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Thailand North - The Jane Tour

A Relaxed Ride Through The Lanna Kingdom

Less well known that the famed beaches of Southern Thailand, the far north of the country is arguably the secret jewel in the crown of this beautiful laid back nation. 

With winter weather akin to the finest summer’s days of Northern Europe, beautiful scenery of hills and valleys, fields of rice, crops of tea, and plantations of rubber, all explorable by bicycle on quiet roads and trails, it is difficult to imagine a finer place on earth for the cyclist. Add to this the wonderful Thai cuisine and the laid back friendly nature of the locals, always quick with a smile and cheery greeting, and one cannot help the feeling of living in a well kept secluded utopia. 

At a Glance

Total Days: 13

Cycling Days: 10

Difficulty: 5/10

Daily Average: 55km

Off-Road: ~5%

Max. Alt.: 1500m

2018: 01 Dec - 13 Dec: $2665.00


This is a revised version of our standard North Thailand tour. The tour maintains all of the highlights of the standard tour, such as Chiang Rai, Mae Salong, Pu Chi Fa, Chiang Saen, the river journey to Thaton and the beautiful cycling and natural scenary of Northern Thailand but has been revised with a design brief to make cycling days less strenuouse where possible and on several occasions to up grade the accomodation. To this end we have added one day and one night to the tour. We have kept the route similar where possible whist using alternative routes to shorten distances. We will also ensure that there is room for everyone to tranfer when desired. We have the flexabily to be able to split the group if reqired to a riding group, and a head for the resort early group.


Included in this tour

Twelve nights accommodation is included in the tour price as are three meals per day on cycling days, snacks, drinking water, support vehicles (one or two depending on group size) English speaking Thai guide and English tour leader (David). Transport to and from Chiang Rai airport on the first and last day of the tour is also included. If you are in any doubt about anything please ask.



Daily distances of this tour are not particularly high. The shortest day is 40 kilometres and the longest a fairly flat 90 kilometres. There are some off road sections but nothing technical, simply unsealed tracks and trails that can be avoided with alternative options should the weather turn wet. Although many parts of this tour are pleasant easy riding there are sections with very steep climbs and for this reason the tour is rated as more difficult that our southern Thailand Tour. However it should be noted that our support vehicles will always be on hand and we can advise on when to hop in to miss the steep climbs.


Joining instructions

The tour starts and finishes in the city of Chiang Rai which is 800 kilometres north of Bangkok. Chiang Rai has a small international airport with many flights throughout the region. Air Asia, Bangkok Air and Thai Airways are amongst the airlines well worth checking for flights to and from Bangkok, and further beyond. There are also many busses and coaches of all classes linking the city with the rest of Thailand. Thailand’s second city, Chiang Mai, is around three hours by bus and has a train station that offers several sleeper trains per night as well as day trains to Bangkok. If you arrive/leave on the first/last day of the tour transport to and from either Chiang Rai airport or coach station is included. Typically the group meets at around six in the evening on the first day of the tour for a drink and tour briefing, although in practise your tour leader or guide will usually track you down soon after your arrival at our joining hotel.



December is a great time to visit Northern Thailand. It should be dry with warm days (25ºC - 35ºC), cool evenings where a jacket will quite likely be required, and chilly nights possably as low as 10ºC. By the the time it drops down cold though we should all be tucked up a cozy bed. This means that morning can be be nippy until the sun has had time to take effect. This is typical weather, it is also possible to be cooler during the day at this time of year possably as low as 17ºC, and rain, although very unlikely is always a posabilty. In short, clthing wise prepare as you would would for a British summer cycling holiday. I always say the the Northern Thailand winter is like a perffect summer's day in the UK, only much more predicatble and rather than lasting 24 hours it lasts for months on end.

Please be aware that we have a good knowledge of the many roads tracks and trails of the region and in the event of rain we have alternative route option that we may decide to use.



Bicycle Advice

At Painted Roads we hold firmly to the opinion that using your own bike, the bike on which you feel at home and comfortable is the finest way to enjoy a cycling adventure.

Most kinds of bicycle, except light-weight racing bikes are suitable for this tour: touring bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids or cyclocross bikes are all fine. Road conditions vary from asphalt to gravel and some hard packed dirt tracks. Tyres from 35mm in width upwards will be fine but we recommend 40mm on 700c and 2” on 26” wheels as a minimum.

