About the challenge
Our exciting and challenging route takes us from the Mekong valley through spectacular mountain scenery, witnessing the traditional way of life in the remote, friendly villages we pass. Challenging cycling and cultural discovery – this trip has it all!
Our adventure ends in Luang Prabang, one of the most impressive cities in South-East Asia, where the gilded temples form a beautiful and timeless backdrop to the boats plying their trade on the surrounding rivers. We enjoy our free day exploring this cultural gem.
Part Payment option available with this challenge
Dates & prices
|Departs||Days||Charity||Availability||Registration fee||Fundraising target||Payment option|
|10 Nov 2016||11||Open challenge||Limited||£299||+||£3500||Or||£1525||Contact office|
|09 Nov 2017||11||Open challenge||Spaces||£299||+||£3700||£1625||Book now|
Witness traditional culture
Spectacular scenery of the Mekong valleyVisit the gilded temples
Days 1-2: Depart London, arrive Vientiane
Days 3-5: Leave the city and cycle on quieter roads through small villages, and Laotian countryside.
Days 6-8: More demanding cycling through mountainous terrain - harder work but elevation makes the climate cooler!
Day 9: Free Day Luang Prabang with city tour.
Day 10: Free time until flight home (usually via Vientiane).
Day 11: Arrive UK
What makes it tough?
Main challenges lie in the long days in the saddle
Heat adds to the challenge
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes flights, all accommodation, transport and food other than three meals as detailed in itinerary; city tours and entry to any temples or tourist attractions that are part of the itinerary are also included. It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders and medic; local guides, bikes, drivers and cooks (see Trip Support below).
It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline (capped at £225 by Discover Adventure), three meals as specified, tip for local crew, entry visa or international departure tax (if applicable). It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Thai Airways or Air France. However, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
When cycling we generally stay in small friendly hotels or guest-houses. Some are more basic than others! At the start and end of the ride, our hotels are generally more Western-style and 2-3* standard. Please do not expect hotels to be the same as a tourist hotel in the UK – they may be better in some ways and more basic in others! Accommodation is on a twin-share basis.
All meals are included other than two or three meals as detailed in the itinerary. The food is good and there is plenty of it; most meals are local-style not western. Lunches are mainly cooked, though occasionally we may have packed lunches.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic, who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers and cooks. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers and cooks do not always speak English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely. Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your ride. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! Your leader will give you an idea of appropriate guidelines. All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is less than what you would spend on a night out.
Support vehicles will be with the group at all times. All luggage and spares will be carried in the vehicles. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. Bikes are provided in-country. You can bring your own if you wish but please be aware that most airlines now charge for bike carriage. Bikes can be transported on flights in bike bags or – a much cheaper option – cardboard bike boxes: ask your local bike shop if they have any. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
Distances vary from 60 - 90km per day. Our route is mainly on sealed roads of varying quality; some may have stretches of dirt or gravel. Terrain ranges from flat or gently undulating roads to long and steep mountain climbs and descents. Traffic is usually light and we will cycle at our own pace, but when we pass through busier stretches we go through as a group. We will always take safety into consideration and reserve the right to change the itinerary on that basis. Some of the areas we pass through (notably the Plain of Jars) have unexploded ordnance (UXO). Caution should be exercised. Markers clarify cleared land – if in doubt do not proceed! We will be using 21-speed mountain bikes fitted with semi slick tyres. We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
There will be a range of spares in the vehicle along with a full tool kit; however, it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality. It is vital that if you bring your own bike it is in excellent working order before departure.
Clothing & Equipment
We are travelling through remote areas where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time. The table below gives you an idea of the climate, but be prepared for everything! Weather conditions can change quickly. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice. It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with straps done up.
November – May is generally dry season. In the lower valleys it can be very hot and humid, and only cools slightly at night. There may be cooler breezes in the hills or by water, and at higher elevations it can get quite chilly at night. However, cooler weather can come in without warning so be prepared. It rains more in the mountains.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential for travel in Laos and must be valid for at least 6 months after entry. An entry visa is essential for British passport-holders, costing approx US$35 at time of writing. Visas can be obtained on entering the country with two passport-sized photographs and cash dollars, but we will advise you nearer the time on the best way to obtain your visa as advice changes fairly frequently. Most other nationalities require an entry visa (costs vary) and are responsible for checking their requirements.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. We strongly recommend taking malarial prophylaxis. A yellow fever certificate is required only if coming from an infected area. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow cyclists and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you! Our experienced tour leaders and local crew will help bridge the cultural gap; take advantage of their knowledge so you can come away with an understanding of a new culture as well as the achievement of completing a challenging cycle ride.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up. Please see our website for more details.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conservation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org.uk or call 01302 388883.