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3 Countries 16 Days

Itinerary

Day 1: Chiang Rai

On arrival in Chiang Rai you will be transferred to our tour hotel. After checking in you can explore the city.  Chiang Rai retains much of its original character and charm. One of its more striking landmarks is the Golden Clock; designed and donated to Chiang Rai by the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat; creator of The White Temple. At the strike of 7pm, a flamboyant light show ensues, accompanied by music. Other more traditional attractions include the Hill Tribe Museum and Education Centre, several beautiful Wats, Mae Nam Kok River and a night market with Northern Thai music and dance performances.

This evening there will be a meeting for group introductions and a tour briefing. 

Accommodation: Guest House


Day 2: Chiang Rai - Chiang Kham

We have an early breakfast and transfer 22km out of Chiang Rai by vehicle. Setting off on the bikes, we cycle through rural countryside passing rice fields and other crops, observing local people go about their life. Starting as we mean to go on, our cycling tour begins with a big climb of 230m to stretch our legs. Over the peak we ride downhill and on flatter road for the rest of today. We are surrounded by beautiful scenery and we are treated to a wonderful hotel tonight; a just reward for our first day in the saddle. 

Cycling Distance: 56.6 km (35 miles)
Total Climb: 420m (1,377ft) 
Total Descent: 418m (1,370ft)

Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 3: Chiang Kham - Phu Lang Ka 

The day begins with gentle incline as our tour continues on the road south east through the Thai countryside. The area is home to many Tai Lue people. The Tai Lue originated from Yunnan province in Southern China and migrated to Northern Thailand, (particularly to Nan and Phayao) around 200 years ago. There are a number of traditional temples and teak house villages in the area. After 33km, at Pha Chang Noi, we turn towards the mountains, cycling a snaking, uphill road to reach Phu Lang Ka. This is a small remote area in the hills of Phong district, Phayao, overlooking a beautiful landscape of rice paddies, temples,  limestone karsts and mountains.

Cycling Distance: 45.7km (29 miles)
Total Climb: 804m (2,552ft) 
Total Descent: 399m (1,220ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)


Day 4: Phu Lang Ka - Chiang Klang

It is worth rising early this morning to catch the breathtaking sunrise. Often shrouded in morning mists, the stunning landscape of karst rocks, mountains and valley emerges with a quite magical aura. On a clear day you will glimpse Laos in the distance. Setting off on the bikes, we cycle eastwards tackling some challenging hills in a remote rugged scenery, on quiet forested road.  We are about 50km from the Laos border with views in the distance of Doi Phu Kha and Chiang Rai mountain ranges. Chiang Klang is a small friendly town amid fields of rubber, tobacco and corn.

Cycling Distance: 77.8km (42 miles)
Total Climb: 1,556m (4,980ft) 
Total Descent: 2,028m (6,640ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)


Day 5: Chiang Klang - Muang Ngeun

We continue cycling through Nan province towards Laos today, riding through a jungle scenery of steep and challenging hills. We are close to the Doi Phu Kha National Park. 70% of Nan province is remote mountainous terrain, pristine natural beauty, populated by Lanna, Lan Xang and Sukhothai hill-tribes. We cross into Laos, the second country of our South Asian tour, completing visa formalities at the border and stay tonight in the small Laotian town Muang Ngeun. 

Cycling Distance: 58km (39 miles)
Total Climb: 1,277m (4,190ft) 
Total Descent: 1,013m (3,323ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D) 


Day 6:  Muang Ngeun - Pak Beng 

For early risers there is a bustling morning market in Muang Ngeun, but be warned, the action is all over by 07.30. Our cycling begins with a series of steep stretches over 32km as we tackle hill country. This is followed by a gentle downhill cycle of 20km to Pak Beng. Pak Beng is a stopping point for boats travelling up the Mekong from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai. There are two wats in the town that offer lovely views over the river. 

Cycling Distance: 51km (32 miles)
Total Climb: 995m (3,264ft)   
Total Descent: 892m (2,926ft)        
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D) 


Day 7: Pak Beng - Luang Prabang

Today we enjoy discovering more about Laos people and culture as our tour continues with a Mekong river journey. The mighty Mekong is the world’s 12th largest river. From the Tibetan Plateau, it flows through Yunnan in China, into Burma, then Laos on into Thailand and Cambodia before forming a large delta in Vietnam and flowing into the China Sea. Departing Pak Beng we journey downstream passing the holy caves at Pak Ou where there are over 4,000 Buddha icons.   

Accommodation: Hotel (B,L) 


Day 8: Luang Prabang

Rest day from cycling and time to explore beautiful Luang Prabang, encircled by mountains on the banks of the Mekong where it meets the Nam Khan River. The day is free for you to enjoy this delightful World Heritage Site with 32 historic temples, ancient monasteries, the magnificent Royal Palace Museum and French Colonial architecture. Luang Prabang is a place to relax and appreciate the food, the peaceful surroundings and the people.

