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8 Days | 7 Nights
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Cycling tour of the Land of a Million Elephants, Laos. Bicycle past stunning karst mountains, alongside rivers and through remote hill-tribe villages. This is our most comprehensive bike tour of Laos and an incredible way to discover the charm and beauty of this hidden gem with great cycling and beautiful sights.
Friendly Laos team
4 to 14
Comfortable hotels & resorts
'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.
This trip's cycling offers wonderful variety as we ride along the back roads and quiet highways, alongside rivers and past scenic limestone mountains. There are some short manageable climbs, but the stunning views and Hmong village scenery are ample rewards for the effort.
Most days you'll find yourself on undulating terrain, but there is a fair share of flat gentler pedaling along winding river roads and daily distances are moderate. When not exploring on the bikes we make use of boats or our own two-legs for some added variety to your adventure.
This trip offers a good mix of on and off-bike activities with a number of free afternoons to spend at your leisure, be it enjoying some well earned R&R or delving deeper into your new environment by exploring town or trying some optional suggested activities.
195 Km 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 some moderate climbs, but these are relatively short, and rolling terrain which is fun and achievable for anyone comfortable on a bike.
Hike above your Muang Xai resort to visit local villages and farms before taking a refreshing swim.
After a boat ride to Luang Prabang, explore the sacred caves of Pak Ou.
Join the monks giving alms in UNESCO World Heritage Luang Prabang for an amazing cultural experience.
Cycle to the aquamarine waters of the Kuang Si Waterfall for a dip in this idyllic spot.
We'll meet at the Vientiane Airport for our morning flight to Muang Xai. The route takes us over dramatic mountains and should have us arriving at our secluded resort in the hills nearby this small northern city by lunchtime. After lunch, check into your room and settle into the location. It is a lovely place to adjust to the climate and slow pace of life. There’s time for a bike fitting and a quick spin around the area to get comfortable on your new wheels and familiar with the surroundings. Evening drinks, followed by dinner provides the opportunity for a proper briefing and chance to meet your fellow travelers properly.
We set out on the bikes just after breakfast and ride an unpaved road over the hills to connect with a paved road that leads down to the next river, the Nam Ou. We won’t quite reach that river, but the ride is lovely, on undulating hills following a smaller tributary. We finish the ride at a market junction where we often see hill tribe folk who have come down from their villages to trade. We sample a few snacks here and then transfer back to the resort for a free afternoon. There are various activities and tools for relaxation that can be booked in advance, such as massage and yoga.
Let’s make the most of our beautiful surroundings with a morning hike, over the streams and then high up into the hills surrounding the resort. We’ll stop in on a number of villages to see first-hand how the local people in this area live. Subsistence farming, often slash and burn style, is prevalent here and through much of Laos. On the way back, water levels permitting, maybe we can have a dip in the fresh, cold waters of a stream before we arrive back in time for lunch at the resort and another free afternoon to spend at your leisure.
Start off your day with a morning ride through forests and past large, clear rivers in Muang Xai before we hop in a van for a transfer to the small riverside village of Pak Beng. Once here we’ll have the afternoon to take advantage of our off-the-beaten-path accommodation. This charming lodge faces the Mekong Elephant Park, and is an ideal starting point for many walking trails in the forest. If you wish to immerse yourself further in the culture, take a shot at Lao cooking with the hotel’s regional cuisine lessons or see a traditional dance show put on by a local primary school.
All aboard the boat to Luang Prabang! As we begin our cruise down the Mekong River we’ll have the chance to catch glimpses of rural riverside Lao river/village life. The journey takes most of the day, but far from being an ordeal, it’s a nice way to relax, look out for elephants on the riverbank, read a book and chat with your fellow travelers. As we near Luang Prabang, we’ll explore the sacred Pak Ou caves filled with thousands of Buddha relics left by devoted pilgrims.
Then it’s just another hour into the city, so we can expect to arrive at sundown. At the elegant, centrally located hotel, it's time for some drinks and a briefing on the city itself and then dinner together at an authentic and innovative restaurant nearby.
It’s a bright and early start today as we take to the streets of Luang Prabang to catch the traditional Monks Alms ceremony. The colorful daily procession is an iconic and revered local tradition, but the one they are happy to have visitors watch or even take part in, given you observe local etiquette. Your guide will make sure you’re well-versed on the appropriate attire and conduct for this unique daily ritual.
Having risen quite early, we'll return to the hotel for breakfast before hitting the road. Taking to the bikes, we’ll pedal to Wat Xieng Thong: Luang Prabang’s royal temple and one of Laos’ most important monasteries. From there, we’ll saddle up again and cycle to the local fresh market where your guide will clue you into the interesting produce for sale that you may not recognize.
