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Cycling in Laos
16 days from
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At a glance
Explore rural Laos by bike
Trip Highlights
Start Destination
Chiang Mai
End Destination
What's included
  • All breakfasts
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers
  • Local bike hire

Food is cheap in SE Asia and you can generally avoid the spicier food if you wish, normally consisting of rice or noodle based dishes with pork, chicken, vegetable or seafood. Western food is readily available almost everywhere. Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in SE Asia the availability of certain specialized products for restricted diets, e.g. gluten-free or dairy-free, is minimal or non-existent and we strongly recommend you bring these items from home. You may find it beneficial to bring some 'cycling snacks' with you from home; high energy snacks are not readily available locally. For snacks and drinks during the rides, a kitty is normally arranged (see Extra Expenses).

Day 1
Depart London
Day 2
Start Chiang Mai.
Start Chiang Mai, 'The Rose of the North', known for its temples, markets and the many colourful hill tribes that live in the area. Chiang Mai is a former religious and cultural centre, twice coming under the control of the Burmese, there is a strong Burmese influence reflected in the architecture of the city. In the evening we can visit the night market where many of the hilltribe's handicrafts can be seen.
Day 3
Warm up ride Chiang Mai
After our bike fitting we start to explore Chiang Mai on two wheels. We will visit the old town, the temple of Vieng Kum Kam and numerous cultural highlights in the morning. We will stop for lunch before driving up to the hilltop temple of Doi Suthep, the most revered Buddhist shrine in the Chiang Mai region. On a clear day the temple affords an excellent view over Chiang Mai and its striking temple landscape. There will be the opportunity to listen to the monks chanting before returning to the city for an optional group meal. Ride approx. 20 km.
Day 4
Cycle to Golden Triangle
Leaving our hotel early we set off by bus to the Chiang Rai Province, the northern most province in Thailand. We visit the revered Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple) before transferring to Mae Sai where we start our cycling journey. We cycle into the heart of the Golden Triangle, the compact region where Thailand, Laos and Burma meet offering a heady mix of cultures and landscapes. Ride approx. 80km.
Day 5
Cross into Laos
The Opium Museum is our first stop today which highlights the history of opium from its natural properties to its illegal uses, and gives historical information on the Opium Wars that led to the fall of the Manchu Dynasty. The Golden Triangle was previously one of the most extensive producers of Opium until Afghanistan became the world’s largest producer. After we will next board a boat down the mighty Mekong glimpsing local villages and industries before starting cycling at Ban Sew following a quiet route to the border for our crossing into Laos. The cycling today is mostly flat with a few rolling hills passing through tobacco and corn plantations. Ride approx. 60km.
Day 6
Luang Nam Tha
Today is our first foray into rural Laos. The Luang Nam Tha region will be our base for the next two nights as we explore the land of 39 ethnic tribal groups. The Nam Tha river weaves itself through the countryside and has many ethnic tribal villages dotted along its length on one side and dense jungle of the national protected area on the other. We will transfer to the village of Vieng Phu Ka before cycling through quiet jungle-lined roads marvelling at the mountainous landscape. There is a night market not too far from the hotel which provides the opportunity to feast on the local speciality of bamboo and green papaya salad or slow cooked Laotian pork belly. Ride approx. 75km.
Day 7
Luang Nam Tha to Moung Sing
We start the day with a ride from Luang Nam Tha to Moung Sing. A smaller town usually visited for its spectacular trekking opportunities retains a local feel. A wide variety of ethnic groups are represented on the streets; Hmong, Tai Dam, Akha, Tai Lue and Yao. Men and women in traditional dress are a common and often spectacular sight. The cycling today will pass through rice paddies and rolling valleys with a few hill climbs before transferring back to Luang Nam Tha town. Ride approx. 75km.
Day 8
Cycle to Udomxai province
We cycle direct from the hotel today journeying towards Udomxai province. The area is an important intersection between China and Vietnam and has a unique multicultural atmosphere. Located in the Nam Ko river basin and surrounded by scenic mountains the area is famed for its Chinese produce. We will stop for a late lunch before transferring to Pak Beng town for our overnight spot on the side of the Mekong. Ride approx. 75km.
