|Type of tour:||Guided|
|Distance:||40 Miles/day average|
|Dates:||Jan 12, Feb 23, Mar 23, Oct 12, Nov 9, 2014|
|Start city:||Kunming, China|
|End city:||Mandalay, Burma|
Most people have heard of Route 66 in the US and the Great Ocean Road in Australia, but lesser known is the Burma Road, unless you are a war history buff. The original Burma Road was completed in 1938 as a supply line for the then British colony of Burma running from Kunming in Yunnan, China to Lashio, Burma. During WWII, when Japan was at war with the British, they captured the road, and the Western Allies built an alternative, known as the Ledo Road, running from Assam, India, connecting to the border town of Muse.
The first trucks brought supplies to China on this route in 1945 and since then the route has lost its strategic importance, which makes it a perfect road for cycling.
Our Burma Road tour starts at Kunming, China, where we take a short flight to Baoshan, to begin our adventure. Cycling on this historical route we'll realize the difficulty in building the road as we cycle up and down mountains and cross the Salween River.
The road leads us deep into the volcanic region of Tengchong where hot springs abound, and we'll absorb ancient Chinese traditional architecture in the village of Heshun. Along the way we'll pass small villages where people still live their rural life in harmony with nature, many wearing their traditional ethnic clothing.
We leave China from the lively border-town Ruili and start our first leg of Burma in Muse. Here the road continues over rolling hills, making the riding challenging and interesting. A downhill ride takes us to Lashio, the terminus of the Burma Road. We'll take breaks to visit temples, ancient chedis, waterfalls and a former Shan palace, as we approcah the former colonial British hill station town of Maymyo, now called Pyin Oo Lwin. Here we'll visit the manicured botanical gardens before riding down to Mandalay, where we end our journey of the Burma Road.
We'll stay in a variety of accommodation along the way and this will include a hill station resort, guest houses. There will be some basic nights, but that only adds to the adventure!
Learn more about guided tours.
Day 1: Arrival in Kunming, China
We will meet at the Kunming Sakura Hotel for a trip briefing and welcome dinner. Overnight at Kunming Sakura Hotel in Kunming.
Day 2: Kunming - Baoshan – Long Ling (37 miles/60 km)
Catch a morning flight to Baoshan and we start our tour off by riding straight away on the Burma Road. This historic road will take us to a less visited part of Yunnan, as we pass through farmlands, small villages and cycle deep into valleys. After a short transfer to Dengzi village we'll start our cycling with a warm climb and have our first view of the Salween River.
We descend 15 miles/25 km to the Salween valley on a mix of dirt roads and cobble stones. We cross the Salween River (Nu Jiang in Chinese), one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the world, running from China to Burma, forming a border with Thailand before re-entering Burma and emptying into the Andaman Sea, on the Red Flag Bridge.
Riding along the river we can prepare for our steady 15-mile/25 km ascent of Songshan Mountain. This was where the Japanese bunkered down for two years and built seven sunken fortresses, trenches, and one can see bullet holes in the hundred-year-old trees. Breakfast, lunch, dinner provided.
Overnight in hotel in Long Ling.
Day 3: Long Ling – Sakura Valley (28 miles/45 km)
We transfer to Tengchong and start cycling to Sakura Valley, home to more than 80 hot springs, as a result of the numerous inactive volcanoes that are scattered around the region. We'll end the day with a soak in one of them after riding on a mix of cobblestone and dirt roads. Our backdrop will be the greenery of Gaoligong Mountain, the beauty of yellow blooming rapeseed fields and rice terraces and the dense forest of Maoligong mountain. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided.
Overnight at Sakura Hot Spring Spa in Sakura.
Day 4: Sakura Valley - Heshun (31 miles/50 km)
We start cycling to Jiangdong Ginkgo Village which is home to more than 3,000 Ginkgo trees. We will spend some time visiting this quaint village and then cycle on to the Beihai Wetland. Here the peaceful waters are broached by bamboo bridges and little boats sliding along the river. We will cycle around the wetland and on to Heshun village, which has been set aside as a retirement village for overseas Chinese. This charming ancient town with cobbled streets, homes with traditional rustic tiled roofs, willow trees hanging down into the river and lotus flowers in ponds all adds to the authentic atmosphere. Overnight in Guesthouse. Breakfast, lunch, dinner provided.
