Ancient Kingdoms Ride

a 13 day bike tour in Thailand


 
The ancient kingdom of Thailand is a land of many discoveries ..... historic colorful temples .... spicy cuisine .... exotic cultures .... lush jungles ..... and more smiles per mile than anywhere you may travel. Our Thailand bike tour through this magical country highlights it all. We meet in Bangkok, but immediately head out to quiet Nakhon Sawan. Our bike tour heads northward through the flat agricultural central plains of Thailand. This region provides many opportunities to explore small villages, ornate Buddhist temples and ruins from Thailand's long and colorful past, including fabled Sukhothai, where we have to take a full day off the bikes to discover and fully appreciate this ancient capitol.

The flat plains start giving way to rolling hills and you'll cycle through thick forests and mid-sized market towns as we wend our way further north, stopping to visit ancient temples in Lampang, before heading into Chiang Mai. You'll enjoy another free day in Chiang Mai, one of the original Thai Kingdoms, with its vibrant night market, outstanding handicrafts and numerous temples.

The last cycling leg winds its way through the Karst outcroppings of the hill country north of Chiang Mai. Here you'll discover elephant training camps, Buddhist temples built into caves and many of Thailand's ethnic tribes, still living their traditional ways. We relax in a remote mountain lodge near Chiang Dao and by the Mae Kok River in Tha Ton, before reaching the finale of our THailand cycling holiday in the tiny village of Sop Ruak on the edge of the Mae Khong River, flowing out of China's highlands. Come discover the land of smiles!
 
Monks walking through the ancient ruins
DAY

01
Shuttle to Ayutthaya for walking tour, launch fire balloons in Uthai Thani, welcome dinner riverside.
Your group will gather this morning at Bangkok's Suwarnabhumi Airport, then drive north of the city to ancient Ayutthaya. We'll embark on a walking tour to explore some the more significant ruins of this former capital city. After lunch, we continue north to the historic town town of Uthai Thani, our launching point for this cycling holiday. We enjoy dinner at a floating restaurant followed by the launching of traditional khom loy (Thai Fire Balloons) for good luck.
Meals: L D
Monkeys in the trees watching bike tour go by
DAY

02
Ride through vast rice fields and colorful rural villages, visit the Monkey Temple at Wat Khao No, watch evening bat flight.
The first bike tour of the trip travels through the flat farmlands of the central Thailand, with emerald green rice fields stretching as far as the eye can see, punctuated by vibrantly colored temple complexes and wooden houses. Our small hotel tonight is tucked away just outside the tiny village Bahnpot Phisai. After reaching our hotel, we will shuttle over to explore Khao Noi, with its temple cave and thousands of monkeys roaming the grounds.
Cycling: 61 mi / 98 km, Terrain: flat, Meals: B L D
Workers harvesting the rice
DAY

03
Explore the Chao Prayao Valley and traditional farming techniques, dinner at the night market.
Continuing north along smaller farm roads, we may have the opportunity to witness traditional agricultural methods, duck powered pest control, sun drying of tapioca and peppers, wind winnowing of rice hulls. Our goal for the evening is Kamphaeng Phet, another of Thailand's ancient kingdoms, dating from the Sukhothai Era (500 to 700 years ago). We head out for dinner at the night market at a small, simple cafe with a fabulous chef.
Cycling: 59 mi / 95 km, Terrain: flat, Meals: B L D
Ruins along Thailand bike tour route
DAY

04
Discover the ancient ruins of Kamphaeng Phet, learn about making palm sugar candies, wind down in Sukhothai Historical Park.
In the morning we will pedal the short way through town to Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has a section of ruins within the city containing the Imperial Temple complex among others and a second section tucked away in the forests outside the city. We will enjoy a walking tour of the first and then take our bikes for a ride through the second. From Kamphaeng Phet is it a short, scenic ride through rural Thailand to our next stop at the renowned ruins of Sukhothai and our hotel sitting just outside the historical park.
Cycling: 53 mi / 85 km, Terrain: flat, Meals: B L D
Wat Si Chum in Sukhothai
DAY

