Cycle the Jewel of Asia, over mountains, alongside rivers and past remote hilltribe villages. This trip runs Luang Prabang to Vientiane.
'Lao Lao' is a rice wine distilled locally in villages and while we don't suggest you consume it while cycling it does give a good idea of this trip - fun and tasty with the potential for a little bit of pain the next day.
One of the first tours launched by Grasshopper Adventures back in the day, it has seen some upgrades in accommodation standards and inclusions, and some of the routes have improved, but at the core, it is still the classic, essential, and highly enjoyable bike tour of Laos.
This is a great trip with wonderful variety and the cycling is spectacular. We ride along back roads and quiet highways, alongside rivers and over scenic limestone mountains. There are some climbs, but the stunning views and thrilling descents for a number of days through Hmong villages are ample reward for the effort.
The most dramatic addition to the updated version of the tour is a detour out to the Plain of Jars, an eerie and intriguing historical site where large carved stone jars are thought to have been used by the ancients as burial vessels.
The ride tapers towards the end as we enjoy some down, some flat and some gentler pedaling around the beautiful limestone karst landscape of the Vang Vieng area.
Peak Season Surcharge
For tours commencing from Dec 18 to Jan 4 there is a peak season surcharge of 10% on the price of this tour due to hotel rate increases at this time of year.
14 days duration
628 km distance
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
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Top quality, well maintained Merida, Giant or Trek (actual make of bike may vary) mountain bikes in a full range of sizes are included in your tour, fitted with hybrid tyres for touring. Handlebar bags for your personal possessions and a comfortable saddle are also provided, with a women's specific version available.
6 out of 13 nights are in quality 4 star boutique hotels. We have 3 nights in charming eco-style lodges and just 4 nights in more adventurous, local guest house style accommodation. All have private bathroom and air-conditioning where required.
An experienced English speaking, local leader will host you on this trip who is well spoken, very well informed, and charming. Our leaders are often cited as being the main highlight of the tour. We use local leaders who have a passion for their country and are always well informed on topics ranging from history, politics, cuisine and importantly local customs and cultures. Our leaders will take pride in introducing you to every aspect of their country and will help you to connect with the villagers you meet along the way.
For groups of 5+ people a bike mechanic will join the group. Whilst not a master of linguistics, our technical team always make an effort to form a bond with the group and provide not just mechanical support, but additional encouragement to those who may find themselves at the back of the group. Our drivers support the group by ensuring that the freshest fruit and tastiest snacks are picked up along the way.
An air conditioned backup support vehicle is always available for tired riders and to carry your luggage.
Amazing Lao meals are included throughout the tour. Lao food is an adventure in itself. The emphasis is on freshness and the use of a well balanced mix of vegetables. Meat is eaten not as the centre piece of a meal, but in harmony with the rest of the ingredients. Fish plays a big part in the Luang Prabang diet, while mountain dwellers tend to eat more root vegetables and poultry. In any case, there is something for everyone. Included meals are listed in the day by day itinerary, and drinking water is always included with meals. Any soft or alcoholic drinks are not included and will be at your own expense.
Energy bars and local snacks are provided to keep your energy levels up for the riding, and clean water is always available to keep you well hydrated.
Take It Home
A beautiful souvenir Grasshopper cycling jersey is yours to wear and take home. We also provide a Grasshopper drink bottle as an extra memento.
2 to 10
This tour is guaranteed for a minimum of just 2 travellers. And we limit the group size to only 10 travellers so that you get all the attention you want in an intimate group.
There is no surcharge for single travellers - we will match you with another same sex single traveller. If you want a single room there is a an optional upgrade that you can book.
