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Laos (Land Only)
3rd November 2019 - 19th November 2019 (17 days)
This is an adventurous tour, starting in Thailand and then moving through the mountainous northern provinces of Laos before finishing in Bangkok. Luggage transfer and vehicle support will be provided. The tour is suitable for fit cycling enthusiasts. Travel by cycle and by boat through spectacular mountain and jungle scenery, staying mainly in isolated villages, making it possible to experience the realities of village life at close quarters. Most of this beautiful country is relatively untouched by modern development and Western values. This is particularly apparent in the sub-tropical provinces in the north of the country. Here the diverse ethnic groups remain isolated from mainstream Laos by the mountainous terrain. Lost in time, their traditional way of life and culture is still intact. Cycle hire is included in the price of the tour.
- Holiday Type Guided
- Tour Manager Neil Wheadon
- Grade Challenging
- Booking Status Places Available
- Accommodation Hotel & Guesthouse
- Board Basis B&B
- Travel Arrangements Land Only
- Road / Off Road Road
- Holiday Style Moving-on
- Vehicle Support Full Vehicle Support
- Holiday Ref 03429
Sunday 3rd November
Arrive at De Charme Hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand by 1200. Chiang Mai is a former religious and cultural centre, known for its temples, markets and the many colourful hilltribes that live in the area. Twice coming under the control of the Burmese, there is a strong Burmese influence reflected in the architecture of the city. In the evening a chance to visit the night market where many of the hilltribe's handicrafts can be seen. Stay 2 nights.
Monday 4th November
Morning ride to the old town, the temple of Vieng Kum Kam and numerous cultural highlights. After lunch, vehicle assist up to the hilltop temple of Doi Suthep, the most revered Buddhist shrine in the Chiang Mai region. On a clear day the temple affords an excellent view over Chiang Mai and its striking temple landscape. Cycle 30km.
Tuesday 5th November
Transfer by bus to the Chiang Rai Province, the northern most province in Thailand (approx. 2.5 hours transfer). Visit the revered Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple) before cycling to Chiang Rai in the heart of the Golden Triangle, the compact region where Thailand, Laos and Burma meet, offering a heady mix of cultures and landscapes. Cycle 55km. Stay 1 night.
Wednesday 6th November
Cycle from Chiang Rai to Chiang Kong, on the border with Laos. Mostly flat with a few rolling hills, passing through tobacco and corn plantations. 102km. Stay 1 night.
Thursday 7th November
Boat crossing of the Mekong River to Houayxay, then a spectacular 4.5 hour boat journey down the river to Pak Beng. Stay 1 night.
Friday 8th November
Cycle on quiet roads to Muang Houn. 51km. Stay 1 night.
Saturday 9th November
Continue cycling through Udomxai Province to Oudomxay. 93km. Stay 1 night.
Sunday 10th November
Cycle to Pak Mong. A hard day through the mountains, passing through Hmong villages. Two long climbs followed by an exhilarating descent. 82km. Stay 1 night.
Monday 11th November
Cycle to Luang Prabang. A long day, but easy terrain. 112km. Stay 2 nights.
Tuesday 12th November
Cycle to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls, passing through a rural landscape of rice paddies and Lao Lum villages, returning in the afternoon to explore this facsinating place. For those up at dawn there is the chance to witness the daily parade of saffron-robed monks receiving alms. 60km.
Wednesday 13th November
A tough ride passing through spectacular limestone peaks, with two hard cimbs. 79km. Stay 1 night.
Thursday 14th November
An undulating ride followed by a long descent off the mountains to Kasi. 96km. Stay 1 night.
Friday 15th November
Cycle to Vang Vieng, a popular stopover for backpackers. The location is quite spectacular, surrounded by mountains and limestone peaks. 52km. Stay 1 night.
Saturday 16th November
Cycle through local rubber plantations and small villages. After lunch, two hour bus transfer to Vientiene, the capital of Laos. In the evening you might enjoy a refreshing beverage and watch the sunset over the Mekong River. Cycle 60km. Stay 1 night.
Sunday 17th November
Free morning to explore, then cross over the Friendship Bridge into Thailand. Cycle 25km. Overnight train to Bangkok.
Monday 18th November
On arrival in Bangkok transfer to the hotel. Later in the morning take a short walk to the Chao Praya River and board a long tail boat for a tour of the local canals. Visit the home of the Thai Royal family at the Royal Palace complex, followed by Wat Phra Kaew, home to the Emerald Buddha, one of Thailand's most venerated images. Another highlight is Wat Pho, the largest temple in Bangkok, housing a 46m-long, 15m-high gold-plated reclining Buddha. Stay 1 night.
Tuesday 19th November
Tour finishes after breakfast.
Accommodation & Meals
Accommodation on nine nights will be in 2- or 3- star star hotels, usually with en-suite facilities. One night is spent on the overnight train to Bangkok. Other nights will be spent in guesthouses, some of which have basic facilities only. Rooms are based on two people sharing. Breakfast will be included throughout, sometimes taken in local restaurants. Vegetarian food is widely available.
An air conditioned support vehicle and a vehicle for the transfer of luggage will accompany the group on all moving-on days, except for the journey completed by river boat.
Passports, Visa & Health
EU citizens must hold a passport that is valid for at least 6 months at the end of the tour. A visa will be required for Laos but not Thailand. At present the cost is $35 on arrival, and you require a passport photograph. Holders of non-EU passports are advised to check whether or not they require a visa.
There are no compulsory vaccinations for foreign visitors although it is strongly recommended that you are vaccinated against Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitis A and B. You should contact your doctor at least 3 months prior to travel to obtain any vaccinations and the latest advice to travellers.
