Thailand and Laos cycling holiday

“This 15-day cycling adventure freewheels between palace-laden Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, through the mountain villages of Laos, and back over the border to finish with a bang in Bangkok.”


Chiang Mai | temples of Chiang Rai | Opium Museum in the Golden Triangle | Nam Tha River | Mekong River cruise | Tam Ting Caves | Kuang Si Falls | Luang Prabang night market | Vientiane | overnight train to Bangkok | Chao Phraya river walk

Description of Thailand and Laos cycling holiday

Cycling in Thailand and Laos snakes you through a vast variety of landscapes. This two-week trip starts and ends with the high-energy cities Chiang Mai and Bangkok, where busy working rivers and heaving night markets will keep you exploring till the early hours. But along the way, you’ll also get to escape into the Laos villages and mountains of Luang Namtha, where a 1,000-year-old way of life remains.

When you’re not cycling, there are some exciting ways to get you from A to B. A cruise from Pakbeng to Luang Prabang allows you to slow down and admire the peaks far above. And a mountain drive skips some tricky roads through Hmong villages. The final stretch is an adventure, too – you’ll leave the bikes behind and hop on an overnight train to Bangkok.

This Thailand and Laos cycling holiday covers good quality tarmac roads. It’s worth noting, though, that there are some tough climbs and long downhills thrown in there, making it a moderate to challenging cycling trip overall.
Responsible Travel, Travel Team

Travel Team

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19 Oct 2019
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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Thailand and Laos cycling holiday

Accommodation & Meals:
We use predominantly locally run accommodation, which contributes directly to the local community as staff are locally employed and locally produced or sourced goods are bought for the accommodation benefiting the wider community. Where meals are not provided, clients are encouraged to buy locally grown produce and try the abundance of fresh food being made. For example, your tour leader will point out the best markets in Bangkok and Luang Prabang and will be able to advise you on which dishes to pick and what they contain.

Local Craft & Culture:
At Luang Prabang Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center, clients have the opportunity to purchase fair trade souvenirs and handicrafts and to learn about their authentic methods of production. Through their livelihoods development program, ethnic minority artisans produce and sell handmade textiles, clothing, toys and accessories using handspun and natually dyed cottons, silks, hemp, bamboo and banana fibre. Currently, the program supports supplementary livelihoods for over 500 manufacturers and their families, primarily women, in 12 provinces of Laos.

Clients are encouraged to visit the Luang Prabang Bear Rescue Centre, which was established by the Free The Bears Fund in 2003 with the aim of rescuing the animals and educating the public about animal welfare issues. Most of the bears at the centre are Asiatic Black Bears (Moon Bears) that were illegally captured from the wild as young cubs – it is likely that they were destined for use in the traditional medicine trade. Here our tour numbers benefit this project by supplying funds through donations and other purchases which go towards the upkeep of this facility.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. During the trip we use separate leaders so that clients have a Thai leader in Thailand and a Laotian guide in Laos. This ensures that leadership skills and pay are not retained exclusively by one country and provides clients with first- hand knowledge of the culture, customs and history of the places they visit. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit.

UK Office:
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through engergy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.

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