for Lao Lao
Arrival Day in Luang Prabang
As you touch down at one of South East Asia's smallest international airports, you'll be met by a smiling driver who will take you to your charming and comfortable accommodation just near the town area of Luang Prabang. The group will meet in the late afternoon with your guide for a briefing on the tour, a chance to try out the bikes, and then for a delicious, authentic Lao meal. Meals: D
Cycle Luang Prabang
It's time for an introduction to Luang Prabang. First an early rise to make an alms offering to the procession of monks and novices who will pass by the hotel door at dawn. Then it's onto the bikes to explore the town area and to get an introduction to the geography, history and architecture of the heritage listed zone. We take a walk through the produce market where your guide will be able to explain all the weird and wonderful items on sale. After a coffee in the town's oldest coffee shop, ride up past two important temples and alongside the Mekong River. Encounter small workshops along the way producing decorative paper, pictures, and even the famous Lao Lao rice wine. It's then time for a spell off the bikes as we drift downstream on a boat. We dock nearby Ock Pop Tok to learn about the life of silk from the worm to the scarf and everything in between. A tasty lunch tops off a great morning and the afternoon is then yours to relax and enjoy this lovely town. Meals: BLD
Kuang Sii Hike & Bike
55km cycling & walking
In the gradual buildup that is our bike tour, we head out on a pleasant ride to the Kuang Sii Waterfall. This is a relatively easy ride with just two sustained hills on a paved surface. After clearing the town the road takes you through some lovely villages and up through teak plantations with the Mekong on your right. We reach the waterfall late morning and after visiting the inquisitive crowd of Asiatic black bears at the Free the Bears enclosure, there is some time for a swim in beautifully refreshing, aqua water before lunch. After some time to digest our meal, it's time for a hike. It's a relatively easy walk, but a great experience as we climb up through the lush forest surrounding the waterfall and then along a forested ridge. After two hours walking, we arrive in a Hmong Village where our bikes are waiting. Then it's time for a great, mostly downhill ride back to Luang Prabang. Meals: BL
Boat to Pak Beng
Today is a day off the bikes, but a highly enjoyable one all the same. We ride a comfortable, wooden boat known as "The Slow Boat" up the Mekong River. It's a full day cruising, so a good book, perhaps a pack of cards and all your best travel stories are on the packing list. If you forget to pack any of these, you can just gaze out the window at the stunning landscape that awaits you at every turn. You'll see water buffalo being bathed, fish being caught and plenty of kids doing backflips into the small pools on the side of the river. If you are really lucky you might even see an elephant or two as they come down for a bath from the forest. We arrive into Pak Beng late afternoon. This is one of those mandatory transit hubs as boats cannot make the full distance between the Thai border town of Chiang Khong and Luang Prabang in a day, so everyone stops here for the night. We are in one of the better accommodation establishments where we can enjoy a drink overlooking that fascinating river while the sun bids us farewell. Meals: BLD
Cycle & Transfer to Oudom Xai
As the mist lifts off the hills and the roosters are in full swing we set out on our bikes to pedal our way out of the valley and away from the Mekong for the time being. Through the day we ride through some lovely scenery of rolling hills which are forested or farmed for corn, and punctuated by small villages where homes are often made only of bamboo and leaves. In some of these villages the women practice the art of silk weaving as a way to supplement the family's farming income. After lunch we drive to reach the trade town of Oudomxai. This town is located on the busy trade route from China and hence many cheap manufactured goods are for sale, and the traders can be found in restaurants serving Chinese favourites. Meals: BLD
Cycle to Muang Khua
Today we have the satisfaction of riding door to door. After a couple of steep, but relatively short hills to start us off, we find ourselves on a road that follows a small river. The beauty of this is that the road is therefore one of gentle ups and downs. As we are going downstream, there are more of the downs than ups. We pass through a number of small villages that have only just started to see regular passing travellers since the extension of the route into Vietnam has been completed. The small town that we call home for the evening was until quite recently almost a dead end and a very remote place. This is still evident and it is early days, so it's still just a small village on a nice river. Meals: BLD
Boat to Nong Khiaw
We awake next to the beautiful Nam Ou River. The hills will likely be shrouded in mist so it takes some time to heat up here. A boat awaits us (one of smaller scale than our Mekong boat) and this will take us on our four hour journey south west along this beautiful river. We arrive into our destination of Nong Khiaw before lunch and the afternoon is then yours to explore this picturesque village in the shadow of limestone karst cliffs. Meals: BD
Cycle & Transfer to Luang Prabang
The first part of the ride today is the most enjoyable as we continue along the Nam Ou, then leave it behind to climb out of the valley a little. We then join a larger road that takes us towards Luang Prabang. Another undulating day with a few more challenging hills towards the end of the ride. We board the vehicle late morning and drive into Luang Prabang, stopping for lunch along the way. We spend a final night in this lovely town before starting the journey to Vientiane the following day. Meals: BL
Cycle & Transfer to Phukoun
