© Painted Roads 2013
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Booking information & FAQs
Significant information and frequently asked questions about our tours, booking conditions, travel arrangments etc are given below (click the headings to view), we ask that you read. If you have any unanswered questions however please do not hesitate to contact us. All of the information given here is also available in a downloadable PDF below.
General information about our tours.. meals, accommodation, travel etc...
What is included?
Our tours do not include flights but in general from the day a tour starts the items listed below are included in the price. Specific details from country to country or tour to tour may vary slightly so each tour-specific brochure provides detail relevant to a given tour.
Included in a tour:
- Airport transfers: if your flights are on on the first/last day of a tour then airport transfers are included, if you are arriving/departing earlier/later than the tour start/end dates then we can assist with arranging an airport transfer upon request. If you are meeting a tour in-country then it is your responsibility to make your way to the designated meeting point although we will of course give every assistance where possible.
- Accommodation: all accommodation for the duration of a tour is included. In an effort to provide affordable tours and in keeping with our desire to provide an authentic interaction with the countries and people we cycle through wherever possible we use comfortable locally owned hotels and guesthouses rather than luxury resorts. These are clean and comfortable and we endeavour to ensure air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms if at all possible. Please be aware that on rare occasions due to the remote nature of a tour there may be nights when the accommodation is of a more basic nature.
- Meals: most meals are included, which means that on cycling days breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided, as are snacks such as biscuits and local fruit. We also provide drinking water whilst cycling. On non-cycling days breakfast is included but for lunch and dinner we we don't undertake to provide a meal as the variety of food and restaurants available in Asia is such that we like to give you the freedom to choose to eat out at different places. Specific details of what meals are included for each tour are given in the tour specific brochures.
- Backup vehicle(s): Depending on group size we will have one or two support vehicles. When there are two vehicles one will be an air-conditioned minibus of the Mercedes/Ford variety and a utility vehicle that carries spares, food, tables and chairs etc. We try to keep these vehicles discrete whilst at the same time having them close enough to be there in the event of a puncture, the need for water or simply wanting to hop aboard for a rest.
- Guiding: one or two experienced English-speaking guides for the duration of your trip. Our guides have many years experience as tour leaders and have an enviable track record for ensuring you enjoy a wonderful journey.
Groups are of between 4 and 14 people.
Precise details vary slightly from tour to tour so specifics will be provided prior to travel however in general on the first day of the tour you will be met at the local airport on arrival and transferred to our joining hotel. On the final day you will be transferred to the local airport in time for your flight. These transfers are included in the cost of the tour. As noted above, should you wish to arrive early or depart later than the tour start/end dates we can help with arrangements for your transfers or give advice on joining the group if requested.
Contrary to popular belief participants on our tours certainly do not need to be finely honed athletes. Whilst a reasonable level of cycling fitness is necessary a support vehicle is always on hand. This vehicle is there to be used by those who feel they would like a rest from cycling for whatever reason. Our tours have varying levels of difficulty due to terrain and distances covered and these will be detailed in the notes for each trip.
Our opinion at Painted Roads is that the most important thing is your enjoyment of your holiday. If this means riding in the bus for an hour resting, an afternoon reading, a day photographing, or simply the last hours after lunch having a beer, then hop in the van; it seems sillier to us to cycle when you would rather not, than to push on because you think it is expected.
It is very important that everyone in the group recognises the need for a team spirit and the need for cooperation and give & take. We ask everyone to realise that if they rush off ahead at every opportunity they will inevitably have to spend longer at break times waiting for the rest of the group, likewise although we like people to enjoy photography, taking in the views and experiencing first hand the local culture you should be aware of the rest of the group and do your best to cooperate with time keeping, ultimately it makes for a more enjoyable tour for all, yourself included. If you do have any questions with regard to this please don't hesitate to ask.
What constitutes a typical day on the road?
This is an often asked question and of course days vary depending on the amount and nature of cycling during the day ahead. However a typical day might look like:
- Group meets at seven for a breakfast. At eight(ish..) we are on our bikes with possessions safely tucked away in the support vehicle ready for the off.