5/6
A free day to explore the 700 year old ruins of Sukhothai, Day 6 cycle through rural Thailand to the crossroads town of Thoen.
We start our day with a cycling trip through the Sukhothai Historical Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), where we will discover many fabulous ruins dating back some 500 to 700 years. The complex is an amazing tribute to the ancient kings and their visions. The afternoon is free to do as you please, relax poolside, stroll through town. For dinner, we will go "grazing" at the night food market, tasting an array of everyday Thai food, watching as the locals come to get their dinners (very few Thais have full kitchens at home, preferring to buy their prepared dinners at the markets).
Cycling: 12 mi / 20 km, Terrain: flat, Meals: B D

We head north out of the agricultural regions and into the foothills of the northern mountains today. Much of the day is quite flat, but does give way to hills as we approach the crossroads town of Thoen. At one point during the ride, it appears that massive mountains block our way, but as we approach, we come to discover that they are really flat slabs of granite turned up on edge and are only a 100 feet thick, yet towering way above our heads. We will bed down tonight in Thoen.
Cycling: 72 mi / 117 km, Terrain: small hills with big climb at end, Meals: B L D
Classical Thai dancers at Khantoke dinner
DAY

7/8
Roll through the hills to colorful Li, shuttle into Chiang Mai, enjoy a free day to explore this ancient city.
Our last bike ride of the first week follows rolls through the forested hills of the north. We'll see Teak trees with their ever present flowers, small rural villages where cyclists like us generate big smiles and lots of hellos. In late afternoon, we will shuttle into Chiang Mai to avoid the afternoon rush hour traffic. Tonight we head out for a traditional northern Khan Toke dinner with classical Thai and hill tribe dancing.
Cycling: 46 mi / 375 km, Terrain: big climb, then small hills, Meals: B L D

Today is a free day. A variety of options of things to do in Chiang Mai is available, from cycling tours of Wiang Kum Kam, visits to handicraft shops, cooking classes, etc. Your guides will be glad to fill you in on the options and help you plan your day.
Meals: B
Buddha image along cycling holiday route
DAY

09
Cycle north to visit Mae Sa Valley, ride elephant back thru the forest, pedal through lush forests to diminutive Baan Rai.
We head north this morning, following small roads along the Mae Ping through villages and past flower farms. Lunch time will find us in the town of Mae Rim, where we will break from cycling to visit an orchid grower, butterfly farm and the Mae Rim Elephant camp, where we enjoy a demonstration of the elephant's former work. In late afternoon, we remount our bikes for a beautiful ride through emerald rice paddies and past colorful temples en route to our overnight stop in the village of Baan Rai.
Cycling: 31 mi / 50 km, Terrain: flat, Meals: B L D
Buddhas at Wat Baan Den
DAY

10
Hit the morning market of Mae Malai, explore the expansive Wat Baan Den Temple, cycle through Mae Ping Gorge.
Our morning ride takes us first to Mae Malai, where we visit a traditional market featuring a broad selection of local vegetables, fruits and fish, along with a tasty array of prepared foods from pad se yu (noodles) to fried insects. We will also visit the magnificent Wat Baan Den, before heading north into the rolling, forested countryside. Our bike tour winds down the day at a picturesque resort tucked in amongst the impressive karst hills ... relax by the lake with a cold Singha beer or on the porch of your teak cottage hidden in the gardens.
Cycling: 57 mi / 92 km, Terrain: flat, Meals: B L D
Morning mist over Mae Kok River
DAY

11
Bike to visit the Burmese style temple at Mae Ai, walk through the 1000 year old temple cave at Tab Tao, relax riverside in Tha Ton.
After breakfast this morning, we will pedal up to a beautiful giant Buddha, perched beneath the golden cliffs, then enjoy a thrilling descent onto the agricultural realm around Fang. We will visit Tham Tub Tao, an ancient temple complex with 100s of Buddha images inside a giant cavern. Each year a gathering of 2500 monks takes place at this temple and has been happening for hundreds of years. In the afternoon we will spend some time exploring Wat Mae Ai Luang, with its historic wooden temple featuring Burmese architecture, before rolling further north to Tha Ton, our overnight stopping point.
Cycling: 54 mi / 88 km, Terrain: big climb then flat, Meals: B L D
Hilltribe cloth weaving
DAY
12/13
Visit a Kayan village, roll through the green hill country, dinner on the banks of the Mae Khong overlooking Laos, depart from Chiang Rai.
As the morning fog burns off, we head out for a leisurely ride along the Mae Kok, watching as the villagers start their days in the fields. In late morning, we will load up in our sag and drive to a Kayan Village perched on the mountain top (avoiding a very steep climb). The Kayan, also known as 'long neck women' or 'Paudang', have a village cooperative that sells their handwoven products to visitors like ourselves. We will re-mount our bikes in the afternoon and continue our ride to a nice lodge out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by dramatic landscapes and bucolic quiet.
Cycling: 52 mi / 85 km, Terrain: several big climbs, Meals: B L D

Our cycling holiday must come to an end today. After breakfast we will visit the White Temple, a unique Buddhist temple featuring incredible carvings by a Chiang Rai artist. Then saying our fond farewells at Chiang Rai Airport. Khap khun khap, sawasdee khap.
Meals: B

From Our Guests . . .