Accommodation: Hotel (B)


Day 9: Luang Prabang - Pak Mong - Oudam Xai 

Departing Luang Prabang we transfer to Pak Mong. The cycling begins with a 29km climb followed by rolling hills for much of the day as we will cycle on through magnificent jungle scenery. We end with a downhill into Oudam Xai. Close to the border with China, Udom Xai. The capital of the Province and home to 22 different ethnic minorities mostly Akha, Hmong and Mien.

Cycling Distance: 81km (50 miles)
Total Climb: 1,693m (5,554ft)
Total Descent: 1,450m (4,770ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 10: Oudam Xai - Muang Khua 

We ride uphill out of Oudam Xai then follow rolling road through mountain scenery and agricultural landscapes. Reaching the Na Ou river we continue cycling a relatively flat route to reach Muang Khua.

Cycling Distance: 102km (63 miles)
Total Climb: 861m (2,824ft)
Total Descent: 1,088m (3,569ft)

Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 11:  Muang Khua - Diên Biên Phu

Leaving Muang Khua we cycle towards the Vietnamese border. This is the least populated area of Laos.  We reach the Sop Hun/Tay Trang border crossing and bid farewell to Laos. You will have already arranged your visa for Vietnam before the tour, if you require one. We cycle on to Diên Biên Phu, acquainting ourselves with challenging Vietnamese hills for the latter part of the day, to reach this historic town. 

In 1954 the Vietnamese achieved the impossible, carrying heavy artillery into the mountains to defeat the French Garrison at Diên Biên Phu. As you cycle the route you will wonder at how this was ever achieved. It is not widely known that the US had developed a plan to aid the French by using tactical nuclear weapons at Diên Biên Phu. The French defeat here in 1954 marked the 'beginning of the end' of French colonies in Indochina, and the division of Vietnam into North and South and inspired other independence movements globally. There are a number of colonial era bunkers, a Vietnam Military History Museum and cemetery nearby. Nowadays, Diên Biên Phu is a relatively quiet town, home to a high proportion of ethnic minorities; only one third of residents are ethnically Vietnamese. You will see many minority women wearing traditional dress.

Cycling Distance: 101km (63 miles)
Total Climb: 1,226m (5,988ft)
Total Descent: 1,566m (5,866ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L) 


Day 12: Diên Biên Phu - Muong Lay 

We are surrounded by rice fields and jungle, cycling through winding valleys on roads that snake across beautiful countryside. This afternoon we have a 100m ascent to our final pass of the tour and then cycle 20km downhill before we cross the Hang Tom suspension bridge to reach Muong Lay.

Cycling Distance: 103km (65 miles)
Total Climb: 1,386m (4,547ft) 
Total Descent: 1,689m (5,541ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D) 
 


Day 13: Muong Lay - Lai Chau 

Crossing again over the suspension bridge we cycle out of Muong Lay.  For some of our route we will traverse rough roads through narrow gorges as we follow the Na River to Lai Chau, passing through Black Dao villages. The Dao worship spirits and ritually sacrifice pigs and chickens. We reach Lai Chau descending on winding road through lush green valley. Dao women's clothes are embroidered with intricate weaving, silver coloured beads and coins. It is said that the wealth of a woman can be judged by the weight of the coins she carries. 

Cycling Distance: 107km (65 miles)
Total Climb: 1,785m (5,856ft) 
Total Descent: 1,158m (3,899ft) 
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)   
 


Day 14: Lai Chau - Sa Pa

Leaving Lai Chau on a flat road to start, we cycle uphill for 7km before several climbs and descents lead us to The Tam Tron pass (1,900m; 6,230 ft) the highest mountain pass in Vietnam and South East Asia, sometimes referred to as Heaven's Gate. This is a dividing point in NW Vietnam's climate, leaving warmer conditions behind us we will experience chiller temperatures once over the peak. As we cycle on making a descent towards Sa Pa we may glimpse Mt Fan Si Pan: (if it is not cloaked in mist and fog). About 12km before we reach Sa Pa we pass the 100m-high Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall); the loop track is steep and scenic.

Cycling Distance: 72km (45 miles)
Total Climb: 1,816m (5,958ft) 
Total Descent: 1,349m (4,425ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)    


Day 15 : Sa Pa - Hanoi

We start with a short climb out of Sa Pa before taking the quiet back road along the Red River valley  to Bản Xèo  then down hill to Bản Vược and Lào Cai where our cycling ends. From here we transfer back to Hanoi and your hotel in the Old Quarter. This ancient part of the city is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets, each named after a trade or guild. Nowadays it is lined with tempting restaurants, guest houses, shops and cafés, but the past never seems far away.

Cycling Distance: 40km (25 miles)
Total Climb: 225m (738ft)  
Total Descent: 1,254m (4,114ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L)   


Day 16 : Hanoi - Home  

The tour ends today. After breakfast you will be transferred to the Hanoi International Airport for your flight home. 

Thailand Cycling Holidays

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