SpiceRoads Cycling Tours

Trip Advice

Travel Advice

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.

If you have narrowed down a destination or a riding style, we suggest that you download or request the Factsheet for that tour and read over the itinerary where there will be more information about what you'll see, riding conditions, visa information and weather.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, or require further advice, please remember you can always contact us and we will be happy to answer your questions.

What to expect

The route is the core feature of a successful cycle tour and 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. 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.

All cyclists need a good sense of balance and we try to strike the right one between price and service for our tours. We provide the very best services and accommodation for our clients without being overly exclusive or expensive. 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.

Our service begins long before the tour departs. To help you make your decision, we provide you with a detailed Factsheet 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 tours more than 5 nights we give you a SpiceRoads goodie 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, your bike and to ensure that everything runs smoothly so you can enjoy a trouble-free journey with no worries about logistics or timetables.

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. 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.

Most meals are included and since so many meals we serve feature local cuisines, we do our best to deliver the real thing. 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. 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. Beer and other alcoholic beverages are available but are not included in the tour price.

We strive to offer a good mix of accommodation on all of our tours, always aiming for local charm. Depending on the tour, we stay at three- or four-star lodges that compliment the local culture, and sometimes logistics forces us to become creative. If we have a great cycle route through an area where there isn't any accommodation, so we will find a local family that is happy to work with us or perhaps set up tents for the night. In isolated or newly developing areas, we are sometimes forced to stay somewhere more basic than we would like, but it is only for one night and we make sure everything is clean and comfortable. And these places are certainly authentic, and often form some of the better memories of your tour.

Your fellow riders

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 like-minded people with a passion for traveling by bicycle.

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.

Visa Advice

Albania

Passport holders of up to 70 countries are not required to obtain a visa when entering Albania and are permitted to stay in the country for a period of 90 days. All foreign nationals who have a valid multi–entry Schengen visa, type “C” or “D”, or a valid residence permit in one of the Schengen member states, can enter, stay and transit Albania without visa, within the validity term of the visa or the residence permit. Please check with the Albanian Embassy for further details.

Bhutan

Contrary to just about the rest of the world, Bhutan does not issue visas before you arrive through their embassies or consulates. The only way to get a visa is on arrival to the country, however, you must submit an application form through a tour operator for approval before arriving.

SpiceRoads will submit your application for approval. This takes a minimum of 1 week. Please contact us for more information.

Burma (Myanmar)

A visa is required for all visitors to Burma. Please make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond the duration of stay in Burma. Regulations are changing quickly, but at the moment the easiest method for those flying in is to obtain an e-visa for USD $50. The e-visa will be for a single-entry to international airports and three land crossings from Thailand and is valid for 28 days after entering the country. Apply online for the visa here and it takes three days to process (have a scanned copy of the first page of your passport and a digital photo ready). The approval letter must be printed as it will be needed to board international flights and needs to be submitted to immigration upon arrival. For those crossing at a land border on the Bangkok to Yangon tour the e-Visa is also valid for the border. For the Burma Road tour you must go to your nearest Myanmar embassy to obtain a visa in advance. A list of embassies abroad is available here. Please click here for more information on visa requirements.

Cambodia

All nationalities require a visa. A 30 day visa on arrival is available at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap Airports and at some land border crossings. You can also obtain a visa online through e-Visa. The e-Visa page provides a list of which checkpoints accept which type of visas. For a list of consulates/embassies abroad go to this page.

China

All nationalities are required to posses a valid passport and visa. Visas are easily obtainable from most Chinese embassies or consulates abroad and issued within 3 to 5 days from application. Express visas are available for an additional fee. If you are applying for a visa by mail, it can take 3 to 4 weeks for approval. Most nationalities qualify for a 30 day visa which is activated on your first day in China, and must be used within 3 months of its issuance.

A Chinese visa covers virtually the entire country with the exception of some restricted areas and Tibet.

Georgia

Citizens of EU countries, the US, Canada, Japan, Israel, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, do not need a visa to visit Georgia for up to 90 days.

