Cycle from the mountainous Lanna Kingdom of Chiang Mai to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang. Leaving the ancient city walls behind you stop at the spectacular Limestone waterfall of Sri Lanna National Park before crossing Mae Kuang Dam by long tail boat. Catch the sunset over Phayao Lake and witness the life of the Tai Lue people. Cross the border to continue your ride on the rarely visited roads of Laos. Spend a rural overnight stay at Ka Cham Falls with Hmong hosts before cycling to the Luang Prabang World Heritage Site. As a highlight to your cycle spend a day at the Elephant Conservation Center: a unique and Sustainable Elephant encounter on route.
Freshen up and take a deep breath at one of the most beautiful limestone waterfalls in Thailand
Visit Cultural Hall at Wat Sri Khum Kam, a Shan style structure temple
Discover the new experience for a day meeting up the elephant in the forest
Cycling, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - 11 Days / 10 Nights
Upon arrival to Chiang Mai, our guide and driver will be waiting at the airport to provide transport to the hotel in for check in. After setting the bags down and resting a bit, head out in the afternoon to test the bikes.
Begin the day’s exploration of Chiang Mai along the banks of the Mae Ping River. Join the hustle and bustle of the Warorot Market (on foot) to explore some of the exotic specimens, colourful fruits, endless variety of rice and bizarre culinary delights on offer.
Jump back on the bikes and continue towards the landmark Tapae Gate to explore ancient Chiang Mai by bike. Tapae Gate is Chiang Mai's main entrance to the old walled city. From here, cycle to the Three Kings Monument and the city’s most beautiful temples: Wat Chedi Luang, where the famous Emerald Buddha was once enshrined, and Wat Phra Singh, home to a very old and sacred Buddha image. Continue to Wat Chiang Man, the oldest temple in Chiang Mai to finish today's ride.
Transfer to hotel to freshen up before dinner. Enjoy the first evening in Chiang Mai with dinner at a restaurant on the Ping River before having a chance to look around the famous night market.
Overnight in Chiang Mai
Depart in the early morning for a transfer to Mae Rim, where the day’s cycle will begin. Ride towards Bua Tong Waterfall, located in the spectacular Sri Lanna National Park, to soak up the beauty of the limestone cascade. Continue the ride further off road to visit caves, temples and other unique local attractions. Arrive at a small village for a short break before taking the bikes across the lake. Longtail boats will be waiting to provide ferry service for the 15-minute crossing. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant near the Mae Kuang Dam before a transfer to Phayao Lake. Arrive to the lake in time to catch a beautiful sunset and enjoy a relaxing kayak or boat ride before dinner.
Enjoy fresh, local seafood for dinner.
Leave the panoramic views of Phayao Lake behind for the ride towards towards Chiang Kham, home to the Tai Lue people. The Tai Lue people originate from Yunnan Province of southern China and migrated to this region over 200 years ago.
Stop at a local restaurant for lunch with some amazing views of Doi Bussacarun Mountain before continuing on the cycle. Soak up the charm of local villages while cruising along traditional Thai-style wooden homes on stilts and the friendly smiles of the locals. Reaching the Village of Chiang Kham, stop at the area’s well-known weaving house before visiting Wat Nantaram, a Shan style structure temple. A final stop will be made at the Baedang Bat Cave for sunset.
Overnight in Chiang Kham
Enjoy breakfast in the serene surroundings of the resort this morning before heading into the jungle. Take a well-trodden cycle ride, soaking up the flora of this region before riding through rubber tree plantations back to the village. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant to try out the most delicious dish in the Phayao District. In the afternoon, take to the quiet back roads before joining the infamous route to Nan for the final leg of the day.
Dinner will be followed by a visit to the beautiful Wat Phumin and night market.
Overnight in Nan
Depart early in the morning for a journey along Nan’s incredibly natural roads. Cycle from the hotel through Nan’s sleepy town, witnessing portions of the old city and some ancient wats still exhibiting architecture dating back to the Lanna era. Cycle towards the Nan River, catching a glimpse of the early morning rowing team as they race their long boats accommodating as many as 60 rowers. From here, cycle to the border and say goodbye to the Thai team.
Cross the border from Thailand to Laos at Muang Ngeun, where our Laos cycling guide will be waiting. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before jumping on the bikes. The introductory ride to cycling in Laos will be a gradual climb before a downhill ride to Hongsa, where some spectacular rice fields await.
In royal times, Laos was originally called Lane Xang, or the “Land of a Million Elephants”. Hongsa is a region that, to this day, is still home to wild elephants and hosts the annual Elephant Festival. Before arriving to the night’s accomodation, make a stop at the unique, local temple of Wat Simungkhun, shrouded in local lore.
Arrive at Hongsa and check in to the Guesthouse. Freshen up before a stroll through town and dinner by the market.
Overnight in Hongsa
This morning, pack up the belongings and cycle out towards the capital of the region, Xayaboury. Today will be a challenging day, as the ride is comprised of Laos’ mountainous terrain.