- At around 10 we will have our first break. Typically this will be at a convenient and hopefully convivial roadside area where we will have tea, coffee or juice with snacks such as small cakes, biscuits and local fruit. Typical this break will last a half-hour. We then continue riding until lunch when we will stop either at a local restaurant for a cooked lunch or by the roadside for a picnic lunch. The lunch will vary according to country and region but an example of a Vietnam lunch could be baguette, cheese, tinned tuna, boiled egg and salad. A typical restaurant cooked lunch would be rice, noodles, fried vegetable, egg and meat dishes.
- Lunch may take up to an hour. During the afternoon we will have another break along the lines of the morning break. Reaching our hotel hopefully well before dark there is often an understandable enthusiasm for a relaxing beer before a shower, a stroll around the local environs and a group dinner. Dinner is generally a variety of local dishes pre-ordered by the guide and tour leader often with the help of a group member.
- For our picnic lunches and snack breaks we generally set up small tables and stools. Drinking water is available throughout the day and the support vehicles work in a way that help or support is seldom far away.
- Of course there are many factors that make up a typical day, sometimes there may be two breaks before lunch, on another day we may reach our destination by lunch time allowing for a leisurely afternoon of sightseeing or relaxing.
- On rest days breakfast is nearly always included but we do not include lunch and dinner as it is our experience that people have different idea of how to spend a rest day. Some wish to relax, some wish to take their bike and have a ride around the local area. Some like to eat pizza, some wish to try local “exotic” delicacies. But whatever you choose to do on a rest day there is nearly always a core group that arranges to meet up for meals or activities meaning that should you want company it is there.
Essentials: visas, insurance, passports, health etc...
It is a requirement that you be adequately insured for the full duration of the tour. Your policy must of course include cover for cycle touring, as well any other activity you might engage in for the duration of your holiday as well as personal injury, medical expenses, death, repatriation, helicopter or aircraft rescue, loss of luggage or equipment, cancellation or curtailments.
Each country has its own immigration requirements. Fortunately for citizens of most Western countries the requirements are generally straightforward. The following is intended as a guide only at the time of writing. You need to be aware that immigration requirements vary according to your nationality and are subject to change without notice so you should always independently verify visa regulations appropriate to your nationality at the time of booking.
- At the time of writing Thailand issues a 4 week entrance stamp free of charge if arriving by air, 2 weeks if arriving via a land border.
- Vietnam requires a visa costing around US$30 although this is subject to change and varies dependent on nationality. A visa can be arranged from a Vietnamese embassy or on arrival at Hanoi international Airport. A visa on arrival requires a letter of approval issued in advance via an appointed agent. We are able to offer this service via our agent in Hanoi for a fee of £20. Please apply for the letter of approval at least two weeks prior to arrival in Hanoi.
- Nepal visas can be obtained in advance or on arrival.
- Lao Visa can be obtained in advance or on arrival.
- Chinese visas vary considerably depending on the country in which you apply for your visa.
Up-to-date travel details and advice for travel to the destination country can be obtained from your government overseas department, for example in the case of British citizens the FCO, http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
Our destination countries require a passport valid for a further six months from the date of arrival with at least two two blank pages available.
Advice on inoculations and prophylactics necessary for your journey should be obtained from your GP. Seek advice at least 6 weeks prior to travel if possible.
Road conditions and general safety
We endeavour where possible to use quiet backroads for our tours, after all that is the point of the journey, however the driving standards and road conditions will, inevitably, be those of the host nation, not those from your home country to which you may be accustomed. Unfortunately this may mean a lower standard of road safety than you will be used to if you are from European, North American, and Australasian countries. Extra caution and vigilance should be exercised whilst cycling. With regard to our support vehicles we endeavor to provide modern standard air conditioned support busses and use drivers familiar with the needs of foreign tourists.
It is imperative that you understand that the standards of driving, road conditions and regulations adhered to will be those of our host country.
