Laos: Northern Loop
Getting there and away
Our Laos cycling holiday starts in Luang Prabang.
We appreciate that people join redspokes tours from all over the world; no matter what time you arrive at the airport on the tour start date you and your luggage will be transferred to the joining hotel. Please bear in mind that if you arrive before midday you may have to wait for your room to be made available. If you decide to arrive early or stay on after the tour, redspokes can assist you in booking your accommodation and airport transfers at additional cost. If you depart on the last day of the tour your airport transfer is included in your tour cost.
Our tour price does not include your international flight.
Passport and visa
A valid passport is essential when you travel abroad. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the date of arrival or for 1 month after the expiration of your visa. From the UK visas are required to travel to Laos, these can be obtained at the airport when you fly into Luang Prabang at the start of the tour. All other nationalities should check with their nearest Laotian embassy.
Insurance and vaccinations
It is a condition of joining our trips that you must be adequately insured. All persons are expected to arrange their own insurance. Polices should cover any potential risks involved in a mountain cycling holiday. We ask for copy of your policy to be sent in with your completed booking form.
Snowcard Insurance Services specialize in all mountain sports holidays including mountain biking. Their policies include emergency medical and repatriation expenses as well as mountain rescue. They are also able to insure personal belongings including equipment as well as travel cover for cancellation, delay and missed departure. Follow the link below to obtain full information and a quote: www.snowcard.co.uk.
Plan ahead for your vaccinations, some of them require more than one injection you should seek medical advice at least six weeks before travel. We recommend vaccinations against typhoid, polio, hepatitis A, and a tetanus injection is essential.
Cycling support and grading
All of the time you will have the security of a back-up vehicle; either a jeep or a bus. The vehicle will carry our entire luggage (we transport your main baggage by support vehicle from each overnight stop to the next) and yourself if you want. The back-up van will be with us throughout the day stopping around every 15 miles. Our leaders carry a good tool kit and will help to fix any bike problems so all you normally need to carry is a daypack, for your camera etc, however, we cannot guarantee that we will be equipped for all repairs, so you must ensure that your bike is in good working order before the tour. If in doubt, have it fully serviced by a bike shop before you travel.
Equipment and bike stuff
The Laos tour is suitable for most types of bicycles; however, please ensure that you bike is in good working order before you leave for the tour. If you are not the most mechanically minded we suggest that you get your bike looked at by a professional bike mechanic. In particular we would suggest looking and adjusting all wheel spokes, greasing all your bearings, checking your brakes/gears cable, tighten all nuts and bolts, check chain, quick release clamps, tires and put in new inner tubes and check wheel rims are not worn. In addition make sure the bike is well serviced and ride it with as much care and attention as possible.
We would also advise the following tools to accompany you on your tour: multi-tool, tyre levers, pump, 2 spare inner tube, spare spokes of the correct length to fit your wheels - check with a bike shop, brake pads, a few spare links for your chain, if applicable, spares for any unique or high-tech items on your bike, e.g. fluid and bleed kit for hydraulic brakes.
Bike hire is available on this tour for an extra cost and should be arranged at the time of your booking. As cyclists we appreciate that hiring a bicycle is always a big concern and having the appropriate equipment is an essential part of your holiday.
All the bicycles are serviced and well maintained and are available in a range of sizes from which to choose from. The most common model we offer is the Trek4300, but during periods of high demand we may provide you with an equivalent model from a different make.
Baggage allowances and your bike
Your bike must be carried as a part of your luggage allowance and to this end we do ask you to make every effort to keep your total check-in baggage to an absolute minimum. The baggage allowance for most airlines for an economy-class ticket is 20kg per person; although a degree of flexibility is usually extended to groups and the check in staff may accept up to 26kg per person without imposing excess baggage charges.
Your bike (in its cardboard box) will weigh 15 to 18kg. So, that means you will have a small allowance for clothing etc. You should carry small heavy items in your day pack / pannier which you can take onto the plane as hand luggage.
Your hand luggage is not included as a part of your overall allowance, as it is not weighed. Please inform your airline that you will be taking your bike on the flight, and attempt to make every effort to secure from the airline an additional baggage allowance - but this is not always granted. Although we cannot guarantee that there will not be excess baggage charges, this is something, which very rarely happens.
In terms of clothing this is clearly up to you and we can only supply a rough guide as to what to take. This guide is entirely flexible and should be tailored to your specific needs: sunglasses, lightweight trekking boots/shoes, cycling footwear, lightweight socks (3 pairs), heavy socks (1 pairs), underwear (4 pairs),lightweight thermal long johns, lightweight, long-sleeved thermal shirt, lightweight trekking shorts, padded cycling shorts (2 pairs), shorts, T-shirts (2), lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, fleece jacket/pullover, biking jacket, waterproof (breathable fabric), fingerless biking gloves, warm gloves, fleece hat or cap with earflaps, headlamp & spare bulbs/batteries, spare laces, sunglasses, toiletries, basic first aid kit, towel (small), small padlock, 2 large plastic bags (for keeping items dry in your bag), sun cream, lip balm. If you have any questions about this list please feel free to contact us.
What's included and what's not
All accommodation will be in hotels or guest houses. We choose accommodation on the basis of comfort rather than luxury. Our prices are based on sharing a twin room; single rooms are sometimes available at extra cost.
Some suggestions for reading prior to the tour include Murphy (Dervla 1999), One foot in Laos/Thailand (Christopher Robbins 1989), The Ravens: pilots of the secret war of Laos/Thailand. The most thrilling read of all the books on America's secret war in Laos.
Government: Communist state
Currency Kip: (LAK)
Area total: 236,800 km2
water: 6,000 km2
land: 230,800 km2
Population: 6,521,998 (July 2007 est.)
Language Lao: (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages
Religion: Buddhist 60%, animist and other 40% (including various Christian denominations 1.5%)
Electricity: 220V/50Hz (European & US plugs)
Calling Code: +856
Internet TLD: .la
Time Zone: UTC +7