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Laos

Hidden Treasures

Guided Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

13 days

Prices from

£1,895 P.P.
Laos

Hidden Treasures

Guided Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

13 days

Prices from

£1,895 P.P.
BOOK NOW
Laos is a country of stunning natural beauty and relaxed pace that is impossible to resist. Combine this with friendly locals, whose simple way of life is endearingly refreshing and quiet roads just waiting to be explored by bike and we've created a cycling holiday that will enthuse and excite. Our journey here takes us through some truly stunning scenery. Narrow roads wind their way through the lush mountainsides and bamboo forests, whilst others skirt alongside shimmering rice paddies and meandering rivers.
The cycling begins in Vientiane with its numerous temples and Buddhas, before we head north to the breathtaking karst scenery and caves of Vang Vieng. Here we’ll visit local minority villages before we end the day with a gentle spot of kayaking. Our next stop on the tour is Phonsavan - the Hills of Paradise.
It’s here amongst the pine forests and colourful houses that we’ll see several minority tribes including the flamboyantly dressed Hmong cowboys. Next on the agenda are the Plains of Jars followed by the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hintang and its mysterious Menhirs (standing stones). Sam Neuan then seduces us with its setting and beautiful textiles, before the caves of Vieng Xai captivate us with tales of its Hidden City.
The final part of the tour is spent in and around Luang Prabang with its bustling backstreets, colonial buildings and tree lined avenues. Here we join the locals in offering alms to the saffron-robed monks and enjoy a ride to the waterfall of Khaung Si on our final day in this incredible country.

Holiday Highlights

  • Vibrant Vientiane and its Emerald Buddha
  • Taking a dip at the Khuang Si Waterfall
  • Exploring Luang Prabang by bike
  • Sampling tasty local Laotian cuisine
  • Checking out the caves of Vieng Xai
  • Phonsavan and the Plains of Jars

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Itinerary

Day 1
Departure

Departure from home to Laos, arriving the next day.

Day 2
Arrival Vientiane
6 Miles / 10 Kms Approx.

Arrival into Wattay International Airport (VTN) Vientiane, Laos. On arrival we will be transferred to our hotel, and following check-in, we’ll have time for a gentle leg stretch as we take in a couple of the city’s most prestigious sites by bike.

During our ride we visit the Pha That Luang, a large gold-covered Buddhist stupa in the centre of Vientiane, which is regarded as the most important national monument. Also of note is Vientiane’s very own Arc de Triumph. In the early evening we meet for an introductory talk about the days ahead before heading out for our first taste of authentic Laotian cuisine.

Day 3
Vientiane - Vang Vieng
30 Miles / 50 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

We start the day with an early morning exploration of the city by bike, which enables us to see the major temples of Vientiane including the oldest, Wat Sisaket, a temple housing thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha.

After our ride, we take a vehicle transfer out of the city to the incredible Ban Boe geothermal salt works. We’ll have a tour of the site and then have lunch nearby. Once we’ve digested lunch, we’ll take to our bikes again and head north to our afternoon destination, the Nam Ngum Lake. The lake is dotted with various stunning islands and is an enjoyable Summer escape.

After taking a rest overlooking the lake we board our transfer vehicle for the 3 hour transfer to the town of Vang Vieng. Whilst the town is quite small and not much to look at, it’s the stunning scenery of river and rock formations surrounding it that will keep you dreaming of Laos long after your return home.

Day 4
Vang Vieng
20 Miles / 33 Kms Approx. + Kayaking
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Our route on the bikes today heads straight from the door of our hotel, across the Sam Nong river and out into the stunning countryside to the west of the town. We’ll ride on quiet back roads through a number of Pha Tao villages, where you’ll get a real glimpse into rural life in Laos. The highlight of today’s ride are the amazing caves at Tham Poukham.

Many visitors head there solely to swim in the adjacent blue lagoon, but the real highlight of a visit is to head inside the cave itself. It’s a stiff climb to reach the entrance and not lit inside (bring a torch), but it’s quiet, cool and stunning and comes complete with a bronze reclining Buddha shrine in the centre.

After our climb up to the cave, there’s a chance for a quick dip in the Blue Lagoon for anyone who wants it and then we hop back on the bikes for the return leg back into Vang Vieng, where we’ll take a late lunch. In the afternoon, we transfer the short distance to a nearby organic farm where you can taste their wine or try their range of teas/juices and see how they make silk. After a tour of the farm and a relaxing drink, we change our mode of transport and return to the centre of Vang Vieng by kayak down the Sam Nong river – a perfect end to the afternoon.

