10 Days
Duration
Moderate
Physicality
CHAO PHYA RIVER , BANGKOK , NAKORN PHANOM ,HO CHI MINH HOUSE , SAVANNAKHET , LAOS, BAN DONG –, HIKING IN BAN LA HAW ,BAN NA GNYOME ,BAN NAHOM VILLAGE , BAI SII SU KWAN CEREMONY
Location
Year-round
Dates

Cycling Thailand to Laos 10 days

Highlight: LIFE ON THE CHAO PHYA RIVER – BANGKOK – NAKORN PHANOM – HO CHI MINH HOUSE – SAVANNAKHET – LAOS – BAN DONG – HIKING IN BAN LA HAW – BAN NA GNYOME – BAN NAHOM VILLAGE – BAI SII SU KWAN CEREMONY

We are proud to offer our customers this pure adventure tour: 10 days unseen Thailand & Laos. Laos is a country as yet untouched by modern demands. Its beauty lies in the stress-free, peaceful life of the Lao people, lush, pristine landscape, century-old traditions & heritage. The magical, lush and extremely colorful Laos offers motorcycle touring at its best: charming villages, exotic cultures, warm people, spectacular scenery and mostly good tarmac roads. Please be informed, that only experienced riders are able to join this tour. Visa on arrival is possible and is the easiest way to cross into Laos (1.500 THB Visa fee). We run this tour only once a month. Places are limited and in high demand, because we limit our tours to a maximum of 10 riders. Small groups are safer and friendlier. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact us at any time.

Inclusive:

+Transportation in private air-conditioned vehicle with driver
+ Accommodation: twin sharing room at mentioned hotels or similar one
+ English or French speaking guide
+ Entrance fee to indicated sights
+ Meals as indicated : B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner

Exclusive:

+ Other meals
+ Tip
+ Drinks
+ Airport tax
+ Single room supplement
+ Personal expenses
+ Travel insurance
+ Visa
+ Flight in / out of Southeast Asia
+ Any optional additional tours
+ Activities during free time
+ Surcharge for peak season
+ Local holiday days and gala dinner.

Additional information

DestinationThailand, Laos

DAY 1: ARRIVE IN BANGKOK, THAILAND

Upon arrival in Bangkok, meet your guide after Customs & Immigration formalities, and transfer to your hotel. For the remainder of the day, you are at your leisure to use the hotel’s facilities or explore that area on your own. Note that most flights directly from the U.S. arrive late at night.

Meals: None

Accommodations: Fortune Hotel

Day 2: BANGKOK CITY TOUR – GRAND PALACE – OLD BANGKOK: LIFE ON THE CHAO PHYA RIVER

After a leisurely breakfast enjoy a visit to the Grand Palace, perhaps Thailand’s most important cultural icon. The royals once lived in this enclosure that is today open to the public. Note that long pants and shoes are required for entry.

Then walk to the Royal Navy Club pier where we will board a local-style river boat and cruise some of the older klongs (canals) on the Thonburi side of the river. Bangkok was criss-crossed with canals that today have become major streets. So here you will experience an older Bangkok. Enjoy a cold beer or soda cruising the canals.

Return to the hotel in plenty of time to take advantage of on-site shopping or enjoy Bangkok’s lively night life.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodations: Fortune Hotel

DAY 3: BANGKOK – NAKORN PHANOM – HO CHI MINH HOUSE – THAD PHANOM TEMPLE – MUKDAHAN – BIKE AND PERSONAL PREPARATION – SHAKEDOWN RIDE – BRIEFING ON IMPORTANT CULTURAL POINTS – SAVANNAKHET, LAOS

Rise very early, check out, and transfer to Bangkok’s domestic airport for the first flight from Bangkok to the far northeastern town of Nakorn Phanom-on-Mekong; the jumping-off point for our adventure, and important in itself simply because Ho Chi Minh once lived here.

Upon arrival in Nakorn Phanom, meet your guides and our local staff and board the bus to visit the house where Ho Chi Minh spent the ”œmissing years” during the 1920s and 30s in exile from his home country of Vietnam. Meet old Uncle Dtieu who”as a child’looked after the Vietnamese Hero. You will have a chance to ask questions through your guides.

