Along the way, there will also be the unparalleled beauty of Thailand's shimmering antique temples, vibrant art, succulent cuisine, and hospitable people who see few pass this way. Most impressive to those have have not been before is witnessing firsthand how Thailand's Buddhist nature permeates their society. We will explore the heart of Buddhist spirituality in Thai culture in the many temples along the way, experiencing the daily life of it's pious monks. We will also of course enjoy and study the crowning glory of Thai culture — its superb cuisine — in carefully planned meals highlighting local and regional specialties. Cooking and an informal "survival" Thai language class will enhance our culinary and cultural journey. Combine this tour with 3-days of kayaking in the Khao Sok nature preserve with Dave Williams before or after your trip, a perfect experience in the southern islands if you're not the type to lay on the beach.
Day 1: Welcome to the Siamese "City of Angels" - Bangkok. Depending on your time of arrival and condition. Orientation dinner overlooking the Chao Praya River. Accommodation at Bangkok's finest hotel, and one of the top in Asia, the Peninsula Bangkok.
Day 2: Bangkok City Tour. Today we’ll tick off five must-see sights, while using all forms of urban transport in a citywide blitz of temples, alleyways, rivers, canals and fine eats to give you a true appreciation of the city. Today you’ll see the Golden Mount, the shimmering Grand Palace, Wat Po, Wat Arun and the urban-canals of Bangkok Noi, to name but a few of our stops. You have now seen Bangkok as few have. Dinner free and chance to hit the night bazaars, such as the infamous Patpong.
Day 3: Chiang Rai (18-30 miles)
After arrival, begin cycling through the city of Chiang Rai, then heading by private long tail boat and upriver to a local hill tribe village. This Karen settlement is surrounded by limestone mountains and is an ideal venue for an elephant ride. After a meal of hilltribe cuisine, continued riding in the back roads leading out of the village, up and over some medium-grade mountains on dirt road and quiet single-track, passing by Ahka and Lisu villages in the area. The final push will see us enjoy a nicely-paved sundown ride back to Chiang Rai city, stopping along the way for spectacular photos. A day biking deserves a northern Thai feast; tonight we’ll sample local specialties at one of the city’s hippest restaurants. After, the night is yours: spend the evening bargaining at the night bazaar, sipping Thai whiskey, or top it all off with a traditional Thai massage to soothe those aching legs.
Day 4: Chiang Rai to Wawi (36-62 miles)
After yesterday’s ride we’ll be all warmed up and ready to hit the road at full strength. Today heads behind the Doi Chang mountain range – famous for northern Thai Arabica-style coffee – making our way to Walong. This far-flung outpost is inhabited mainly by Yunnan Chinese and is not even on most major country maps. The road here has only recently been paved and there’s still the odd stretch of rough dirt track. You’ll be a spectacle to the local hill tribe people as very few outsiders make it to this part of the country. Dig in for a challenging day in the saddle as you cruise flats and creep up challenging climbs that will leave you breathless and a wide-eyed from the incredible scenery and smiles around every corner.
Day 5: Wawi – Mae Salak – Tha Ton – Mae Salak (18-42 miles)
After breakfast, mount our steeds for a scenic 2-hour, hilly ride to the perfect country get away – the Huai Khum Resort. Run by Lahu hilltribe people, this tasteful and comfortable resort is designed in traditional Lahu style. Your bungalow is made entirely out of bamboo, overlooks the beautiful Mae Kok River, and is surrounded by orange orchards. Leisure time at the resort, or optional afternoon ride in the surrounding hills. Heading west we’ll make our way along the Mae Kok River to Tha Ton, a traditional stop along ancient Chinese and Burmese hilltribe caravan routes dating back over 1,000 years. From here it’s either a one hour spin back or boat down river back to Huai Khum Resort’s own pier.