After watching the sunset over the mountains we’ll head out into town for dinner. With lots of great little restaurants here, you’ll be spoilt for choice as to which dish is going treat your tastebuds.

Day 5
Vang Vieng - Phonsavan
43 Miles / 70 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

In order to easily gain some altitude and reach the more scenic mountain roads, we start the day with a two-hour transfer up to the stunning viewpoint at Phou Khoun. After a quick coffee overlooking an incredible mountain panorama, we take to the bikes and head initially northwards and down to the small crossroads town of Phou Khoun. We’ll have an early lunch here and then get back on the backs and head north-east, along a high mountain ridge, heading for our final cycling destination today – the tiny village of Ban Namchat.

Our route stays above 1000m in altitude for almost the entire ride and undulates its way along a ridge with stunning mountain views all around. Today’s ride will be more of a challenge for our legs as there’s around 1300m of climbing, although it’s split into manageable chunks, and there’s always the option of taking a ride in our support vehicle if you would like to take it a little more easily.

The stunning mountain scenery makes for an interesting journey with numerous minority hill tribe villages including the Hmong along the way. On arrival into Ban Namchat, we’ll pack up the bikes and climb aboard our support vehicle for the two-hour transfer to Phonsavan, where we should arrive in the late afternoon – just in time to watch the sunset from the hotel’s terrace.

Day 6
Phonsavan - Plains of Jars
43 Miles / 70 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

In the morning we take a short transfer out of the town to our start point in the Plain of Jars. These huge ‘Jars’ made from either sandstone, granite or sometimes calcified coral vary in size with some weighing as much as 13 tons. They lie in clusters but are said to be in a linear path running from southern Thailand to northern India. Whilst their exact purpose is unknown, theories range from funeral urns to food storage or as place to brew Lao Lao rice wine for the King.

After a walking tour of what is known as Jar Site 1, we’ll saddle up and take to our bikes, heading first to a nearby village for lunch and then on to Ban Naphia, better known as the Village of the Spoons. Here local people melt down war scrap from the Laotian Civil War and turn it into cutlery, jewelry and gifts to sell to tourists to raise much needed income.

After a tour of the village, we’ll climb back on our bikes and ride along an undulating road through a peaceful rural setting surrounded by rolling hills, rice paddies and minority villages. We’re heading for Muang Khoun, the former capital of Xieng Khouang before its near total destruction during the Laotian Civil War conflict.

In the formal capital, we visit a number of important historical sites and a large local market, where we get a real taste of local life. After our visit, we use our support vehicle to take us back to our overnight accommodation in Phonsavan.

Day 7
Phonasavan - Sam Neuan
32 Miles / 50 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Following an early breakfast, we take a short vehicle transfer to get us out of town and onto quieter rural roads. Our destination for the ride today is the small market town of Muang Kham. From Muang Kham we swap two wheels for four and start our four-hour transfer further north to the town of Sam Neua. Although the transfer is quite long, the up side is that the scenery is breathtaking along this section and with the journey broken up with stops at villages the time will pass quickly.

The highlight of the day are the mysterious menhirs (standing stones) of Hintang. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site and thought to be to at least 1500 years old, these stones some of which are 3m high are interspersed with disks that formerly covered funeral sites. Local mythology claims that the stones were originally cut using a magic axe wielded by a giant called Ba Hat and they certainly do have a certain magic about them!

We arrive in Sam Neuan early evening, where we overnight. Sam Neuan sits in a small picturesque valley, with its white concrete houses topped with red roofs, surrounded by the vibrant green of rice fields and the lush mountains. The town is famous for its beautiful hand-woven fabrics, which are certainly worth splashing out a few Kips on.

Day 8
Sam Neuan - Vieng Xay
22 miles / 35 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

After an early breakfast, we saddle up and ride out of town, heading into the hills that lie to the south-east. Our route for this morning takes us through an area where the production of beautiful woven silk and cotton cloth is one of the main sources of income. We will stop off at a number of number of the villages and get to see the weaving process up close. At the end of our first ride, we join our support vehicle for a short transfer to the amazing Vieng Xai caves.

