3 Countries 15 Days
Getting there and away
The tour starts in Hanoi. We appreciate that people join redspokes tours from all over the world. No matter what time you arrive at the airport 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 before the tour start date redspokes can assist you in booking your accommodation and will organise a transfer to your hotel at an additional cost. Our holiday price does not include your international flight.
Check out www.kayak.com or www.opodo.co.uk for an idea of times and prices.
You will need to arrange multi-destination flights for this tour to arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam) and depart from Chiang Rai (Thailand).
Passport and Visa
You must be in possession of a passport with at least 6 months validity from date of your arrival and six blank pages available for your Laos visa.
Vietnam: You must be in possession of a valid passport with at least 6 months validity from date of arrival. British and Thai passport holders do not need a visa for if they stay in country less than 14 days. For information relevant to the country for which you hold a passport, check with your local Vietnam embassy for up to date advice. If you do require a visa please be aware that visa on arrival is not available for cyclists crossing the Tay Trang Border gate in or out of Vietnam. A e-visa is not valid for this tour it will not allow entry or exit from Vietnam at the Tay Trang border gate. Your visa must be applied for in advance.
Laos: Your visa will be issued as you enter the country. The visa fee is payable in cash in dollars only (no other currency is accepted). Please visit this website for further information: Laos visa regulations.
Thailand: Most nationalities can enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa. Please check the list on this website to see if your country is included in the visa exemption: Thai Consulate Country List.
If you would prefer to pay an agent to get your visa, we would suggest using Travcour (UK) Ltd. They have been in the visa business for 25 years and offer our customers a £5 discount on all visas purchased.
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 details 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. No vaccinations are currently required for the tour, but the following are recommended: Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio, and Tetanus. If you have recently travelled in a Yellow Fever affected part of the world, proof of an inoculation is required. Expert advice on medication should be sought.
Cycle 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 12 miles (20 km). 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.
Equipment and bike stuff
The South East Asia tour is suitable for Hybrid/Cyclocross/Gravel bikes or mountain bikes with slick tyres.
We have hybrid bikes available for hire for this tour.
If you are not hiring from us but bringing your own bike you need to ensure that your bike is in good working order before you leave home to join the tour. We suggest that you get your bike looked at by a professional bike mechanic. In particular we suggest 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, ride with as much care and attention as possible. We would also advise that you bring the following tools: 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, spares for any unique or high-tech items on your bike, e.g. fluid and bleed kit for hydraulic brakes.
Baggage allowances and your bike
Your bike must be carried as a part of your luggage allowance and, to this end, we recommend you 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 leaving 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 in advance 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.
What to bring
If you are bringing your own bike you must bring any specific spare parts with you. A detailed equipment list of what to bring with you will be provided before you travel. Small day sack or pannier (assuming you have a rack to attach it to) to carry clothing, camera and valuables, a couple of spare passport photos, photocopies of key documents e.g. passport (data and visa pages), travel insurance policy, airline tickets, camera, photos of your family and postcards of your town to show the locals.
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), underwear (4 pairs), lightweight long johns, lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, lightweight trekking shorts, padded cycling shorts (2 pairs), shorts, t-shirts (2), long-sleeved shirt, fleece jacket/pullover, biking jacket, waterproof (breathable fabric), fingerless biking gloves, sunglasses, toiletries, basic first aid kit: to include: antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, broad spectrum anti biotic, painkillers, plasters and blister treatment and re-hydration salts (Dioralite) lip Balm, sun cream, towel (small). 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 on a twin share basis; If you are traveling on your own, single rooms are sometimes available at extra cost. We choose accommodation on the basis of comfort rather than luxury.
Most food is provided on tour, except on non cycling days when you will need to pay for your lunch and evening meal. All transportation and local guides on the tour are included. When you arrive in Hanoi (on the first day of the tour) you will be met and transferred to our hotel.
Our holiday price does not include your international flights or your visas.
Spending money depends on your taste for souvenirs, drinks etc. We estimate that £200/£275 will be more than enough to cover the tour. Tipping is an accepted part of everyday life, and although it is always at your discretion, you will be expected to tip to reward service. £25 for the guide and team at the end of the tour is recommended.
Vietnamese is the official language; English is generally favoured as a second. Chinese and Khmer and numerous other local languages are also spoken in places.
Vietnamese New Dông (approx. VND 26,131 to £1). The US Dollar is the most favoured foreign currency and we recommend taking some US Dollars travellers cheques and money in small denominations. British currency can usually be changed in the larger cities. There is a charge for changing money in banks. Travellers Cheques are widely accepted in hotels and banks.
Buddhism is the major religion in Vietnam. In the far north Hoa Hao and Cao Daism are among the indigenous religions along with groups that have animist beliefs. Ancestor worship is an important influence in Vietnamese culture. Other religions are Christianity and Islam.
Some suggestions for reading prior to the tour include Dervla Murphy: One foot in Laos/Thailand. Christopher Robbins: The Ravens: The Men Who Flew In The Secret War In Laos. 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)
Dialling Code +856
Internet TLD .la
Time Zone UTC +7
Government: constitutional monarchy
Currency: Thai baht (THB)
Area total: 513,120 km2
Land: 510,890 km2
Water: 2,230 km2
Population:66,720,153 (2011 est.)
Language: Thai (official), minority languages
Religion: Buddhism (mainly Theravada), Islam in the south
Electricity: 220V/50Hz (American and/or European plug)
Dialling Code: +66
Time Zone UTC +7