10 Days 9 Nights
Northeast of Thailand along the Mekong River Biking Trip
Duration : 10 days, 9 nights
8 stages from 85 – 140 km (53 – 87 miles), Total 873 km (542 miles)
After a short ride through the city we say farewell to Udon Thani. We proceed towards the north on rural roads, passing rice fields, plantations (tapioca, tobacco) and temples. Peaceful villages greet us along our route. After 43 miles we reach Tha Bo and get our first glimpse of the Mekong River, the Nile of SouthEast Asia. At this point, the Mekong, also acts as the border between Laos and Thailand. We will roll along the river to the border town of Nong Khai. Here, the famous "friendship-bridge", connects Thailand with Laos as it majestically spans the mighty Mekong. The distance to Vientiane, the Laotian capital is only 15 miles! Nong Khai is a well-known trading place, and is influenced by the French Indochinese culture, found its way across the Mekong from Laos. The local market, located directly on the riverbank, is known as a shopping heaven for products from both Laos and Vietnam. We will stay at a beautiful resort with a refreshing swimming pool.
At 96 miles, today is the longest stage of the tour. We enjoy the views of the Mekong River, our constant companion for the coming days. Looking across the river we can see Laos on the opposite bank. We pass countless rice fields and plantations as water buffalos stare inquisitively at our colourful group. Every village here has its own temple. Our stage destination is Bung Khan, a tranquil place on the banks of the Mekong.
We use the cool morning hours to visit one of the most interesting travel destinations in the Isaan, the "Wat Phu Thok" temple - Isaan's stairway to heaven! We drive the 28 miles in our escort bus into the countryside before continuing on foot to the temple, which perches on a cliff. We follow adventurous paths over wooden foot bridges and gangplanks until we reach the peak. Here, we take in a breath-taking view of the surroundings. After lunch we cycle our next flat stage along the Mekong to Ban Paeng.
In the morning, the Mekong River welcomes us yet again to our stage. The scenery on the Laotian side is dominated by forested mountains. On our side it's rice fields. as cyclists, you will have difficulty deciding which side of the river is more attractive! The stage destination is Nakhon Phanom, a town idyllically situated on the river. The impressive temple "Wat That Phanom" is a popular pilgrimage destination amongst Thai Buddhists. We can relax at the hotel, which has an excellent view of the Mekong River. To help digestion we will sample a locally produced and nationally famous liquor.
Gradually the profile of the landscape begins to change. The rice fields subside, and more hills and forests appear. We reach Mukdahan, another border town on the Mekong. Eight separate tribes from different cultures and origins live here together in harmony. A bridge connects Mukdahan with the little Laotian town of Savannahket. The town's exotic Indo-Chinese market is a must for shopping.
After 37 miles, we bid a wistful good bye to the Mekong, our companion over the last 5 days. We ride west into terrain that becomes gradually becomes hillier and lightly rolling, passing through forests and plantations to reach the city of Amnat Charoen.
In order to satisfy our desire to see the mighty Mekong once more, we cycle southeast to Khong Chiam. The little village is very well known, as it is here that the waters of the Mekong and Mun Rivers join. The locals call this part of the river "Mae Naam Song See" - meaning the two-coloured river.
Our resort is located directly on the bank of the Mun River in an enchanting landscape, with a view of Laos on the far bank. You can choose from activities including relaxing by the pool, kayaking on the river, enjoying a massage or just letting your hair down andsavouring the natural surroundings.
We wave the last "Good bye" to the Mekong River. As a treat, nature has sprinkled our final stage with a few mildly undulating sections. The last cycle into Ubon Ratchathani is flat and is a pure pleasure to ride. Travelling towards the west, we cycle through tiny villages, along rice and cotton fields with open savannahs and mixed forests landscapes alternating in the background. In the last few miles to the hotel we have the opportunity to explore the provincial capital Ubon Rathchathani on our bikes. As is our tradition, we raise our glasses in the hotel to toast to the wonderful bike tour that we have completed.
After a final breakfast buffet you are once again at leisure. The nearby Ubon Ratchathani airport has daily flights on airlines such as Thai Airways, Air Asia etc., making returning to Bangkok or continuing on to other destinations within Thailand easy. For an extended journey within the area, we suggest a trip to Laos to visit the Si Phan Don (4000 islands). This magical delta of islands located in the Mekong just above its largest waterfall is an amazing area and remains a quiet destination, off the beaten tourist track.