This network of limestone caves sheltered the Pathet Lao during their struggle with the American-backed Royal Lao Government. It is here where a ‘Hidden City’ arose which supported more than 20,000 people. During nine years of almost constant bombing, they sheltered here and created schools, hospitals and markets as well as government ministries, a radio station, a theatre and a military barracks. We cycle around to the caves checking out the major sites, before returning to Vieng Xai where we overnight.

Day 9
ViengXay - Sam Neuan - Nong Khiaw
Non Cycling Day
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

We’ll be making our way to Luang Prabang today, but with the journey time around 8 hours, we’ll break it up with time at Muang Vieng Kham, some interesting Blue Hmong villages, as well as plenty of refreshments stops.

The scenery in this region is simply breathtaking, with the mountains dense and vibrant green throughout our journey. Red cliffs and towering blue/green limestone scenery greets us as we arrive at our destination Nong Khiaw, a small town situated on the banks of the Nam Ou River.

Day 10
NongKhiaw - Luang Prabang
25 Miles / 40 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

After breakfast, we hop onto our bikes for an initial ride in the beautiful scenery around Nong Khiaw. Next we climb aboard our support vehicle for a two-hour transfer further south towards Luang Prabang. We stop to the north of the city and hop back on our bikes, this time for a gentle off-road ride on a vehicle width track close to the banks of the mighty Mekong river, heading for the small village of Pak Ou.

We’ll take lunch at the village before boarding a traditional Laos longboat and heading onto the Mekong. Our first destination is the beautiful caves of Pak Ou.

The caves are noted for their miniature Buddha sculptures which are laid out on the shelves of the cave walls in different positions including meditation, teaching, peace, and nirvana. After visiting the two sets of caves at Pak Ou, we re-board our private longboat and head down the Mekong to our overnight destination – the beautiful city of Luang Prabang. In the evening we’ll head into town where we’re spoilt for choice with an array of great restaurants for dinner.

Day 11
Luang Prabang
10 Miles / 16 Kms. Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

After an early breakfast, we ride straight from the hotel and head out of the town to the north-east, following minor roads along the edge of the Mekong river. Our first destination are the handmade paper manufacturing village which typify this area. We’ll visit a couple of different villages and you have a chance to pick up some beautiful handmade souvenirs. We then take to the bikes again and retrace our route back into central Luang Prabang, where we start our cycling city tour.

Initially we visit the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong, situated in a tranquil garden on the banks of the Mekong. It’s a superb piece of Lao temple architecture, with its sweeping two-tiered roof and ornate mosaics. We also check out the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrine of Wat Aham. Then we’re off to the Royal Palace Museum where we’ll enjoy a guided tour.

After a morning of cycling–based sightseeing, it’s time for lunch before we head back to the hotel to freshen up, before we climb aboard our trusty transfer vehicle for a short drive out of the city to a small elephant sanctuary situated on the banks of the Nam Khan river. The elephants who live at the sanctuary have all been rescued from a life in the logging industry. As part of Saddle Skedaddle’s Responsible Tourism policy, we won’t be riding on the elephants, but will instead spend time with them, feed them and get to help wash them in the river – much more satisfying!

After a drink in the lodge’s cool and airy café, we’ll transfer back to our hotel. We round off what will have been a busy day with a climb to the top of Mount Phousi to see its sacred gilded stupa. All that’s left to do now is to settle down for the sunset from this perfect vantage point.

Day 12
Luang Prabang - Khuang Si Waterfall
38 Miles / 60 Kms Approx.  
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

A very early start affords us the fantastic opportunity to join the faithful residents for the offering of alms (often in the form of sticky rice) to the saffron-clad monks. This tradition is now unique in Laos, as it is the only Buddhist nation still preserving this daily ritual.

We’ve saved something pretty special for your last day. We start off by riding straight from the hotel – our first destination after around 30kms is the beautiful Khuang Si waterfall. With its three tiers cascading to a 50m drop to vivid azure-coloured pools it’s a remarkable place. The pools also make great swimming holes too, so don’t forget your swimwear if you fancy a dip! After a swim, or just some relaxing time spent by the waterfalls, we’ll have a deluxe picnic lunch, lovingly prepared by a local restaurant and carried up to a brilliant spot in the forest, close to the main waterfall.

