About this Cycle Tour
Our mountain bike journey takes us from the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai through the mountains to the Golden Triangle, where the Mekong River marks the borders of Thailand, Burma, and Laos.
We ride 553 km, about 30% off road, in 10 cycling days. We designed the route to give a wide variety of riding. There are some first-class single-track trails to gentle back roads. Northern Thailand is a mountainous region, and there are very few flat rides, however, most of the big climbs are optional and on tarmac. Many roads and trails traverse the mountains, and our route winds up and down hillsides. We guarantee you will never be bored by the riding. There are some outstanding descents and stunning views across rolling hillsides and valleys at almost every turn!
Although our escort vehicle is always close by and our guides have powerful two-way radios, some rides are not supported due to the remoteness of the trails. Your guide’s expert knowledge of the area and terrain means that you always know what is coming up in terms of distance and difficulty. This makes a tremendous difference, as does the constant supply of cold drinks and fresh fruit.
We use a nice variety of accommodation including a village homestay as well as some deluxe resorts. Every day you will get a comfortable room (except with the homestay) and often a swimming pool to jump into at the end of the ride.
Suitability: You should be confident of your physical condition and bike-handling skills. Some climbs are challenging, and some rides are off road, but overall, the trail isn't too technical. It can be managed by most riders, but it is advisable to have at least some off-road and preferably downhill experience. Fitness, of course, will be a huge asset but it is not crucial. It is possible to dodge the big climbs. If you are in doubt, please contact us for advice or a list of references.
Biking Conditions: We have a mixture of tarmac, vehicle width dirt roads, and single track. Some off-road riding experience is an advantage.
We meet in the afternoon to brief everyone thoroughly and make sure the bikes fit. Then, we take a short transfer out of town and start a nice, easy ride along the Ping River to get accustomed to riding in Thailand. Our stopping point of Ban Tawai is an arts and crafts area, and we have time to browse the stalls for souvenirs before heading back to Chiang Mai.
After breakfast, we transfer to a nearby reservoir where we take a boat to our trail head. We ride an outstanding trail through a scenic teak forest, enjoying some great single track. We eventually spill out of the forest at a waterfall where our support truck is waiting to replenish water supplies and provide a snack. We then ride on a road to our lunch stop, a great little restaurant overlooking a reservoir. After lunch, we ride along country backroads before cutting off road and riding an elephant trail through the forest to our resort near Chiang Dao. Time to enjoy the swimming pool before dinner.
We make a short transfer from the resort to Chiang Dao Caves and the start of our ride. Today’s ride is a real treat for mountain bikers. We ride through rice fields and among soaring limestone cliffs before hitting the dirt. We ride dirt roads cut by local hilltribes, and we will meet Akha, Lisu, Lau, and Palaung peoples. The colourful Palaung are recent migrants, and you will see their women adorned with heavy brass waist-bands working the fields. We stop for lunch at a Forestry Camp before a memorable afternoon riding some quite outstanding mountain trails. Our support vehicle will be waiting at the trail end to transport us to our comfortable Thai-style inn.
After an early breakfast, we ride to the Tub Tao Caves and temple retreat. We ride backroads through many small villages before arriving in Fang and our stop for lunch. In contrast to the previous day, much of the ride is flat, and we will make the distance quite quickly. The ride is scenic as we pass farmlands and orchards. We end at Thaton along the banks of the Mae Kok River where your resort with a swimming pool awaits.
After a short transfer, we arrive at a Lahu village, where we hitch a ride on a long-tail boat (with our bikes) to a scenic riverside area. We have a brief stop at a forestry reserve before heading off for another 20-km off-road ride and take a break at a local coffee shop. It's just about 20 km more to the provincial capital of Chiang Rai. Here we can relax at the hotel, or go out in the city to see the famous night market or to just chill in the lively downtown area.
After breakfast, we cycle 14 km along dirt roads flanked by rice paddies to Chiang Rai's spectacular white temple, Wat Rong Khun. Make sure you have your sunglasses on as we take in the splendour of one of Thailand's most famous edifices. After lunch, we transfer to the foot of Doi Mae Salong where we make our first big mountain climb in the late afternoon. It is 18 km up and down through magnificent scenery to Mae Salong. Almost entirely populated by descendants of Chiang Kai Chek’s Chinese Nationalist Kuomintang Army, the village has the look and feel of China’s Yunnan province rather than Thailand. We stay the night at a simple resort with a swimming pool that has out-standing views across the tea plantations and enjoy a wonderful dinner.