Flying with your bike, hire bikes, and which bike is best...
- Many customers choose to bring their own bicycles. Flying from Europe to Asia with a bicycle is not as difficult as many people imagine. For example at the time of writing Emirates allow 30KG of checked baggage plus 7KG of cabin baggage. Many airlines such as Thai allow 20KG checked but from our experience allow a degree of flexibility. It is recommended that you check with your airline beforehand re their specific bicycle policy. Being prepared for potential surcharges and packing requirements is the best way to make flying with your bike a stress-free experience.
- We have an article on our blog about how to pack your bike for a flight. You can read it here.
- For convenience we like to use the Ground Effect Tardis or Body Bag, alternatively for extra protection a cardboard box can generally be obtained from your local bicycle shop, often for free or just a small sum. Packing a bike for flight can be done by anyone confident with tools or, for those less confident, a local bicycle shop will pack your bike typically for an hour's labour cost. We always allow a free day at the beginning of a tour which gives time to build up your bicycle with assistance from our staff if required.
- For most of our tours touring bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids or cyclocross bikes are all fine. More details on road conditions, tyre choice etc are provided in the detail of each individual tour brochure.
- We also provide the option of hiring a bicycle locally from our in country agent. Typically these bikes are mountain bikes, often Trek 3 series or similar.
Our booking conditions...
These are our detailed booking conditions, your booking will only be accepted on the basis that you have read and agree to these conditions.
- How to book: You can use the online booking form on each tour page, following which we will be in touch with regard to the deposit of £200 per person to guarantee your booking, plus any additional requests such as hire bikes, single rooms and so on. Alternatively you can email us or use our general enquiry form and we'll send you a booking form by return. The balance of the tour price is payable 8 weeks prior to departure. If booking within 8 weeks of departure then the full amount is payable.
- Cancellations: If it becomes necessary for you to cancel your tour please notify Painted Roads immediately by email. In case of cancellation the deposit of £200 will be forfeit as cancelation fee in order to cover costs. Should cancellation be for reasons out of your control then we can provide a cancellation invoice upon request to support any claim to your travel insurance provider.
Cancellation by Painted Roads: We will not cancel your booking unless:
- We are forced to do so by circumstances beyond our control, such as war, civil and political unrest, or "force majeure".
- The minimum number of people (four) needed to operate the tour has not been reached.
In the latter case we will not cancel your tour fewer than 30 days prior to the date of departure. Under these circumstances we will offer you another tour or a full refund.
- Alterations to the itinerary: Tours are booked on the understanding that you accept the itinerary as a plan that may change to accommodate local circumstances, for example severe weather conditions, flooding, an unforeseen change in the availability of our chosen accommodation and so on. By booking you accept that you must be flexible and agree to modified arrangements if necessary. No refunds can be given for unused services. Similarly there are no discounts or refunds available for joining a tour late or leaving it early.
- Tour leader authority: By booking your holiday with Painted Roads you must agree to the terms and conditions of booking and as such while on the trip you consent that you agree to abide by the authority of the leader who represents Painted Roads. At all times the authority of your tour leader will be final when concerning matters likely to endanger the health, safety, comfort or enjoyment of yourself or the group. If, in the opinion of the leader, your health or behaviour on the tour is deemed unacceptable you may be excluded from part or all of the trip. If excluded from the trip, Painted Roads shall cease to have any responsibility for you and you shall have no right of refund.
- Local laws and customs: You must always comply with the local laws, including drug laws, of the countries you are visiting. Failure to do so may lead to you being excluded from the tour without recourse to any refund or any legal claim against Painted Roads, at which point Painted Roads shall cease to have any responsibility for you. With regard to local customs that are not set by law we ask that you be respectful towards the people and places of the countries you visit as part of your tour. Failure to do so may lead to your behaviour being considered by the tour leader as unacceptable and may result in your exclusion from the tour at which point Painted Roads shall cease to have any responsibility for you and you shall have no right of refund.
