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Cycling Northern Thailand 16-day tour

Escape the bustling city of Chiang Mai and discover the beautiful countryside of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Bike uphill on some challenging roads and take in the stunning scenery of Mae Tang and Chiang Dao.  Chat with the local hill tribes and take a peek into the famous Chiang Dao caves. You can find everything in this 16-day cycling northern Thailand.

HIGHLIGHTS

Various activities on sites

  • Cycling & hiking through villages and meeting northern hill tribe people 
  • Explore several temples, meet with monks and local villagers
  • Cycling to Phu Chi Fa, the highest peak in Chiang Rai province. 
  • Climbing over the mountain passing Doi Phuka National Park, an expanse of evergreen mountainous parkland.

Unforgettable moments

  • Admire emerald-green rice plantations while cycling at a leisurely pace through charming villages. 
  • Meet face-to-face with the friendly Hmong hilltribe people and experience their peaceful way of life.
  • Stop by bustling local markets and appreciate norther Thailand’s charming local culture.

Nature exploration

  • Pass by stunning natural scenery along the Ping River. 
  • The amazing and peaceful scenery of the countryside of Thailand
  • The magical beauty of the forested mountains, waterfalls and stunning rice fields of Thailand

Culture experience

  • Learn about the culture & history of the Thailand in general and northern Thailand in particular
  • Learn about the traditional Thai cuisine while enjoying good food in here
  • Experience local culture & the life of Thailand's hill tribe people

Map

Detailed schedule

Day 1 - Welcome to Chiang Mai

Upon arrival at the airport, our guide & driver will pick you up and transfer directly to the hotel in center of Chiang Mai.
You are free to stroll around the city. Overnight in Chiang Mai

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Day 2 - Chiang Mai - Mae Rim

Have a hearty breakfast before the northern Thailand cycling journey begins. Leave the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai city and head to the countryside of Mae Jo. Pass by stunning natural scenery cycling along the Ping River. Admire emerald-green rice plantations while cycling at a leisurely pace through charming villages. Stop by bustling local markets and appreciate norther Thailand’s charming local culture.
Arrive at the Hmong Hilltribe Lodge late in the afternoon. Take some time to freshen up and relax for a bit. Then, enjoy a delicious dinner of local specialties while watching a traditional dance ceremony -sure to be a memorable experience!
Overnight Hmong Lodge, Mae Rim

Notes

Transfer from a small village to the Hmong Hilltribe Lodge: Up to 20 mins Cycling distance up to: 70km Difficulty: Easy

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Day 3 - Mae Rim - Mae Taeng

After breakfast in the morning, head out on foot for a short trek. Pass through dense untouched jungle and walk to Mae Khi Village, a traditional Hmong hilltribe settlement. Here, meet face-to-face with the friendly Hmong hilltribe people and experience their peaceful way of life.
Leave the resort and ride through the Nong Hoi Mountain Range. The day’s ride passes through local villages lined with traditional Thai-style homes en route to Mae Rim. Take several rest stops along the way to explore several temples, meet with monks and local villagers, and learn about traditional Thai cultures and customs.
Stop for lunch at a local restaurant before continuing on the final leg of the day’s cycling trip. Visit the gorgeous waterfalls of Bua Thong in Sri Lanna National Park for a refreshing stop along the way.
Upon arrival, check into the hotel and get some well-deserved rest in Mae Taeng.
Overnight Mae Taeng

Notes

Cycling distance up to: 70km Difficulty: Easy

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Day 4 - Mae Taeng - Chiang Dao - Fang

Depart Mae Taeng after breakfast in the morning and transfer over the high mountains of Chiang Dao before starting the day’s cycling trip. The first stop of the day is at the wonderful Chiang Dao Caves. Spend some time exploring these natural wonders before grabbing a quick snack and heading off to the quaint town of Fang. The majority of today’s ride cycling passes over gentle rolling hills on tarmac before a short transfer to the accommodation for the night.
After checking in and freshening up, head out for dinner at a local restaurant. The rest of the evening is spent at leisure.
Overnight in Fang

