Thailand & Laos
Getting there and away
Our cycling holiday starts in Chiang Rai on Sunday. We appreciate that people join redspokes tours from all over the world. No matter what time you arrive at the airport redspokes will pick you up so that you and your luggage can be transferred to your 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 before this date redspokes can assist you in booking your accommodation and will organise a transfer to your hotel for a charge of £10. Our holiday price does not include your international or local flights.
The holiday ends in Vientiane 13 days later, on Saturday. You will need to arrange a flight home from Vientiane. Most flights from Bangkok back to the UK depart later in the evening and it is possible to leave your luggage at Bangkok airport so if you fly out of Vientiane early in the day you can explore Bangkok while awaiting your onward flight. If you are travelling home on this day, please ensure that your flights depart after 4pm (local time), to allow enough time for transfers. If you decide to stay in Vientiane beyond the last day of the tour redspokes can help you organise extra accommodation and transfers to the airport if needed.
If flying from the UK BA, Thai Air, Eva Air, Emirates and Etihad appear to be the favoured airlines by our customers. Check out www.kayak.com or www.opodo.co.uk for an idea of times and prices. We would suggest looking at a return flight to Bangkgok and buying your local flight son to Chiang Rai and home from Vientiane separately. There is a Thai Airways flight available online for around £70/$110. www.thaiairways.com
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. For U.K. residents visas are not required for Thailand. Passport holders from 46 countries do not require a visa when entering Thailand for tourism purposes if their stay in the Kingdom does not exceed 30 days. For a list of these countries please click here. A 15 day Visa is required for Laos, which we will arrange for you on your arrival in Laos the cost is approximately $40. All other nationalities should check with their nearest Laotian/Thai 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, mountain bikes are the most suitable; they have the gears to cope with the many hills. Please ensure that your bike is in good working order before you leave for the tour. If you are not the most mechanically minded person we suggest that you get your bike looked at by a professional bike mechanic. In particular we would suggest that you check and adjust all wheel spokes, grease all your bearings, check 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 at 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.
The hire bikes are fitted with a cage for water bottle and standard flat pedals. You are welcome to bring your own pedals and saddle to fit to your hire bike.
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.
Food - North to South:
All food is provided on the tour except, lunches and dinners in Chiang Rai, Luang Prabang and Vientiane.
All transportation and local guides within Thailand and Laos are included. International and local flights are not included in the tour costs.
Spending money depends on your taste for souvenirs, drinks etc. We estimate that £200 will be more than enough to cover the 14 day tour. Laos/Thailand visas are £20. Flight from Bangkok to Chiang Rai around £50. Flight from Vientiane to Bangkok around £95.
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/Thailand.
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