Then we’ll take a short bus ride south along the Mekong River to Mukdahan, stopping in Thad Phanom to visit and pay respects at the famous temple there.

Once in Mukdahan, assemble for bike fitting at a well-equipped local bike shop. (Adjust your pre-arranged bike, or assemble and adjust your own).

Enjoy a short shakedown ride to locate any mechanical problems and make final adjustments before leaving for Laos.

During a Thai lunch at a local restaurant, a local expert on Thai and Lao culture and customs briefs the group on how to politely and effectively interact with local people in both countries. While much of this information is already available to you in your arrival kit, cultural sensitivity and basic knowledge of local customs is a must to navigate effectively and efficiently. The routing of our adventure runs through remote and difficult-to-access areas where local people rarely encounter a westerner! Since manners & cultural sensibilities here are highly developed and differ greatly from ours at home, this briefing is of paramount importance. Guidelines you will be taught today are rules, not suggestions. None are difficult to follow, and your doing so will exponentially increase your own pleasure as well as that of the local people you meet! Please take the time to learn how to follow them.

After lunch, complete border formalities with the help of our staff and ride across the newest bridge over the Mekong connecting Thailand and Laos. After check-in at our Savannakhet hotel, enjoy exploring this old town and its neo-colonial architecture on your own.

Then meet at a small, clean restaurant serving delicious French, Thai and Lao food for dinner. Here we’ll provide one of many briefings on the Ho Chi Minh Trail’s significance vis-Ã -vis the outcome of the Indochina & Vietnam Wars.

The DMZ (and adjacent Ben Nai River) crossing central Vietnam runs along the 17th parallel. The road (Route 9) runs across the border and into Laos. The Trail switching points & re-supply depots of Xepon and Muang Phin ”while inside Laos’ were of the greatest strategic importance to both sides. The now notorious, failed LAMSON 719 operation represented the turning point of the American-Vietnamese War; the Americans ”desperate in their need to stop the materiel flow South ” used ARVN artillery and tanks (driven in on Route 9) and troops ferried into the area by U.S. helicopters in this failed last-ditch attempt to cut The Trail. Academics, Air America pilots, USAF pilots, and local people all agree that the bombs stopped falling after LAMSON 719.

Enjoy a romantic evening on the Mekong but return to the hotel early, pack a day bag and personal biking gear, and leave your luggage in the lobby to prepare for an early departure.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: XYZ (Savannakhet)

Day Ride Average: Light-Variable

DAY 4: SAVANNAHKET – BAN DONG – DETRITUS OF WAR: DESTROYED TANK & ARTILLERY – HIKING IN BAN LA HAW BRUE TRIBAL VILLAGE – UXO EXAMPLES – PHU BEE BATTLEFIELD WITH COLONEL UNG – OPTIONAL RIDE TO XEPON TOWN

After early local breakfast of French bread Pate sandwiches or Vietnamese noodles transfer the 2 & ½ hours along Route 9 to the village of Ban Dong, the site of arguably the most important battle of the Vietnam / American war, to see some of the war detritus left there. This includes a couple of disabled tanks and a Howitzer artillery piece left to rust by retreating South Vietnamese ARVN after the LAMSON fiasco.

Then ride bikes along a well-kept, 7km dirt road with five easy low-water crossings to the Brue tribal village of Ban La Haw.

LOCAL NOTE: It is instructive and revealing to remember that people here often may still labor under the notion that America or France will attack them again. While initially wrong-headed to us, by now you will easily understand how someone could believe this. It only takes an extra moment to be polite, and in a place like this-especially-you will notice how local people warm quickly and easily to those visitors who will take that extra moment.

Comrade/Col. Ung was responsible for planning and executing the action that resulted in the capture of the South Vietnamese General Nguyen Van Tho, who commanded the LAMSON 719 operation. This key operation ended the bombing on this portion of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Today Comrade Ung is nearly 90 years old, but hardly looks 60. His military career began as an officer in the French-Lao army when Laos was still in French hands. Then he joined those fighting the Americans, for reasons he will share with you. His story is untold and is perhaps one of the single most incredible and important experiences in the Vietnam War history. Here again your knowledge of Lao manners and custom will be the important catalyst, the constant use of which will relax the old cadre so they will openly answer your/our questions. Hike out of La Haw to see the Phu Bee Battlefield, from where General Van Tho was evacuated by helicopter to Ban Dong before being captured. See the live bombs still littering the surrounding forest and jungle.

