Hanoi to Laos Mountain Bike Epic

An epic mountain biking journey from NW Vietnam into Laos




From $3,125 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Explore the beautiful valleys surrounding Sapa
  • Daily encounters with a colourful mix of hill tribe people
  • The remote Tay Trang border crossing from Vietnam to Laos
  • The best backroads biking holiday in SE Asia

This classic 'out there' cycling adventure takes us through Indochina's most spectacular mountain scenery, close to Vietnam's border with China. Starting in Hanoi we take the overnight sleeper train to Sapa, a former colonial hill station close to the Chinese border. We spend a couple of days cycling around its beautiful valleys before we set off on a long traverse of some pretty wild country, that will eventually take us into Laos. Beyond the Tram Ton Pass (2000m), the highest road pass in Vietnam, we cross into a land known to the local Hmong people as 'beyond the clouds', with our route snaking its way between lofty passes and steeply terraced river valleys. Staying in a succession of traditional towns we'll discover the 'Montagnards', the amazingly colourful minority tribes that continue to make their living amongst these high valleys and villages. We end our Vietnam journey at the remote and historical town of Dien Bien Phu. Crossing into the mountainous northern part of Laos, we will find ourselves in a country only recently emerging from its turbulent past, where it will feel as if we are riding back in time. Unused to meeting foreign tourists, the Laotians retain a rare and innocent charm. Here we mix our biking with a traditional longboat journey down the Ou River. Our adventure ends in Luang Prabang, where we can celebrate amongst the faded French Colonial elegance of this most atmospheric of Asian cities. A flight to Bangkok and a night in the Thai capital is included in the holiday price. This amazing holiday offers a unique opportunity to ride across the northern border of SE Asia. 

explore international

Explore International. This is one of our Explore International holidays. Participants on these trips can book through KE or through one of our international partners. This helps us to gather together sufficient numbers of like-minded adventurers to get your holiday up and running quickly. Led by an English-speaking guide, the cosmopolitan nature of these groups can be an important part of the experience!

Is this holiday for you?

SEMI-SLICK ADVENTURE. Riding on a combination of quiet roads, jeep tracks and village trails through a remote and rarely-visited mountainous region, this is a classic KE point-to-point journey. It is also a long and challenging trip that will suit fit and experienced riders. Starting out with a couple of easier rides, we get the legs going with some very achievable undulating rides around Sapa. With average daily ascents of 600 metres and descents of 800 metres this gets us in good shape for our route over the Tram Ton Pass with 1188 metres of ascent and 1725 metres of descent. Having built up to some challenging 100 kilometre days, our most challenging day of climbing is our ride into Muong Lay as we ascend and descend 2090 metres. With a combined total of 8500 metres of ascent and 10250 metres of descent is perfectly achievable in the time we have allowed. Support is provided for the vast majority of the trip by a combination of jeep, minibus and boat according to the condition of the road. Bike hire available locally.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Hanoi. A single transfer from Hanoi Airport is provided.
  • Guided city tour of Hanoi, including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Sleeper train to Lao Cai.
  • Transfer to hill station of Sapa. Afternoon of rural riding and tribal encounters.
  • Cycle the dirt tracks and challenging hills of the Sapa Village Loop.
  • Road climb over the Tram Ton Pass (2000m). Superb 25km descent to La Chai.
  • A day of hilly riding through market towns to the riverside village of Muong Lay.
  • Another superb day of backroads cycling to the historic town of Dien Bien Phu.
  • Cycle the historic war memorial sites of Dien Bien Phu. Afternoon free for further exploration.
  • Cross the border into Laos. Cycle through tribal villages to the sleepy village of Muang Khoua.
  • A day to lean back and relax. Long boat journey down the Nam Ou River to Muang Ngoy.
  • Cycle fast flowing dirt trails through remote Laoation countryside to Nong Kiau.
  • Ride a long and challenging route to the historic UNESCO city of Luang Prubang.
  • Free time to explore Luang Prubang. Fly to Bangkok and transfer to group hotel.
  • Departure day. A single transfer to Bangkok Airport is provided.
Sun 08 Nov - Sat 21 Nov Code HLMB/07/15/ Adult$3,125 Status Limited Availability Book now
Sun 27 Dec - Sat 09 Jan Code HLMB/08/15/ Adult$3,125 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
Sun 17 Jan - Sat 30 Jan Code HLMB/01/16/ Adult$3,125 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
Sun 07 Feb - Sat 20 Feb Code HLMB/02/16/ Adult$3,125 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
Sun 13 Mar - Sat 26 Mar Code HLMB/03/16/ Adult$3,125 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
Sun 09 Oct - Sat 22 Oct Code HLMB/04/16/ Adult$3,125 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
Sun 06 Nov - Sat 19 Nov Code HLMB/05/16/ Adult$3,125 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
Sun 11 Dec - Sat 24 Dec Code HLMB/06/16/ Adult$3,125 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary, joining in Hanoi and returning from Bangkok. It is possible to end this holiday in Luang Prabang which has daily flights to Hanoi and Beijing, this is the obvious choice if you are flying East and do not want to visit Bangkok. There will be a land only price reduction of £266, €330 or US$400 for unused flight, hotel and transfer services.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee*

