All About this Tour
Mountain bikes are the perfect way to discover the adventurous spirit of North Thailand, a region of jungle-filled valleys, mountain-top temples, meandering rivers, and plenty of opportunities for cultural encounters.
We ride 470 km, about 80% 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 gentler dirt roads. North Thailand is a mountainous region, and there are very few flat rides. 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, 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 some deluxe resorts. However, for six nights there will be no air con, but you will be at higher altitudes these nights, and you might well be asking for a blanket.
Suitability: You should be confident of your physical condition and bike-handling skills. Some climbs are challenging, and there are some technical off-road tracks. It is advisable to have at least some off-road and preferably downhill experience.
We meet in the afternoon to brief everyone thoroughly and make sure the bikes fit. Then, we take a nice easy ride through the outskirts of the city to get accustomed to riding in Thailand. We cycle through rice paddies and follow the Mae Lao River to the interesting Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple. Created by a local artist, this temple stands out for its distinctive style. After a visit, we head back to the hotel so we can refresh before an outing to the night bazaar.
After a transfer to Doi Mae Salong, we start riding, up, through the forest. This dirt road will climb for a few km, and then we have a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains. We then hit tarmac, ride past wild poinsettas and arrive in Mae Salong, an ethnic Chinese village, for lunch and a tea tasting. 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. In the afternoon after topping a ridge, we take a single-track trail downhill, through tea plantations and fruit orchards. We ride through Thoet Thai, a former centre of opium growing and in the footsteps of Khun Sa, the former Opium King of the region. 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.
We transfer to just south of the town of Mae Chan and start riding on gentle undulating terrain along the base of a mountain range. We pass through a hilltribe village and farming communities that grow exotic orchards of dragon fruit, mangoes, and bananas. The dirt road and some small sections of single track take us to a waterfall where we have lunch at a local restaurant with time for a cooling dip. After lunch, our ride flows over canals and bridges and eventually down to the Mae Kok River. The support vehicle won't be able to follow us on all the rides but will meet us to top off our water bottles. We transfer to Chiang Rai in the late afternoon.
The ride through Mae Salak is one of the most scenic on the trip and a real pleasure to ride. The undulating dirt road follows the Mae Kok River as we ride towards Thaton. The lush green hills in the distant is Thailand's natural border with neighbouring Myanmar. We end the day along the banks of the Maekok River where your resort with a swimming pool awaits.
Today is an easy recovery day. We cycle 36 km on beautiful country roads taking in river views, with undulating mountains as our backdrop as we pass emerald green paddies and orchards. We encounter only a few small hills and very little traffic. We finish riding in Fang and then have a short transfer to Chai Prakan and our lakeside resort.
We ride through rice fields and among soaring limestone cliffs before hitting the dirt. We ride dirt roads cut by local hill tribes, and we will meet Akha, Lisu, Lau, and Palaung people. 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 head to transport us to our comfortable Thai-style inn.
We have an early morning departure for a tough but rewarding day riding up and into the mountains. We ride some fun and secluded single track and dirt roads through the foothills for about 20 km before we reach the base of our climb. Then we can look forward to spectacular scenery on the way up and plenty of rest stops to refuel and take it all in. Picnic lunch on route, and the vehicle will follow to pick up any tired riders. This is a tough but rewarding climb of some 25 km and from 300 m up to 1,700 m on dirt roads. We finish at our secluded mountain station, which has simple but clean accommodation, and spend the evening relaxing after a tough day’s ride. Option to visit a remote village very close to where we overnight or relax by the fire in the fresh and cool mountain air.
After a breakfast with a view, we separate from the vehicles (which will meet us at the end of the ride) and depart for our ride which starts with a few small but steep rises for 10 km and then undulates down on awesome barely used and remote trail for another 25 km. Some fantastic views and long flowing downhills, some technical sections, and a few more ups keep the heart pumping and the lungs burning. Then we finish off with an undulating dirt road ride along the river and arrive at our beautiful accommodation for the night.
We embark on a great day’s riding covering about 45 km with some hills and fantastic lengthy undulating single track. We spend the day riding smooth and flowing single tracks with some hefty undulations to get the blood pumping and the eyes wide. We cross back and forth over and through the Mae Taeng River using hilltribe-constructed wooden bridges, some portage, and sometimes it’s possible to ride through. We stop in to say hello and take a break at some beautiful little villages. There'll also be time for a dip in a waterfall, and we finish with a long enjoyable downhill that takes us to our host village and our hilltribe accommodation for the night. Dinner and then relaxing by the fire on the banks of a bubbling red river.
For a change, we jump on bamboo rafts for a morning on the river you will never forget. Float downstream on the clean Mae Taeng River, passing working elephant camps, bamboo spear fisherman. and some exciting rapids that will test your best rafting skills. Stop for lunch and take a rest at a great little restaurant built on stilts over the river and then finish off the day with a ride along the river for 15 km and then our final roll through the rich fertile farmland in the foothills of Mae Taeng. We overnight at an eco-lodge that is also preserving the culture of Lisu and Akha tribes. After a traditional dinner, you'll be entertained by singing and dancing.
This morning, take a steam bath, have a massage, or go for an ox-cart ride to the orchards. Once you have indulged in an activity, we'll transfer back to Chiang Mai, to the airport or to a hotel if you wish to spend more time in the region.
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 well-known makes of mountain bikes with lightweight alloy frames, 24- to 27-speed gearing, v-brakes, and Shimano components and front suspension. 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: 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.
For Long Tours (7 days or more) to guarantee your place we require a 30% or 500 USD deposit, whichever is the greater. For Short Tours (6 days or less) we require full payment to guarantee your place. We also require that you take out travel insurance when you book your holiday. Besides covering you during your holiday it will also enable you to claim for any money that you have paid to us, including your deposit, should you have to cancel your trip.
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.
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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