Saigonese cycle away their stress as COVID-19 restrictions ease
ChandraGarran04 19-11-2021, 13:30

Cycling is fast becoming one of the most popular outdoor activities in Ho Chi Minh City, with citizens eagerly looking for bike rental shops that are not completely booked.

Ho Chi Minh City began easing its COVID-19 restrictions on October 1, part of a step-by-step plan to boost the city’s economic recovery under 'new normal' conditions following months of a government-mandated lockdown.

Anh Thu, a resident of Binh Chanh District, and her friend traveled more than 20km to rent bicycles in District 1 after learning about the service on TikTok.

The pair spent the day cycling along the Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe canal on Truong Sa and Hoang Sa Streets before heading downtown for sunset.

“I often rode my bike to school when I was young, but I have never tried to ride a bicycle around Ho Chi Minh City,” Thu admitted.

“I was a bit nervous when I first got on [the rental] bike because it was sportier than the bike I used to ride, but I felt pretty confident after the staff from the shop gave me some riding tips.” 

Tuan Anh and Truc Dao, another pair, have also taken to cycling since the end of the lockdown, though both have quite a bit of prior experience in the saddle. 

“I’ve seen a lot of people cycling around Ho Chi Minh City recently,” Tuan Anh said.

Though Tuan Anh enjoys cycling, he does not have the time to ride every day and chooses to rent, rather than buy, in order to save cash. 

Tuan Anh and Truc Dao said they like cycling together because it gives them a chance to see the city at a slower pace from a different angle.




Tuan Anh (left) and Truc Dao take a two-hour trip on rental bikes in Ho Chi Minh City on November 3, 20201. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

Others appreciate cycling for the health benefits it offers.

“I did all my exercise at home during the social distancing period,” said Minh Thuy, a resident from Tan Binh District.

“I think everyone is ready for the chance to go outside, hang out with friends, and enjoy the fresh air.

“I don’t feel safe at fitness centers, so renting a bike is a great way for me to exercise after a tiring work week.

"It’s cheap and comfortable."

Fully booked

Due to the rising demand, many bike rental shops throughout the city are completely booked.

Huynh Quyet Thang, owner of Cao Cao Adventures on Tran Nhat Duat Street in District 1, began offering bike rentals when his travel business took a dip during the pandemic.

The new business, he said, is going well.




Minh Thuy (right) and Vo Hoang, two regular customers at Cao Cao Adventures, cycle along Truong Sa Street in District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City on November 3, 2021. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

Though offering bike rentals is relatively new to Thang, cycling itself is not.

Prior to opening his business, Thang worked as a bicycle tour guide and considered himself to be quite knowledgeable about cycling.

“We had a surge in customers after social distancing eased,” he said. 

“Normally, we see 20 to 30 customers a day.

"Those numbers double on weekends.

“Our customers can either book online, call to make reservations, or just walk in.

“We have such high demand that there are some days when I have to turn away up to 30 customers because we simply don’t have enough bikes.”




Bicycles for rent at Cao Cao Adventures in District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City on November 3, 2021. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

Thang currently owns 40 bikes for men, women, and children, but he plans to purchase more in order to meet rising demand.

His bikes rent for VND70,000 (US$3) to VND200,000 ($9) per hour for one to 12 hours and his shop opens from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm every day.

Free parking is offered to those who come by motorbike. Each rental includes a helmet, phone bag, and advice on routes.

“I hope people find a true love for cycling and that it isn’t just something that will be trendy for a short time,” Thang said.




Minh Thuy (right) and Vo Hoang, two regular customers at Cao Cao Adventures, cycle along Truong Sa Street in District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City on November 3, 2021. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

Vo Hoang Phuc, another bike rental shop owner in Ho Chi Minh City, has been running his business for almost a year. 

His shop, The Bike Coffee, is mostly staffed by former tour guides who were put out of work when the pandemic halted both domestic and international tourism.

“I’m surprised that so many people have such a big interest in cycling,” Phuc said.

“As a bicycle lover, I’ve been longing to go out on my bike after months of staying home.

“Perhaps many people also crave fresh air so they visit my shop to rent a bike for two or three hours each afternoon.” 




Vo Hoang Phuc, owner of The Bike Coffee, checks the brakes on a bicycle before handing it over to a customer at his bike rental shop in District 3 in Ho Chi Minh City on November 3, 20201. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

Bikes at Phuc’s shop rent for VND50,000 ($2) to VND200,000 ($9) for time slots that last between three hours and the entire day.

He currently owns about 20 bikes, including all-terrain, road, and hybrid bicycles.




Min (center), a staff member at The Bike Coffee, adjusts a bike seat for a customer at The Bike Coffee in District 3 in Ho Chi Minh City on November 3, 20201. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News



Bicycles for rent at The Bike Coffee in District 3 in Ho Chi Minh City on November 3, 20201. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News



Bicycles for rent at The Bike Coffee in District 3 in Ho Chi Minh City on November 3, 20201. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

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Hoang An / Dong Nguyen - Tuoi Tre News

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