* Against Land Only services.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • bike
  • internalflight

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Hanoi. A single transfer from Hanoi Airport is provided.

    We meet at the group hotel in Hanoi. A single airport transfer is provided from Hanoi Airport. The afternoon is free to rest and relax after a long journey. KE Land Only package services begin with dinner and a briefing at the group hotel in the evening.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals d

  • Guided city tour of Hanoi, including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Sleeper train to Lao Cai.

    Hanoi is a unique city with tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes and Oriental temples. The Vietnamese capital has many cultural and historic sites and we will have a half day guided sightseeing tour to take in some of the many highlights. Departing after breakfast, we will start with a visit to the nearby mausoleum complex of the historic figure and father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh (viewed from outside), and also walk through the former president’s gardens including a visit to his house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. His former home illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary. After this depending on time we will visit one or two of the many pagodas that that are found around the central Hoan Kiem Lake. We will take lunch in the old quarter after which you will have the afternoon to explore this bustling area of narrow streets and alleys, home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. After an early evening meal we will go to the train station to catch the overnight sleeper (the King Express) to Lao Cai, near Sapa. The train is a very civilized affair with compartments sleeping 4 and a refreshment carriage serving food and drink.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Transfer to hill station of Sapa. Afternoon of rural riding and tribal encounters.

    On arrival in Lao Cai around 0700 hrs, we meet our support vehicle and make the short 50 min transfer up to the former hill station of Sapa (1450 m) where we will have breakfast at our hotel. Depending on availability we will check into our rooms or use a day room to shower and change and will then either assemble our own bikes or are introduced to our hire bikes. Late morning we will set out on a ride to get those legs moving. We cycle from the hotel for 4 km on a tarmac road and branch off at Lao Chai junction and cycle downhill on jeep track to a Black Hmong village. We will ride 2 km of single track past rice paddies. When we reach Ta Van village, which is home to the Red Dzao people, we'll go for a stroll around the village and learn about their unique culture and building style and then have lunch. We continue our cycle journey to Thanh Kim village riding on terrain of gentle hills and on a tarmac road. The village is situated in a high mountain area and from the Thanh Kim village we will have panoramic views of the Ban Ho valley. Depending on time and energy levels we can ride back up to Sapa or transfer back. Overnight at a hotel in Sapa.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 850m

    • Distance 45km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 850m

    • Time 4 - 5 hrs cycling

  • Cycle the dirt tracks and challenging hills of the Sapa Village Loop.

    We cycle 4 km on a tarmac road, then turn left and enjoy a 3 km off-road ride along a hillside. The undulating ride along a dirt track has a few short challenging hills but with beautiful mountain scenery. We cycle downhill to Ma Tra village, which is home to the Black Hmong. Here we'll have lunch, before we continue cycling on a rough track looping to Ta Phin village and will experience dramatic mountain scenery. We take a break in Ta Phin village, which is one of the most beautiful villages in Sapa, and our guide will take you around and introduce you to the culture and customs of the Red Dzao people. From Ta Phin, there are several alternative tracks that loop and drop down to the main Lao Chai road. Depending on weather conditions these can be muddy and slippery but are great fun to ride. Once we get to the main road usually transfer back to Sapa to wash the bikes, but you can cycle the extra 15 km if you wish. Due to the nature of the trail the ride cannot be supported the whole way by jeep but there will be spots along the trail where we can rendezvous with the support vehicle. Late afternoon can be spent exploring Sapa before we have a meal in one of the towns many restaurants.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 300m

    • Distance 20km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 700m

    • Time 2 hrs cycling

  • Road climb over the Tram Ton Pass (2000m). Superb 25km descent to La Chai.