Notes

Transfer from Mae Taeng to Chiang Dao: 1.5hrs/45mins Cycling distance up to: 65km Difficulty: Easy

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Day 5 - Fang - Chiang Rai

After breakfast, take off from the hotel and head through the quiet rural roads of Fang. This is a great chance to get a look at the area’s charming local culture. While cruising through the peaceful landscape, watch as locals tend to their rice fields. While weaving through beautiful winding roads, cycle through mesmerising natural scenery and some small local villages. Stop for a snack before continuing through the Maekok River Valley, stopping along the way to visit a few local temples and enjoy a barbecue lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch, hop on a long tail boat and head downstream to Chiang Rai. After disembarking the boat, hop on the bikes again and cycle through more stunning scenery to the famous ‘White Temple’ of Wat Rong Khun. Take some time to explore this quirky but incredibly beautiful temple before continuing on to Chiang Rai City. Before checking in to the hotel, visit Chiang Rai’s bustling Night Bazaar and browse the many stalls there.
Dinner and overnight in Chiang Rai

Notes

Cycling distance up to: 65km Difficulty: Easy

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Day 6 - Chiang Rai - Chiang Saen

After breakfast, there is the one and only vehicle transfer of the tour to Mae Sai, the Northernmost point in Thailand. Mae Sai is a fascinating border town with a bustling market where you can buy an array of imported goods: cheap jewels (rubies, emerald, and jade)  from Burma, curio items, many of which are imported from China, fresh fruit, electronic goods, clothes and shoes, and sandalwood. After a quick look around, we will start our cycling adventure with a short warm-up ride through the famous Golden Triangle: the point where 3 countries (Thailand, Burma, and Laos) and 2 rivers (the Ruak and the mighty Mekong) meet! The English name Golden Triangle comes from a CIA memo relating to the region’s notoriety in the 1920s as one of the world's most prolific opium producers, nowadays a tourist destination. Locally the area is known as Sop Ruak. The ride begins on a paved road through a scenery of gently rolling hills. We pass many pineapple plantations out our route to Chiang Saen. We will make a stop at the Buddhist Wat Phra That Chedi Luang  for a quick visit before following  the ancient Chiang Saen city walls into the town to reach our guest house. Chiang Sean is an historic city with numerous temples, historic buildings and ruins.

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Day 7 - Chiang Saen - Chiang Khong

Following the Mekong river, we ride through the lush jungle passing picturesque hill tribe villages characterized by simple bamboo huts on stilts. Under the huts, women can often be seen weaving and children play alongside chickens and pigs. We arrived at Chiang Khong, the border crossing point from Thailand, into Laos early in the afternoon.

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Day 8 - Chiang Khong - Phu Chi Fa

Today the cycling starts to get tough as our route continues the ascent to Phu Chi Fa, the highest peak in Chiang Rai province. Remember the support vehicle is on hand if you need to take a break. As we ascend the views are spectacular, and the terrain rewarding. Look out for children carrying baskets full of crops on their backs and give a thought to the fact that they don't have any gears and more than likely, no shoes! Phu Chi Fa is stunning and surprisingly chilly; it becomes very cold in the winter months. The diversity of insect life, flora and fauna make it a unique area of Thailand. Visitors are largely Asian, mostly from more Southerly Thai provinces; very few Westerners are seen here.
 

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Day 9 - Phu Chi Fa - Chiang Kham

For a truly exhilarating experience we recommend an early start at 4am, to make the trek on foot to the highest point of the mountain before sunrise. The effort is more than rewarded as we watch the sunrise over a mist-covered jungle with the Laos border and the Mekong far beneath us. When you return for breakfast you'll be feeling fantastic. Do not forget your camera! Although we make an early start, we have an easier day of cycling.  We set off downhill, hugging the mountainside and following the Thailand Laos border on rougher surfaced curving roads, passing Phu Sang Waterfall; a thermal spring that cascades dramatically off the mountain. Continuing our journey we reached our hotel in Chiang Kham.