Our Booking Conditions stipulate that, for holidays outside the UK, travel Insurance is mandatory. Details of the level of cover needed and other conditions you should check are stated in the Booking Conditions. CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any costs that may be incurred due to insufficient insurance cover.
The price of £2,200 is based on a minimum number of 8 people taking part in the holiday and is calculated at a rate of $1.26 to £1 sterling (based on exchange rates published on www.x-rates.com on 13 December 2018; please note Booking Conditions, clause 3). If there are insufficient bookings by 25th August 2019, we will contact you and return all monies paid, although in certain circumstances the holiday may still run at below minimum numbers but at the same price.
- Support vehicle for luggage transfer
- Air conditioned support vehicle
- 9 nights hotel, sharing room, breakfast
- 6 nights guesthouse, some with very basic facilities, sharing room, breakfast
- 1 night overnight train, breakfast
- Boat journey along the Mekong from Houayxay to Pak Beng
- Coach transfers as specified in the itinerary
- Hire Bike
- The service of an English speaking guide
- CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours costs
Price Does Not Include
- Travel to and from Thailand
- Lunches, mineral water and other refreshments during the day - budget £5 per day
- Evening meals - budget £5 per day
- Entry fees at any attractions visited - budget £20
- Laos Visa Cost - budget £30
- Gratuities for support crew - budget $30
- Any other personal expenses
- Travel Insurance
A deposit of £800 per person is payable upon booking, with an Interim Payment of £500 per person due by 1st July 2019. The final balance of £900 per person is to be paid ten weeks prior to departure, by 25th August 2019.
Should you be forced to cancel your booking for any reason you must notify us in writing. Cancellation charges are as follows:
Written notice received:
Before 1st July 2019
1st July 2019 to 24th August 2019
25th August 2019 through to departure
The Area Covered By The Holiday
Emerging from enforced seclusion under a Communist regime, Laos is currently Asia’s newest and most unspoilt tourist destination. The entire country boasts a population of less than 6 million and, outside of Vientiane and Luang Prabang, most live in villages comprised of clusters of bamboo huts without running water or electricity.
The mountainous terrain of the northern provinces has helped to preserve the culture and primitive lifestyle of the many ethnic groups. The scenery is diverse and spectacular at times. Crossing the Mekong from Chiang Khong in Thailand, enter Laos at Houayxay then embark on a spectacular boat journey down the Mekong river to Pakbeng. From here cycle north east to Udomxai, passing through lush jungles and small villages.
Take a break from cycling at Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, considered to be one of Asia’s most beautiful towns, to explore the exquisite temples and the interesting night market. From Luang Prabang cycle south through dramatic karst scenery to just south of Vang Vieng, then vehicle transfer to Laos’ capital city, Vientiane.
The trip finishes with an overnight train ride to Bangkok and a chance to explore this fascinating city.
Rides & Rest Days
This is hilly terrain with several tough ascents. The cycling will be from village to village on small roads with very light traffic. The roads are mostly surfaced, but poorly maintained, and there may be short stretches of unsurfaced roads. An early start will help to avoid the heat of the day. Participants will cycle in groups of similar ability, regrouping occasionally; it is not practical to ride as one group. A support vehicle, carrying clean water, will never be far away; it will also be available in an emergency should anyone require assistance or need a day off the bike.
As this is an adventure tour in a third world country, almost untouched by western values, where the majority of the population live a comparatively primitive life style, thus you should be prepared to rough it at times. While passing through small villages you will be exposed to the reality of village life.
Accommodation & Meals
Outside of Thailand, Luang Prabang and Vientiane, the guesthouses and hotels used will vary in quality and facilities. The best have clean flush toilets and hot showers; others provide buckets for washing and shared toilet facilities.
Mineral water will be available throughout the tour.
The maximum number of participants will be 13 excluding the Tour Manager(s).
Weather & Clothing
It should be hot and dry, with daytime temperatures around 30C. For most cycling days shorts and light layers will be adequate, although an additional layer may be needed for descents and early morning starts. Adequate sun protection is essential. Casual wear can be worn in the evenings. Modesty is expected in towns and temples; ladies should cover their legs and shoulders when not cycling, and shoes and socks are always to be removed when visiting any religious sites.
Cycles & Equipment
Cycle hire is included in the tour price. You are advised to bring your own helmet, pedals, shoes, gloves, eye protection and cycle clothing; tool kits, pumps and mechanical assistance will be provided. Allocation of individual bikes with correct frame sizes will take place closer to the tour departure date. Helmets are advised, though are not mandatory; if you do not intend to wear one, please check that your insurance will cover you in the event of claim.
You will not need to carry luggage, but a saddle bag, frame bag or seat-post bag will be useful for carrying wet weather gear, spare clothing needed for the day, camera, snacks and your map.
Maps & Guides
As the roads are few, navigation is simple, so detailed route descriptions will not be necessary, but you should carry a map in case you become separated from the group. Maps are available in the UK, but village names vary between maps. A suggestion would be the Lonely Planet Road Atlas to Laos ISBN 1-86450-102-2.
GPX/TCX files will be supplied prior to the holiday
Travel Insurance & Advice
Before booking you should check the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice or on 0845 850 2829.
Money - There will be very few opportunities to spend money other than in Chiang Rai, Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Mineral water, lunches and snacks should cost no more than £5 per day. Allow approx £5 per day for evening meals. Thai Bahts can be obtained via Thomas Cook and Post Offices in the UK. Laos Kip is obtainable on entry into Laos at Houayxay.