Day 9
Luang Prabang via Buddha Caves
Today we journey to Luang Prabang by boat, cruising along the Mekong River which starts its journey high in the Tibetan Plateau, eventually emptying itself into the sea in the south of Vietnam. Its journey takes it through 7 different countries in Asia. Travelling slowly allows us to absorb the pace of the riverside settlements and marvel at the mist covered mountains towering above us. En route to Luang Prabang we will visit the famous Tam Ting Caves, cut out of the limestone banks which line the river at Pak Ou. These caves are filled with thousands of Buddha images brought by the surrounding villagers as a sign of their devotion. Upon arrival we hope back on our bikes for a flat 10km cycle to our hotel for the next 3 nights. Ride approx. 10km.
Day 10
Cycle to Kwang Si Waterfalls
Approximately 25 km from Luang Prabang are the beautiful Kwang Si Waterfalls. We ride from our hotel, leaving Luang Prabang passing through a rural landscape of rice paddies and Lao Lum villages. Once at Kwang Si Falls we have a picnic lunch and there is a chance for a refreshing dip. In the afternoon we cycle back to Luang Prabang. The rest of the afternoon is free for individual sightseeing or shopping, or there is an orientation bike ride of the town (any entrance fees are not included). This evening there is a chance to visit the Night Market in town with beautiful traditional Lao and Hilltribe textiles on sale. For those up at dawn there is chance to witness the daily parade of saffron-robed monks receiving alms. (c. 50 km)
Day 11
Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
Today we drive south from Luang Prabang to Phou Khoun through more mountainous terrain (approx 4 hours), passing through numerous Hmong villages. Once in Phou Khoun we pull out the bikes and start riding. The ride includes a superb winding descent with magnificent views of limestone karsts which gives the impression of entering into 'Lord of the Rings' territory'. This is followed by shorter climbs and easy riding through rice paddies and villages as we approach Kasi. The rest of the journey (about 2 hours) is on the support bus and we end up in Vang Vieng, a popular town with plenty of bars and restaurants to enjoy. Ride approx.60km.
Day 12
Vang Vieng to Vientiene
We set off from Vang Vieng early this morning. Passing through local rubber plantations and small villages we pause for a rest at a local roadside market – it’s specialty is the local delicacy of dried fish which you may well smell before you see it! We stop for lunch before hopping on the bus for a final two hours’ drive to Vientiene, the sleepy capital of Laos. In the evening the perfect option is to retire for a refreshing beverage and watch the sunset over the Mekong River. Ride approx.60km.
Day 13
Vientiene to Nong Khai; overnight train to Bangkok
This morning is free to shop or explore Vientiane. We take an orientation tour of the city, visiting the Thatluang Stupa, Wat Si Saket, the oldest temple in the city, and Haw Phra Kaew, a temple which originally housed the Emerald Bhudda now on display in Thailand which we will see tomorrow. After this we ride out of the city and over the Mekong into Thailand across the Friendship Bridge. After completing border formalities we ride (on the left in Thailand!) to Nong Khai railway station. Here we say good-bye to our Lao guide. We can relax for a couple of hours in a local hotel (with pool) before returning to the train station for our overnight train journey to Bangkok. Ride approx. 30km.
Day 14
City tour Bangkok
On arrival in Bangkok we transfer to our hotel. Later in the morning we take a short walk to the Chao Praya river where we board a long tail boat for a tour of the local canals. Bangkok was once known as the Venice of the East because of its intricate canal network. We get a glimpse of daily life as we pass locals selling their wares by the river. We will visit what to this day remains the home of the Thai Royal family at the Royal Palace complex followed by Wat Phra Kaew, home to the Emerald Buddha, one of Thailand's most venerated images. Another highlight is Wat Pho, the largest temple in Bangkok, housing a 46m long, 15m high gold-plated reclining Buddha. We then head back to our hotel by ferry. This afternoon is free for personal exploration.
Day 15
End Bangkok
End Bangkok.
Day 16
Arrive London
Arrive London.
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