Day 1 Hanoi Arrival ( D )
The group will be arriving throughout the day. Our hotel is set just a short distance from the vibrant old quarter in Hanoi, so a good starting point to stretch the flight weary legs. In the evening we will meet up for a group briefing on the adventure ahead and our first dinner together.
ATS Hotel 3 *
After a morning walk to see the buzz of activity taking place around the city, we drive to the far side of the Red River to take a ride through the countryside. We transfer by van along the dykes that partly formed the defense strategy of Hanoi but also protects from flooding. Most of the families in this area have lived in the same houses for generations. We enjoy a traditional lunch and then drive back to the city where we spend one more night.
Day 3: Hanoi – Mai Chau | 75 km ( B, L, D )
This morning we make an early start by car and head into the hills west of Hanoi. We pass through Hoa Binh and onto Mai Chau. Mai Chau is set in a picturesque valley with towering hills around it. Here, only 145meters above sea level live the ethnic tribe of the White Tai. We take an afternoon ride of the valley and will see rice cultivation in action as well as hand-made bricks being fired in cottage kilns and farmers hard at work tending to their crops and livestock. We finish the ride at the Lac villages where we enjoy a comfortable house and friendly family of Thai people to prepare us for the challenging ride tomorrow.
Day 4: Mai Chau – Quan Son ( Thanh Hoa province ) | 75 km ( B, L, D )
We start on the bike today near the Na Meo border (Vietnam) /Xam Nua (Laos). Lots of mountains to Xam Nua / Na Meo. But very nice landscape on both sides. We will climb our way out of the valley. We are on a well-made road today and we pass through some industrious small towns as we enter the more remote regions of the northwest. We have a couple of nice descents as we near our destination for the afternoon, Quan Son small town, a small town of little repute and a perfect place to enjoy some local interaction and real Vietnamese food.
Local Minihotel – Thuong Mai Mini hotel
Day 5: Quan Son – Na Meo border – Sam Neua, Laos | 55 km ( B, L, D)
After a hearty local breakfast, hit the road in the direction of Laos. Arrive at the border in the late morning and after clearing immigration, meet your Lao support crew who will have a picnic lunch waiting for you. In the afternoon, push on for a few more hours before boarding your comfortable support vehicle (if required) and driving into the next town, Sam Neua. Lao is a small country with small towns and a small population. The persistent din of Vietnam will have faded by now and you will be left with only the roosters to wake you the next morning.
Day 6: Sam Neua – Vieng Thong – Vieng Xai Caves | 75km ( B, L, D )
Today drive to the Vieng Xai Caves. These huge caves were home to around twenty thousand Pathet Lao communist fighters during the secret war of Laos. This war, termed secret because the US was not supposed to be engaged in combat in neutral Laos, was all part of the larger geo-political events and changes of the sixties and seventies. While the communist forces were being bombarded from the air by the CIA-funded Hmong Army, they used these caves as a refuge, complete with hospitals, schools, and underground villages. In the afternoon, we will drive to our next stop, Vieng Thong.
Day 7: Vieng Thong – Nong Khiaw | 85 km ( B, L, D )
Today, after a short drive, you will have a challenging ride ahead of you as you ascend and descend numerous times. The scenery of limestone karsts and forests, punctuated by small rivers and villages will be the reward for meeting this challenge. We arrive at the lovely Nong Khiaw in the late afternoon and can relax in a riverside guesthouse with a stunning view and a cool drink.
Day 8: Nong Khiaw – Rest day or trek to Muang Ngoi ( B, L, D )
Today is a day off the bikes. For those who would like to relax with a book by the river, the day is yours to do so. If you crave more action, then you can board a boat and travel upstream to Muang Ngoi, a small village accessible only by river. Here you can trek into the forest and pass through some of the most remote villages you can imagine. Mentioned by many as the highlight of their travels in Northern Laos, this is an activity that comes highly recommended.
Day 9: Nong Khiaw – Luang Prabang – Kayaking the Nam Ou | 65 km ( B, L, D )
After so much exercise for the legs, today your upper bodies will see some action, although, fairly gentle action. Kayak down the Nam Ou River with its densely forested banks. Along the way, children playing in the water will be surprised to see you and will yell out a warm Lao welcome. The river has some small rapids but anyone with basic skills in this area will be able to participate. Come ashore late morning and find your lunch prepared before driving into Luang Prabang, a World Heritage-listed city, set on the banks of the Mekong River. Overnight at the boutique guest house overlooking the Kham River.
Day 10: Luang Prabang ( B )
Full day free to enjoy the World Heritage town that you have visited before.
Day 11: Luang Prabang – Pak Beng | 55km ( B, L, D )
Today board another vessel on another river. Not just any river though, the Mekong River, that mighty stream coming from the Tibetan plateau. Travel by long, slow boat, a covered boat made from Teak Wood. There is lots of space to spread out and enjoy the journey as you pass through scenic gorges and valleys with dense forest, the occasional small village and, if you are really lucky, maybe elephants. Reach your destination for the evening, the small town of Pak Beng where travelers moving in both directions spend the night.
Day 12: Pak Beng – Oudomxai | 90 km ( B, L, D )
Depart the lodge while the mist still shrouds Pak Beng and, as you go, you will hear a small creek bubbling away in the gulley below you. You will gain height quite quickly coming out of the valley and into an open landscape of rolling hills where corn is the most popular crop. Pass countless small villages with cheering kids and, in the afternoon, you will pass an area known for silk weaving. Arrive in Oudom Xai after 150km of cycling. Oudomxai is not about to win any most beautiful town awards, but it does have a distinct character as it sits on a trade Intersection between China, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Day 13: Oudomxai – Luang Namtha | 60km ( B, L, D )
Cycle further north along the road to China. The ride is challenging with some longer hill climbs to contend with, but also some rewarding downhills. You are headed for the charming town of Luang Namtha, home to many ethnic minority groups and a great guesthouse on the river.
Day 14: Luang Namtha – Muang Sing | 45 km ( B, L, D )
Today take a short ride up to Muang Xing. Spend some time exploring the market here where you can see members of the Akha, Tai Lue, Tai Neua, Black Tai, and Mien tribes trading forest and agricultural produce. Take a walkout to some more remote villages to see how some of these people live in their home villages. Return to the tiny town of Muang Xing for the night.
Day 15: Muang Xing – Chiang Khong, Thailand | 55 km ( B , L , D )
Today spend your last day in Laos on the bikes, riding along a very well-built road over some larger hills with great descents. Drive the last section and find yourselves in Huay Xai, a border town with Thailand. This bustling border crossing at the Mekong River is the second busiest crossing in the country and is the way by which many foreign travelers enter Laos. Bid farewell to Laos and your Laos support team and head into the sleepy Thai town of Chiang Khong.
Day 16: Chiang Khong – Mae Chan | 85 km ( B , L )
The cycling between Chiang Khong and Mae Chan is very pleasant. The road follows the Mekong up to the ancient capital of Chiang Saen, close to the Golden Triangle where Laos, Burma, and Thailand meet. There are a few hills, but these will be mere bumps after what you have ridden through in Vietnam and Laos. As you leave the river and head south to Mae Chan there are some more sustained climbs. The road surface is mostly good and the distance is just a touch under 90km. It would be worth getting there early as the resort is quite special and a lovely place to wind down before.
Day 17: Mae Chan – Bangkok ( B )
Breakfast and transfer to airport for flight to Bangkok, ( You can connecting flight or stay more day in Bangkok ). End The Tour.
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