    Today we ride out of Sapa and complete the relatively easy 15 km road climb up to Tram Ton pass – the highest road pass in Vietnam at 2000 m. We then have a superb 25 km descent into a beautiful valley. The countryside is truly wonderful as we pass tea plantations and all inhabitants are from minority tribes. The weather always seems to get clearer this side of the mountains and if we look back we should get views of Fansipan (3143m) the highest mountain in Indo China. At the small town of Tam Duong we will have lunch and then turn left off the main road to cycle 28 km on a lovely country lane through the remote villages of Ban Hon and ban Giang. We have now left any sign of other western tourists and are in a land of rice paddies, small coffee plantations and sharp limestone cliffs. We finish in Lai Chau a new modern open plan administrative capital.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 1700m

    • Distance 75km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1200m

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs cycling

  • A day of hilly riding through market towns to the riverside village of Muong Lay.

    Following breakfast we have a short transfer of around 45 kms to avoid traffic and building work on the main road. Just after the town of Phong Tho we turn left off the main road to start cycling on a much quieter country road. Starting at 400 metres it is a tough start to the day with a long uphill of 32 km to a pass at pass at 1630 metres before a short 5 km drop down the market town of Sin Ho where we have lunch. It is superb cycling after lunch 20km across a high plateau covered in hill tribe villages before a huge 1300 metre descent to Chan Nura where we meet the main road again. Depending on time we will probably transfer the last 30 kms to our pleasant hotel beside the river in Muong Lay (200 m).

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 2000m

    • Distance 75km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 2000m

    • Time 6 - 7 hrs cycling

  • Another superb day of backroads cycling to the historic town of Dien Bien Phu.

    After a hearty breakfast we first follow the river for 15 km, an area which has suffered from severe flooding over the years, before starting our first climb of the day over a further 19 kms we reach a pass at 860 m which has an excellent tea shop for refreshments. The average gradient of the pass is relatively easy averaging around 6 -8%. Dropping down to a plateau around 400 metres we will stop regularly at some of the last hill tribe villages and have lunch in a local restaurant, where our guide can introduce you to the local customs. There is another short final climb up to a 650 m pass before we prepare a broad smile to greet the kids as we cycle through paddie fields on the final flat stretch into the historic town of Dien Bien Phu.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 1600m

    • Distance 100km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1500m

    • Time 6 - 7 hrs cycling

  • Cycle the historic war memorial sites of Dien Bien Phu. Afternoon free for further exploration.

    Today we'll explore war history of Dien Bien Phu. Our first stops will be the excellent new war museum which gives a really good insight on the climactic battle in 1954 when the Viet Minh communist revolutionary forces defeated the French Union forces in the Dien Bien Phu which led to Vietnam gaining its independence from colonial rule. Other stops on the bikes will include de Castries’ bunker and Glory Statue before we stop for lunch. We then head out of town and cycle towards Muong Phang Commune to visit the visit the site of the Dien Bien Phu Campaign Headquarters. Shortly into our ride the climbing begins, which lasts for about 15 kms, but this section can be transferred. Thereafter our route takes us amidst forests and a large reservoir which provides water to two hydroelectric projects. We cycle back down to Dien Bien Phu where you are free for the evening to discover local dishes.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bl

  • Cross the border into Laos. Cycle through tribal villages to the sleepy village of Muang Khoua.

    Today we say goodbye to Vietnam and hello to Laos. We start the day with a 20 km transfer to the quiet border crossing (1130m) where it takes between 1-2 hrs to complete immigration formalities. We’ll swap crews, pick up new hire bikes and begin the journey to the riverside town of Muang Khoua. The ride is beautiful as we descend at first on a recently built but very quiet road, cycling through remote villages mainly comprised of Red or Black Thai ethnic tribes. After lunch there is a short climb for 10 kms before dropping down to Tat Muang Khoua (390m) a small sleepy market town built on a steep hillside at the confluence of two rivers, offering plenty of great viewpoints.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 1700m

    • Distance 70km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 950m

    • Time 4 - 5 hrs cycling

  • A day to lean back and relax. Long boat journey down the Nam Ou River to Muang Ngoy.

    No journey through the emerald lands of Laos is complete without experiencing a traditional long boat journey. Today, we kick back and relax as we have a day off the bikes and voyage to one of Laos prettiest riverside villages, Muang Ngoy. Inaccessible by road, our 4-hour boat trip provides a unique experience to watch the daily life on the river as we greet fisherman, traders and cheeky children along the way. After 2.5 hrs we will stop off at one of the local villages and go for a short 2km hike to another riverside village that is a centre for local handicrafts and excellent for souvenirs. Lunch on the beach and then rejoin our boats for the final hour to Muang Ngoy. Surrounded by jungle, sheer limestone cliffs carpeted in vegetation and looking down onto the river this is the number one chill out spot in Laos. It has only recently got electricity and a number of small restaurants and bars have opened, the first real coffee machine only arrived this year! On arrival we check into a small bungalow complex where the rest of the afternoon free to spend at your leisure. You are free to hike to the nearby ethnic Lao villages and there are also caves where locals lived during the "secret war" to explore. We meet up for a riverside dinner.