- Insurance: You, the client are solely responsible for arranging your own travel insurance. It is mandatory that you be adequately-insured for the full duration of the tour. By booking with Painted Roads you agree that you accept full responsibility for ensuring you are adequately insured. If you join the tour without adequate insurance you may be disallowed from continuing on the tour without the right of refund. This is both for the protection of you and Painted Roads. Specifically you need to make sure that your policy covers you for cycle touring as well as any additional activities you plan to partake in during your holiday. Your policy must also include personal injury, medical expenses, death, repatriation, helicopter or aircraft rescue, loss of luggage or equipment, cancellation or curtailments. Any claims concerning matters for which you are insured must be directed to your insurers.
- Joining the tour locally: Our responsibility does not commence until the appointed time at the designated meeting point for the tour in question. If you fail to arrive there at the appointed time, we shall not be held responsible for any additional expenses incurred by you in meeting up with the group. If the group arrival is delayed to the local joining point, the tour shall not be deemed to begin until the arrival of the group.
- Passports, vaccinations and visas: It is your responsibility to be in possession of a valid passport, visa permits, inoculations and preventative medicines as may be required for the duration of the tour. Any information concerning these or related matters is given in good faith but without responsibility on the part of Painted Roads.
- Responsibilities: All participants take part at their own risk and agree to indemnify Painted Roads against claims for loss or damage to personal property, personal injury or death, and any claim arising from the participants own actions. We shall not be liable for the theft of your bicycle (whether hired or not) or injury as a result of cycling, either on or off the road and, in particular, injuries as a result of inadequately serviced or maintained cycling equipment.
- Flights and transfers: Our prices do not include flights but do include transfer from the local airport to and from the designated meeting point on the first and last days of the tour (airport transfers on any day outside of the official tour dates are not included in the tour price). Any flight ticket you hold as part of your holiday is a contract between you and your chosen airline and will be subject to the General Conditions of Carriage and Conditions of Contract of the airline. Painted Roads shall not be responsible for any losses or delays incurred as part of your contract with the airline. This includes delays such as weather, industrial action, mechanical failure or rescheduling. With regard to arranged airport transfers we rely on you to advise us of your desired check-in times and will arrange transport in good time however Painted Roads cannot be held responsible for the failure to meet flights for any reason out of our control, for example as a result of local traffic conditions, accidents, industrial action, or the failure of the transport provider.
- Price guarantee: We guarantee that the price of your holiday will not be subjected to any surcharge. The only time the price of your holiday could increase would be 4 weeks or more, from the start date of your holiday, due to the exchange rate altering significantly (10% or more as given by a high street bank). Even in this case we will absorb an amount equivalent to 5% of the tour price. Only amounts in excess of 5% would be surcharged. If the tour price increases by 15% or more you will be offered a full refund.
- Health: Participants must be relatively fit and accustomed to regular physical activity to take part in our tours. Any client with a pre-existing medical condition or illness must declare such conditions when booking. In some cases Painted Roads may require a medical statement from a GP confirming that they are fit to participate. Painted Roads reserves the right to refuse a participant who is deemed medically unfit to take part. Participants must also inform Painted Roads if there is any change in medical conditions between booking and departure. Painted Roads shall not be held responsible for any injury or illness incurred as a result of physical exertion for which you are unprepared, lack of or limited access to medical attention in remote locations, and the adequacy of medical attention once provided.
- Server ability: If any part term or provision of the contract is held to be illegal or unenforceable it should not affect the validity or enforceability of the remainder of the contract.
- Complaints: If you have a complaint about any of the tour arrangements you must bring it to the attention of the tour leader as soon as possible to enable them to take appropriate action to rectify the situation where possible. Failure to do so means we will not have been given the opportunity to rectify the situation and may limit your right to compensation. If you are not satisfied with the response however and you feel that your enjoyment of the tour has been affected, you must write to the Painted Roads office within 21 days of the completion of the tour, and we will do our best to resolve the problem.
Get in touch..
Use the form below to drop us an email, if you'd like us to call you include your phone number. We're looking forward to hearing from you.