15 Days
Duration
Moderate, Difficulty
Physicality
Hanoi, Sapa, Lai Chau, Tam Duong, Muong Lay, Dien Bien Phu, Muang Khua , Udom Xia,Ban Nalay , Pak Beng,Muang Ngeun , Chiang Klang,Phu Lang Ka , Chiang Kham
Location
Year-round
Dates

Cycling Holidays in South East Asia 15 Days

Beginning in Hanoi our journey takes us from the mountains of North West Vietnam through rural Laos into undiscovered Northern Thailand. The TLV South Asia adventure offers challenging cycling through areas where you will encounter minority communities and dramatic landscapes.

An Enthralling Adventure Across Vietnam, Laos & Thailand
Overview
Difficuly : 7/10 – Challenging
Average Daily Distance: 75km / 48 miles
Off Road Cycling: 0
Maximum Altitude: 1900m / 6,230ft

Beginning in Hanoi our journey takes us from the mountains of North West Vietnam through rural Laos into undiscovered Northern Thailand. The TLV South Asia adventure offers challenging cycling through areas where you will encounter minority communities and dramatic landscapes.

We transfer from Hanoi and cycle the last 35km to Sa Pa near to the Chinese border, biking over the Tram Ton (1,900m; 6,230 ft); the highest mountain pass in Vietnam. A route through narrow gorges and minority villages leads us to Dien Biên Phu, where the French were defeated in 1954. A significant moment in Vietnam’s history.

We cross into beautiful landlocked Laos to be greeted with a warm welcome from traditional rural communities and experience a home stay at Ban Nalay village, including a traditional Baci ceremony. Cycling northwards with some challenging climbs our next destination is Northern Thailand where you will encounter more hills, rugged scenery and traditional Temples. At Phu Lang Ka in Chiam Kahn district, a mountainous scenery of rolling ‘sea clouds’ enveloping a Karst rock landscape will take your breath away. We end the tour in Chiang Kham district and will transfer you to Chiang Rai for your flight home.

Additional information

DestinationVietnam, Laos, Thailand

Day 1: Hanoi

Our Vietnam/Laos/Thailand cycling tour starts in Hanoi.  On arrival you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in the old quarter. There will be a group meeting with your guide in the evening at the hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel

Day 2: Sa Pa 

This morning there will be a vehicle transfer. We start our cycling with a 35km climb upto Sapa. High in the mountains, often shrouded in cloud Sa Pa is an old French hill station perched in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains near the Chinese border. Its position offers some of the best vantage points from which to enjoy the views of surrounding mountain peaks. Sa Pa holds one of the main markets in the area, where ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao (Yao), Giáy, Pho Lu, and Tí y and Giay gather to trade their wares.

Day 3: Sa Pa to Lai Chau

We begin the day with a hard climb out of Sa Pa heading for the Tram Ton Pass (1,900m; 6,230 ft) the highest mountain pass in Vietnam. After about 12km we pass the 100m-high Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall); the loop track is steep and scenic. With a few more km to go to the peak we may glimpse Mt Fan Si Pan: (if it is not cloaked in mist and fog) this is S.E. Asia’s highest peak and the last major peak in the Himalayan chain, The Tam Tron is a dividing point in NW Vietnam’s climate, leaving the cold conditions in Sa Pa behind us once over the peak. After a descent of a few hundred metres we will experience warm sunnier conditions. Our second climb of the day is gentler and then it’s downhill to Lai Chau with a smooth final 7km to end the day.

Cycling distance 72km

Day 4: Lai Chau to Muong Lay

We leave Lai Chau climbing on winding road through lush green valley. For some of our route we will traverse rough roads, through narrow gorges as we follow the Na River to Muong Lay passing through Black Dao villages. The Dao worship spirits and ritually sacrifice pigs and chickens. 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. We cross the Hang Tom suspension bridge to reach Muong Lay.

