About this Cycle Tour
On this 788-kilometre ride you’ll cycle on paved roads in good condition through farming villages, up and over lush green mountains and on winding roads along the Mekong River.
This tour is 100% on road, and we designed the route with road bikers in mind. We start in Chiang Rai with a warm-up ride to get used to your bikes, then the riding begins in earnest. We will be alternating between hilly and flat days, but we always start off with a gentle ride before we start climbing.
The total distance is 788 km in nine riding days on smooth tarmac roads. Some of the distances are quite long, and there are significant ascents and a few steep sections on some days, but there are also a few flat days to let your legs recover. The trip is fully supported, and 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, ice, and fresh fruit.
Suitability: This is a tour for cyclists possessing a moderate to high level of physical fitness. Fitness will be a huge asset on those long days and on the undulating hills. The tour is fully supported, and the bus is always close at hand for those who find the riding too difficult.
Biking Conditions: We ride between 30 and 125 km a day. We built in some easy half-day rides, but the daily ascents range from 129 to 2,000 m. The roads are 100% tarmac and in good condition.
We meet in the afternoon for a warm-up ride to make sure the bikes fit. Our nice and easy ride through the outskirts of the city will also get us accustomed to riding in Thailand and on the left side of the road. We cycle through rice paddy fields and follow the Mae Lao River to the exquisite Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple. Created by Thailand's National Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, this temple stands out for its distinctive style. After the visit, we head back to the hotel, so we can refresh before an outing to the night bazaar and dinner.
Today we will be heading up to the hills of Wawee, but we have a nice fast flat stretch of 40 km to warm up our legs before the real work begins. The first climb is through a variety of fields from sugar cane to maize, small farming villages, and endless mountain views, enough to distract you from the effort of ascending 800 m in just 15 kilometres! We stop for a scenic rest stop with panoramic views before a fast 10-km descent. The remainder of ride will be undulating on quiet roads in good condition. We end at Thaton along the banks of the Maekok River where your resort with a swimming pool awaits. We'll have ascended almost 2,000 m in 123 km, a respectable first day!
We have a gentle start to the day as we won't be pushing the pedals very hard until kilometre 25. Then it's time to climb, but we only gain about 350 m over 10 km, for which we are rewarded with a short downhill and another climb. During our cycle, we'll pass hilltribe farmers working their fields and be greeted by children and possibly a water buffalo or two. Our true reward will be the long, gentle descent all the way to the town of Chaing Saen on the banks of the Mekong River. This town dates to the 7th century; however, it was around 1328 that the city walls, which are still standing, were built. Our hotel is directly on the river and overlooks Laos on the other side. Our total vertical climb today is 800 m.
Today is a semi rest day as we have a fast, flat ride in the morning, leaving the afternoon free for you to relax. Our ride today is along the Mekong River, which also forms the border with Laos, on a quiet, smooth road. We arrive in the border town of Chiang Khong in time for lunch, and the afternoon is free for you to sit on your balcony overlooking the river, explore the local market, or take a wander through the bicycle museum before regrouping for dinner.
We ride out of Chiang Khong and head south to Pu Chi Fa for a stunning viewpoint. We warm up for 50 km on a leisurely level route and then it's time to go up, up, up. We rest after the first ascent of almost 800 m up to a plateau. Here we'll have a few undulations along a ridge at 1,200 m to our resort. The mountains here have a patchwork of fields growing a large variety of crops, from cabbage and corn to strawberries to lychee farmed by Hmong. Tonight, you can enjoy fresh cool air in your cosy bungalow.
What goes up must come down. We start with an exhilarating descent down the mountain, and then the ride flattens out as we cycle through a wide and fertile valley. We stop for a break at Phu Sang Waterfall, where the water comes from a hot spring with water temperature around 33-35 degrees. The riding from here on is flat with just a few rises. We cycle on to have lunch in the small town of Chun and then finish at the lakeside town of Phayao. We pass many small towns and villages and see locals going about their daily business as they herd their cattle or till their fields. We end our ride at Phayao Lake, an artificial lake that is now home to more than 22 species of fish. The town is very laid-back, and after checking into our hotel, we'll head to a lakeside restaurant for a feast.
This morning, we ride around the lake before we start our first serious climb of the day, a 11-km ascent. We top out just under 1,000 m after a climb of 500 m or so and have views back into the valley we left. Looking ahead, we enjoy our downhill, with a stop to take photos at Tan Tong Waterfall. After lunch, we get back on our bikes and cross in-to the next valley by crossing a small mountain range. Our ride ends with a flat ride through rice paddies. We stay in a funky resort with individual artwork in each room.