    • Accommodation Bungalow

    • Meals bld

  • Cycle fast flowing dirt trails through remote Laoation countryside to Nong Kiau.

    After a short 15 min boat transfer to the western side of the river we will rejoin our bikes and ride down to Nong Kiau primarily on dirt tracks. This section will have no support vehicle. We'll cycle through some ethnic Hamong villages, giving you plenty to see along the way. This undulating route will be jeep-width initially but narrows to single track in sections. It is not really technical but fast flowing hard pack with the some shallow stream crossings and should be well with the capabilities of anyone on this trip. The last 6 kms are on tarmac into the tourist town of Nong Kiau where we will have lunch and check into our comfortable and charming guesthouse that overlooks the Ou River. Anyone who wishes to jump on the boat instead of cycling is welcome to do so, it will bring the luggage down anyway. In the afternoon there is a chance to cycle to the fascinating limestone caves were the villages sheltered from the carpet bombings of the USA in the “secret war”.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 400m

    • Distance 25km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 400m

    • Time 2 - 3 hrs cycling

  • Ride a long and challenging route to the historic UNESCO city of Luang Prubang.

    The last long ride of the tour! Cycling a relatively quiet undulating road, we head west along the Nam Ou River, which makes for a very scenic ride. The road undulates the whole way with a number of short climbs that never climb more than 50 metres at a time. It makes for a fast pace and although it is a reasonable distance it is satisfying to cycle into the beautiful and historic town of Luang Prabang to end our epic journey. Situated on a peninsula between the Nam Khan and Mekong River, LP is well-known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. Every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms. Once we reach this historic town we head to our central hotel and then freshen up for our farewell dinner.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 900m

    • Distance 145km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 900m

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs cycling

  • Free time to explore Luang Prubang. Fly to Bangkok and transfer to group hotel.

    This morning is free to explore the historic and beautiful city of Luang Prabang. After lunch, we transfer to Luang Prabang Airport and catch a flight to Bangkok. Here, we are met at the airport by our driver and taken to a hotel in downtown Bangkok where you will have the evening free (note anyone flying East to return home may want to start their international flights from Luang Prabang, there are daily flights to Hanoi and Bejing).

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals b

  • Departure day. A single transfer to Bangkok Airport is provided.

    KE Land Only package services end after breakfast. A single airport transfer is provided. Should you wish to extend your time in Bangkok or the rest of Thailand, our team of adventure travel consultants would be happy to discuss options with you.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • An experienced local English-speaking mountain bike guide
  • Single afternoon Hanoi Airport transfer on Day 1 of the Land Only itinerary
  • Single early morning transfer to Bankok Airport on the final day
  • Flight from Luang Prabang to Bangkok and associated transfers
  • All land transport involved in the itinerary
  • One or more support vehicles and drivers
  • All accommodation as detailed in the trip dossier
  • Meals as detailed in the Meal Plan

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas (if applicable)
  • Hanoi and Bangkok airport transfers (other than single group transfers)
  • Tips for the local crew and drivers
  • Some meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc
  • Bike Carriage on the flights - please check with your carrier for charges

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A single timed group transfer is included on arrival and departure. The transfer on arrival will depart from Hanoi Airport mid afternoon on Day 1 of the Land Only itinerary. Your guide or a representative of our local agent will assist with this transfer. On the final day of the holiday, there will be an early morning transfer to Bangkok Airport. These transfers are coordinated with the schedule of Qatar Airways flights. If these transfers don't work with your flights, you will need to make your own arrangements to get to the group hotel in Hanoi. Independent transfers can be arranged through KE and taxis are readily available. (Note it is possible to end this holiday in Luang Prabang which has daily flights to Hanoi and Beijing, this is the obvious choice if you are flying East and do not want to visit Bangkok. There will be a price reduction of the land only cost should you choose to end your journey in Luang Prubang. Please refer to the dates and prices page of the website).

During this trip the group will spend 12 nights in various hotels and resorts of a good standard, as well as having 1 night on the sleeper train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. All accommodation is allocated on a twin-sharing basis, (except for the night on the train - where it is 4-share). If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. Single room occupancy can be arranged for all nights on payment of the single supplement charge.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

Start practising your chopstick technique now, as there are not many knives and forks on this trip! Vietnamese cuisine is fresh and flavoursome. Typically a selection of many dishes of varying flavours are served together, and everyone takes a little of each. A typical meal will include Pho (noodle soup), spring rolls, spiced beef and pork dishes, fish in chilli, tomato served with tofu, stir-fried vegetables and rice, with fresh fruit for dessert. Note that meals often follow a similar pattern, so the food can feel repetitive on occasion. Food in Laos, although similar to what you will have seen in Vietnam, tends not to be as spicy. Tasty noodle and rice stir-fry type dishes are the most common served.

