About our Tours
A SpiceRoads tour is an expert-led bicycle journey in Asia. We strive to make our tours as good as they can possibly be and constantly fine-tune our services and itineraries. On all our tours we maintain a high standard of service and attention to detail. Through meticulous itinerary planning, careful preparation, thorough staff training and attention to our client's needs, we deliver a comfortable, safe, fun and enriching travel experience every time!
We design all our own itineraries, carefully researching each new route. We constantly review our tours to ensure that we offer the optimum experience. SpiceRoads is one of very few specialist cycle tour operators in Asia. If you surf the Internet you will see that our itineraries sometimes appear on other websites. In some cases these are websites selling spaces on our tours, but in many cases it is other operators copying our tours. Cheap imitations are a part of life in Asia but please be careful; a lot more goes into a successful bicycle tour than a copied itinerary.
The Way We Go
The route is the core feature of a successful cycle tour. Many high-end operators based outside the region offer all the frills with their service but miss the point when it comes to the routes they take. Take Vietnam for example. Everyone wants to visit Hoi An, but most operators take their clients straight up Highway One or, if they know how dangerous and unpleasant cycling on Highway One really is, they may just fly their clients into town and only take them on a ride around the area.
At SpiceRoads we make the effort to weave together enjoyable cycle routes with favourite destinations. As much as we can, we ride point-to-point and make sure we avoid the worst traffic. We linger in the worthwhile places and always take the scenic route.
Keeping Our Balance
All cyclists need a good sense of balance and we try to strike the right balance between price and service for our tours. We want to provide the very best services and accommodation for our clients without being overly exclusive or expensive.
In terms of where we fit in the hierarchy of international bicycle tour providers we try to follow the middle way. We are not expensive, but we are certainly not a cut-price operation. Our tours are fully supported with vehicles, well-trained staff and a full range of top-end equipment. We take very good care of our clients.
Our staff to client ratio is generally one to three. We do not make you fix your own flat tires or clean your own bikes and we certainly don't assign chores. We provide more comfortable services and accommodation than most operations, but at a similar price!
What is Included
We offer a wide range of tours from day trips to two-week journeys across multiple countries, but all of our tours cover the essentials.
Our service begins long before the tour departs. To help you make your decision, we email you a detailed fact sheet for each tour with information on what you will see, what's included, what visas you need, what the weather is like and what to expect. When you book a space we send you a pre-departure information sheet telling you what you need to bring, how to pack and what paperwork you require.
As our clients usually come from many different directions at different times, our tours have a designated starting point so do not always include pick up at the airport. (Though we are happy to arrange transfers if you need one).
On arrival we give you a SpiceRoads goody bag that includes a water bottle and a SpiceRoads T-shirt. Of course, you are also matched up with your bike, unless you decide to bring your own. More about our Bikes and Bike Hire.
You will meet your cycle guide plus local staff and assistants who are responsible for taking care of you and your bike (staff numbers vary with the size of the tour). They ensure that everything runs smoothly so you can enjoy a trouble-free journey with no worries about logistics or timetables. As well as showing you the way, our local English speaking guides share local information, inside knowledge and their unique cultural perspective with you.
The tour price includes all accommodation, all meals apart from the occasional lunch on some non-cycling days and maybe a dinner or two in big cities, so you can make some of your own culinary discoveries. Our support vehicles carry your luggage and provide a place for you to rest if you get tired. Our staff will make any running repairs on your bike - and you as well, if necessary. During the rides, we keep you topped up with water, fruit, soft drinks and snacks and we make sure you get a nice cold drink - and usually a cold towel as well - at the end of each ride.
At the end of the day, we make sure you get a good meal and we clean and prepare your bike for the next day's riding. If you are interested in taking in the nightlife, we are happy to direct you to the best venues - that is in the towns where there is nightlife. SpiceRoads clients never go hungry and never miss out on anything!
Ideally, every night we would stay in three- or four-star lodges that compliment the local culture, perfectly in tune with the surrounding environment. Of course the logistical realities of designing a cycling itinerary mean that it is not always possible to find our ideal jungle lodge or beach bungalow in each location.