Cycling distance 104.km

Day 5: Muong Lay – Dien Biên Phu

Crossing again over the suspension bridge we then climb uphill for 20km. Over the pass we descend for 100m. We are surrounded by rice fields and jungle, cycling through winding valleys on roads that snake across beautiful countryside. In 1954 the Vietnamese achieved the impossible, carrying heavy artillery into the mountains to defeat the French Garrison at Dien Bien Phu. As you cycle this route you will wonder at how this was ever achieved. The surrender at Dien Bien Phu marked the end of French influence in Indochina. It is not widely known that the US had developed a plan to aid the French by using tactical nuclear weapons at Dien Bien Phu.

Cycling distance 102km

Day 6: Dien Biên Phu – Rest Day

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, Dien Bien 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.

Day 7: Dien Biên Phu – Muang Khua

Today is one of the most challeging days of the trip. Leaving Dien Bien Phu, we bid farewell to Vietnam and cross into Northeast Laos at Tay Tran. This area of Laos is the least populated part of the country. From here we travel on to Muang Khua. On the banks of the Nam Ou river and surrounded by scenic mountains Muang Khua is the largest city in Northern Laos.

Cycling distance 106km

Day 8: Muang Khua – Udom Xia

For much of today we follow a road alongside the Nam Ou River on a fairly flat route through mountain scenery and agricultural landscapes. The final 25km stretch into Udom Xai is along rolling road. Close to the border with China, Udom Xia has a distinctly Chinese feel.

Cycling distance 100km

Day 9: Udon Xia to Ban Nalay

A real roller coaster of a day. Our cycle route takes us through lush jungle and hill tribe villages where age-old cultural traditions live on. Simple bamboo houses perch on stilts, whilst children play beneath them alongside chickens and pigs. Tonight we stop in Ban Nalay where we will be hosted by local families. TLV has developed a special relationship with this village and we support the local school. Our friends in the village will welcome us with festivities and we have the opportunity to experience life in a traditional Laos community.

Cycling distance 58km

Day 10: Ban Nalay – Pak Beng

Today we cycle along sealed roads through many friendly villages. It’s a day of steep rolling hills but none that last longer than 4 or 5 km. As we pass by, friendly local children will shout “sabaai – dii, sabaai dii” (the Loas greeting) to every passing cyclist. Pak Beng is a stopping point for boats travelling up the Mekong from Luang Prabang. There are two Wats in the town that offer lovely views over the river.

Cycling distance 88km


Day 11: Pak Beng – Muang Ngeun

The first 20km out of Pak Beng are fairly gentle, as we cycle uphill out of town, easing us in gently before we tackle hill country for the next 32km all the way to Muan Ngeun with a series of steep stretches

Cycling distance 65.1km

Day 12: Muang Ngeun – Chiang Klang

For early risers there is a bustling morning market in Muang Ngeun, but be warned, the action is all over by 07.30. We leave Laos today crossing into Nan Province in Northern Thailand and cycle through a jungle scenery of rolling hills. We are close to the Doi Phu Kha National Park. 70% of Nan province is remote mountainous terrain, untouched natural beauty, populated by Lanna, Lan Xang and Sukhothai hill-tribe cultures.

Cycling distance 68.2km

Day 13: Chiang Klang – to Phu Lang Ka

We cycle westwards tackling more hills in a remote rugged scenery, on quiet forested road. Phu Lang Ka is a small and remote area in the mountains of Pong District, Payao province perched on the hillside overlooking a beautiful landscape of rice paddies, temples and limestone karsts and mountains.

Cycling Distance 65.4 km

Day 14: Phu Lang Ka to Chiang Kham

It is worth rising early this morning to catch the breath taking of 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. We follow snaking road down to join towards Yoan through a vast expanse of rice fields. 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. Tonight we will have a celebratory meal to mark the end of our journey.

Cycling distance 45 km

Day 15: Chiang Kham – Home

You will be transferred to Chiang Rai airport for your flight home.

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