+44 (0) 1463 417707

North Thailand

North Thailand

North Thailand

Itinerary - North Thailand

Just a Smile Away

Day 1: Chiang Rai

redspokes Northern Thailand cycling tour begins in Chiang Rai. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Chiang Rai is a smaller and less commercial city than Chiang Mai and 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 free Northern Thai music and dance performances.

Accommodation: Hotel

Day 2: Chiang Rai to Chiang Saen 

After breakfast, there is the one and only vehicle transfer of the tour to Mae Sai, the Northern most point in Thailand. Mae Sai is a fascinating border town with a bustling market where you can buy an array of imported goods: cheap jewels (rubies, emerald and jade) from Burma, curio items, many of which are imported from China, fresh fruit, electronic goods, clothes and shoes and sandalwood.

After a quick look around, we start our cycling adventure with a short warm up ride through the famous Golden Triangle. This is the point where 3 countries (Thailand, Burma and Laos) and 2 rivers (the Ruak and the mighty Mekong) meet. The English name Golden Triangle comes from a CIA memo relating to the region’s notoriety in the 1920s as one of the world's most prolific opium producers. Nowadays, it is a well known tourist destination. Locally the area is known as Sop Ruak. 

The ride begins on paved road, we cycle through a scenery of gently rolling hills. We pass many pineapple plantations on our route to Chiang Saen. We will make a stop at the Buddhist Wat Phra That Chedi Lunag for a quick visit before riding on, following the ancient Chiang Saen city walls into the town to reach our guest house.

Chiang Saen is an historic city with numerous temples, historic buildings and ruins.

Cycling Distance: 37.6km (23 miles)
Total Climb: 217m (712ft)
Total Descent: 246m (807ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B, L, D)

 Day 3: Chiang Saen to Chiang Khong

Following the Mekong River today, we ride through lush jungle passing picturesque hill tribe villages that are characterised by simple bamboo huts on stilts. Under the huts women can often be seen weaving and children play alongside chickens and pigs. We arrive at Chiang Khong, the border crossing point from Thailand into Laos early this afternoon. 

Cycling Distance: 69.9km (44 miles)
Total Climb: 540m (1,771ft)
Total Descent: 550m (1,804ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B, L, D)

Day 4: Chiang Khong to Phu Chi Fa

Today our cycling challenge starts to get tougher as our route continues the ascent to Phu Chi Fa the highest peak in Chiang Rai Province. Remember the support vehicle is on hand if you need to take a break. As we ascend, the views are spectacular and the terrain rewarding. Look out for children carrying baskets full of crops on their backs and give a thought to the fact that they don't have any gears and more than likely, no shoes either

Phu Chi Fa is stunning and surprisingly chilly; it becomes very cold in the winter months. The diversity of insect life, flora and fauna make it a unique area of Thailand. Visitors to this area are mostly Asian, usually from more Southerly Thai provinces; very few Westerners are seen here.

Cycling Distance: 93km (58 miles)
Total Climb: 1,976m (6,483ft)
Total Descent: 1,121m (3,677ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B, L, D)

Day 5: Phu Chi Fa to Chiang Kham

For a truly exhilarating experience we recommend an early start at 4am, to make the trek on foot to the highest point of the mountain before sunrise. Your efforts will be more than rewarded as you witness the sunrise over mist-covered jungle with the Laos border and the Mekong far beneath us. When you return for breakfast you'll be feeling fantastic. Do not forget your camera! 

Although we make an early start, we have an easier day of cycling. We set off downhill, hugging the mountainside and following the Thailand Laos border riding on rougher surfaced curving road. We pass Phu Sang Waterfall; a thermal spring that cascades dramatically off the mountain. Continuing our journey we cycle on to our hotel in Chiang Kham.

Cycling Distance: 53.6km (33 miles)
Total Climb: 336m (1,102ft)
Total Descent: 1,132m (3,713ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B, L, D)

Day 6: Chiang Kham (Rest Day)

We can take it easy today and relax in our beautiful surroundings. Chiang Kham is home to many Thai Lue or Tai people, an ethnic group that originated from southern China’s Yunnan province and spread over many Northern Thai areas. Most Thai Lue communities are now resident in Nan and Phayao provinces. There is a Thai Lue Cultural Centre near to our hotel, where you can learn about culture, traditions and history.  

There are also several local temples of interest: Wat Nantaram, Wat Phrachao and Nang Din.