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Day 10 - Chiang Kham - Exploration

We can take it easy today and relax in our beautiful surroundings. Chiang Kham is home to many Thai Lue or Tai people, an ethnic group that originated from southern China’s Yunnan province and spread over many northern Thai areas. Most Thai Lue communities are now residents in Nan and Phayao provinces. There is a Thai Lue Cultural Centre near our hotel, where you can learn about the culture, traditions and history. There are also several local temples of interest: Wat Nantaram, Wat Phra Chao and Nang Din.

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Day 11 - Chiang Kham - Phu Langka

Today we begin cycling a gentle uphill route following a snaking road from Yoan through a vast expanse of rice fields to reach our destination. We follow a series of rolling hills, some of them quite steep. There are many traditional temples and teak house villages in the area that we pass through. Around Phu Lanka, there is an abundance of wildflowers. Our accommodation tonight is simple, the main feature of your time here will be the stunning early morning views. You will also have the opportunity to learn about Yao culture.

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Day 12 - Phu Langka - Pua

It is worth rising early this morning to catch the breathtaking sunrise. Often shrouded in early morning mists the stunning landscape of karst rocks, mountains and valley emerge with a quite magical aura; on a clear day, you will glimpse Laos in the distance. The area has been described as the Ha Long Bay of the mountains. Setting off with a drop downhill we have a challenging cycle today towards Pua, a small, busy town set in a wide, fertile valley with beautiful views to the east, of Doi Phuka national park where the peaks are just shy of 2000m.

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Day 13 - Pua - Bo Kluea

We leave Pua cycling through beautiful jungle greenery, beginning a challenging steep climb over the mountain passing Doi Phuka National Park, an expanse of evergreen mountainous parkland. For the final stretch of today’s ride, we drop downhill to the tiny Htin village of Bo Kluea in a scenic valley; we are now in the far northeast of Nan province, close to the Lao border. Bo Kluea in Thai means salt well. The village is built around two natural saltwater wells and traditional salt mining can be seen still in practice. Very few foreign visitors make it up here so Bo Kluea retains an authentic, unspoiled character.

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Day 14 - Bo Kluea

There are options today to visit Doi Phuka national park. A number of minority communities live in the parking area including Hmong and Thai Lue. As well as caves and waterfalls in the park there are rare varieties of trees that can’t be found anywhere else in Thailand. The Chom Phu phukha gives the park its name, bursting into pick flowering blooms every year in February. Tree fern, Caryota Gigas, and Acer wilsonii are also unique to the area. Nearby is Nong Bua village set among rice-fields along the Nan River and home to an interesting way, a small Thai Lue museum and a classic-style Tai Lue house that is open to the public. Around 10 km south of town you can visit the three-tiered Silaphet waterfall. Also nearby is the Royal Phu Fa project, which supports Mlabri people, a formerly nomadic minority, who settled and learned to farm rice. In Phu Fa, the Mrabri grow tea and mulberries, and make handicrafts from bark which are on sale in the shop. At the Phu Fa cultural centre there is a walk explaining forest life and the traditions of the Mlabri people.

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Day 15 - Bo Kluea - Nan

Our route today from Bo Kluea follows classic twisting roads with little in the way of traffic as we head the capital of Nan province, also called Nan. For centuries Nan was an autonomous region with few links to the outside world. This beautiful town with many well-preserved temples is a perfect place to end our adventure. You will have time to visit Wat Phumin, the area’s most well-known temple.  Built-in 1596, as if it were on the back of two immense snakes it has four entrances, with a small corridor leading to each door. The interior of the temple is inspired by Thai Lue architecture. There are twelve teak pillars decorated with gold, black and red lacquer elephants to support the heavily decorated roof and some magnificent murals that still retain their original artwork. There is also an interesting national museum in Nan. This evening we will gather together for a farewell celebratory meal.
 

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Day 16 - Nan - Departure

The tour ends today. There will be a transfer to the airport for your return flight home.
 

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