Today's ride has a refreshing end in a waterfall, but before we get there, we have our work cut out for us! We'll be cycling up to 1,400 m, and though the climbs will be tough, they won't be unrelenting. The road winds up through a lush forest, and you'll hear birds seemingly encouraging you on. After a break at the top, a freewheel of 20 km awaits! Our scenic ride continues through rice fields and orchards filled with exotic fruits. We arrive at Bua Thong Waterfall where we can have a dip in the crystal clear water, but watch out for the freshwater crabs! We then transfer one hour to Chiang Mai and our centrally located ho-tel.
Our loop takes us around Doi Suthep, the mountain that overlooks the old city. We have a very short transfer out of Chiang Mai to avoid traffic. We start pedalling on quiet country roads with lots of coffee places to stop at along the way. We have one major climb in the morning, which will be after a descent with some sharp curves. We stop for lunch at the village of Samoeng. As we come around the mountain, we have one more tough rise, but once over the top, it's downhill to the fertile foothills north of Chiang Mai. Back to the hotel to clean up and prepare for our farewell dinner.
Today is yours to relax and rest after nine days of great riding. We can help with arrangements if you’d like to extend your stay in Thailand or organise transfers to the airport for onward flights.
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. The bikes are Trek 2.1 C, Domane 2.0 and carbon Émonda S5 road bikes, with Shimano components and seat posts. If you have your own saddle that you are comfortable with, you are welcome to bring it and we'll fit it. We can provide strap-styled toe cages if requested, but you might like to consider bringing SPD clip pedals if you use them, and please make sure to bring your shoes and cleats. If you bring your own bike, please make sure it is a road bike 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: Read our Booking Conditions
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. 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 you are unsure about the trip status, please email us or call our office. For the next steps you'll need to know the names of the people traveling and have either a Visa or a MasterCard. If you wish you can also provide extra details such as passport numbers, height, 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). However, if you wish to get a children's discount, please do fill out the date of birth of the riders. If you are having any problems, please send us an email, or give us a call (+66 2 381 7490) and one of our travel specialists will assist you with your booking.
When booking your tour, you'll be required to pay a deposit to guarantee your place. For tours less than 7 days, the deposit amount is 100% of the tour price, per rider. For tours 7 days or longer, the deposit amount is 30% of the tour price, per rider.
Read more about booking and paying for your trip here.
All SpiceRoads trips require proof of travel insurance when booking your holiday. Besides covering you during your trip, travel insurance will also enable you to claim any fees that you have paid to us, including your deposit, if you have to cancel your trip
Day tours and tours shorter than 7 days require full payment at the time of booking. For tours 7 days or longer, full payment must be paid 45 days before the departure date with fees for any bicycle rental(s), single supplement(s) and extra hotel nights. Our confirmation will include personal details you provided us (including your flight information), visa application advice, a packing suggestion list and a detailed tour itinerary. It will also include a checklist to ensure you get everything ready for your holiday.
On the rare occasions when we, SpiceRoads, must cancel a trip, all payments received to date will be 100% refunded, which constitutes full settlement. There will be absolutely no deductions. If you, the client, must cancel your reservation, your cancellation fee will be determined according to when you cancel. For full details, please read our cancellation policy.
For those who have been on several long tours with us we reward customer loyalty by offering repeat customers a special discount off the tour price (excludes single supplement and bike rental). If this is your fourth scheduled tour or more you will receive a 5% discount. If this is your eighth scheduled tour or more we will extend a 10% discount. The discount will be reflected in your online booking, but please contact us if any questions. Loyalty discounts can not be used in conjunction with any other offer. Note: Only tours of 7 days or more will be applicable for loyalty discount.
International flights, to and from the start and finish points are not included in the tour price. Once your tour is Guaranteed to Depart you can book your flight. Please contact us for advice before arranging flights for the best arrival and departure times. We would only cancel a trip for an extreme circumstance, but in that case, where we cancel your trip, we cannot be liable for losses incurred relating to any flight booking you have made. Please claim any losses from your travel insurance that you acquired when you booked your holiday.
Our adventure travel e-newsletter is full of travel news, trip information, interesting stories and contests. To avoid missing out on special offers and updates from SpiceRoads, be sure to subscribe.
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