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Detour! The Road To Shangri-La Is Now The Golden Buddha Ride

 

Our founder, Henry Gold, has a favourite saying, “Man plans, God laughs.” This has certainly been the case over the last two, very challenging, years! We recently re-routed our 2022 Bamboo Road tour due to some lingering COVID border restrictions and the change gives us great confidence that the tour will go ahead as planned. Now it is The Road to Shangri-La’s turn.

With China’s zero-COVID policy, it seems unlikely that we would be able to reach the fabled Shangri-La within its borders. As a result The Road to Shangri-La is now called The Golden Buddha Ride. The first 2 sections remain the same, running from Saigon to Hué and then from Hué to Vientiane. The big change occurs during the next section, After a wonderful rest day in Luang Prabang, the route turns west, instead of northeast towards China, crosses northern Laos and continues on into northern Thailand, renowned for its incredible scenery and laidback mountain culture. A stop in historic Chiang Mai signals the start of the final section to Bangkok, and the eventual conclusion of our ride at the famous Golden Buddha of Wat Traimit Temple.

>>Dates, details and prices for the 2023 Golden Buddha Ride

As in the case of the recent changes to the Bamboo Road, this adjustment has unearthed a number of incredible highlights. From the hill tribes in Northern Laos to the stunning temples of Chiang Mai, from the Monkey City of Lop Buri to the ancient ruins of historic Ayutthaya, the new route is full of incredible sights and experiences.

The Golden Buddha Ride will allow the riders to experience the bustling streets of Saigon, to pedal into the French colonial hill station of Dalat, to wander through the streets of the ancient trading port of Hoi An and to explore the historic sites of the Imperial City of Hué. It will take them along the shores of the mighty Mekong River and on into laid back Laos and its sleepy riverside capital Vientiane before heading into the country’s northern hills and the picturesque city of Luang Prabang.

We are very excited about the Golden Buddha Ride and hope you will join us on this amazing cycling adventure across South East Asia.

Hill Tribes

The Northern area of Laos is home to many of the country’s 49 ethnic groups and the riders will have the opportunity to experience the distinct cultures of the various tribes. Notable amongst them are the H’Mong, Laos’s largest minority group, who were recruited by the US during the Vietnam War to fight against Hanoi’s allies, the communist Pathet Lao. Today, they tend to be settled on or near mountain tops and are distinguished by their exquisite silver jewelry and stunning embroidered outfits.

Chiang Mai

The beautiful city of Chiang Mai is set amongst the mountains of Northern Thailand and is known for its moderate climate and incredible collection of temples, notably the hilltop Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, located about 10 km outside the city. Energetic riders can cycle up to enjoy its amazing views over Chiang Mai on one of their rest days. Once back in the city they can enjoy a bowl of its signature dish, Khao Soi, egg noodles fried with curry, beef or chicken with chutney, pickled cabbage, pepper, and lemon. Yum!

Lop Buri

Do you like monkeys? Yes? Well, you are going to love Thailand’s ‘Monkey City’ of Lop Buri. There are estimated to be over 2,000 long-tailed macaques, largely clustered around a couple of Khmer temples in the city’s centre and are fed by the residents. They are celebrated each year during the Monkey Buffet Festival when they are provided with tons of fruits and vegetables. The monkeys are fearless and will attempt to steal any food or items left in the open so the riders should be sure to lock up their belongings when they visit.

Ayutthaya

A UNESCO Heritage Centre, the historic city of Ayutthaya dates back to 1350 and was the Siamese Kingdom’s second capital – the first was Sukothai, the present one, Bangkok. Located on an island at the confluence of three rivers – the Chao Phraya River, the Lopburi River and the Pa Sak River – the city was a major trading centre, greeting traders from China, the Middle East & Europe and was considered one of the world’s most striking cities. Riders can explore the ruins of temples, monasteries, palaces and reliquary towers – all that remains today, Burmese invaders having burnt the city to the ground in 1767.

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