Cycle & explore the highlights of Northern Thailand
Join the ultimate cycling exploration of northern Thailand on this 9-day tour that takes you from the sites of Chiang Rai, through rural mountain landscapes and the lush forests of national parks to the city of Chiang Mai. Discover impressive Buddhist landmarks by bike, enjoy breathtaking views, and fully immerse yourself in northern Thailand’s spectacular nature on your active holiday.
This bike tour runs from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai.
Our cycling journey through northern Thailand begins in the city of Chiang Rai, home to the famous White Temple which we will cycle to visit. With that and an exploration of the local night market, we’ll hop on our bikes and ride to the dramatic Chiang Dao mountain where our efforts will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views. Here we’ll have the chance to pedal our way through Pha Daeng National Park, past impressive limestone karsts and refreshing waterfalls.
The exploration continues with a ride to the sloping landscapes of Maetang, where we’ll have the chance to learn about a carefully-chosen elephant sanctuary and make the most of our surroundings with treks, waterfall visits, and the opportunity to zipline or raft on nearby rivers.
From here we make our way on two wheels to Chiang Mai, perhaps the most well-known northern Thailand city. We’ll delve into the local culture with a food tour that showcases the highlights of this flavorful (and often spicy!) cuisine, a tour of a local botanical garden, and visits to the spiritual sites of Doi Suthep and the Monk’s Trail. This tour encapsulates the best of the Chiang Mai region and provides the opportunity to make genuine connections with friendly locals, great riding and plenty of picturesque landscapes.
For tours commencing from Dec 20 to Jan 5, and Apr 13-16 there is a peak season surcharge of 5% on the price of this tour due to hotel rate increases at this time of year.
9 days duration
325 km distance
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
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Quality, well maintained Merida mountain bikes in a full range of sizes are included in your tour, fitted with hydraulic disc brakes, hybrid tyres for touring. Handlebar bags for your personal possessions and a reusable sports bottle are also provided.
The hotels we use are a great, and sometimes unexpected, part of this tour. In the larger cities and established tourist centres we use stylish and supremely comfortable hotels and resorts, while in the smaller and more out of the way areas we stay in the best available accommodation, which is often simple yet always well run, clean and comes with air-conditioning and a private bathroom.
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 6+ 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 in case you want a break from riding, and to carry your luggage.
Thai food is internationally famous, and for good reason. This trip is as much about food as riding with all the best of Thai food provided throughout the trip. 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 and electrolyte drinks are 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 14
This tour is guaranteed for a minimum of just 2 travellers. And we limit the group size to only 14 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.
This tour is 100% operated by Grasshopper Adventures. The guides are our full time employees, the hotels booked by our local office staff, and the bikes are part of our fleet of over 300 bikes. We are not outsourcing any element of this tour so you can be assured of 100% Grasshopper quality.
for Kingdoms of the North
Arrival and First Ride of Chiang Rai
Welcome to Chiang Rai! We’ll start our tour by meeting in the lobby at 10 am ready to head out and explore this interesting Northern city. Our loop ride along the Kok river takes us pedaling through the region's bucolic countryside, past coffe and tea plantations, local communities and riverside fields.
We'll stop for a quick look at the local pineapple market, with produce so fresh from the surrounding farms that it often sells out early in the day! Our first day's ride drops us right back at the hotel door and you can spend the afternoon at your leisure. Tonight we’ll enjoy the first of many delicious Thai dinners after a walking tour of the lively Night Bazaar.
Explore Wat Rong Khun & The Roastery
We’ll start off the morning with a ride through the backroads and fields, pedalling to the city’s iconic White Temple. Wat Rong Khun, constructed in 1997, is an unconventional piece of Thai architecture that looks like something out of an ice kingdom and is sure to spark your interest. After our visit, we’ll hop on the bikes again and ride out to Singha Park. This place is extremely popular with the Thai community and will give you a snapshot of the fun lifestyle modern Thais' live.
In the afternoon we will visit a locally based coffee house known as The Roastery, where we'll meet the owner, who has not only built a successful business but is deeply passionate about helping local hill tribes communities start sustainable coffee plantations. He'll take us through the growing and roasting process, and everything that goes into making a great coffee.
Boat to Tha Ton, Cycle & Transfer to Chiang Dao
Your morning begins with a longtail boat transfer up the Kok river avoiding the hilliest terrain outside of Chiang Rai to Tha Ton district, this is the perfect time to sit back and enjoy the scenery as your guide shares more about the surrounding region. From here we mount the bikes and head south, reaching further and further into Thailand’s rural landscapes, riding through local communities on quiet roads surrounded by greenery.
A nourishing lunch is followed by a transfer through the hills to our destination, the mountainside town of Chiang Dao. In the evening we'll enjoy a good meal made with fresh local ingredients and meet a local beer brewer to sample some of his amber goodness.
Transfer & Ride to Mae Rim
Today is the day the mountains of Northern Thailand truly shine! We begin with a transfer into the hills of the Araksa Tea Plantations for a cup of their finest brew to settle ourselves for the ride ahead. Astride your wheels today we'll be exploring the district of Mae Taeng, our ride consists of several short sharp hills, but don't be afraid to put in a solid effort today as tomorrow we have a day off the bikes to enjoy the mountain tranquilty. A support van is always on hand, as it is throughout the tour, if you feel like giving your legs a rest. Our ride concludes with a final climb into Mae Rim and the door of our impressive mountainside accommodation.