South East Asia is generally a warm place so the ability to carry one or two water bottles is essential (either on your bike or in a backpack). Our back-up vehicle carries water and tools although for those competent with tools bringing your own pump, puncture kit, and multi took is recommended as it would speed up repairs and minor adjustments. If bringing your own bike please bring along a few spare spokes that fit your wheels (please note that different wheels have different size spokes). If your bike has disk brakes or hub gears please bring any components that you feel may be necessary. We carry some spares for our hire bikes but we cannot guarantee that we will have any tubes other than 26” car type valves. Tyres and tubes other than 26” can be difficult to come by in many parts of the world so please make sure you have spares. If in doubt please ask at your local bike shop. A means of carrying your camera, sunblock etc is also useful – either an on-bike bag, handlebar or saddlebag for example, or a lightweight day-pack.

ESSENTIAL! Please be sure that your bicycle is in perfect condition before you leave home. Again, if in doubt please consult your local bike shop.

Print Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival. Chiang Rai. 

On arrival at Chiang Rai international airport you will be met and transfer to our centrally located hotel. 

The day is free to relax by the pool or take a wander around Chiang Rai, exploring the temples, cafes and restaurants. For those with their on bikes this is also the time to build you bikes up.

Meals: NA


Day 2: Khun Charlie Resort.

Our journey begins with an eclectic selection of transport modes, from bicycle, to elephant, to long tail boat.

We leave our hotel and ride to the Mekok River which we follow north on a quiet rural road to a small village that is home to people of the Akha minority group. Here we can spend an hour riding elephants in the nearby hills.

Following lunch we board our private long-tail boats for an alternative view of the hills and forests of North Thailand as we navigate the river to the rural resort where we will spend the night.

The resort is a lovely and secluded boasting a pool and a river side dining area. 

For those keep to cycle there is also the option of cycling riverside to the resort although this is not for the casual cyclists. There are plenty of short steep climbs and most of the way is unsealed. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cycling Snacks

Cycling Distance 40kms via boat transfer. 70kms cycling off road.


Day 3: Khun Charlie Resort  to Thaton. 

A short boat ride across the river takes us to the first leg of today's ride, an undulating eleven kilometres of rural road leads us into the wide flat and fertile Thaton Valley. Here we ride through orchards of tangerine trees and fields of vegetables and rice on the first of our longer days on the bikes. The second half of the day’s ride utilises paths and trails as we meander through the rice fields and farmland on the way to the little riverside town of Thaton. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cycling Snacks

Cycling Distance 75kms


Day 4: Thaton to Mae Salong.  

We leave town along the wide Thaton Valley on a ride that introduces us to North Thailand style hills. 

The expectation is that everyone will transfer some of today’s ride. Some will decide to hop in the bus after just 15KMS. Some may push on to the start of the major challenge of the day which begins at 30KMS. Keen climbers may tackle the whole ride. 

About Mae Salong. This village which runs along a hill top ridge is home to the descendants of Kuomintang warriors who fled China at the end of the civil war. For decades this area was off limits even to Thais, with the consequence of Chinese culture and tea cultivation become predominant in the area. There are several small tea factories and tea shops where the local produce can be sampled, several little cafés. Interestingly when Echo, who is Chinese, and I visit she chats with the locals in Chinese. At around 1400 metres it also has a cooler climate and is an interesting place to visit. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cycling Snacks

Cycling Distance 45 kms


Day 5: Mai Salong to Doi Thung. 

Last time we were in Mae Salong we found a lovely route through the woods behind the village to begin the day’s ride. It is hilly but the opinion of all who were there was that it was well worth it, even though had to push some short sections. 

We then drop (via some undulations) back into the valley where the rest of day’s ride is predominantly flat. There is a section on a larger road and for those who want to keep the kilometres down we can discuss the best times to transfer. The afternoon’s section of the journey is along small rural lanes through villages and agricultural land.

Our destination is a nice resort at the bottom of Doi Thung mountain. For those interest in gardens a ride up the mountain in our support vehicle will be worth while as there are nice gardens to visit. For those who wish to relax the resort has a nice pool and a bar.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cycling Snacks

Cycling Distance 65 kms


Day 6: Doi Thung to Chiang Saen.  

Today we head east to the Mekong River cross-country with some rural roads and some unsealed trails.  After lunch we can visit the popular tourist site of The Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos and Burma all converge in the Mekong River.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cycling Snacks

Cycling Distance 45 to 50 kms with optional afternoon ride of 20 kms.


Day 7. Chiang Saen - Rest Day.

Today we take a well earned rest at our riverside resort which has comfortable rooms, a small pool, a restaurant/café with Mekong views from the balcony, and pleasant massage facilities.

Chiang Saen was once a major city of the Lanna Kingdom. It is surrounded on three sides by ancient walls and has several ancient temples all of which can be visited either by bicycle or on foot. From our guesthouse one can wander along the bank of the Mekong into town, visit the central market, stop off at one of the small cafés for a coffee, and generally experience a pleasant northern Thai town.

