers speak basic English, but it’s helpful to have your destination written down or use a translation app. Engaging with them using simple words or phrases can enhance your experience.
4. Is it customary to tip cyclo drivers?
Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory. If you had a great experience, a small tip is a nice gesture. This can also help support the local economy and show your appreciation for their service.
5. What should I bring on a cyclo ride?
Bring a hat, sunscreen, water, and your camera to capture the sights along the way. Comfortable clothing and a map or guidebook can also enhance your cyclo adventure.
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