All meals are included in the trip cost, with the exception of lunch and dinner on the rest day in Dien Bien Phu - Day 6 of the Land Only itinerary.

Approximately $250 should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses, including tips to local staff (You can expect to pay $100 to $120 for tips). If you are intending to buy expensive souvenirs, you should budget accordingly (credit cards can be useful in this respect). It is not necessary to obtain local currency (Vietnamese Dong or Laotian Kip) prior to travelling. Money can be changed most easily at the airport or at banks in Hanoi. The group hotel will be able to make small exchanges only. There are ATMs in Hanoi that accept foreign credit and debit cards. In Laos, there are few ATMs and these are not dependable. We recommend that you carry your travel money in US dollars cash rather than travellers cheques. US dollars are acceptable for exchange in Hanoi and in Sapa and can be used to pay directly for goods and services in both Vietnam and in Laos.

The trip will be led by an experienced local English-speaking biking guide and there will also be one or more support vehicles and drivers. Arriving at the Vietnam-Laos border, we will have a change of local crews.

Tips are the accepted way of saying ‘thank you’ to your local guides and to your support crews and drivers. They do not form part of their wages. KE always pays local crews the best rates of pay, no matter what country they are in and any tips they receive are seen as a personal thank you from group members. For our part, we advise local teams that tips are not a duty or a prerequisite but are a bonus and entirely dependent on the service that was given. For your support crews we recommend that you give a tip if you feel that their services have met your satisfaction. It is best to tip as a group and it is useful to have a group pool for this. As a rough guide we suggest you allow a total of $100 to $120 for tipping. Note that you will have a support crew in Vietnam and a different crew in Laos. The local guide should also be tipped if he or she has provided good service. $20 per person is not unreasonable for this.

Taking a bike on an aircraft is usually straightforward. Different airlines have differing policies with regard to baggage allowances and transporting bikes. We strongly advise that you check the current policy of your chosen airline for carrying bikes and their baggage allowances before purchasing your air ticket. The baggage section on your chosen airline’s website will usually contain this information. We suggest that you are aware of the weight and dimensions of your intended check-in baggage in advance of your arrival at the airport as airlines may charge for both excess and oversize baggage, or refuse to carry oversized baggage. If you are using a domestic flight to connect with your International flight then it is likely that a different baggage policy will exist for the domestic and international flight sections. Again you should check the baggage policy with your chosen domestic airline prior to booking your domestic flight tickets. Finally, please note that included on day 13 of the land only itinerary we take a short flight from Luang Prubang to Bangkok. Please refer to 'Travelling with your bike' for full details of bike carriage and weight restrictions for this flight.

This is a SEMI-SLICK adventure. You can use a mid-level mountain bike, such as a Specialized Rockhopper Pro or a Trek 6500 Disc, equipped with suspension forks and semi-slick tyres. Please call us if you are unsure about the suitability of your current bike. We cannot stress enough the importance of ensuring that your bike is in perfect working condition before you start this trip. You are depending on your bike to transport you throughout your trip, across demanding terrain. It is VITAL to ensure it is THOROUGHLY SERVICED to guarantee it is in good mechanical order before departure. If you are not mechanically minded, get your local bike mechanic to service it for you. For home mechanics, points to note particularly are:

a) Check rims and if they are worn / cracked / dented replace with a new rim / wheel to avoid wheel failure. It is especially important to check that the rims on rim-braked bikes are not worn concave by the brake blocks – replace them if they are.

b) Check wheels are true and spoke tension is tight.

c) Check and, if required, adjust / grease ALL bearings and quick release skewers.

d) Check and, if required, replace brake and gear cables.

e) Check disc / brake pads, mounts and cables / hydraulic lines - replace if necessary.

f) Check - lube / threadlock and tighten - all bolts (esp. suspension pivots, bottom brackets, disc rotor bolts and disc mount bolts).

g) Check chain, cassette and chain rings for wear – replace as necessary.

h) Make sure you have the right tyres, inner tubes and BIKE SPECIFIC SPARES for your bike.

