TRAVEL ADVICE

INDOCHINA BIKE TOURS is an expert-led bicycle journey in Southeast Asia . We strive to make our tours as good as they can possibly be and constantly fine-tune our services and itineraries. On all our tours we maintain a high standard of service and attention to detail. Through meticulous itinerary planning, careful preparation, thorough staff training and attention to our client’s needs, we deliver a comfortable, safe, fun and enriching travel experience.

If you have narrowed down a destination or a riding style, we suggest that you download or request the Fact sheet for that tour and read over the itinerary where there will be more information about what you’ll see, riding conditions, visa information and weather.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, or require further advice, please remember you can always contact us and we will be happy to answer your questions.

WHAT TO EXPECT

The route is the core feature of a successful cycle tours and we make the effort to weave together enjoyable cycle routes with favourites destinations. As much as we can, we ride point-to-point and make sure we avoid the worst traffic. We linger in the worthwhile places and always take the scenic route. We design all our own itineraries, carefully researching each new route. We constantly review our tours to ensure that we offer the optimum experience. INDOCHINA BIKE TOURS is one of very few specialist cycle tour operators in Southeast Asia .

All cyclists need a good sense of balance and we try to strike the right one between price and service for our tours. We provide the very best services and accommodation for our clients without being overly exclusive or expensive. Our tours are fully supported with vehicles, well-trained staff and a full range of top-end equipment. We take very good care of our clients.

Our staff to client ratio is generally one to three. We do not make you fix your own flat tires or clean your own bikes and we certainly don’t assign chores. We provide more comfortable services and accommodation than most operations, but at a similar price.

Our service begins long before the tour departs. To help you make your decision, we provide you with a detailed Factsheet for each tour with information on what you will see, what’s included, what visas you need, what the weather is like and what to expect. When you book a space we send you a pre-departure information sheet telling you what you need to bring, how to pack and what paperwork you require.

As our clients usually come from many different directions at different times, our tours have a designated starting point so do not always include pick up at the airport. (Though we are happy to arrange transfers if you need one).

You will meet your cycle guide plus local staff and assistants who are responsible for taking care of you, your bike and to ensure that everything runs smoothly so you can enjoy a trouble-free journey with no worries about logistics or timetables.

The tour price includes all accommodation, all meals apart from the occasional lunch on some non-cycling days and maybe a dinner or two in big cities, so you can make some of your own culinary discoveries (Meals detail in your itinerary B = Breakfast , L = Lunch , D = Dinner ). Our support vehicles carry your luggage and provide a place for you to rest if you get tired. During the rides, we keep you topped up with water, fruit, soft drinks and snacks and we make sure you get a nice cold drink – and usually a cold towel as well – at the end of each ride.

At the end of the day, we make sure you get a good meal and we clean and prepare your bike for the next day’s riding.

Most meals are included and since so many meals we serve feature local cuisines, we do our best to deliver the real thing. We eat dinner together family style, which means sharing a number of delicious dishes, making sure it is an authentic feast worthy of hardworking and hungry cyclists. There is always enough food to satisfy the heartiest appetite and we provide lots of fruits and vegetables if possible . Drinking water, fruit and snacks are always available in our escort vehicle. Other drinks are not included when not riding, but are widely available at local restaurants and shops along the way. Beer and other alcoholic beverages are available but are not included in the tour price.

We strive to offer a good mix of accommodation on all of our tours, always aiming for local charm. Depending on the tour, we stay at three- or four-star lodges that compliment the local culture, and sometimes logistics forces us to become creative. If we have a great cycle route through an area where there isn’t any accommodation, so we will find a local family that is happy to work with us or perhaps set up tents for the night. In isolated or newly developing areas, we are sometimes forced to stay somewhere more basic than we would like, but it is only for one night and we make sure everything is clean and comfortable. And these places are certainly authentic, and often form some of the better memories of your tour.

HOW DOES TIPPING WORK IN TOUR ?

Through the time, tipping is now becoming a part of tourism culture and it is enormously appreciated. You should consider tipping for tour guides, drivers, hotel staff, porters ,boat crews.. and should be lowest level for them.