After breakfast, we visit the temple at the very top of the hill and then hit the trail. A 30-km (14 km off road) descent through the forest along some glorious trails. Eventually, we spill out onto the road and make the short ride to our resort. We stay at one of north Thailand’s best kept secrets. Built by a well-known architect, this charming resort fuses western comforts with Lanna design to provide a delightful refuge for weary cyclists. The afternoon is free to enjoy the resort’s facilities, laze by the pool, or explore the surrounding countryside.
The longest ride of the tour is also one of the most spectacular. We start the day with an off-road ride through lychee orchards and have a chance to visit the only horse temple in Thailand. We then tackle Doi Tung, where the Thai royal family has a palace. Again, the climb is on good tarmac, and the rewards are some amazing views. We take lunch on top of the mountain and visit a temple that is said to contain the Buddha’s clavicle. In the afternoon, we ride along an amazing ridgeback road. There is a fast, downhill ride into Mae Sai and then a nice flat ride alongside the Sai River to our hotel in Sop Ruak, the site of the Golden Triangle.
After breakfast, we take you on a very scenic loop deep into the heart of the countryside surrounding the Golden Triangle. We then return to the hotel, where you can shower before we head to Chiang Saen and have lunch. We have a chance to do some sightseeing in this ancient town, one of the first Thai kingdoms. After sightseeing, we begin the transfer back to Chiang Mai (approx. 3 hours). Once checked into the hotel, we then enjoy a farewell dinner at a great riverside restaurant.
Saving the best for last, we have an outstanding off-road treat scheduled. We start with a climb (or transfer) to Chiang Mai’s most impressive temple, Wat Doi Suthep, which is perched on a hilltop overlooking the city. We then embark on Thailand’s most exciting mountain bike trail. Winding for 30 km through spectacular mountain scenery, this ride is a fitting finale to an amazing cycling adventure. Our support vehicle picks us up at picturesque reservoir to transfer us back to the hotel or to the airport for your onward travels.
Disclaimer: The adventure cycling tours we operate often go beyond the beaten track, and the countries where we ride are not always predictable. Due to these reasons, it is occasionally necessary to reroute or update itineraries. Our guarantee is that we will not change a trip unless for safety or to improve it. Our listed hotels are always accurate at the time of writing, but should we have to change any hotel, it will always be for a similar or better one.
Because some people can't imagine going on a trip without their own beloved bicycle, we do not provide them as part of this tour. However, you can hire bikes locally for the price listed in the tour pricing section.
If you bring your own bike, please make sure it is a mountain bike, preferably with front suspension in good mechanical order.
Basic spares and tools are carried by the guide and on the support vehicle, though we cannot guarantee having spares for every conceivable problem. Carrying a basic tool kit, a spare tube and a pump while riding is recommended.
Wearing a helmet is required on all our biking adventures and is non negotiable. If you do not wear a helmet you will not be allowed to cycle. Your tour leader is trained in first aid and emergency rescue, but to a large degree you must be responsible for your own safety while riding. It is therefore compulsory that you take out travel insurance that will cover you for a mountain biking tour.
You will be led by a local English-speaking guide and if the group is 9 people or more we will add another guide to the tour. All our guides are well informed in the history, culture and religions of the area where you are biking and are skilled at passing that knowledge on to you. Your guide is also medically trained and an experienced cyclist, able to handle most minor repairs en route.
We recommend that you visit a travel medical doctor and ask about the following vaccinations: typhoid, polio, tetanus and hepatitis A. A certificate for Yellow Fever is required when arriving from an infected area within six days.
Thailand generally has a tropical climate with fairly high humidity. The North and Central region have a tropical climate with fairly high humidity. Northeast Thailand has a humid hot and dry weather alternatively with medium rain while the coastal areas of the east is humid and hot with intermittent rain. The South of Thailand has a tropical climate with fairly high humidity.
There are three seasons: from March to June it is hot and dry, with temperatures between 27˚C/80 F and 40˚C/104 F, with night temperatures in the 20s. The rainy season is from July to October, but temperatures are slightly lower, because of the effect of the rain. During this time it will not rain continuously, but in sharp bursts, and the sun can come out quickly. The cooler season is from October to February, with average temperatures between 20˚C/68 F and 30˚C/86 F.