Whilst not essential, it is a good idea that you familiarise yourself with how to carry out at least some basic repairs to your bike e.g. fixing a puncture, changing an inner tube. Naturally our bike guides will always be happy to assist with any repairs, but due to the often remote nature of our trips, being able to carry out a simple repair can save time and the inconvenience of waiting for assistance.

Travelling with a bike is usually as straightforward as travelling with any other type of baggage - providing you have packed it adequately. We have many years experience of travelling with our bikes, and nowadays we think that the best way to travel and fly with a bike is to partially dismantle it and put it into a purpose made soft bike bag. Although more expensive than a cardboard bike box, they are smaller in size to transport and are considerably easier to handle. To pack your bike you simply remove both wheels and pedals and prepare it for travel as follows. Obviously, extra care when packing your bike can minimise the chances of accidental damage occurring in transit. Ask your local bike store for plastic wheel hub protectors (which will prevent damage to your bike bag) and plastic fork and frame spacers, insert the spacers into the dropouts, tape them in place and then put extra padding over this area. Use pipe insulation lagging (from your local DIY store) to cover frame tubes, forks and seat post. If required, remove your bars from the stem and attach them carefully to your frame/forks using plastic ties or pvc tape - ensure that your Ergo/Sti levers are well padded to minimise the chance of damage. You may also wish to remove your rear gear mech, pad it with foam and tape it to the chainstay out of harms way. Finally, you should partly deflate your tyres, but leave some air in them to help absorb any impact on the wheels. Don’t forget to pack wheel skewers, pedals and any bolts you have removed, these are the items that tend to get left behind. Finally, find an old cardboard bike box and cut out panels to fit inside your soft bike bag for extra protection. Don’t forget to bring sufficient packing materials to pack your bike on the way home.

Finally, please note that included on day 13 of the land only itinerary we take a short flight from Luang Prubang to Bangkok. We strongly advise that hold luggage is kept to a minimum of 1 checked in piece of baggage. We suggest your personal effects are packed within your bicycle case or bag. Checked-in baggage for the Luang Prubang to Bangkok flight is at a restriction of 20kg. Any additional charges incurred for transporting your bike for the adventure (international, domestic and flights within the land only itinerary) are the responsibility of each individual client. If you have any further questions about travelling with your bike, please do contact the office.

PLEASE DO NOT USE a purpose-made rigid bike box - these are heavy (which can put you over your baggage allowance) and are also too bulky to be easily stored or transported on the group’s support vehicle.

Throughout this trip we have the back up of one or more support vehicles. Each morning our main baggage will be loaded onto the support vehicle which will follow the group on the day's ride. The local biking leader and the support vehicle driver will watch over the group and will carry mobile phones, allowing you to contact them in the case of a breakdown or other incident. We want everyone to enjoy their cycling experience on this trip and we recognise the importance of group members being allowed to cycle at their own pace. At times there can be a fair distance between the front and rear cyclists in the group, with the support vehicle and cycling leader out of sight. The support vehicle will pick up any group members who wish to take a break from cycling at any time.

It is possible to hire bikes for this holiday. Our local agent has access to Trek 4300 bikes in a range of sizes. They are good quality and well maintained bikes with Shimano components, suspension forks and v-brakes. Spare parts (tubes, tyre, chains etc.) are included in the price of the bike rental and will be available in the support vehicle along with a tool kit and track pump. The guide will also carry some spares and tools for fixing punctures etc. The bikes are equipped with flat pedals. If you prefer to use spd or clip-in pedals, you will need to bring these with you, along with your regular cycling shoes and cleats. Another item which you might choose to take with you on the holiday is your saddle. The hire bikes have standard saddles and anyone requiring more comfort, or a women-specific saddle, should consider taking their own. Helmets are also provided with the hire bikes, but you can choose to take your own. You can hire a bike for the duration of the holiday for $200 (September 2014, subject to change). Should you wish to hire a bike with disc brakes this will be an extra US$30 and this must be requested prior to travel. You will make this payment directly to the local agent via the following payment link www.spiceroads.com/pay Payment must be made before travel. This payment does not cover you if you lose the bike or damage it beyond 'fair wear and tear'. You will need to provide a photocopy of your passport information pages and your credit card details, as security against loss of or damage to the bike when you receive the bike. If you want to hire a bike, please contact the KE office and we can reserve one on your behalf. We must stress that your hire contract will be with the local hire company and that KE cannot be held responsible for any issues arising from bike hire.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday involves going to altitude of 2000m. Most people will have no difficulty with this level of altitude but before coming on the holiday, we recommend you read the advice on trekking at altitude on our website which can be viewed via the link below. Please do contact the office if you have any concerns about altitude. www.keadventure.com/page/altitude.html

A valid passport (with at least 6 months remaining validity) is required for this trip.

