Cycling from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang

Company contributor Spice Roads

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Connecting the two magical cities of Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang, this journey starts in the northern part of Thailand, a mountainous region bordering Burma and Laos, punctuated by the mighty Mekong River. The area has been baptised the “Golden Triangle” with a history as colourful as the people that inhabit it.


” This tour is a challenging journey through the remote hills of northern
Thailand and Laos. Starting in the bustling and energetic Chiang Mai, we
take dirt tracks north to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle before heading
into Laos and down the mighty Mekong River to Luang Prabang. Traveling by
boat as well as bicycle, this tour gives you a unique glimpse into rural
Thailand and Laos. “


We begin our trip in Chiang Mai with a nice and easy ride along the Ping River to get accustomed to riding in Thailand. Then we transfer to the Chiang Dao caves to the start of our ride through rice fields and among soaring limestone cliffs before hitting the dirt. 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.

The ride to Mae Salak is one of the most scenic on the trip and a real pleasure. We visit a Jakhu village and take a boat ride to pick back up on our ride to Chiang Rai where we visit Wat Rong Khun, White Temple. Created by a local artist this modern temple stands out for its distinctive style.


We cross into Laos by a private riverboat, cruising downstream into the interior of this enigmatic country to Pakbeng. Setting off on our bikes from Pakbeng we follow along the Beng River, into the north of Udom Xai province where the broken road and dirt tracks double as thoroughfares for the local people (the population here is made up of an astonishing 23 ethnic groups), sharing the trail with all manner of colourful vehicles and livestock – a glimpse of real rural life in Asia.

We cycle through the central highlands with spectacular views across the rugged mountain landscape ahead in an area that suffered extraordinarily heavy bombing during the ‘Secret War’ against the Americans during the early 1970s.


After a boat ride down the Nam Ou River to the pleasant town of Nong Khiau, we then ride along the river, stopping at at Pak Ou to visit the famous caves, which are crammed with sacred Buddha images. Our countryside scenic ride continues to our destination, the town of Luang Prabang. This is one of Asia’s most picturesque towns, and our ride through the streets is an unforgettable experience.

This trip has four days in excess of 100 km, however most days are around 70-80 kms and not too hilly except for day 2 and 7 which have several climbs. Anyone who is reasonably fit will find the tour to be a good cycling holiday, with some challenging days. Fitness, of course, will be helpful but the tour is fully supported and the bus is always close at hand.


Along the way the scenery is constantly changing: we go from narrow roads shaded by jungle vines to shimmering rice paddies. The mountain views are second to none and on several mornings you will look down into cloud-filled valleys as you ride.
Tour Details:

Upcoming departures:

2015: Oct 25, Nov 22, Dec 20

2016: Jan 3, Jan 31, Mar 6, May 29, Oct 16, Nov 13, Dec 18

Cost: US$2,700 pp

Duration: 11 days / 10 nights

Days cycling: 7 full / 2 half

Cycle distance: up to 700 km


Spice Roads


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