Cyclo has been a mean of transportation for over 100 years and has become a part of Vietnamese culture, not only because of its unique appearance.
Cyclo is a special vehicle, which is a combination of a bicycle at the back and a large seat for customers in the front. If Thailand tourism is famous for the image of tuk tuk, then cyclo is the vehicle tourists are fond of when they visit Vietnam.
So, Vietnam’s cyclo (xich lo) is one of top 30 unique modes of transport around the world, according to Boredpanda – the leading art, design and photography community website.
Cyclo was invented in early 19th century then was gradually popular in Saigon and Hanoi. Since the French time, the Xich Lo was used as luxury transportation for French people in Vietnam and for a small number of Vietnamese noble at that time. Xich Lo drivers stood as a symbol of hard working subservients under French occupation.
After the ‘motorbike storm’ in Vietnam, the Xich Lo became redundant, people needed to travel further and faster. The Xich Lo did not meet their demands. So, nowadays, the Xich Lo was used professionally in tourism and wedding services. Tourists visiting Vietnam find cyclo strange but exciting and many of them choose to take a city tour on cyclos.
Xich Lo looks different in each region of Vietnam. Hanoi’s Xich Lo is wider and low, Hue is a bit more narrow but longer, Saigon’s Xich Lo is tall and long. Whatever it is, Xich Lo has now become a great icon of Vietnam, a unique form of transportation, and the image of an old lady with traditional long dress on Xich Lo on her way back from market is still so meaningful for Vietnamese people.
So when you travel to Vietnam, do not forget to travel by a cyclo!