We’ll refuel with a traditional Lao coffee at one of the city’s oldest coffee stalls, then continue our ride to a lesser-known temple and then along a riverside road to check out traditional ‘sa paper’ making and distillation of the country’s famous rice wine: Lao Lao. Don’t get too carried away with the sampling!
From there, we’ll board a boat that takes us down the Mekong to explore traditional pottery, then cross back to the other side of the river to see how silk is made at Ock Pop Tock. Our last stop of the day will be for a traditional lunch together. The evening is free for you to seek out whatever food you are craving in this vibrant city, with your guide happy to offer some suggestions.
The last ride of the trip and a highly enjoyable one. We start off by crossing the Mekong on a ferry. We ride out on a paved road to a riverside village south of town and stop here to learn about rice wine making. Then we hijack a local fishing boat and have them ferry us back to the eastern bank of the river.
From here we encounter a steep but relatively short hill to bring us to Kuang Si Waterfall. You may have heard about this place, but until you jump into the aqua blue, cool waters, you won’t understand how special it is. After a dip, we can visit the Free the Bears enclosure and see these mischievous creatures at work, trying to free their lunch from the obstacles that the carers set. Then it’s time for a bite to eat, probably a barbequed river fish, before we ride the undulating road back into town. Our final afternoon and evening together will be marked by a delicious meal, which will be a familiar thing by now.
Our tour concludes here in Luang Prabang after breakfast. If you are flying out, we will have a car ready to take you to the airport. Otherwise, your guide can assist you to move to wherever you need to.
Top quality, well maintained Cannondale CX3 mountain bikes in a full range of sizes are included in your tour. Handlebar bags for your personal possessions and a comfortable saddle are also provided, with a women's specific version available.
In Luang Prabang there are several quality hotel options and we have selected a superb property that delivers on comfort quality and service. The area we travel outside the city 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 knowledgeable, and charming. Our leaders are often cited as being the main highlight of the tour. We use local guides 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 while looking out for your safety and comfort at all times.
For groups of 5+ people, a bike mechanic will join the group. While not masters 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.
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 centerpiece 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.
4 to 14
This tour is guaranteed for a minimum of just 4 travelers. And we limit the group size to only 14 travelers so that you get all the attention you want in an intimate group.
There is no surcharge for single travelers - we will match you with another same-sex single traveler. If you want a single room there is an optional upgrade that you can book.
On this tour we provide Wahoo ELEMNT bike computers for additional navigational support. These are the latest in user-friendly navigation tech from Wahoo Fitness. With Wahoo devices you will be able to track your progress and monitor your route. Beyond their basic setup, the geek-cyclists will find Wahoo ELEMNTs to be excellent data mining devices allowing to measure almost any aspect of the ride.
This luxury resort situated in the protected forest area on the Nam Kat river provides spacious rooms, classic cultural elements of the Oudomxay region of Laos, and promotes environmental awareness. Take a swim with gorgeous forest views, or enjoy a variety of activities including trekking, ziplining, and exploring sky bridges.
Hidden in the lush jungle of Northern Laos along the banks of the Mekong River, this luxury resort offers large, elegant rooms with stunning views, world-class dining, and a pool with dramatic mountain views. Take advantage of activities on offer or just enjoy the serene surroundings.
Stay in the last residence of the Laos Royal Family in Luang Prabang, and enjoy luxury accommodation and idyllic surroundings. Check out the outdoor cinema, treat yourself to a spa day, or relax in the garden.
The itinerary was a very well planned gradual build up in the first week, with plenty of relax time, to a more demanding second week. The sections driven in the bus were well planned, and came at exactly the right places to get us where we wanted to be but still able to cycle.What a great trip. People, place, the total package all fabulous
Such and incredible experience with fantastic cycling, scenery and new friends! The tour was extremely well supported and professional, providing a safe and fun adventure for all!
See our Laos Travel Guide for more info.Follow this link for general travel information about Laos.
Read about Holly's experience in Landscapes of Laos.
Multi-day Cycling Tours Frequently Asked Questions
We get you off the beaten track with this tour through the untouched beauty of Lao nature, stopping along the way for some interesting cultural experiences and exploration of must-see sights. Nature lovers will be thrilled to hike around Muang Xai, cycle past clean rivers and tall trees and spend some time splashing around the waters of Kuang Sii. Enjoy comfortable, elegant accommodations along the journey as you pedal from Muang Xai to Luang Prabang on this active adventure.
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