Ride the SAG truck-our chase and support vehicle-or your bike (individual option) to Xepon for a night’s stay in a comfortable, modern guest house with a choice of Vietnamese, Lao, or Chinese cuisine at mealtime tonight.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: Guest House Xepon

Day Ride Average: 15 km/60 km (individual option)

DAY 5: XEPON – WAR MONUMENT & COLLECTION OF OLD ARTILLERY PIECES – UXO OFFICE – BAN NA GNYOME

Xepon town on Laos-Vietnam Route 9 served as the perhaps the most important hub of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Before leaving Xepon enjoy a local breakfast of Vietnamese noodles or eggs & rice, then visit the local war monument to the Vietnamese and Pathet Lao soldiers who fell in the LAMSON battle.

Visit the UXO (unexploded ordinance) office to learn about the plethora of deadly explosives still littering the countryside. There are some 12 million unexploded large bombs (several hundred pounds and up) and ”bombies” (cluster bombs). Hopefully we’ll meet and visit with some of the UXO experts who spend their daytime hours clearing this deadly ordinance so you can ask questions of them. Note the large and varied collection of disabled ordinance on display there.

Then, we’ll ride about 50 kilometers, through Vilaburi town which sprung up to support the new Australian gold mine which we will also pass. Continue on well-maintained, mildly challenging dirt roads through a section of the Ho Chi Minh Trail that few tourists have ever encountered. Then we’ll board the SAG vehicle to bring us the 20 bumpy kilometers of Trail to the small village of Ban Na Gnyome. Today you will bike through many local villages pock-marked with an extraordinary number of bomb craters, and forested with koke (scrub) jungle typical of the region at this latitude.

Once in Ban Na Gnyome we will break into sub-groups to overnight in the houses of the local headman and the village elders. Accommodations are simple but clean and safe, and your guides and staff will always be on hand to answer questions, translate or assist in resolving mechanical / bike problems. The best place to clean up is with local villagers (following their customs) in the cool waters of the little flowing river that runs through the village.

Gather tonight for a BBQ dinner prepared by our staff and the local people. Here you can expect to be offered -Lao Hai- or -Lao Nam Khao-, both very popular and potent local brews.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: Home Stay

Day Ride Average: 50 km

DAY 6: TRANSFER TO BIKE-ABLE TRAIL SOUTH OF BAN NAHOM – EXHILARATING RIDE TO BAN NAHOM VILLAGE

Rise in the morning for simple breakfast of fruit and local fare prepared by our staff. Then board the SAG truck for a ride toward our next destination, Ban Nahom to the north. Although the distance to Bah Nahom isn’t that far as-the-crow-flies, conditions on The Trail won’t allow us to ride the most direct route.

And the route has been specially chosen for its beauty, historical significance and suitability for the participants of this adventure. We’ll disembark the SAG truck about 25 km south of Ban Nahom to ride. Evidence alongside The Trail reminds us that not so long ago, bombs fell day and night here for years. The road we’ll take has been cleared very well of UXO, but lip-to-lip craters tell the story of a war we all find difficult to imagine. The ride today is challenging more for its roughness than its length. It’s passable by only the most rugged motor vehicles or mountain bike. Many of the log bridges are best walked, but you’ll have the road almost to yourself to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of the jungle.

Time and circumstance permitting, a short walk from the road with your guide, will allow us to see UXO.

Arrive at the charming Brue tribal village of Na Hom and stay with villagers for two memorable nights. Dinner will be a local meal, served outside the headman’s house. North by North-East has enjoyed a long relationship with the residents of this village, and during your stay you will learn how we met these lovely folk. Gather tonight for a local dinner prepared by our staff and the local people.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: Home Stay in Ban Nahom

Day Ride Average: 25 km

DAY 7: BAN NAHOM VILLAGE – OPTIONAL DAY RIDE TO MU GIA PASS OR DAY HIKE WITH LOCAL GUIDES TO MAJOR HUDGENS’ CRASH-SITE – BAN NAHOM

Wake up to the sound of roosters crowing signaling the early beginning of another usual day of languid activity in this tribal village.