Activity Day Mae Taeng or Optional Rest Day
On our day off the bikes in the hills of the Chiang Mai province, you'll have the opportunity to seek out some more active adventure, whether it be trekking through the bamboo forests, white-water rafting, or ziplining through the jungle. You could also take advantage of the breathtaking surroundings with a hike to a nearby waterfall for a blissful swim.
Alternatvely you can use this day to rest and recharge. Our chosen resort has many recreational faciliities to take advantage of including a large swimming pool overlooking the valley where you can spend the morning soaking in the views. There is also a spa where you can pamper yourself with a traditional Thai massage or any number of their available treatments. The day is yours to enjoy as you wish.
Cycle to Chiang Mai
Let’s saddle up on our bikes and start the ride to Chiang Mai! Today the hills are in our favour as we pedal down to meet the scenic Ping River. From here the route is quite flat and a welcome respite from the previous climbing, allowing you to enjoy the views from over your handlebars.
Upon our arrival in Chiang Mai, we’ll check into our delightful resort before taking part in an afternoon cooking class and getting truly hands-on with traditional northern Thai cuisine. This is an experience that keeps on giving, in addition to enjoying all the delicious dishes you prepare, you can take your new-found skills home with you and share your favourite Thai specialities with family and friends.
Chiang Mai Exploration & Food Tour
Today we’ll make our way on two wheels through the surroundings of Chiang Mai, cycling through the countryside, over mild hills to a botanical garden. After a tour of the botanical garden’s vibrant hues and sweet fragrances, we will make our way back along scenic roads to the hotel, where you'll have time to enjoy the pool or another well-earned Thai massage before our evening activity.
Tonight we give our tastebuds a workout on a food tour of the city, and you'll likely have worked up a healthy appetite from today's adventures! We’ll make our way through this famous northern city to hole-in-the-wall local restaurants, markets, and bars to try authentic dishes such as red curry, spicy papaya salad, classic pad thai, and mango sticky rice. Is your mouth watering yet? Along the way, we’ll meet countless friendly Thai locals, likely curious about your adventures, and will have the opportunity to trade stories with these people in the “Land of Smiles”.
Ascend Doi Suthep & Nature Walk
Today we have a bit of a climb in store as we tackle the route up Doi Suthep, a landmark mountain that stands over Chiang Mai and offers incredible views of the city down below. Although this ascent will work out the leg muscles, you'll be rewarded with one of Chiang Mai's most famous and culturally significant sites, the beautifully ornate Wat Phra That Doi Suthep pagoda and panoramic views over the city!
After exploring the site we can enjoy a nature walk in one of Thailand’s national parks and possibly sample some mountain-grown coffee before a transfer back down the hill.
Hike & Bike Activities and Tour Conclusion
Hike & Cycle options
Those feeling spritely before checkout have the option to hike the Monk’s Trail: an enchanting 2.5 hour round-trip where the route is marked by trees wrapped in the signature orange robes of Thailand’s Buddhist monks.
The tour concludes upon checkout from our Chiang Mai resort. Your guide is happy to assist you in making further travel arrangements, or you are welcome to join any Grasshopper day tour in Chiang Mai for further bike exploration of the city and surrounds.
What's the Riding Like?
7-8 days riding
There is no hiding it, Northern Thailand is a hilly place. Having said that, in designing this tour, we have balanced the most scenic riding with the most achievable of the hills and then through optimal use of the support vehicles, we’ve set you up for the best riding without too much in the way of climbing. You can expect some uphill, more downhill and quite a lot of undulating, rolling hills. If you would like to know more, request an elevation profile from our team.
The riding days on this trip are designed so that you will finish riding with plenty of time to enjoy the destinations in the afternoon and enjoy plenty of rest so you can enjoy the next day. The hillier days are shorter in distance than the flatter ones. For the most part, you’ll be riding on tarmac, but in places, we do enjoy some hard-packed, unpaved roads, mostly when we are in the remote reaches through the hilltribe villages. At least 90% of this ride is on tarmac and we have some nice light bikes in the form of fixed fork, flat bar hybrids. We also have an upgrade option available with road bike style, drop handlebars. Ask our team for more information.
Coolest time: Nov-Feb
Wettest time: Jun-Oct
Dec-Jan & Jul-Aug
Central, North & Northeast Thailand
This region of Thailand has three seasons: 'the cool', 'the hot' and 'the wet'. November to February is cool and dry (sometimes even chilly in the far north), with temperatures starting to rise in March to reach a peak in late April and May. The onset of the rains, in late May, helps to bring temperatures down, with showers being generally heavy but short.
What our guests tell us...
Just a selection of our Thailand reviews!
Woody ensured we ate in local restaurants with excellent hygiene and western toilets! The route took us to WW2 places such as the River Kwai Bridge, Hellfire Pass and war cemeteries. A very moving and once in a lifetime experience. Although we were not seasoned cyclists by any stretch of the imagination...We cannot recommend them enough
We will definitely be back and are planning on the 5 day tour from Bangkok to Koh Samui for 2019.
Thanks Grasshopper Tours and of course Woody
Extremely well organised guided tour from hotel choices, knowledgeable guides, superb support vehicle & team and good quality bikes. Everything you need!
Best bike tour ever!! We did the “Bridge over River Kwai” bike tour with our 13 year old son. We had a blast!!! Our guide Kan was the best. He was very friendly & accomodating. He made our bike tour fun and memorable. We also had the best driver, Ed. Ed was very helpful and kind. He even offered his place for us to shower before we head to the airport for our flight. Thanks so much Kan & Ed. Thanks Grasshopper Adventures. Thanks also Ging for helping us with our booking. We will surely cycle again with you :)
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