India

An electronic visa (e-visa) is available for passport holders of 43 countries including Australia, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, and USA, with the application and a US$60 fee submitted at least 4 days before the date of arrival. It is valid for 30 days. Visit here for more information and the full list of eligible countries. For citizens of countries not specified it must be acquired before arriving in India. Please contact your local Indian embassy to receive a standard tourist visa. Locations on embassies worldwide are available here. Fees vary depending on nationality.

Indonesia

Citizens of 90 countries and territories can enter Indonesia visa-free for a 30-day tourist stay via five airports, including Jakarta and Densapar, Bali. If Makassar is your first point of entry to Indonesia you can acquire a visa on arrival for a fee of US$35. Please note that Australians can also acquire a visa-on-arrival for a fee of US$35. You can also apply for a visa in advance, please contact the Indonesian Embassy in your country for the cost and details of obtaining one before you visit the country. Please check as this might be more expensive and more of a hassle than acquiring on arrival.

Japan

Up to 62 countries have reciprocal visa exemption arrangements allowing nationals from those countries to enter Japan without a visa. Depending on the country, you are allowed to stay in Japan for a certain period of time, which can range from 90 days to six months. Check here for the list of countries that are exempt.

Kazakhstan

Please make sure that your passport is still valid for at least six months at the end of the tour and that you have at least two blank visa pages available. For 19 nationalities a visa is not required for visitors staying up to 15 days, when you travel to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan: Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States. If you are staying longer is Kazakhstan or for nationalities that do require a visa we will provide you with instructions on how to apply for the visas as you will need a supporting letter.

Laos

A 15-day visa on arrival can be obtained at all airports and all land border crossings. Fees vary depending on country – US$42 for Canada, US$35 for the USA, UK and most of Europe, and US$30 for Australia and other countries. You’ll need a passport photo, an application form (your guide will provide this to you in advance) and US dollars for the visa fee. At land borders you will be asked to pay nominal (US$1-3) overtime, weekend and other various fees, the amount of which varies at each border crossing.

A visa issued at a Laos consulate abroad is valid for 30 days. When entering Laos with a visa please be sure to obtain an immigration entry stamp. Entering the country on only a visa, and not the proper immigration entry stamp, could subject you to fines and/or penalties.

Macedonia

Citizens of EU member states and of the signatories to the Schengen Agreement may enter Macedonia with a valid ID card issued by the competent authorities of the concerning countries. All remaining nationalities require a valid passport for entry into the country. Please ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from date of entry. If staying less than 90 days a visa is not required for nationals of more than 70 countries. Please check the Macedonian government website for details applying to your status.

Madagascar

A valid passport and visa are required for all nationalities to enter Madagascar. However, for those staying fewer than 30 days a visa on arrival can be obtained at the Antananarivo Airport for 35USD, provided that their passport is valid at least six months from the date of entry. Please go here for more information.

Malaysia

Travellers from Australia, the United Kingdom, US and EU do not need a visa to Malaysia for a visit of less than three months. For further updates on requirements check here.

Mongolia

Most nationalities require a single entry visa for trips to Mongolia. Cost is US$25 (except US citizens, the fee is waived). Visa regulations in Mongolia can and do change without notice, so please give yourself enough time to check the current regulations to ensure you have the proper documents before embarking on this trip. If you are transiting through China to fly to Mongolia there is no need for a Chinese Visa. The Mongolian Embassy in the UK has launched a new online service for visa appliers. Click here to apply.

Montenegro

Citizens of the EU member states and citizens of the signatories to the Schengen Agreement may enter the territory of Montenegro with a valid ID card issued by the competent authorities of the concerning countries. All remaining nationalities require a valid passport for entry into the country. Please ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from date of entry. If staying less than 90 days a visa is not required for nationals of more than 90 countries. Please check the Montenegrin government website for details applying to your status. The same applies for transiting through Croatia.

