Apart from tourists who pamper themselves with tandem bike rides around scenic spots, young Vietnamese, particularly students, have been keen on the sport in recent years.
Tandem bikes are readily available for rent at many tourist spots nationwide, especially coastal towns, such as Vung Tau in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province in the south, and Quy Nhon in Binh Dinh Province and Da Nang in the central region.
Da Lat, in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, and Nha Trang in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa are among the localities with booming tandem bike rental services.
Tourists, including foreigners, can easily rent such bikes for VND10,000-20,000 (US$0.47- $0.93) per hour.
The sight of foreign couples or parents and kids enjoying themselves on tandem bikes is now quite common at such tourist attractions across Vietnam.
A foreigner is seen partaking in a tandem bike race held in Nha Trang City in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa in April 2013 in this Tuoi Tre file photo.
Local youths in for the sport
Services offering tandem bikes for rent in Ho Chi Minh City have also proliferated in recent times.
One such place is the so-called Ho Chi Minh City University Village, located in Thu Duc District, where the country’s top-tier universities are located.
Tandem bike riders are now found in streets around dormitories and university campuses.
Trinh Khanh Long, a freshman at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education, says it is the first time that he and his girlfriend have ridden a tandem bike.
They caught a bus to the village, rented a bike, and enjoyed their time together in a romantic setting.
Groups of friends also rent the bikes and ride together.
Many consider riding bikes an ideal way to mingle, unwind and work out at the same time.
Nguyen Thi Trang, a senior at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, said she and her two roommates rented a bike and had a fun-packed evening.
Young Vietnamese are pictured competing in a 2013 tandem bike race in Nha Trang City.
“The number of bike renters typically surges on weekends, including ‘residents’ of the university village and those from other universities as well,” said Phan Van Dung, who runs a small tandem bike leasing business. His clientele also includes workers who live in the vicinity.
Tra Vinh University, located in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh, also sees groups of students merrily riding tandem bikes within its premises, according to the website run by the university’s students.
Late last year, the school launched an environmental protection campaign which saw its students eagerly ride on tandem bikes and pick up garbage littered around its campus.
The school owns two tandem bikes intended for this activity.
Volunteer students also rode the bikes and conveyed green messages during breaks.
Vo Thi Thuy Duong, one of the volunteers, said though it was quite tiring riding under the scorching sun and picking up garbage, she is happy that she has contributed to her school’s environmental protection effort.
Riding bikes, including tandem bikes, is itself a green traffic solution, the volunteers noted.
The hobby is also considered a healthy alternative to lounging in cafés or pubs.
A pair of young racers are seen in this 2013 Tuoi Tre photo fixing their tandem bike right on the track.
Many beginners, particularly girls, initially have difficulty maneuvering the bikes, which measure some 3.5 meters in length and weigh between 15 and 20 kilograms.
It also takes some time to make sure the pair’s riding activity is performed in tandem, otherwise their bike may fall over while turning.
Tran Anh Vu, a junior at Quy Nhon University in Binh Dinh Province, revealed he won his girlfriend’s heart after days riding tandem bikes together.
Pairs riding tandem bikes are sometimes still seen on Quy Nhon’s streets after 10:00 pm.
Races gathering some 100 pairs, including foreigners, on tandem bikes were organized in Da Lat and Nha Trang Cities in 2013 and 2014.
Participants are shown competing hard in a tandem bike race held in Nha Trang City in 2014.