Venture into a land of mystery and beauty. Nestled between the Myanmar and Laos borders, the hills in Chiang Rai province are little known to the general cycling public but boast some of the most scenic roads you’ll ever experience. Welcome to the Golden Frontier.
Once a center of the world's opium production, the farmers of this area shifted into coffee farming resulting in abundant and quality production of arabica beans, and some of the best specialty coffee shops in Asia!
This trip features 6 cycling stages that cover 550 kilometers and 7,000+ meters of elevation gain.
There is no better way to experience this trip than riding with the support of our local expert team. Our deep knowledge of Northern Thailand and professional expertise organizing cycling tours will ensure your every need will be taken care of so you can just focus on cycling and enjoying the views.
*A medium level of fitness it’s recommended for this trip (min FTP of around 2.5 Watt/kg). We also vouch for the use of 30T, 32T or 34T cassettes.
What's included on this trip:
8 days/7 nights
6 ride days
90 Km/day avg
1,300 m/day avg
From THB 54,900
+THB 9,900 indv. room
+THB 6,900 bike hire
Departures on demand
We'll pick you up from Chiang Mai international airport and transfer you to the hotel in town. After setting up your bikes it's time to relax around the old city and go for a welcome dinner this evening.
The local ride leader will give you advice on the route and type of terrain you will encounter on this trip, safety tips to ride in the North of Thailand and interesting stories about this trip.
Today we have a 2-hour transfer out of Chiang Mai. An early start will reward us with cool conditions and little traffic upon reaching Mae Suai, in Chiang Rai province.
Ahead of us, green plains of rice fields and the towering silhouette of Doi Chang, meaning literally “the Elephant Mountain”. We won’t find any elephants today but lots of good coffee as the area is renowned for some of the finest beans in Thailand.
We’ll tackle the gentle side of the mountain, 15 km climb at 6% average, with max gradients of 15-16% and spectacular 360 degree panoramic views. Upon conquering the climb, we’ll explore the area and sample some freshly brewed coffee in a truly scenic cafe.
Descending from the same side of the mountain we’ll enjoy once more unbelievable views and we’ll finish the day with a 45 min transfer to Chiang Rai city. The afternoon is free to explore amazing temples in this quiet town
Our second day is not the hardest but certainly one of the longest in this trip. After having some quality specialty coffee in one of the many good shops in town, we’ll ride directly from Chiang Rai center heading Southwest towards Doi Chang again. The first 45 kilometers we’ll ride over flat/rolling terrain before we get into the proper mountains.
From here we’ll venture into the Wawee hills, a remote tribal area of endless twisty roads with fairly good tarmac and scenic views. There isn’t any long climb on the menu today but a series of energy-sapping hills that will bring the elevation gain well over 2,000 meters today.
After a particularly steep descent towards the end of the ride we’ll get to the river Kok valley, getting ever so close to the Burmese border.
Thaton, the village where we sleep today, is barely 1 kilometer away from Myanmar but with a steep wall of mountains separating us we won’t be visiting the neighboring country! Instead we’ll relax walking around and visiting the temples, with an optional massage to heal those tired legs before dinner.
With much less climbing on the menu today, this might feel like a rest day when we start rolling in the misty fields of the Kok valley surrounded by orange orchards and mountain views in the distance. However, we’ll need to get over a wall of about 6 km in length with some tough ramps.
Like yesterday, this area will feel extremely remote, with kilometers on end of farmlands and barely no signs of tourism or development. We’ll stop at some local cafes to refuel and soak on the relaxed vibe of rural Northern Thailand.
The second half of the ride will be slightly downhill and flat, bypassing Chiang Rai and heading towards the mighty river Mekong. We’ll arrive at the sleepy town of Chiang Saen, on the riverbank, where we’ll enjoy the scenic view from the restaurant and our hotel rooms.
If you are lucky to visit during the “Loy Kratong” festival (generally in November) you’ll see the whole town and river lit with traditional lamps and a very festive atmosphere.
The route today is a gift for the eyes. Most of the 70 kilometers we’ll be riding along the Mekong, with Laos on the other side. It’s also probably the easiest day of the trip so we can afford to take it really easy and enjoy the panoramic views.
We’ll stop occasionally in some temples and towns, always by the riverbank and admire traditional architecture and landmarks.
Towards the end, the terrain becomes more hilly and rough beside the river and we’ll have to tackle a few uphills, the longest of which is barely 1 kilometer with ramps of 10-12%.
We’ll arrive at the border town of Chiang Khong in time for lunch, and the afternoon is free for you to sit on your balcony overlooking the river, explore the local market, or wander through the bicycle museum before dinner.
After a couple of easy riding days we arrive at the queen stage of the trip, the longest and with more elevation meters, but also with some of the most stunning views you’ll get to ride.
We’ll roll out of Chiang Khong and head South along the Mekong river. After a warm up for 40 odd km on an easy route before it's time to go uphill. If it’s open, we’ll do our break stop in one of the best coffee shops in the area.
The main climb on the route today is the Doi Pha Tang, a tough test featuring 20% ramps at times. After this ascent of almost 800 m we’ll get up to a plateau. Here we'll have a few undulations along a ridge at around 1,200 m. The views over the next 30-35 km are just unbelievable, it seems like heaven, rolling over smooth tarmac with gentle ups-and-downs and never-ending views of valleys and hills on the right side.
At the highest point of the route we overlook the towering “Phu Chi Fah” (the Mountain that Pierces the Sky) with Laos on the other side of a sea of clouds. A gentle descent will bring us home, with a short 30-minute transfer to our hotel to end this epic day with a festive dinner and beers.
If we had too many beers last night it won’t matter today. The route is fairly flat and not too long, perfect to finish this trip dropping some lactic acid that had built up over the days.
We are in the quaint region of Thoeng, a farming area between the high mountains with quiet valleys, villages and temples. Upon arriving at Phayao we will have lunch overlooking a beautiful lake.
Then we’ll have a 2-hour transfer back to Chiang Mai, where we’ll have our farewell dinner in the evening and time for a last stroll around the old town.
We'll pick you up from the hotel and transfer you to the airport at the desired time. Our ride leader will also support you if you need help cleaning and packing bikes and equipment... Or maybe you choose to stay in this cycling paradise for a few more days!