Many of us have criss-crossed this beautiful area on a ‘shoestring’ over the years. Now return with us and spin through stunning mountains, along sparkling coastlines, into misty valleys, beside historic waterways, into small villages and ancient historic sites, revel in some of the world’s best foods and enjoy the unsurpassed hospitality of the region’s people and South Asia’s endless charm. The Bamboo Road Bicycle Expedition meanders through China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia – all becoming hotspots for cycle tourists. Enjoy a boat trip through the spectacular Ha Long Bay outside Hanoi, shop until you drop in Hong Kong, cycle through the incredible Angkor Wat or kayak the turquoise waters off Ao Nang on the Thai coast.
The Bamboo Road Bicycle Expedition will weave a magical path between two of the world’s Alpha cities – Shanghai and Singapore. Between our departure from the historic Bund in Shanghai and your first sip of a ice cold Singapore Sling at the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel in Singapore you and your bike will experience three months of intense, incredible, exhilarating cycling. Leaving the modern city of Shanghai, riders will soon find themselves pedaling through bamboo-clad hills, alongside lakes and canals and staying in ancient villages before enjoying a few days in Hong Kong. From there cyclists will follow the coast through an area known for the best dim sum in China along with some beautiful beaches before crossing the border into Vietnam. Riders will enjoy the beauty of Ha Long Bay and the colonial architecture of Hanoi before heading south west where they will enter Laos and start following the Mekong River south all the way down to Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. From here they turn their handlebars west and spin along the Tonle Sap to Siem Reap where the cyclists will have 3 full days to explore one of the world’s most amazing sights – Angkor Wat. Refreshed, the riders will pedal into Thailand and across the friendly, welcoming countryside until they reach Bangkok, the city that never sleeps. Heading south, the route now skirts along the Gulf of Thailand, golden beaches on one side and endless rice paddies on the other. Soon the terrain becomes more mountainous and the riding more challenging. As a reward the cyclists soon descend to the Andaman Sea and enjoy a rest day amongst the areas stunning islands. Heading back inland the cyclists will now head to the historic island of Penang and the romantic, colonial town of Ipoh before veering south and arriving in the modern metropolis of Kuala Lumpur. The last stretch of the journey returns to the coast and passes through the ancient trading city of Meleka and thence into Singapore.
Leaving the modern city of Shanghai, riders will soon find themselves pedaling through bamboo-clad hills, alongside lakes and canals and staying in ancient villages. The terrain will change into a rugged lush mountainous zone and cyclists will enjoy a rest day in Wuyi Shan with its spectacular scenery – waterfalls, forests, mountains and rivers. Turning south to the coast, another highlight will be the 14th century city of Xiamen – one of the most beautiful harbour cities in the country. Fresh fish, colonial architecture and bike lanes abound. A few days later riders will arrive in the city of Hong Kong.
This section begins with a leisurely bus transfer from Hong Kong to Kaiping on which the riders can rest up from their late-nights taking in the hustle of one of Asia’s biggest economies.
Riders will take their mark again in Kaiping where they will discover a vast collection of UNESCO highlighted watchtowers. Built by ‘coolies’ returning with their fortunes from California, the styles vary from Roman to Rococo.
Cyclists will now head west on roads just north of the coast headed towards their rest day in Hengzhouzhen. Take in the sights and smells of the harvest as you meander across the quieter roads of the most populated country on Earth. Watch the edges of the road as you ride, as stretching along the roadways local farmers area busy harvesting and drying rice to sell at the local markets.
After a few quiet days its time to say goodbye to China, and hello to Vietnam!
The border crossing between China and Vietnam will come shortly after a jaunt through the Friendship Pass. Traditionally the designation for the border of China and Vietnam (though the official border has moved a little bit over the years), Friendship Pass got its current name in 1965 to reflect the close political ties between China and North Vietnam during the then on-going Vietnam War.
The ride within this northern part of Vietnam will take the group through stunning mountains, jungle vistas and plenty of political history. Continuing on to Hanoi riders can sample some truly authentic Pho, a little Vietnamese coffee (or beer!) and delve deeper into the over 1000 years of history offered in the capitol city.
2010 marked one thousand years since the establishment of the city of Hanoi and the history is apparent around every corner; From the French colonial to the traditional. Take particular note of the tall, thin buildings. Historically homeowners were taxed according the width of the front of their house. This rule led to some pretty unique architectural examples throughout Hanoi. Wander through the streets and alleys and learn about what makes this city so unique.
With two rest days in Hanoi before the next section begins riders can take advantage of an opportunity for a day-trip (or overnight trip) to Ha Long Bay. Consisting of over 1,600 limestone monolithic islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation the bay is otherworldly. Explore the bay on boat, visiting one of the floating fishing villages and exploring the caves (Thien Cung grotto and other caves provide a cool escape from the daily heat); Or just put up your feet, open a cold beer, and enjoy the stunning scenery.
Heading south from Hanoi, the riders will pass water buffalo, farmers, and rice paddies while they pedal along secluded country lanes. Staying inland from the coast, they will travel through small villages and National Parks before turning west and climbing over the Kaew Nua Pass into rural Laos.
Here they can explore the amazing karst formations and caves during their rest day in Thakhek, situated on the legendary Mekong River. For the next 10 days the cyclists will follow this historic waterway through pastoral scenes, watching closely for the endangered freshwater Mekong dolphins near Kratie, crossing into Cambodia and past ancient Khmer temples and tropical rainforests before arriving in Phnom Penh.
Having enjoyed a few ice-cold Angkor beers at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Phnonm Penh, riders will cycle along the northern edge of the Tonle Sap, Cambodia’s most important waterway.
Three days later they will arrive for a double rest day in Siam Reap. Here the participants will marvel at one of the world’s most spectacular sights – Angkor Wat. Here they will be able to cycle freely around the 40 square km of temples and statues of gods and demons.
Four days of spinning across the friendly and welcoming Thai countryside brings the section to an end in Bangkok.
Leaving Bangkok, the riders will hug the coast of the Gulf of Thailand with palm trees, sand and warm waters on one side and forested mountains on the other. Stopping for a rest day in Thailand’s oldest beach resort, Hua Hin, participants may meet the country’s king who spends much of his time here.
Further south the route turns sharply west towards the Burmese border and the coastal road along the Andaman Sea. There will be some challenging climbing here, our first since leaving Vietnam, and the riders will subsequently enjoy their rest day in Ao Nang, possibly kayaking around the area’s stunning islands.
The expedition then turns back inland and crosses into Malaysia before heading over the causeway into historic Georgetown, Penang, the end of this sun-soaked section.
Heading back to the mainland the cyclists will now head inland to the romantic, colonial town of Ipoh before veering south and arriving in the modern metropolis of Kuala Lumpur. Riders will enjoy a rest day here climbing the iconic Petronas Towers or enjoying a relaxing walk through the British-inspired Lake Gardens.
The last stretch of this section, and indeed the full tour, returns to the coast and passes through the great historic trading city of Meleka where they can also enjoy the inhabitants’ unique take on traditional Malaysian cuisine.
Finally, the participants will cross into Singapore, ending this epic adventure.