Day 6: Wawi to Doi Mae Salong (25 miles)
Today’s ride is stunning and challenging. Most of today will be spent climbing three mountain ranges as you make your way out of Mae Salak to the Yunanese outpost of Doi Mae Salong. These well-paved, super windy and steep roads are sure to leave even the strongest climbers winded. As you may have guessed there are several incredible descents too! Local Ahka hilltribe people are sure to be curious as you whiz by on your two-wheeled device. Jaw-dropping views abound the entire day.
Day 7: Mae Salong Trek
A day of trekking through terraced tea and rice plantations, hilltribe villages and the picturesque rolling mountains around the Doi Mae Salong. This region was settled first by indigenous hilltribe groups such as the Ahka and Lahu peoples, and more recently by Chinese anti-communist settlers who fled the Social Revolution in China in 1949. Today is a photographer’s dream as great shots and traditional cultures abound. Designed to be a free day, we can also sample local teas, visit a mountain-top temple and local school in this enchanting town. The evening is yours to explore other nooks and crannies.
Day 8: Mae Salong to Mae Fah Luang
This is one of the best combo days of biking. After a hearty Thai breakfast, we'll head off-road to the far-flung outpost of Thoed Thai using hilltribe footpaths and rough dirt roads. This small town was once home to the notorious opium drug lord Khun Sa and is a stone’s throw from the Myanmar-Thai border. From here well ride steep paved roads through the mountains of ‘Mae Fah Luang’ district, enjoying fast descents and thrilling curves. Along the way you’ll see hilltribe people farming, tilling steep mountain fields and then descend into a lush valley to your ultra-comfortable accommodations at the Phu Chai Sai Resort.
Day 9: Mae Fah Luang – Doi Tung – Mae Sai (36-54 miles)
This is it, the most epic day of the trip, a challenge for even Lance Armstrong. Some moderate ascents are common for the first two hours and then it’s straight up a mountain to Doi Tung Royal Gardens. This Royal Project is home to the country’s premier reforestation and drug rehabilitation initiatives. After a scrumptious lunch we’ll dig in for a steady but moderate one hour climb to the top of Doi Chang Mub. From here, hang on to your handlebars for a dizzying 12-mile descent along a road that literally forms the Thai-Myanmar border to Mae Sai, the Kingdom’s northernmost town. After perusing the border markets we’ll enjoy a final 2-hour, flat country ride to the world-famous Golden Triangle. Here you’ll be treated like royalty at the world-renowned 5-star Anantara Spa and Resort.
Day 10: Mae SaI to Chiang Khong (48 miles)
After breakfast, visit to the fascinating ‘Hall of Opium’ to learn more about the area’s rich historical importance and the role this illicit drug has played. Next we’ll have lunch along the river to fuel up for one of the most epic rides in Thailand. Today’s ride is simply stunning, passing through lush farmland, over small mountain passes, and weaving along the banks of the spectacular Mekong River to Chiang Khong. With the sun at our backs and a cool breeze coming off the Mekong, the final 20km into Chiang Khong, an ancient trading post at the heart of Indochina, will impart memories for years to come. Tonight we’ll stay in a riverside teak hotel and enjoy the best Mexican food in Thailand.
Day 11: Chiang Khong to Chiang Rai (72 miles)
Your final ride in Thailand is an epic and mostly flat one. We’ll dig in for a long day meandering quiet country roads back to Chiang Rai city. Lush rice fields line the horizon almost the entire way and farmers are sure to shout encouragements helping to spur you on. Upon arrival at Chiang Rai we’ll check into The Legend where you’ll enjoy another evening of 4-star, riverside luxury.
Day 12: Chiang Rai to Bangkok
Enjoy the morning to go for a walk, gaze at the river, a soothing Thai massage, or sleep in before catching a late-morning flight back to bustling Bangkok. Spend the afternoon picking up last minute souvenirs and prepare for tonight’s main event – a fabulous night on the town. Starting at one of the city’s most charming restaurants enjoy a delicious Thai feast, then head to one of the most exclusive lounges anywhere, perched upon the roof of a building 61 floors up, then it’s off to legendary Pat Pong where you can pick up ‘Goochi’ watches, ‘Polio’ shirts and take in the lights and excitement of this world famous street.
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