Chiang Rai - PAKBENG - OUDOMXAY - PAK MONG - LUANG PRABANG
DISTANCE: 536-566 KM
The Eastern Circuit bike tour combines both cultural and cycling highlights in remote mountain areas. The World Heritage town of Luang Prabang provides the perfect starting point for pedaling out to the high plains of the Phonsavan district, the site of the mysterious Plain of Jars. After Phonsavan, the bike tour continues for a week through some of the most remote mountainous terrains in Laos. Wrap up this adventure with scenic boat ride on the Nam Ou, followed by a short bike ride back to Luang Prabang.
DAY 1 | CHIANG RAI TO CHIANG SAEN (65 KM)
After leaving Chiang Rai, you follow the Kok River north through fruit plantations and paddies. You also pass a rubber plantation, something uncommon in Northern Laos. Chiang Saen, the oldest urban settlement of Thailand and former capital of the Lanna Kingdom, is in a beautiful location on the banks of the Mekong river. In the afternoon, you can visit the viewpoint in the heart of the Golden Triangle.
DAY 2 | CHIANG SAEN TO CHIANG KHONG (68 KM)
The first stage of today’s ride is easy going. With mountain backdrops, the road follows the Mekong river through picturesque hilltribe villages, tobacco and rice fields. The last 12 kilometers are more challenging, with some steep but short ascents. The road joins the main road just before the entry to Chiang Khong, the border entry to Laos. This is the last night that you will stay in Thailand on this tour.
DAY 3 | BOAT TO PAKBENG
This morning we board our slow boat for our journey to Pakbeng. The ride is slow and laid-back, passing through spectacular scenery as you chug through the mountains of Udomxai Province to arrive at Pakbeng some 10 hours later. This journey gives a wonderful insight into how important the river is to the survival of the Lao people – not only as a means of transportation, but for irrigation, its fishery, and the shipping of goods to areas inaccessible by road. - B -
DAY 4 | PAKBENG TO OUDOMXAY (70 KM)
After a one hour transfer, we are cycling in very rural Laos, an area inhabited by hill tribe villages who eke a meagre existence from the land. Along the way, you will pass villages of Phu Tai, Tai Lu, Hmong, Tai Dam, Lao and Khamu. The people are very friendly and not yet tired of seeing tourists. We stop at weaving villages along the way, where you still see families sitting in the shade weaving on old looms. After climbing a 300 meter pass, a long descent brings you to Oudomxay, the capital of the Oudomxay Province.
DAY 5 | OUDOMXAY TO PAK MONG (83 KM)
We'll head back into the jungle for stretches of this spectacular route; although hilly, it soon gives way to gentler gradient and opens to magnificent scenery and finally a 30 km downhill ride to Pak Mong, a small supply depot town. This is one of the more difficult days of the trip, so you have the choice of challenging yourself or firing up your camera from the comfort of the vehicle.
DAY 6 | PAKMONG TO LUANG PRABANG (95 KM)
Flatter and better roads today will enable you to complete the longer distance to Luang Prabang. Only a few minor passes have to be climbed before you're cycling along the banks of the Nam Ou river with stunning views of huge mountain ranges. On the last stage of the day, you'll be cycling through teakwood plantations before arriving inLuang Prabang.
DAY 7 & 8 | REST, EXPLORATION, & OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES
Luang Prabang remains one of Asia's most beautiful historic towns, earning it the status of a World Heritage Site in 1995. Rising from the confluence of the Mekong andNam Khan Rivers, it is popular for its many temples and preserved French colonial architecture. There are also ancient monasteries and a Royal Palace Museum. For those who still have energy, optional activities around Luang Prabang include kayaking, trekking, elephant riding, or trips to the waterfall.
DAY 9 | LUANG PRABANG - TRANSFER TO KIU KACHAM - KASI (95 KM)
A 2 hour transfer by mini van brings you to Kiu Kacham, at an altitude of 1350 meters. The first part of this stage, you'll cycle between 1000 and 1400 meters to Phou Khoun. After Phou Khoun, you'll enjoy a long descent with great views, bringing you to the valley of Kasi. Overnight in a guest house.
DAY 10 - KASI TO VANG VIENG (60 KM)
This day will be much easier, as we cover a shorter distance on gentle rolling hills to Vang Vieng, which we'll reach in time for lunch. In the afternoon you can choose to visit the Tham Xang or Tham Hoi caves, which are set among the dramatic scenery on the banks of the Nam Song River. Relax with a Lao beer and watch the sun set over the mountains you have just crossed.
DAY 11 - VANG VIENG TO BAN KEUNE (55 KM)
Continuing on the main road, you cycle to the ‘sea of Laos’: the 250 square kilometer, artificial Lake Nam Ngum. A 2 hour boat ride brings you to the dam, where you'll have your choice of great fish restaurants. After lunch, you'll continue on a quiet back road through small, hidden valleys and authentic villages. You stay overnight on the banks of the Nam Ngum River.
DAY 12 | BAN KEUNE – VIENTIANE (65 KM)
Today, you cycle through paddy fields with fine views in the Phou Khao Khouay mountain rangebefore entering the capital city of Laos: Vientiane. Youll ride through the suburbs on your way to the centre of this bustling, historical city situated along the bank of the Mekong.
DAY 13 | FINISH
End of program.