The first 30kms of cycling will be a small but continuous climb before a steep downhill for 4 km. The remainder of the ride is mostly flat until reaching the Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury.
Located Southwest of Luang Prabang, Sayaboury is a beautiful (yet difficult to reach) mountainous province with peaks of more than 1,000 meters. While the area is mostly agricultural, it is also home to the largest population of elephants in Laos.
Several stops will be made on the route for both lunch and snacks, and there will be plenty of photo opportunities with the passing rice fields and mountain views.
Arrive to Nam Tien Lake, admiring the majestic views dotted with islands and untouched tropical forest. From the pier, take a long boat to the Elephant Conservation Center (ECC). The staff will be waiting upon arrival to assist with check in at the bungalow-style accommodation.
Before dinner, walk the elephants to their nightly resting ground. During the experience, witness the unique bond between the mahout and his elephant and learn some interesting information about the biodiversity of the protected forest.
Enjoy the views from the lookout point, go for a swim in the lake or pay a visit to the museum. During meal time, there will be a chance to ask the experienced staff any questions; alternatively, soak up the beautiful surrounding views.
Overnight at the ECC
Begin the day meeting up with the elephants in the forest. After spending the night grazing in the jungle, it’s time to help the elephants with their bath. Stroll alongside the magnificent creatures into the water with a variety of hands-on activities available.
After the elephants have reached their fill of the water, head to the socialization area. This is an area where the elephants can freely interact and enjoy living in a semi-natural environment. Follow the guide around the perimeter to learn more about the elephants. This rare opportunity offers some unique insight into the elephant’s natural life, an experience very exclusive to this centre.
Lunch is served at one of the viewing platforms. Following the forest picnic, visit the resident mother and baby (calf) at the nursery. The mother’s mahout stays close by while she and her baby have a bath and play. Afterwards, board a boat for a trip back to the centre in time to see the afternoon bath. Meet the resident veterinarian or biologist as they conduct a target training session on ‘positive reinforcement’. Following the elephants’ lesson, walk them back to the forest.
If time allows, there may be some time to discover a sacred Buddha footprint in the forest. During the hike, learn about the local customs and be amazed by the beauty of the forest and landscapes. During the trek in the protected area, the guide will teach about the different uses of surrounding plants.
Overnight at the ECC
For early risers head into the forest to say goodbye to the elephants and help walk them over to the centre for a morning treat.
Enjoy a final breakfast and pack up for the ride to the northeast.
Crossing the Mekong River, the day’s cycle includes a challenging 8km climb. After overcoming the most challenging part of the route, enjoy views of a charming and colourful landscape before a slow ride down to the village of Ka Cham.
Accommodation this evening will be inside this small town where Lao, Khamu and Hmong live harmoniously. The local resort is conveniently located by the Ka Cham Waterfall; enjoy a swim before sharing a typical Hmong dinner. Listen to the relaxing sound of the waterfall and get a well-deserved sleep before the following day’s final stretch.
Overnight at Tad Ka Cham Resort
Say goodbye to the local hosts and enjoy a last dip in the waterfall before departing for Luang Prabang, the famous UNESCO heritage town of Laos. The road will still have a few sharp turns and small steep climbs but will be mainly downhill.
Upon arrival to Luang Prabang, check into the hotel before the short ride to the 3 Nagas restaurant for lunch.
After lunch, embark on a half-day guided tour (by bike), discovering the rich cultural and historical heritage of the charming town. Begin the tour at the former Royal Palace (now the National Museum), offering some unique insight into the history of Laos. Continue to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief, and Wat Sensoukarahm, which features a beautiful dazzling golden façade. Next is Wat Xieng Thong, the most revered temple in Luang Prabang known for its ornate carvings and mosaics. Finish with a visit to the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre, a museum dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos’s ethnic minorities (note: closed on Monday).
Enjoy the evening at leisure in one of the numerous restaurants Luang Prabang has to offer. Visit the colourful night market on the main street and the multiple shops in the old town!
Overnight in Luang Prabang
After breakfast, hop on the bikes for the 72km round-trip ride on tarmac roads through the countryside to the beautiful Kuang Si waterfall. The ride is undulating but there are no serious climbs.
Upon arrival to Kuang Sii, visit the Free the Bears centre to learn about bear conservation and protection in Laos. Follow a jungle path amongst the lush rainforest to the main part of the waterfall for a photo opportunity and, weather permitting, take a swim in the cool turquoise pools.
Enjoy a local picnic lunch by Son Phao overlooking the cascades. After lunch, cycle back to Luang Prabang or return by private bus.
The rest of the day is at leisure. In the early evening, meet up in the lobby and transfer to the farewell dinner at one of Luang Prabang’s most famous restaurants, L’Elephant, for a memorable gastronomic meal.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
Enjoy the morning at leisure until transport is provided to the airport for the onward flight.
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