Cycling out of Luang Prabang we are faced with what is without doubt the most difficult day of cycling on this tour but also one of the most rewarding with two huge uphill climbs. We pass through lush forest and many small Hmong villages that sit dwarfed by the amazing landscape of limestone mountains that surround them. We stay the night in a small, junction village called Phukoun on top of the mountains. Few people stop here overnight so the accommodation is simple, but adequate. We do drive a section today to reach our destination and keep the ride achievable. Meals: BLD
Cycle to Phonsavan
Another challenging day, beginning with a descent, then back into the climbs. There is a lot of up, a lot of down and not a lot of flat, but this is the northern mountains of Laos, so it is what is to be expected. We are riding today into Xieng Khouang Province, home of the highest peaks in Laos and the Plain of Jars. We stay this evening in the town of Phonsavan. We do drive a section today to reach our destination and keep the ride achievable. Meals: BLD
Plain of Jars & Transfer to Phukoun
This morning we drive to mysterious Plain of Jars and explore by foot. These giant stone jars are distributed over an extensive area through an upland valley. These impressive ruins were probably used as burial vessels or as part of burial ritual, and are thought to date back to the Iron Age. After a fascinating morning exploring the Plain, we drive back to Phukoun for another night in this little visited town. It may seem strange to be spending two nights in this out of the way place, but the previous day of riding and the day exploring the Plain will surely be worth it. And the views from here are truly jaw dropping. Meals: BLD
Cycle to Vang Vieng
There is that old saying, that what goes up, must... Anyway, today you get to enjoy something of a payoff for the climbing of the last couple of days. The main descent is a continual, very enjoyable 20km and the rest of the day continues on a similar trend, although there are some short sections where your need to have your climbing legs ready. We ride door to door today and expect to arrive into the infamous, but very beautiful, Vang Vieng in the late afternoon. Vang Vieng is famed as a chillout town and refuge of the homesick backpacker. A pizza may even be in order if you need a break from the rice. Meals: BLD
Cycle Vang Vieng & Transfer to Vientiane
Vang Vieng town may be a strange experience after being off in the remote villages for the last couple of weeks, but with only a few short pedal strokes, we find ourselves in some truly beautiful countryside where rice paddies are framed by jutting limestone karsts. We visit a lagoon for a swim and stop off at a cave along the way. We return to town just after lunch and have a shower before boarding the van for the drive into Vientiane. This evening is our final meal together. Meals: BLD
Conclusion of Tour in Vientiane
The tour concludes today after breakfast. If you are flying out today we will have a car ready to take you to the airport. If you are continuing your travels or making your way over the nearby border to Thailand please let us know of any assistance you may require. Meals: B
What's the Riding Like?
Very hilly terrain
9 days riding
The terrain is a mix of sealed and unsealed roads sometimes on the main roads but generally on secondary roads. Main roads in Laos are actually like a backstreet anywhere else due to the low number of vehicles on the road which is consistent with the country's low population. There are sustained climbs at times and some thrilling descents. There is always a support vehicle on hand to give you a lift if you need a break from the riding. This trip is for those who like their cycling but love their relaxed afternoons as well.
Coolest time: Nov-Mar
Wettest time: May-Sep
Our favourite: Jun-Aug
The coolest time of year is from November to March with temperatures rising to a peak in April and May. With the arrival of the rains in June temperatures drop, with rain falling mainly in the afternoons in short, heavy showers. September is the wettest month, although tropical showers can still occur into October. November brings a return to drier weather.
One of the greatest joys of cycling is the feeling of immediacy with the natural environment and scenery, of which Laos has plenty! Although the summer months are wet, this rain brings incredible clarity to the air, making those views even more spectacular and great for photographing. Also the odd shower is a nice way to cool down during a hot ascent...
Create Your Own Date
Don't see the date for this tour to suite your schedule? No problem - create your own date. Chose the dates that you would like to travel and as long as you are happy to open the tour to other people joining we will charge the standard tour price - no markups!
1. You must have booked and paid your deposit for travel dates that are at least 3 months in the future. This just gives us time to promote the trip and find other people to join you.
2. Create Your Own Date for this tour applies for bookings of two or more people only. If you are a solo traveller we can do our best to get a group for the dates you choose but we cannot guarantee standard pricing until we achieve a minimum of 2 people.
3. This offer is subject to availability. In peak season we may not have the capability to add tour dates to our already busy schedule.
What our guests tell us...
Just a selection of our great reviews!
Surpassed expectations - the group, the country and its people, the cycling and physical challenge, the food and accommodation and the value for money - all were outstanding.
Amazing culture, people, scenery and riding experience.
Amazing country and had a great experience with Grasshopper Adventures. I have already recommended them to several friends.
A great adventure and experience. Lor, the guide, was a great leader. Good ambassador for Grasshopper and Laos.
Other Multi-day Tours in Laos
We have an exciting range of cycling tours in Laos, both for families and the more general cyclist. Explore the country from north to south, or just concentrate on the beautiful areas in and around Luang Prabang. Discover the mysterious Plain of Jars, cool down on the Bolaven Plateau, or be wowed by the amazing scenery around Vang Vieng.
5 day tour in Laos
The Plain of Jars, Vang Vieng and Vientiane, via some of the most amazing scenery in SE Asia...
5 day tour in Laos
Explore in and around Luang Prabang & Nong Khiaw...