The world over people have used bicycles for getting to work, school, and to and fro for several decades (really since the 1860s in Europe). Some societies and therefore places are set up better for the two-wheeled tourist. In many a country, travelers can rent a bike, use a free city bike, take a bike tour or bring their own bike to see a country up close and personal. My first cross-country bike adventure took place about four years ago in Vietnam and Cambodia. I am now surely convinced that there is not one better way to see and experience a culture, a people and a country than from the seated sight of the saddle. Here are some of the best places to mount up and move out; not all guaranteed to be paved and a comfortable rides, however.
Vietnam: One of the best roads to travel down Vietnam is Highway 1. This highway stretches parallel to the coast from Hanoi to Ho Chi Mihn. It is by no means a lorry- or car-free road. However, some of the best beach towns lie en route, so stopping for a snorkel tour, massage and scuba lessons make this ride truly unique and adventurous. Try Nha Trang for some of the best beachside times of your ride.
Cambodia: Car-less dirt roads interconnect towns sprung along the roads to Sinhoukville to the south and Siem Reap to the northeast. Both towns are worth a visit, with laid-back beach life dominating the atmosphere in the former and Wats worth waiting for in the latter. Siem Reap and Angkor Wat specifically make for some fast, flat asphalt rides. A three-day pass gives riders full access to archeological sites you can still walk through without guides.
Vienna, Austria: The sides of the roads are lined with trees, two sets, with a bike path running parallel along the main thoroughfare. There are plenty of others (both locals and tourist alike) meandering through the city. If you don't have your own bike, there are several tour companies willing to take you for a ride and educate you.
Ireland: One of the most scenic verdant rides you could do north of the equator has got to be Ireland. Rich in culture, animal life, birdlife and rural life, Ireland is a pedal-pumper and pub-lover paradise. Work off the beer in style from the seat of your bike. You'll be welcomed and greeted wherever you go, but be forewarnedÃ¢ÂÂthere are plenty of sheep crossing the roads at the most inopportune times.
Tanzania: The infrastructure is not good for vehicles, but biking in Tanzania is a way to get some stares from the locals. The roads can be washed out, but during the dry season, the roads are as flat and fast as asphalt, with plenty of landscapes to take in. Try Zanzibar if you want a loop that can last up to a week. The dirt road is now paved from Stonetown all the way around the island. A bike tour is a great way to find beaches that are seldom visited by tourist.
Canada: Canada's Route Verte must be mentioned, as it can take you 4000 miles through some of the best Canadian countryside imaginable. Beginners, or those who want to go at it alone, can take on small and long trips. This is one of the only rides where you can see Quebec City, birds and whales. There are fjords, beaches, capes and estuaries that make traveling through and by villages some of the neatest riding in North America.
Lake Balaton, Hungary: This loop-di-loop is a great way to start off if you've never done a bike tour before. Many people speak English and there are plenty of signs along the way for economic lodging, unless you'd like to camp, which is more economical if not less comfortable. Lakeside hostels and cheap eateries make the Lake Balaton bike path one to plan for and remember. It can be done in a few days but most give themselves a week to really enjoy the scenery.