 Oh gosh, where to start? Thailand is an amazing backdrop, with gorgeous weather, friendly folks, and yummy food. Of course, the cycling was the highlight, with a moderate pace that left me tired but not beaten down. I've always been a solo cyclist, so I was wary of the whole "guided trip" aspect. In fact I came to realize how wonderful it was to have the route pre-planned, the logistics covered, the sights and culture explained. And we saw so many wonderful, out-of-the-way spots that I never would have found on my own. At the same time, there were opportunities to go off on our own, whether that was racing through the rollers or exploring towns during our free time.    
 Overall this was a really interesting trip. We did a private tour with 5 family members. We had a guide and a driver.

The guide was local and knew the area very well. She gave us a wonderful opportunity to experience the local foods eating at local restaurants, roadside stands, etc. We had quite a gastronomic adventure.

The various historical parks were interesting and well explained.
   
 I liked small group so we became a family - I liked your digging down to a local authentic experience and not just regulated tourist one. E.g., stopping at roadside stands and staying at places and eating at places "that hardly ever get any farangs". I LOVED that because I love to travel and I am fairly experienced traveler. Those non-farang places are some of my best memories of the whole trip as well as the incredibly compatible nature of the group. I think that you made this a Bike Friday trip contributed a lot to a slection filter that made us "birds of a feather."    
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13 days (9 days cycling)
Inn to Inn
Level: B

Boutique inns and resorts
3 and 4 star    See some of our hotels

Tour meets in Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) and ends in Chiang Rai, Thailand (CEI)
Paved roads, moderate traffic, flat & hilly terrain

Total: 436 mi / 703 km
Daily Avg: 54 mi / 87 km


Scheduled Departures:
Tour Cost: $3450
Deposit: $400

Private Trips:
6 or more people: $3475
2 to 5 people: $3785
1 person: $4650

Extras:
Single Supplement: $750
Bike Rental: free of charge
(All costs per person in US $. Seasonal supplements may apply on private trips.)

More Ideas

Here are some other great bucket list trips to check out.

Comfortable Boutique Accommodation

Payamai Resort
Simple thai style resort on the banks of the Sakaekrang River.

Family Resort
Colorful bungalows on the edge of vast rice fields. (no website)

Chakungrao Riverview Hotel
Delightful, first class hotel near the night market and river.

Legendha Sukhothai
Boutique resort highlighted by ancient Thai architectural styles set in amongst gardens.

Nakhon Thoen Hotel
Business hotel with an excellent kitchen in the market town of Thoen. (no website)

The Rim Resort
A delightful lanna styled boutique property overlooking the historic moat.

Baan Rai Lanna
Delightful, intimate resort with bungalows set on tiered rice paddies.

Aurora Resort
Unique collection of Thai Houses and deluxe rooms in lovely landscaped gardens.

Maekok River Village
Beautiful resort set on the banks of the Mae Kok River offering endless panoramic views.

Manee Dheva resort
Elegant resort with bungalows set out in rural rice paddies.

De River Resort
Resort set on the banks of the Mae Khong River with views across to Laos and a short bike ride to the Golden Triangle.

The hotels listed here are our preferred properties, but may not be available for all dates. When alternates are used, they will be of the same quality and style.

Choose Your Date

Trip Starts Departure
Trip Ends
Price
Sgl Sup
Deposit
Notes
Sign Up
3
Dec 2017
16 Dec 2017
$ 3450
$ 750
$ 400
 
Book This Date
7
Jan 2018
20 Jan 2018
$ 3450
$ 750
$ 400
 
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Any trip shown with a "Book This Date" button has space available and is open for booking. To start your reservation click the appropriate button for the departure you wish to join. All prices are quoted in US Dollars. Trips require only two guests to be guaranteed departures.
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