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Cycling Tours in Southeast Asia
 
03/29/2001
Cycling Tours in Southeast AsiaA new dimension has been added to accessible, inspiring travel in Southeast Asia, by Spice Roads Tours, a unique British/Thai travel company based in London and Chiang Mai, owned and operated by renowned travel writer and tour operator, Hamish Keith.

For the past ten years Hamish has been cycling all over Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and occasionally Burma. Sometimes he does it for pleasure and sometimes professionally. He has worked as a tour leader and consultant for dozens of international travel companies including, Exodus Travels (UK), World Expeditions (Australia), Explore Worldwide (UK), Classic Tours (UK), Baumeiler (Switzerland) and The Wild Planet (Thailand). He estimates he has covered 100,000 kilometres on his trusty mountain bike and has become a serious student of the languages, history and cultures of the region. He is the author of three (soon to be four) guide books for Asia Horizons of Bangkok and Egon of London, as well as dozens of travel and political articles for publications including the Bangkok Post, Traveller Magazine and Journeys in Asia.

Using his biking experience and knowledge of the area, Hamish has created six two-week tours that will satisfy the curiosity and stimulate the senses of even the most seasoned traveller. From the moment you meet your fellow travelling companions at your appointed rendezvous, 'touring' takes on a whole new meaning. When you join this small group of like-minded people - free spirits who value the intimacy and unique camaraderie which always develops as an integral part of every Spice Roads holiday experience - you set forth on a journey which will change your understanding of the world.

All your travel details have been attended to and Hamish and his team are always on hand to take care of your every need. Service in Southeast Asia has a meaning that goes far beyond the 'you get what you pay for' attitude of the west. Although a Spice Roads tour does not cost a kings ransom, you will be treated as if you were something of a combination between a film star and an honoured guest wherever you go. A fully equipped support vehicle follows behind allowing you the freedom to enjoy the scenery from your bike. Cycling gives you the opportunity to explore a country at ground level, to meet and interact with people form all walks of life, to experience all the sensory delights of Southeast Asia: its sights, sounds, smells and tastes. A Spice Roads tour is much more than a holiday it is a complete experience.

"Just the right amount of historical and local information provided at the appropriate time. Truly excellent local guides making any problem big or small disappear." Mike Wittich, Bank of Canada, London and five times repeat Spice Roads client.

North Thailand: An off road biking adventure that will appeal to adventurous travellers and mountain bikers. This cycle journey follows the old opium trails of Thailand's 'Golden Triangle', and takes you high up into the hills to visit tribal people living a life far apart from mainstream Thai society. Learn about the different tribes that inhabit these spectacularly beautiful mountains. Find out for yourselves just how they live as you spend several nights as guests of these colourful and hospitable people. Discover a primitive world, rich in tradition and mores and meet a people whose way of life is still untainted my the modern world. Along the way, you will ride some of the most awesome mountain trails in Asia. Mostly off-road, this tour is a mountain bikers dream. Jungle single track and twenty kilometre descents are interlaced with refreshing dips in waterfalls, delicious Thai food and the comfort of modern hotels and sightseeing in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. And you don't have to be an experienced rider as off road instruction is all part of the service.

Laos: Land-locked Laos is often the forgotten country in Southeast Asia. Trapped in a time warp by a communist government determined to save its population from western ideological pollution, the sparsely populated country is now open with the unique cultures and heritage of Vientiane and Luang Prabang still in tact. In fact the whole country retains a sleepy air and its people are without doubt the most friendly and welcoming in the world. The natural exuberance and unaffected hospitality with which our groups are greeted are a genuine life changing experience for many Spice Roads clients. To cycle in Laos is pleasure everybody should experience but which few have the imagination or opportunity to undertake. This tough but incredibly rewarding tour is a must for all cycle enthusiasts.

Cambodia: Now is the time to visit Cambodia. Now that it has fully emerged from the ravages of war and political turmoil and it is at last completely safe to travel. Angkor Wat, the thousand year old temple complex that has only relatively recently been reclaimed from the jungle, is the unquestioned jewel in the crown of Asian tourist attractions. But Cambodia is much more than its temples. You will learn many of the twists of fate history dealt this beautiful Buddhist country, whilst riding from the beaches of the south to the jungles of the north. Discover the rich heritage of Phnom Penh and the ruins of a magnificent empire. See how a proud kingdom found itself part of the cruellest social experiment the world has ever seen. This is an incredible tour, a spiritual journey through a country the world almost forgot..

Burma: Although the correctness of travel to Burma is still a subject under debate, Spice Roads has decided to that an inclusive approach to Burma and its people will be more likely to accelerate change than not. Burma is the gateway to Southeast Asia and the diversity of its people, culture, and topography combined with a rich history make it one of the most fascinating and beautiful countries in the region. Its political woes have ensured that the country has missed out on the economic booms experienced by some of its neighbours, and it remains a rural, undeveloped nation. Spice Roads cycle journey takes you from Kipling’s Mandalay on the imperious Irrawaddy River, into the mountains of the Shan States and the wondrous Inle Lake, before flying back to the capital, Rangoon. Along the way we visit the ancient city of Bagan and cycle amongst the thousands of pagodas, stupas, and temples that dominate a river valley that was once the centre of a great and deeply religious empire. Staying in some beautiful colonial and teak hotels, this tour reaches a level of comfort that would have been appreciated in the times of the Raj.

Vietnam: The word alone conjures an amazing amalgam of images in one's mind. And once you have visited this extraordinary country you will multiply those images a thousand fold and added many you could never possible have imagined. Vietnam is a fascinating country with its own distinctive culture and a long and chequered history. Although it is often remembered most for its wars, modern Vietnam has emerged as a proud nation eager to display the many aspects of its diverse land. Cycling from modern Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, as it is still known by many, all the way to the serene Northern capital of Hanoi, you will see, at ground level, the real Vietnam. Taking time out to visit Cu Chi tunnels, the beautiful beaches of Na Trang, the ancient city of Hue, the historic sea port of Hoi An, the colonial hill station of Dalat and the dramatic limestone karst scenery of Halong Bay. With the comfort of a fully equipped support bus always close at hand this tour is ideal for even the most occasional of cyclists.

South Thailand: A chance to ride along some of the most beautiful beaches of the world is not something that should be passed over lightly. If South Thailand lacks in history it more than makes up for in natural beauty. If a leisurely cycle journey from the beaches of Phuket to an idyllic tropical island sounds like your idea of paradise read on. You will also take a boat trip through Phang Nga Bay and see the backdrops for movies such as 'The Man With The Golden Gun' and 'The Beach'. This tour is about sea and sunshine and although it also takes you to Khao Sok National Park, you spend most afternoons soaking up the rays after a scenic cycle ride through country back roads. Bliss for the whole family.

Spice Roads Tours brings a unique perspective to travelling which allows you to experience your chosen destination at ground level. Each tour is custom designed and led personally by Hamish, who enjoys nothing more than sharing his wealth of knowledge and experience. And every tour offers the ultimate in experience, cuisine, accommodation and value for money. Tempted? For more information visit the Spice Roads website at http://www.spiceroads.com or contact us at info@spiceroads.com

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