Nationals of EU countries, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa & Switzerland require visas. Visas must be obtained from the embassy of Vietnam in your home country prior to travel.

Important note: The Vietnamese government advises that a ‘Visa On Arrival’ service is offered at 4 Vietnamese international airports, including Hanoi and Saigon. We suggest that you DO NOTchoose to obtain your visa in this way. Many international airlines don’t recognise the Visa On Arrival system for Vietnam, and we have experienced situations where clients have been denied boarding because they do not have a visa stamped in their passport.

UK Passport Holders

An entry visa to Vietnam can be applied for in person at the Embassy of Vietnam or by post up to six months prior to the date of travel.

Applying for your Vietnamese Visa by post

You will need the following:
Your passport (which must have longer validity than the visa by at least one month)
The completed application form, together with one passport photograph taken no more than one year ago.
The visa fee in the form of a POSTAL ORDER or CERTIFIED CHEQUE payable to "THE EMBASSY OF VIETNAM".
Unless you are collecting your passport in person you must add £6 to the visa fee and supply a self-addressed envelope.

Send (BY SPECIAL DELIVERY) to: Embassy of Vietnam, 12/14 Victoria Road, London W8 5RD

Visa Fees

Tourist Visa: single entry = £54, multiple entry = £85
An express service is available for a higher charge.
Please check the visa fee when you make your application, as this can change without warning.

Processing Schedule

Five working days are required to process normal visa applications or two working days for express service after the Embassy receives the applications. You should not make telephone inquiries prior to these time limits.

Alternatively you can apply for your visa in person at the above address. The opening hours of the visa section are 9am to 12.30pm Monday-Friday. Phone: 020 7937 1912, Fax: 020 7937 6108,

US Passport Holders

You will require:

Your passport, a completed Vietnam Visa Application Form, Passport Size photo (2x2), $65.00 in Visa Fees, to be paid as explained below, a self-addressed and postage paid US Express Mail return envelope. The Embassy does not permit UPS, FedEx or DHL.

Payment must be made by TWO separate money orders payable to the Embassy of Vietnam. The first money order should be for $25.00 and should say VISA FEE on the memo line. The second money order should be for $40.00 and should say Regular Processing Fee on the memo line.

The application form is self explanatory. Do not use a post office box for your address. Staple or glue your photo in the space provided. You do not have to fill in Question10 – Name and address of contact in Vietnam.

Your passport, application form, two money orders and a prepaid return envelope should be sent by US Express Mail or Certified Mail ONLY to:

Consular Section
1233 20TH Street, NW
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036


Consulate General of Vietnam

1700 California Street, Suite 430

San Francisco, CA94109

Phone: (415)922-1707 ext 100,101, 102, 108

Hot line: 415-317-7932, 415-317-7051

We do keep our information up to date but be advised visa requirements are subject to change. It is recommended that you contact the relevant commission in the case of recent alterations.


Most nationals require a visa for Laos. Visas can be obtained on arrival at the border for this trip. You must have the correct US$ (approx $35) and 2 x passport photos. For non-UK passport holders we recommend checking Laos entry requirements.


Visas are not required for Thailand for stays up to 15 days by British, Australian, Canadian, USA or EU citizens travelling as tourists with a return air ticket.

We do keep our information up to date but be advised that visa requirements are subject to change. It is recommended that you contact the relevant commission in case of recent alterations.

The following is a basic checklist to help you with your packing. We recommend using the layering principle of clothing for varying climatic conditions. Good padded cycling shorts are essential.

Your bike MUST be at least a mid level Mountain Bike such as a Specialized Rockhopper or Trek 6500. Front suspension is highly recommended. It is vital that your bike is THOROUGHLY SERVICED and in perfect working condition before the trip.



  • Stiff-soled cycling shoes or SPD’s


  • Base-layer - short sleeve cycling top (x 2)
  • Long sleeved cycling top (x 1)
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket
  • Lightweight windproof gillet
  • T-shirts
  • Long-sleeve, lightweight casual shirt
  • Fleece jacket or jumper.


  • Regular biking gloves


  • Padded cycling shorts x 2, inc 1 pair of baggies
  • Cycling tights or tricksters
  • Lightweight travel trousers
  • Casual shorts


  • Eyewear - Biking glasses
  • Cycling helmet - mandatory

Daypack and contents

  • A cycling daypack (e.g. Camelbak) of at least 15 litres total capacity is recommended
  • Mobile/Cell phone (optional)
  • Water bladder - min. 2 litres
  • Lightweight waterproof top
  • Multi-tool
  • Puncture repair kit & Tyre Levers
  • Inner tube
  • Mini-pump
  • Camera
  • Sun cream
  • Basic First Aid Kit. Including: antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, Insect repellent, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite).