Accommodation: Guest House (B)

Day 7: Chiang Kham to Phu Lang Ka

Today we begin cycling a gentle uphill route, following snaking road from Yoan through a vast expanse of rice fields to reach our destination. We ride on following a series of rolling hills, some of them quite steep.

There are many traditional temples and teak house villages in the areas that we pass through. Around Phu Lang ka there is an abundance of wild flowers. Our accommodation tonight is simple, the main feature of your time here will be the stunning early morning views. You will also have the opportunity to learn about Yao culture. This is your second opportunity on the tour to benefit from splendid mountain views of sunset and tomorrow if you are an early riser a stunning dawn sunrise.

Cycling Distance: 46km (28.5 miles)
Total Climb: 880m (2,887ft)
Total Descent: 480m (1,574ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B, L, D)

Day 8: Phu Lang Ka to Pua

It is worth rising early this morning to witness the breath-taking sunrise. Often shrouded in early 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. The area has been described as the Ha Long Bay of the mountains. Setting off with a drop downhill we have a challenging cycle today towards Pua a small, busy town set in a wide, fertile valley with beautiful views to the east, of Doi Phuka national park where the peaks are just shy of 2000m.

Cycling Distance: 79km (47 miles)
Total Climb: 1,269m (4,163ft)
Total Descent: 1,795m (5,889ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B, L, D)

Day 9: Pua to Bo Kluea

We leave Pua cycling through beautiful jungle greenery, beginning with a challenging steep climb as we ride up over the mountain. We pass Doi Phuka National Park, an expanse of evergreen mountainous parkland. For the final stretch of today’s ride we drop downhill to the tiny Htin village of Bo Kluea in a scenic valley; we are now in the far northeast of Nan province, close to the Lao border. Bo Kluea in Thai means salt well. The village is built around two natural saltwater wells and traditional salt mining can be seen still in practise. Very few foreign visitors make it up here so Bo Kluea retains an authentic, unspoiled character.

Cycling Distance: 45km (28 miles)
Total Climb: 1,860m (6,102ft)
Total Descent: 1,450m (4,757ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B, L)

Day 10: Bo Kluea (Rest Day)

We will provide transport today for anyone wanting to visit Doi Phuka national park.  A number of minority communities live in the park area including Hmong and Thai Lue. As well as caves and waterfalls in the park there are rare varieties of tree that can’t be found anywhere else in Thailand. The chomphu phuka gives the park its name, bursting into pink flowering blooms every year in February. Tree ferns caryota gigas and Acer wilsonii are also unique to the area.

Nearby is Nong Bua village set in a beautiful location, among rice-fields along the Nan River. In the village there is an interesting wat, a small Thai Lue museum and a classic-style Thai Lue house that is open to the public. Around 10 km south of the village you can visit the three-tiered Silaphet waterfall.

Also nearby is the Royal Phu Fa project, which supports Mrabri people, a formerly nomadic minority, who settled and learned to farm rice. In Phu Fa, the Mrabri grow tea and mulberries, and make handicrafts from bark, which are on sale in the project shop. From the Phu Fa cultural centre you can join a walk and learn about forest life and the traditions of the Mrabri people.

Accommodation: Guest House (B)

Day 11: Bo Kluea to Nan

Our cycling route today from Bo Kluea follows classic twisting roads with little in the way of traffic as we head towards the capital of Nan province, also called Nan. For centuries Nan was an autonomous region with few links to the outside world. This beautiful town with many well-preserved temples is a perfect place to end our cycling adventure.

You will have time to visit Wat Phumin the area’s most well-known temple.  Built in 1596, as if it were on the back of two immense snakes it has four entrances, with a small corridor leading to each door. The interior of the temple is inspired by Thai Lue architecture. There are twelve teak pillars decorated with gold, black and red lacquer elephants to support the heavily decorated roof and some magnificent murals that still retain their original artwork. There is also an interesting national museum in Nan. This evening we will gather together for a farewell celebratory meal.

Cycling Distance: 86km (53 miles)
Total Climb: 1,590m (5,216ft)
Total Descent: 2,060m (6.758ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 12: Home

redspokes Northern Thailand cycling tour ends today. There will be a transfer to either Nan airport or Chiang Rai airport (approx 4.5 hours by road) for your return flight home.  

If you are looking to book a place on our North Thailand cycling holiday in Thailand, then please call us on +44 (0) 1463 417707.

Alternatively, you can email us on office@redspokes.co.uk for more information on this adventure holiday.