1- Hotel porters 0,5 – 1 usd per luggage

2- Bike mechanic from 2 – 4 usd per day per persons

3- Tour driver from 4 – 6 usd per day per persons

4- Tour guide from 8 – 10 usd per day per persons

You might want to tip more if you found your tour or services beyond your expectation or your tour guide, driver and other staff are exceptional.

If you are pleased with the service provided and find the trip enjoyable, some more dollars might be a good motivation and they would be happy to receive because they are deserved to it..

YOUR FELLOW RIDERS

Statistically speaking, an average INDOCHINA BIKE TOURS consists of 12 clients, a tour leader, a local guide, a driver and an assistant. The group of 10 will be comprised of four different nationalities (two of which will be the UK and US), speak at least two languages, contain slightly more males than females and have an average age of 45.

Of the 12, two will return the following year to take another tours, five will join another tour within three years and nine will at least contact us to show an interest in joining another tour. We sometimes wonder what happens to the other one!

All 12 will contact each other at least once after the tour. Around half will remain in contact, many will become good friends, and on more than one occasion we have been invited to a wedding!

Our exceptionally good rate of return clients tells us we must be doing something right. It also tells us something about the people who join our tours. INDOCHINA BIKE TOURS cyclists are fun and part of the attraction of our tours is meeting like-minded people with a passion for traveling by bicycle.

Solo travelers are always welcome and those who would like their own room have the option of paying a single supplement. Otherwise we will arrange for a shared room with another solo traveler (of the same sex) at no extra cost. If there is no roommate available, INDOCHINA BIKE TOURS will cover the additional cost of a single room.

Children are welcome on our short tours .However, on our longer tours the minimum age is 17 years. This is for a number of reasons and more to do with group dynamics than the difficulty of the journey.

VISA ADVICE

Vietnam
Most nationalities require a visa for Vietnam and they can be obtained from any embassy worldwide, here’s a list of locations. For a list of those countries exempt, go to this page. A tourist visa is valid for a single 30 day stay. You must specify your arrival date when applying for a visa and it is from this date that the 30 days will be calculated. When picking up your visa check to be sure the dates match your travel plans and that it is stamped directly into your passport as it will not be accepted if it is stapled in or loose. You can obtain a pre-approved entry visa online before arrival in Vietnam for a fee, however, the visa is still issued on arrival at international airports.

Laos
A 15-day visa on arrival can be obtained at all airports and all land border crossings. Fees vary depending on country – US$42 for Canada, US$35 for the USA, UK and most of Europe, and US$30 for Australia and other countries. You’ll need a passport photo, an application form (your guide will provide this to you in advance) and US dollars for the visa fee. At land borders you will be asked to pay nominal (US$1-3) overtime, weekend and other various fees, the amount of which varies at each border crossing.

A visa issued at a Laos consulate abroad is valid for 30 days. When entering Laos with a visa please be sure to obtain an immigration entry stamp. Entering the country on only a visa, and not the proper immigration entry stamp, could subject you to fines and/or penalties.

Burma (Myanmar)
A visa is required for all visitors to Myanmar. Regulations are changing quickly, but at the moment the guaranteed method is to go to your nearest Myanmar embassy to obtain a visa in advance. A list of embassies abroad is available here. ( Or contact us to apply an approval letter to get visa upon arrival ) .

Cambodia
All nationalities require a visa. A 30 day visa on arrival is available at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap Airports and at some land border crossings. You can also obtain a visa online through e-Visa. The e-Visa page provides a list of which checkpoints accept which type of visas. For a list of consulates/embassies abroad go to this page.

Thailand
Unless you are staying for more than 30 days, or do not have onward air tickets, a visa for Thailand is not required by European, North American, Australian and many other nationalities. Please be prepared to show evidence of an onward international ticket to Thai immigration officials upon entry to Thailand.

Travellers without a visa arriving via a land border crossing can only stay in Thailand for 15 days, except holders of passports of UK, USA, Japan, Germany, France, Canada and Italy who are given 30 days.

Go to this page for general Thai visa information or this page for the list of exempt nationalities.

Philippines
If staying less than 21 days then a visa is not required by European, North American, Australian and many other nationalities. The exceptions being passport holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), British National Overseas (BNO) and Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) who are only allowed up to 7 days stay without a visa. You will need to show proof of an onward flight out of the Philippines. For stays longer than 21 days, a Temporary Visitors Visa is required.