Meals are included as per the itinerary where B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner. Most meals are local and feature noodles, rice, curries, and soups. Any special dietary requirements can also be catered for as well. Please let us know at the time of booking.
Keeping you completely hydrated is a job we take very seriously. Cold water, some energy-restoring local fruit, and soft drinks are included in the tour price while riding. Soft drinks and other beverages during meals are not included. Beer is freely available everywhere but is NOT included in the price.
SpiceRoads does not require you to pay a surcharge for traveling alone. We will arrange for you to share accommodation with another traveler of the same gender and if we cannot match you up we will provide a single room at no extra charge. If you prefer not to share a single supplement is payable to guarantee your own room. The cost of the single supplement is listed above.
We recommend that you tuck away a few extra dollars, perhaps US$20 per day, for incidentals.
The Thai currency is the baht. ATMs, which are abundant, are the easiest ways to get Thai baht. Have a supply of US dollars in cash on hand, just in case your card doesn’t work. Banks or the rarer private moneychangers offer the best foreign-exchange rates. Credit cards are accepted in big cities and resort hotels but you’ll need baht for family-run guesthouses or restaurants.
If this is the tour for you here's what you need to do to confirm your place:
Just complete our online booking form or send your booking details offline (email or post), and we will confirm your participation. No deposit is needed to confirm your place on a SpiceRoads tour.
There is a minimum number of participants (usually 2) required to enable the trip to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to Depart'. Once a trip is guaranteed to depart you are free to book your flights and make other travel arrangements. If the trip status is ‘Limited’ will mean we have only a small number of spaces available for booking. If you are unsure about the trip status, please email us or call our office.
From the tour page, click the 'Book Now' link. All departures for this tour will appear, just select the date you'd like to travel. For the next steps, you'll need to know the names of the people travelling. If you wish you can also provide extra details such as passport numbers, height (for bike hire), or you can add that later by logging into Manage My Trip (we'll set up an account for you automatically if you don't already have one). Our system will contact you from time to time to fill in the missing information, as it will be required before departure. However, if the trip that you are booking offers a child discount, you will have to fill out the date of birth of each rider (so we can calculate the appropriate discount).
If you are having any problems please send us an email, or give us a call (+66 026 3295) and one of our travel specialists will assist you with your booking.
Just call us or send an email indicating which trip you want to join and we will happily send you a list of questions and process your booking for you.
We do not require a deposit or full payment to book a place for you on a tour.
The balance of the tour’s cost (final invoice) will need to be paid 60 days before the departure date with fees for any bicycle rental(s), single supplement(s) and extra hotel nights.
In the case where a booking is made when there are less than 60 days until the tour departure date, the tour’s cost should be paid in full within 72 hours of receiving an invoice from SpiceRoads. Payment can be made by credit card using our online payment gateway or by bank transfer. When making payment online you will need to confirm that you have read these booking conditions during the "checkout" process, which equates to agreeing to the terms of services and stipulations as indicated in this document.
In all cases, tour fees need to be paid “in full” before participation in a tour. No person(s) will be allowed to join a tour without fully settling their invoice and receiving a confirmation number from SpiceRoads.
The exception can be made for last-minute miscellaneous fees that can be paid locally (visas, additional local hotel bookings, etc.) can be settled on the day of arrival.
If the tour is cancelled or postponed by SpiceRoads because we didn't make the trip numbers and the tour can’t run, we will make a full cash refund (by bank transfer or on your credit card).
If the tour is cancelled for any other reason, including due to Covid related travel restrictions, we will give you a full credit (with no deductions for admin or any other small-print item) to use on any SpiceRoads tour with no time limit. (Exceptions being flights, special permits and other non-refundable items and these will be advised when booking the trip).
Before paying for your tour, you can cancel your booking with no charge and up until 40 days before departure, you can change your booking to another travel date or move your booking onto another SpiceRoads tour with no charges.
If you need to cancel after you have made full payment, please see our cancellation policy.
The information in this document is given in good faith, and covers the average range of conditions likely to be found on this trip. Please note that the itinerary is subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances, however, we will always do our best to adhere to this original itinerary