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 to the incredible temples at 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 Asia’s most modern cities – Taipei and Singapore. Between our departure from the National Palace Museum in Tapei and your first sip of an 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.
This fascinating section, a circumnavigation of the beautiful island of Taiwan, begins in Taipei. The riders will head south along the flat western coast passing towering wind turbines, salt factories and colourful temples. Highlights include a stop at the Baguashan Big Buddha, once Asia’s largest at 23m and crossing the 1939m long Xiluo Bridge over the Zhuoshui River. Next up is Khaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city, currently reinventing itself from an industrial port city into a modern cultural hub. The riders will continue south, spinning along with mountains on their left and the glittering ocean on their right, before crossing the Tropic of Cancer. Soon they will arrive at Kenting National Park for a rest day.
The park, with its white sand beaches, coral reefs and numerous street-food stalls should prepare the riders for Taiwan’s unspoiled east coast with its picturesque fishing villages and endless beaches and coastline. The cycling will be challenging as the road weaves past soaring cliffs and over some demanding climbs. Their reward is some absolutely incredible cycling, featuring spectacular views out over the South China Sea. There are also quiet tree-canopied roads surrounded by fragrant rice paddies and the riders can soothe their muscles in the famous Jiaoxi Hot Springs before completing this section and pedalling back into into Taipei.
This section begins with a train transfer from Hong Kong to Guilan on which the riders can rest up from their late-nights taking in the hustle of one of Asia’s biggest economies. Once in Guilan they will enjoy the beautiful surroundings – towering karst mountains, winding rivers and verdant rice paddies. The cyclists then head southwest though peaceful rural villages and some of China’s most gorgeous countryside before enjoying a rest day in the ‘Green City’ of Nanning.
After a few more quiet days of riding, it is 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.
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 Phnom 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 where the participants will marvel at one of the world’s most spectacular sights – Angkor Wat. Here they will be able to explore the 40 square km of temples and statues of gods and demons.
The riders then head south to Battambang, a laid-back riverside town with some incredible French colonial architecture and an emerging art scene before continuing into Thailand and Chanthaburi with its beautifully restored waterfront buildings and gemstone trading market. The route then heads west along the Gulf of Thailand and its stunning beaches, arriving in the glittering resort town of Pattaya before turning north to Bangkok.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. The cyclists will stop in Thailand’s oldest beach resort, Hua Hin, where the Thai Royal family is known to spend some time. Further south the route turns sharply west towards the Burmese border and the coastal road along the Andaman Sea and a rest day in the small southern city of Ranong. Riders can enjoy the laid-back atmosphere or a soothing dip in the local hot springs but the real attraction is a possible day visit to Myanmar (Burma).
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 jumping on a ferry into historic Georgetown, Penang, the end of this sun-soaked section.
Heading back to the mainland from the island city of Penang the cyclists will now head inland to the romantic, colonial town of Ipoh before enjoying a welcome change of pace. After cycling in the humidity of southern Thailand, they will likely appreciate a ride through Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands. Situated between 1000 and 1500 m above sea level, the temperatures are pleasant and the scenery is remarkable – tea estates, waterfalls, forests, orchards, lakes and rivers.
A short bus transfer will then bring them to 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.