In fact, the logistics have forced us to become more creative than that! We offer a good mix of accommodation on all of our tours. Always aiming for local charm, we use the best of what is available.
Sometimes we find a great cycle route runs through an area where there isn't any accommodation, so we find a local family that is happy to work with us (North Thailand and North Laos) or we approach the local Buddhist monastery and arrange to stay as guests of the monks (Burma).
In isolated or newly developing areas, we are sometimes forced to compromise and stay somewhere more basic than we would like but it is only for one night at most and then we move on. In these cases we send our support team out a day in advance to make everything is clean and comfortable. And these places are certainly authentic, and often form some of the better memories of your tour.
Solo travelers are always welcome and those who would like their own room have the option of paying a single supplement. Otherwise we will arrange for a shared room with another solo traveler (of the same sex) at no extra cost. If there is no roommate available, SpiceRoads will cover the additional cost of a single room.
Children are welcome on our short tours in Thailand. However, on our longer tours the minimum age is 18 years. This is for a number of reasons and more to do with group dynamics than the difficulty of the journey. Please check the FACTS & FIGURES section to see whether children can join a given tour.
The Rice Bowl
Food is a very serious business in Asia. In Thailand and Vietnam food is practically a religion and at SpiceRoads we approach our choice of restaurants and menus with due reverence.
Nutrition is important when cycling. There is always enough food to satisfy the heartiest appetite and we provide lots of fruits and vegetables if possible (Mongolia is a challenge!). Drinking water, fruit and snacks are always available in our escort vehicle. Other drinks are not included when not riding, but are widely available at local restaurants and shops along the way.
Most meals are included and since so many meals we serve feature local cuisines, we do our best to deliver the real thing. A spread of spring rolls, curries, grills, dumplings, hot and sour soups, stir-fries and delicious salads at the end of the day is an important ingredient in a great cycle tour in Asia. Rice is the staple at every meal, although you will also try many noodle dishes. Breakfasts are usually Western, with such fare as eggs, ham and toast, though local alternatives are nearly always available if you prefer.
Lunch is usually rice or noodles or in Indochina (Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam), where baguettes are part of the French legacy, sandwiches with lots of fruit and snack foods.
We eat dinner together family style, which means sharing a number of delicious dishes, making sure it is an authentic feast worthy of hardworking and hungry cyclists. Beer and other alcoholic beverages are available but are not included in the tour price.
Statistically speaking, an average SpiceRoads Tour consists of 10 clients, a tour leader, a local guide, a driver and an assistant. The group of 10 will be comprised of four different nationalities (two of which will be the UK and US), speak at least two languages, contain slightly more males than females and have an average age of 42.
Of the 10, two will return the following year to take another SpiceRoads tour, five will join another SpiceRoads tour within three years and nine will at least contact us to show an interest in joining another tour. We sometimes wonder what happens to the other one!
All 10 will contact each other at least once after the tour. Around half will remain in contact, many will become good friends, and on more than one occasion we have been invited to a wedding!
Our exceptionally good rate of return clients tells us we must be doing something right. It also tells us something about the people who join our tours. SpiceRoads cyclists are fun and part of the attraction of our tours is meeting likeminded people with a passion for traveling by bicycle.
A Numbers Game
Although an average tour departs with 10 people, on the occasional scheduled tour we don't always receive the minimum number of two bookings (four for Japan). In cases where we don't have the minimum bookings, we will offer you the opportunity to travel for a small surcharge, so you can rest assured the tour will depart as scheduled no matter what. This gives you the security to purchase flights, book time off work and make all the necessary plans you need in full confidence that your cycle holiday will go on as planned. If the minimum number is reached before the tour sets off, the surcharge will be refunded in full.
The Bottom Line
Our tours cost an average of just over USD100 a day. For some people that's cheap, while for others it is expensive. But one thing written many times over in our guest book is "amazing value". This is something we are very proud of and have worked hard to achieve. SpiceRoads offers exceptional personal service and high quality accommodation at prices well below our competitors and a higher standard of service and accommodation than any other tour companies in our price range. We are confident that we offer the best value and high quality cycling adventures in Asia.