Epic Ride from Nan to Luang Prabang

9 Days, 8 Nights

Venture from the jungle-clad peaks of Chiang Rai, across the golden Triangle, before winding down into Nan and across the Mekong River into Ngan Kieu, finally reaching Luang Prabang. This journey follows a remote route that few tourists see, and explores a region of Thailand and Laos where villages seem lost in time and the mountains’ climbs, ridgelines, and descents seem endless.

Trip Highlights

  • Witness the morning mist rise off the Mekong river at Phu Chi Fa, Golden Triangle
  • Experience remote world first villages Thai Luen, Akka, Mien (Yao), Hmong tucked in lush valleys and around limestone karsts
  • Explore UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang with its glittering temples and small art houses
Price
$2650 USD per person
Trip Activities
Cycling, boating
Trip Length
9 Days, 8 Nights
Physical Level
Avid
Start/End
Chiang Rai, Thailand / Luang Prabang, Laos
Accommodation
Hotel (8 nights)
Age
Minimum 16 years of age
Meals not included
Lunch, Breakfast Day 1
Lunch, Dinner Day 9
Flights Included
None

Day-by-day Itinerary

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Day 1
Activities
None
Transfers
  • Van: 0.25
Description

We will meet in the lobby of the at Nak Nakara Hotel in Chiang Rai at 5:00 PM. Meet your fellow cyclists, our guide will go over the nitty gritty of the trip, and then we are off for dinner – Thai of course!

Meals
  • Dinner
Accommodation
  • Nak Nakara Hotel
Day 2
Activities
  • Cycling: 65 km
Transfers
  • Van: 2.5
Description

Starting early, we have a 7:30 departure from the hotel to drive up to Phu Chi Fa. This plateau is rather well known in Thailand for the view of the morning mist off the Mekong river that is the border between Thailand and Laos. It is a short walk to the cliffs edge, for a breathtaking view.

Our team will be waiting with bikes and snacks at the ready. This is a mellow ride today with a great decent off the plateau into the rich rice growing region of the Thai Luen people. We have included a stop at Da’s house, a 60 year old traditional Thai Luen home. It is both a living museum and her home. The above ground kitchen with an open fire and handled gourds for ladles are rather unique. And her loom work is worth seeing, but it is her warmth that is the highlight of the visit.

This afternoon, enjoy lunch poolside, then relax in this surprisingly decedent and peaceful boutique Rico Resort. Built in the rice paddies, with both pool and tennis courts, it is a touch of luxury at no expense – so indulge!

This evening there is no need to put on shoes, simply walk 20 meters from your room to dine open air on some of the best seasonal vegetable curries, BBQ chicken and pork with spicy dipping sauces, and endless fresh fruit.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Rico Resort
Day 3
Activities
  • Cycling: 101 km
Transfers
None
Description

After breakfast, we are back on the bike. Todays ride is tough, spectacular, and one you won’t forget. The first 28 km of the ride is mostly flat. Then at the small village of Akka, Hmong, and Mien (Yao) people, the road climbs 15 km. There is a flat section at the top for 10 km, with a few small hills. As you crest the summit, there is a gradual decent for a few km. This is a good spot to enjoy a picnic lunch that we will have ready. Then the decent becomes steeper for the next 3 km.

Then ride through the picturesque village of Ban Sakern. Here they grow passion fruit and lychee. There is a poignant climb for 2 km up to 20% grade. From here it rolls up and down for the next 27 km to Song Kwae. The next 24 km is easier with some rolling hills into Chiang Klang.

Tonight we have a funky Thai modern style hotel, the Sang Thong Resort. Rooms are small but bright with polished cement floors. There are two pools to cool off. And the restaurant has a great view of the mountains and rice paddies – it also has spiderman, life-size, hanging upside down from the ceiling of the bar. Don’t miss the gelato!!

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Song Thong Resort
Day 4
Activities
  • Cycling: 50 km
Transfers
None
Description

This morning we have a 2 hour drive to the Lao border. Here we will say goodbye to the Thai team. With 2 passport photos, and 40-60 USD in hand, and your passport valid at least 6 months in the future; walk through the Thai and Lao immigration offices. The visa on arrival process takes about 30 minutes. Fees vary by nationality.