Nepal

All foreigners, except Indians, must have a visa for Nepal. You can obtain a visa on arrival at the airport by filling out an application form and providing a passport photograph. To get a jump on the line, you can download a visa application form from the websites of the Nepali embassy in Washington, DC or London ahead of time. A single-entry visa valid for 60 days costs US$30.

Philippines

If staying less than 21 days then a visa is not required by European, North American, Australian and many other nationalities. The exceptions being passport holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), British National Overseas (BNO) and Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) who are only allowed up to 7 days stay without a visa. You will need to show proof of an onward flight out of the Philippines. For stays longer than 21 days, a Temporary Visitors Visa is required.

Sri Lanka

You must obtain a US$30 visa (US$15 for SAARC countries and no charge for children under 12) via the ElectronicTravel Authorization (ETA) system before entering the country. If you don't obtain a Visa Approved Reference number through ETA you can obtain a visa on arrival for US$35 but there may be lines to do so.

Thailand

Unless you are staying for more than 30 days, or do not have onward air tickets, a visa for Thailand is not required by European, North American, Australian and many other nationalities. Please be prepared to show evidence of an onward international ticket to Thai immigration officials upon entry to Thailand.

Travellers without a visa arriving via a land border crossing can only stay in Thailand for 15 days, except holders of passports of UK, USA, Japan, Germany, France, Canada and Italy who are given 30 days.

Go to this page for general Thai visa information or this page for the list of exempt nationalities.

Tibet

Your Tibet Visa is included in the tour price and will be attained once you arrive in Kathmandu, but please bring 2 passport size photos and 2 copies of your passport.

Vietnam

Please make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond the duration of stay in Vietnam and that you have at least two blank pages. Most nationalities require a visa for Vietnam, however 17 nationalities are exempt, including British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens. These five nationalities can stay up to 15 days, however they must acquire a tourist visa if staying longer. For a list of countries exempt go to this page.

An electronic visa is available for citizens from 40 selected countries (excluding Australia, New Zealand and Canada). Apply via this site and be prepared to upload a photo and your passport ID page. Fees are 25 USD and a response is expected within three (3) working days. Print out the approval document and present it upon arrival. Nationalities not on the electronic visa list can obtain a pre-approved entry visa online before arrival in Vietnam for a fee, however, the visa is still issued on arrival at international airports. A visa for Vietnam can also be obtained from any embassy worldwide, here's a list of locations. A tourist visa is valid for a single 30 day stay. You must specify your arrival date when applying for a visa and it is from this date that the 30 days will be calculated. When picking up your visa check to be sure the dates match your travel plans and that it is stamped directly into your passport as it will not be accepted if it is stapled in or loose.

Travel Insurance

We also require that you take out travel insurance when you book your holiday. Travel Insurance is an essential part of any trip and helps to cover you when things go wrong. Travel insurance protects you in the case of lost or stolen luggage and personal effects; accident or illness, trip cancellation or personal liability. Probably the most important reason to take out travel insurance is to ensure you are covered for medical treatment. Although your national health scheme may cover your medical expenses at home, once you head overseas, you are (normally) no longer covered. Medical expenses can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and you may be refused treatment if you are not insured.

Health

Pre-trip Check-up and Vaccinations

Anyone travelling on an adventure holiday should go to see their doctor for a check-up prior to the trip. Some countries will require specific vaccinations and your doctor will have access to the most up to date information about this. It is also a good idea to have a dental check-up before you go, as the facilities in many of the countries to which we travel may not be of the same standard as you are used to.

Personal First Aid Kit

Although every SpiceRoads trip carries a medical kit, it is advisable to bring a supply of first aid items for your own personal use. Here is a sample list:

  • Insect repellent.
  • Antiseptic cream.
  • Suncream and total bloc.
  • Throat lozenges or hard sweets.
  • Painkillers. Aspirin, Paracetamol etc.
  • Anti-diarrhoea (Diocalm or Immodium).
  • Plasters (band-aids) and 'Second Skin' for blisters.
  • Antibiotics. A broad-spectrum antibiotic (such as Ciproxin) suitable for a variety of infections.
  • Re-hydration salts. (Dioralite). 
  • Dextrose glucose tablets.
  • Multi-vitamin tablets.

