Cycle and boat the roads and rivers of Northern Laos, a place like no other in Southeast Asia. This trip runs Luang Prabang to Luang Prabang.
The territory north of Luang Prabang is some of the most stunning in
South East Asia. From the valley that is home to the Mekong over to the
Nam Ou River and the mountains in between, this ride a
great insight into Northern Laos.
We ease into the adventure with a cruise up the Mekong River and then spend two days pedaling through the valleys of the north. We’ll enjoy another scenic boat ride, this time on this stunning Nam Ou river down to the lovely town of Nong Khiaw, and then we cycle down to Luang Prabang. The rides are all achievable on mostly rolling hills and no sustained climbing. This fantastic bike and boat journey offers the opportunity you to take in the beauty of northern Laos, meet some locals, and take some photos to remember your adventure.
5 days duration
245 km distance
Difficulty: Somewhat challenging
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
What makes Grasshopper so special?
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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.
The area through which we are travelling is not known for its luxurious accommodation, however you can always expect a clean bed in a well run hotel or guesthouse, with air-conditioning or fan (as the temperature dictates) 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 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 Northern Laos Discovery
Boat to Pak Beng
A river boat is our mode of transport today. 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. Or you may enjoy just gazing 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.
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 one of gentle ups and down with 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.
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 will enjoy a prepared luch aboard the boat before arriving at our destination of Nong Khiaw, the afternoon is then yours to explore this picturesque village in the shadow of limestone karst cliffs.
Cycle & Transfer to Luang Prabang
A transfer is needed this morning to pass by a busy section of road. Then we hit the bikes and ride an undulating route that follows the path of the Nam Ou River. There are a few more challenging hills towards the end of the ride before we reach the lunch point. From there, the plan is to drive into Luang Prabang, but if you still have the energy, it is possible to ride the whole way in. The tour concludes at the door of your guesthouse or hotel in Luang Prabang.
What's the Riding Like?
3 days riding
The road on this ride is all paved. In places this can be damaged and may have reverted to hard paced dirt, but there is no "off-road" riding in this trip. We aim for secondary roads wherever possible, but given that Laos doesn't have many primary ones to start with, we are somewhat limited in that regard. 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 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...
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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.
Cycle the Jewel of Asia over mountains, alongside rivers and past remote hilltribe villages...
A great introduction to Northern Laos by bike and boat, explore beautiful Luang Prabang and peaceful Nong Khiaw...