Sri Lanka
As of January 1, 2012 Sri Lanka has initiated a new visa fee and online system. You must now obtain a US$20 visa (US$10 for SAARC countries and no charge for children under 12) via the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system before entering the country. If you don’t obtain a Visa Approved Reference number through ETA you can obtain a visa on arrival for US$25. For the latest updates please check here.

China
All nationalities are required to posses a valid passport and visa. Visas are easily obtainable from most Chinese embassies or consulates abroad and issued within 3 to 5 days from application. Express visas are available for an additional fee. If you are applying for a visa by mail, it can take 3 to 4 weeks for approval. Most nationalities qualify for a 30 day visa which is activated on your first day in China, and must be used within 3 months of its issuance.

WHAT TO BRING

It is important that the clothing you take on your cycling holiday is appropriate for the trip you have chosen. There is a fine balance between taking too much and too little, especially considering that you need to equip yourself for differing levels of physical exertion and also for a range of climatic conditions.

On most days your main luggage will be stowed out of reach while we ride, so it is a good idea to bring a day bag or small rucksack to have quick access.

A suggested list will be included in your predeparture information, but here is some of the items that you will find on it :

Cycling helmet (mandatory) ( If bring your own bike )
Bandana or sweat band
Cycling gloves
Buff or similar
Biking glasses
Stiff soled cycling shoes / SPD shoes
Cycling tops – long or short sleeved depending on climate
Lightweight fleece top
Lightweight waterproof breathable biking jacket
Padded cycling shorts
Baggy overshorts or trousers (for propriety)
Cycling tights (if in a cold climate)
Sun hat
Miscellaneous
Towel
Sarong
Torch/Head Lamp
Sunglasses
Binoculars
Mosquito repellent
Sun cream.
Sun block for lips. Burnt lips hurt and take a long time to heal.
Camera. You’d be silly not to.
Spare batteries. For camera and flashlights.
Toilet kit. Suggestions: toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, moisture lotion, razor and shaving cream, tampons etc. (there won’t be any convenience stores nearby)
First Aid – see Health for more info
Electrolyte powder or tablets
Ear plugs.
Alarm Clock
Bike Kit (if bringing your own bike)
Bike ( If bring your own bike )
Pump
Allan keys
Chain lubricant
Inner tubes
Tire levers Puncture repair kit
Tires
Please be aware that if you have a high tech bike – full suspension, disk brakes, hydraulic brakes – we do not carry tools or parts for fixing all of these components, so please bring your own or you might even consider bringing a more basic bike.( If bring your own bike ) .

HEALTH

Pre-trip Check-up and Vaccinations
Anyone travelling on an adventure holiday should go to see their doctor for a check-up prior to the trip. Some countries will require specific vaccinations and your doctor will have access to the most up to date information about this. It is also a good idea to have a dental check-up before you go, as the facilities in many of the countries to which we travel may not be of the same standard as you are used to.

Personal First Aid Kit
Although every INDOCHINA BIKE TOURS trip carries a medical kit, it is advisable to bring a supply of first aid items for your own personal use. Here is a sample list:

Insect repellent.
Antiseptic cream.
Suncream and total bloc.
Throat lozenges or hard sweets.
Painkillers. Aspirin, Paracetamol etc.
Anti-diarrhoea (Diocalm or Immodium).
Plasters (band-aids) and ‘Second Skin’ for blisters.
Antibiotics. A broad-spectrum antibiotic (such as Ciproxin) suitable for a variety of infections.
Re-hydration salts. (Dioralite).
Dextrose glucose tablets.
Multi-vitamin tablets.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

INDOCHINA BIKE TOURS strongly advise you get personal travel insurance by your own before your trip starting. The total tour costs providing by INDOCHINA BIKE TOURS is not covered your personal travel insurance. INDOCHINA BIKE TOURS is free of all liability and responsibility for any actions, such personal injury, or property damage.

Travel Insurance is an essential part of any trip and helps to cover you when things go wrong. Travel insurance protects you in the case of lost or stolen luggage and personal effects; accident or illness, trip cancellation or personal liability. Probably the most important reason to take out travel insurance is to ensure you are covered for medical treatment. Although your national health scheme may cover your medical expenses at home, once you head overseas, you are (normally) no longer covered. Medical expenses can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and you may be refused treatment if you are not insured.