Some years ago the son of an American pilot’Major Hudgens, who was shot down and died here 40 years ago’asked us to bring him to the spot where it all happened. Contrary to what some may expect, this young man and the local people became fast friends. Since then, North by North-East and Mr. Jeff Hudgens of California have worked together to assist the village in several community projects. You will see the good work Jeff’s generosity and that of his friends has facilitated.

After a simple local breakfast, today you may choose to stay in the village to visit with and enjoy hiking with one of our local guides in the jungle below the beautiful gneiss-and-granite and crystalline slate karsts rising high above the village. We’ll walk to the crash site of U.S. pilot Major Hudgens where one of our staff will relate the conditions in which he crashed and died.

Optionally, avid riders may wish to join our staff making the steep climb to the Mu Gia Pass on mostly-paved Route 12 with wonderful switchbacks around a broad valley. The Lao-Vietnam border neatly straddles the pass today.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this road and the area around it is that a casual look would never reveal that it was the most important entry point from Vietnam to the Ho Chi Minh Trail. For years American pilots reported their bombs taking out truck after truck on this stretch of mountainous road, yet nothing ever seemed to stem the flow of goods! One might well notice here also that the weather systems on either side of these Annamite Mountains differ greatly. At the top of the pass this becomes apparent.

Enjoy a spine-tingling downhill ride on the main road or through alternate trails and lunch at the outpost truck stop in Nongchan. Then return to Ban Nahom and share your experiences with those who preferred a peaceful day in the village or who went exploring with local guides through the tall, monolithic entryway to the Annamite Mountains.

Shared dinner and evening celebration and cultural exchange before turning in. Repack day bags and prepare luggage for the sag truck the night before.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: Home Stay in Ban Nahom

Day Ride Average: 75-80 km (optional)

DAY 8: BAN NAHOM – BAI SII SU KWAN CEREMONY – TOUR OF ANNAMITE FOOTHILLS – GNOMMALAT – BICYCLE TURN-IN / BREAKDOWN – TRANSFER TO THA KAEK – BORDER CROSSING TO NAKHORN PHANOM, THAILAND

After an early breakfast experience a ceremony very important to the local people. The Bai Sii Su Kwan Ceremony pre-dates Buddhist thought, and remains the most important local ceremony for northeastern Thai and Lao people. Your guide will brief you on the significance and protocol of the rituals you see and participate in.

Then enjoy a ride over relatively flat and easy road through stunning and unique karst mountains rising out of sienna clay and sand to the town of Gnommalat, where we’ll pack our bikes and gear into the SAG vehicle, climb aboard, and head to Tha Kaek on the Mekong River. If you have your own bike, we will assist you in packaging it in preparation for the return flight to Bangkok.

Once in Tha Kaek, our staff will assist you with border formalities and customs for the return trip across the Mekong into Nakorn, Phanom, Thailand.

Tonight’s Farewell Dinner includes a slide show of photographs collected during the last nine days to celebrate an amazing adventure.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Fare well BBQ

Accommodations: Riverview Hotel

Day Ride Average: 65 km

DAY 9: NAKORN PHANOM – BANGKOK

After breakfast, go directly to the Nakorn Phanom Airport for the flight to Bangkok.

Upon arrival in Bangkok, transfer with our local staff to the hotel, and pick up a map from your guide so that you may enjoy what the city has to offer.

Lunch and dinner today will be on your own, but please feel free to ask our staff who will be on standby for advice on shopping, dining, and other activities.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodations: Miracle Grand

DAY 10: BANGKOK THAILAND – HOME

Check out and transfer to the airport very early. Most flights to U.S. leave Bangkok at about 0600 hrs. However, departure time will likely differ depending on exact destination. Please consult our staff for advice on your needs.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: none

We can tailor make a tour that will best match your budget – the guide below serves as a reference point for you to decide how much to spend on this trip.

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All of the portion of the tour are private (unless otherwise stated): airport pick up, guided tour, etc. Price is based on 2 people travelling together so if you are a single person, the price may differ. We place a strong focus on both individualized experience and value for money – so please enjoy your tour booking process with us with peace of mind.

Cycling Thailand to Laos

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