After lunch, we return to our bikes and head downhill, away from the waterfall. Our destination on route back Luang Prebang is the wonderful Laos Buffalo Dairy. We will have a guided tour of the dairy, where you’ll be able to practice your hand milking skills and even give a buffalo a good scrub and brush up. This will be followed by a chance the try the amazing range of buffalo milk cheese, yogurt and most importantly ice-cream that the dairy are now producing. Once suitably full of buffalo inspired produce, we saddle up for the final time and pedal our way back to our hotel.

In the evening, we head out into town for dinner and a visit the Night Market, where you can find the lovely selection of handmade textiles made by the hill tribes close to Luang Prabang.

Day 13
Departure
  • Meals: Breakfast

Transfer to the Luang Prabang Airport (LPQ) for onward connections, arriving home the next day.

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The Cycling

Terrain

Our route sticks largely to quiet rural roads. While the majority of these are tarmac sealed, they are sometimes not in the best condition and the verges particularly can give way to hard-packed dirt rather than tarmac.

Where the main road is busy, we occasionally take to dirt roads for a more scenic ride. The route is a mixture of flat riding in the plains and some hillier routes.

Our support vehicle is on hand for those who would prefer a lift up the steeper sections. The heat and the humidity means we set a reasonably leisurely pace.

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Cycling Adventures Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 3 : Moderate

Distances generally between 20-45 miles / 32-72 kms per day

For the leisure cyclist with a good level of physical fitness

May include some steeper, cheeky climbs

Possibly sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc)

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

Although you may not cycle everyday, you do keep yourself relatively fit and maybe enjoy an afternoon out on your bike at the weekend. Your preference is perhaps for flatter terrain but you don’t mind tackling some hills, and the occasional steep climb if you can take it at your own pace. For those happy to tackle some ups and downs, and possibly some sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc) we’d recommend our grade 3 trips. We’d generally expect those on a Grade 3 holiday to have a decent level of physical fitness and be comfortable with some longer days in the saddle.

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Dates & Prices

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
13/03/2021
Return Date
25/03/2021
Duration
13 days
Price
£1,895.00
Start Date
10/04/2021
Return Date
22/04/2021
Duration
13 days
Price
£1,895.00
Start Date
02/10/2021
Return Date
14/10/2021
Duration
13 days
Price
£1,895.00
Start Date
06/11/2021
Return Date
18/11/2021
Duration
13 days
Price
£1,895.00
Start Date
04/12/2021
Return Date
16/12/2021
Duration
13 days
Price
£1,895.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin rooms).

B) Meals as per itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner).

C) Full tour service including guides, support vehicles etc.

D) Unless stated at least one leader qualified in First Aid.

E) Airport collections / drop-offs on scheduled arrival and departure days.

F) Kayaking to Vang Vieng (Day 4)

G) Boat journey on the Mekong River (Day 10)

H) Entrance to temples and caves as indicated on the itinerary.

What's not Included Cross

A) Personal clothing and equipment.

B) Travel insurance

C) Bar bills, telephone calls, souvenirs, etc.

D) Bike hire

E) Flights & charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable).

F) Single room option (available on request)

G) Cost of entry visa £30 / US$35

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The Essentials

Travel Options

Flights for this particular Skedaddle trip will need to arrive into Lao’s Wattay International Airport Vientiane (VTN) and depart from Luang Prabang Airport (LPQ).

A variety of carriers offer these routes, with the most convenient routing being through Bangkok or the Middle East. To discuss the most appropriate route from your local airport please contact us.

Please do not book any flights without prior consultation with Skedaddle.

Accommodation

On all our Cycling Adventures trips we aim to use accommodation which showcases the style and hospitality of the area you are visiting.

This trip uses a mixture of small, well-appointed 3* hotels, which have en-suite, air conditioned rooms and open air swimming pools and smaller, locally run guesthouses. Whilst not having all the facilities that you may be accustomed to at home, we can safely say that these small, family-run places make up for that in location, views, atmosphere and friendly service. Hygiene is very important to us and our passengers so we try to use accommodation with a good level of cleanliness.

Bike Hire

If you don’t own a bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own we have suitable bikes available for hire in Laos.

Our bikes for this trip are hardtail mountain bikes with front suspension, Shimano gears and typically hydraulic disc brakes. They are a pre-dominantly 26” wheels but there may be some 27.5” wheels available. Depending on the group size/make up taller and shorter people are likely be on bikes with 26” wheels due to availability of bikes in Laos.

If you decide to hire we will provide all the necessary spares. You will need to bring along your own helmet for this trip. If you wish to bring along your own saddle and pedals then this is recommended.

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