Once out of the Lao immigration office, our Lao team will be there to welcome you. We will have our picnic lunch shortly after crossing the border and after that we’ll start cycling. There’s another 50 km and a few more mountain passes to cross before we reach Pakbeng. The road is by Lao standards quite good, it’s built by the Thais. The area is not densely populated, but there are a few villages along the way. Some will be Hmong, others Khmu. Warning: Both hotel and dinner will not be as good as the passed days. Pakbeng is like that.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Mekong River Lodge or Phetsokxai Hotel
Day 5
Activities
  • Cycling: 99 km
Transfers
  • Van: 1.5
Description

There’s a long trip to do today, in total 144 km to Udom Xai. The road follows the Beng River and we are surrounded by a wide valley with rice paddies and corn fields. Some forest and mountains, but not very much. The road is undulating a great part of the way, but no major mountains. There are even stretches where it’s quite flat. Population is mixed, Lao, Khmu and Hmong (get used to the name Khmu. Biggest ethnic minority in Laos). Lots of villages along the road.

We will most likely need to transfer some of the way. We’ve got our vehicles for the purpose. Can you suggest a section of the ride? Could we shuttle directly in the morning say 50 km and then ride the rest? I would start with riding and then transfer when need occurs. The further north the more traffic and less rural feel. 

The road follows the Nam Beng River and it’s undulating, but no major mountains to cross. The landscape is pleasant with a good opportunity to see villages and rural life. Picnic lunch on the way.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Charming Lao Hotel
Day 6
Activities
  • Cycling: 102 km
Transfers
None
Description

Today is a quite easy 102 km ride to Muang Khua. The first 25 km is a bit hilly, but after that most of the way goes flat along a river. It’s a beautiful landscape, more mountainous and less populated than the first day. The landscape this day is more pristine than the day before and we are surrounded by higher mountains. There are a few Khmu villages along the road, all more remote than what we’ve seen the previous days. Muang Khua is a very little sleepy town at a river crossing where life is traditional and typical for countryside Laos. Worth taking a walk before dark. Sometimes we might spot ethnic women dresses colourful. Tribes like Akha, Black Thai and Hani are around here and it’s one of the few parts of Laos where you actually see ethnically dressed people. Dinner in a local restaurant.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Sernnaly Hotel
Day 7
Activities
  • Boating: 5 hours
Transfers
None
Description

Today is an easy day. We go by boat down the beautiful Nam Ou, a very pleasant experience. We’ll pass by a village or two on the way to get an insight into remote rural life. We will arrive to Nong Kiau Riverside in the afternoon. This day will take us on the most remote part of our journey. We’ll access areas populated by small villages with no road access, and we will have the pleasure of exploring one or two of them. (The remoteness is only punctured when we pass the construction side of the Chinese dam). The population is an ethnic mix of Lao and Khmu.

Our lunch will be picnic on a riverbank. And enjoy dinner at the Nong Kiau Riverside Resort.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Nong Kiau Riverside Resort
Day 8
Activities
  • Cycling: 142 km
Transfers
None
Description

Our last day on the road in Laos. 142 km to go to Luang Prabang. No big mountains to cross, but a good undulating road. We will transfer the last part depending on when we get tired. The road follows the Ou River a good part of the way and we will ride in a more developed area than the previous days. It’s visible that we are approaching a major town. There are stretches where landscape is fantastic with high mountains at both sides.

Farewell dinner in nice French restaurant.  

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Sala Luang Prabang
Day 9
Activities
None
Transfers
  • Van: 0.33
Description

We wish you a happy onward journey! Transfer to airport, based on flight times.

Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
None

Trip Information

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Inclusions

Rove Certified Guide

An assistant guide for 11-15 cyclist, 2 assistant guides for 16+ cyclists

first aid supplies carried by each guide

A small set of bike tools carried by each guide

Air-conditioned support vehicle for transfer and to support rides

Main support vehicle will have spare parts

Bike, helmet, 1 biking water bottle per person

Plenty of water, snacks, and local fruits

Meals as mentioned in the itinerary

Entrance Fees

Accommodation as listed above.

Exclusions

Visa arrangement

International and domestic flights

Meals other than mentioned above

Alcoholic drinks

Guide(s) tips

Energy drinks or powders, performance bars, or performance gels (Gatoraid, Powerbars, Gue, Isostar, etc)

Personal Travel Insurance

Personal expenditure (Laundry, telephone)