Trek Bag Contents

  • Travel and apres biking clothes
  • Training/Leisure shoes for apres biking
  • Wash bag and toiletries
  • Antibacterial hand wash
  • Insect repellent (75 - 100% DEET)
  • Swimwear
  • Headtorch/headlamp and spare batteries
  • Chamois Cream (e.g. Assos or Ozone)



Please note: If you are hiring a bike, you do not need to bring any spares – but you should still take a pump, a puncture repair kit and a couple of 26 x 2 inch standard mountain bike inner tubes with Presta valves.

  • If you are taking yur own bike, you should bring the following with you as a minimum. Whilst not essential, it is a good idea that you familiarise yourself with how to carry out at least some basic repairs e.g. fixing a puncture, changing an inner tube. Naturally the bike guide will always be happy to assist with any repairs, but due to the often remote nature of our trips, being able to carry out a simple repair can save time and inconvenience waiting for assistance.

Tyres – for this trip you will need 1.9 – 2.1 inch, semi-slick tyres suitable for mostly dry conditions.

  • Pump
  • Plastic tyre levers
  • Small tube of grease
  • 1 rear brake cable
  • 1 rear gear cable
  • Spare set of brake blocks / disc pads (front and rear)
  • 2 spare spokes for front and rear wheels
  • Spoke key
  • 4 x inner tubes
  • Spare chain links
  • Liquid chain lube (bottle not aerosol)
  • Multi-tool with Allen keys
  • Chain link extractor (if not on multi-tool)
  • 2x puncture repair kits
  • A rag and brush for cleaning bike and drive train.
  • Spares specific to your bike **

KE tools and spares

  • On all of our trips we carry a toolkit and a basic range of spares for emergencies. As bikes become increasingly part specific it is impossible to carry a comprehensive range of spares compatible with all makes and models of bike. ** Please ensure you bring any bike-specific spares which might be needed - such as disc brake bleed kits (and appropriate fluid), shock pumps etc).

Energy Gels/Sports Drinks/Power Bars

  • Our back up vehicle will carry ample supplies of water, snacks and lunches but if you like a particular energy gel, sports drink or power bar we suggest you bring a selection of your preferred choice along.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:


The better conditioned you are the more you will enjoy your trip. We suggest that you adopt a sensible weekly exercise regime and fit in a number of long cycle rides in hilly country to ensure you are physically capable of taking part in this trip - this will also provide you with an opportunity to make sure all your riding kit is tried and tested before you travel. Cycling is obviously the best activity to prepare for this trip, however, running, squash and swimming are also good for developing aerobic fitness and stamina.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: www.fco.gov.uk. North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: www.travel.state.gov for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

Vietnam and Laos share a tropical climate with fairly high humidity. There are three seasons: from March to June it is hot and dry, with maximum daily temperatures between 27 and 40 degrees centigrade and night temperatures in the 20s. From November through to February the weather is generally warmer, drier though slightly cooler at night. The rainy season is from July to October. At the highest points of the journey, it will be cold enough in the evening to need a fleece jacket.

The national language of Vietnam is Vietnamese and the national language of Laos is Lao (similar to Thai - Thai TV is very popular in Laos). Some of the hill tribes in both countries have their own unique languages. Outside of the main tourist areas, few Vietnamese or Laotians speak English and it is well worth the effort of learning a few simple phrases and common greetings. Very few tourists make the effort to learn and Vietnamese or Lao, so it will really be appreciated if you have a go. Your guides will be delighted to help you with your pronunciations. We recommend you take a pocket phrase book and practice some key phrases.

Lonely Planet. Vietnam. Lonely Planet. Laos. Rough Guide. Vietnam. Rough Guide. Laos. Vietnam Pocket Guide. Insight Guides Vietnam Handbook. Footprint Handbooks Vietnamese Phrasebook. Rough Guides Hill Tribes Phrasebook. Lonely Planet Vietnam: A History. Stanley Karnow

Vietnam North. Reise Know-How. 1:600.000 Scale

Indexed, waterproof and tear-resistant road map of Northern Vietnam with topographic and tourist information. Road and rail networks are clearly presented and driving distances on main roads are indicated. Topography is shown by altitude colouring, contours, spot heights, mountain passes and names of mountain ranges. National parks and protected areas are marked and symbols highlight various places of interest, including UNESCO world heritage sites, archaeological remains, temples and museums, viewpoints etc.

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