Meals: Breakfast

Cycling Distance 0 kms


Day 8: Chiang Saen to Rai Saeng Arun. 30kms

A short relaxed ride today will see us at destination by lunchtime. Our ride involves pastoral scenes and Mekong river views. Our resort for the night is on the bank of the Mekong overlooking Laos. The resort has its own   organic garden that supplies the ingredients for the fine dishes on offer.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cycling Snacks

Cycling Distance 30 kms


Day 9: Chiang Khong. 30 kms

For the most part today’s short ride tracks the Thai side of the Mekong. It is a lovely ride on rural roads but does present some unavoidable undulations. 

Our destination is Chiang Khong, a little riverside town who’s cafes and guesthouses are the result of a trade built up from tourists taking small boats across the Mekong to Lao, as this is one of the international borders between these two neighbours. The river trade has now died of due to the bridge that opened a few since, but there is still some tourist activity and the cafes and restaurants are still present. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cycling Snacks

Cycling Distance 30 kms


Day 10: Chiang Khong to Pu Chi Fa.

Pu Chi Fa is another town that grew up around Chinese fleeing the Communists at the end of the Chinese civil war. It is at a lofty 1400 metres or so and to get to it there is a 16 kilometres climb that can best be described as brutal. We can have a leisurely forty kilometre ride away from Chiang Kong and then transfer to the top of the big climb. From here we can ride again, although it is still a little hilly so continuing the transfer may be an option for some.

The main attractions of Pu Chi Fa is the sun rise over over Lao and the fine views. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cycling Snacks

Cycling Distance 40 to 70 kms


Day 11: Pu Chi Fa to Thoen.

Our day begins before dawn with a drive in our bus followed by a walk up the hill to where we can watch the sun rise through a sea of cloud below us as it slowly baths us in it’s warmth. This is a lovely sunrise and although popular with Thai tourists it’s off of the radar for most Western visitors.

Back down the hill and following breakfast we have what to my mind is one of the finest roads in Thailand. Although there are undoubtedly a few small climbs we leave with a lovely gentle 40 kilometre descent twisting and winding down to a lovely little riverside park where stop to relax for a while. The remainder of the days cycling passes fairly quickly with a ride that twists and turns sometimes on sealed roads and sometimes on red gravel. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cycling Snacks

Cycling Distance 70 kms


Day 12: Thoen - Chiang Rai.

Our final day on the road is a flat rural ride save for a rather challenging hill directly after our morning break. Rising 200 metres in just two kilometres this will be seen as an invigorating challenge by some, and a good reason to hop in the support vehicle by others. 

The afternoon involves a beautiful section of red gravel road leading us around a pleasant lake affording fine views and a fitting spot for our final tea brake of the tour.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cycling Snacks

Cycling Distance 70 kms


Day 13: Tour Ends.

Those leaving today will be transferred to the local airport for their onward flight. For those wishing to remain in the sunshine I am happy to book extra nights for you at our hotel which is well positioned to explore the town by foot. 

For those who wish to explore further by bicycle over the next day or two I will be very happy to accompany people for some short local rides to such destinations as the famed White Temple. 

Meals: Breakfast


Markers below are clickable as are the markers on the map itself.

    Check trip dates and availablility below. Click the Book This Date button to go ahead and make a booking, alternatively you can make a no-obligation request for us to keep you informed about the status of a trip or changes to a trip by clicking the Register Interest button against a date.

    £ Pound Sterling Payment Option

    Our prices are all in US dollars but we can offer you the option of paying in GBP (£) based on the exchange rate at the time of booking. You can choose on the booking form, adjusted prices will be shown there.

    Dates Price Availability

    2018: 01 Dec - 13 Dec
    Will run

    *Single Suppl.: $420.00


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    Bicycle Hire

    Rental Bicycles

    If you wish to hire a bicycle we can arrange for the hire of good quality cycles from our in-country agent. Typically these bikes are mountain bikes, often Trek 3 series or similar. Please request a hire bike at the time of booking.

    Rental Bicycle Recommendation. Although our hire bikes come equipped with a saddle if you have a saddle you use and are happy with it is strongly recommended that you use it on tour. If you use SPD type shoes please bring your own matching pedals. We are happy to fit these for you. You may also like to bring bar ends if you use them at home.
    Rental Fee US$210.

    *Single Supplement.

    The prices quoted above are for a twin room share basis. If you are travelling alone you will be paired up with another lone traveler of the same gender to share with. Single room occupancy can be arranged, the single supplement rate shown is per person.

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