What to Bring

It is important that the clothing you take on your cycling holiday is appropriate for the trip you have chosen. There is a fine balance between taking too much and too little, especially considering that you need to equip yourself for differing levels of physical exertion and also for a range of climatic conditions.

On most days your main luggage will be stowed out of reach while we ride, so it is a good idea to bring a day bag or small rucksack to have quick access.

A suggested list will be included in your predeparture information, but here is some of the items that you will find on it:

  • Cycling helmet (mandatory)
  • Bandana or sweat band
  • Cycling gloves
  • Buff or similar
  • Biking glasses
  • Stiff soled cycling shoes / SPD shoes
  • Cycling tops - long or short sleeved depending on climate
  • Lightweight fleece top
  • Lightweight waterproof breathable biking jacket
  • Padded cycling shorts
  • Baggy overshorts or trousers (for propriety)
  • Cycling tights (if in a cold climate)
  • Sun hat
  • Miscellaneous
  • Towel
  • Sarong
  • Torch/Head Lamp
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sun cream.
  • Sun block for lips. Burnt lips hurt and take a long time to heal.
  • Camera. You’d be silly not to.
  • Spare batteries. For camera and flashlights.
  • Toilet kit. Suggestions: toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, moisture lotion, razor and shaving cream, tampons etc. (there won’t be any convenience stores nearby)
  • First Aid – see Health for more info
  • Electrolyte powder or tablets
  • Ear plugs.
  • Alarm Clock
  • Bike Kit (if bringing your own bike)
  • Bike
  • Pump
  • Allan keys
  • Chain lubricant
  • Inner tubes
  • Tire levers Puncture repair kit
  • Tires

Please be aware that if you have a high tech bike - full suspension, disk brakes, hydraulic brakes - we do not carry tools or parts for fixing all of these components, so please bring your own or you might even consider bringing a more basic bike.

Regional Airlines

To help you with you tour planning we have compiled this list of national carriers and discount airlines that fly to the countries/cities where our tours start and end. This is by no means a complete list but is meant to be of assistance to those outside the region who may not know about local carriers.

Bhutan

drukair.com.bt

Burma

www.air-mandalay.com
www.airmyanmar.com
www.airasia.com

Cambodia – Phnom Penh and Siem Reap

cambodiaangkorair.com
www.pmtair.com
www.airasia.com
www.bangkokair.com

China - Yunnan

www.airchina.com
global.shenzhenair.com
www.flychinasouthern.com
www.airasia.com

Indonesia – Bali

www.garuda-indonesia.com
www.sriwijayaair.co.id
/www.batavia-air.com
www.airasia.com

India - Kochi

www.airindia.in

www.jetairways.com
www.flykingfisher.com
www.goindigo.in
www.goair.in
www.airasia.com

India – Leh

www.jetairways.com
www.goair.in

Japan

www.jal.com
www.ana.co.jp
www.skymark.jp
www.airasia.com

Laos

www.laoairlines.com
www.airasia.com

Malaysia - Kota Kinabalu

www.malaysiaairlines.com
www.airasia.com
firefly.com.my

Nepal – Kathmandu and Pokhara

www.yetiairlines.com
www.buddhaair.com

Philippines

www.philippineairlines.com
www.airphilexpress.com
www.cebupacificair.com
www.airasia.com

Sri Lanka

www.srilankan.lk
www.flykingfisher.com
www.airarabia.com
www.airasia.com

Thailand

www.thaiairways.com
www.nokair.com
www.bangkokair.com
www.airasia.com

Vietnam

www.vietnamairlines.com
www.airasia.com

Recommended Reading

SpiceRoads has created a reading list for each of our destinations. Working in partnership with Longitude Books, a speciality mail-order book store organized geographically. Click on the link and you'll be taken to a selection of books and maps specifically formulated for the destination. Feel free to browse the list or you can purchase them online from Longitude Books.

South East Asia

Central and Eastern Asia

South Asia