Overnight in Heshun.
Day 5: Heshun to Lianghe (28 miles/45 km)
This morning will be free to explore this charming town and capture some great photographs. After lunch we will ride through the countryside on paved roads to Qingshui and ride on dirt roads to the main road, we will have a great view of the Daying Jiang River as we cross paddy fields. Hotel: Dragon Pond Hotel. Breakfast, lunch, dinner provided.
Overnight in Lianghe.
Day 6: Lianghe – Ruili (43 miles/70 km)
Continuing on the Burma Road we transfer to Wong Leng town and start our cycling. Today we have a 12 mile/19 km climb with a reward of a 18 mile/30 km downhill! The surface will cobblestones and will require many breaks, both up and down! The road then becomes smooth and flattens out as we make our way to old Longchuan. The closer we get to Burma we'll notice more changes in the people as here there are a myriad of ethnic tribes. You will start to see women dressing in 'sarongs', a traditional dress for 'jingpo', ethnic minority in China. We'll then transfer to the border town of Ruili where the mixed population of Han Chinese, ethnic minority groups and Burmese traders gives it a bit of a frontier town feel. We check into our hotel and have time to explore this lively border-town. Ruili Guesthouse. Breakfast, lunch, dinner provided.
Overnight in Ruili.
Day 7: Ruili – Muse Border (18 miles/30 km)
Crossing Say 'Zai Jiang' to China (means 'Goodbye in Chinese), to our crew as we follow the Burma Road into Burma. Once we have cleared immigration we will be met by our Burmese crew. We will check into our hotel and then go for an afternoon ride in the countryside. Shwe Tiri Hotel. Lunch, dinner provided.
Overnight in Muse.
Day 8: Muse - Kutkai (64 miles/103 km)
Early start for a long day of riding on rolling hills. As we pass from one valley to another, the road snakes, winds and climbs through a heavily forested canyon, to keep you distracted from all the work you are doing. We stop at several local tea shops along the route to give our legs a rest. We pass through several villages and tiny towns on our way to Kutkai, a remote trading village. Most roads leading to Kutkai are dirt and horses are the vehicles of the traders. New Century Hotel. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided.
Overnight in Kutkai.
Day 9: Kutkai - Lashio (48 miles/78 miles)
We start the day off with an easy flat ride, and karst outcroppings pop seemingly out of nowhere. Then we have a speedy downhill with switchbacks and then the road undulates until we reach Lashio. We'll have to stop at various checkpoint along the way to show our 'special permit.” Before reaching town we'll stop to visit Mansu Pagoda, which claims to be 250-years-old and offers a dramatic view over the town. Lashio has a lively vibe to it- as it is a market town. It was once the seat of an important Shan Lord and the town played a pivotal role in the fight against the Japanese in WWII and is the start of the Burma Road which supplied food and arms to Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang army. Lashio Hotel. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided.
Overnight in Lashio.
Day 10: Lashio – Hsipaw (45 miles/73 miles)
Back in the saddle for an 11 km uphill start to the day. Along the way we'll take a break at the very large teak K Ning Monastery, and visit with the friendly abbot who speaks reasonable English As the road heads deeper into the mountains, the terraced hillsides become steeper and steeper. All farming is still done manually by ox plows, hoe and trowel and you’re sure to see farmers working the land in this traditional fashion. Upon arrival in Hsipaw there may be time for a visit to the river (where you can swim) or a walk around town. Overnight at Mr Charles Guest House. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided.
Overnight in Hsipaw.
Day 11: Hsipaw - Kyauk Me (34 miles/55 miles)
If you wish, wake up very early this morning to visit the pre-dawn market in Hsipaw. The market starts early so that vendors can purchase items to take down to Mandalay to sell in the city’s main market. Many of the stalls are lit by candlelight! After breakfast, we head out into the surrounding farmland. A narrow dirt track takes us through picturesque small Shan villages, past ancient chedis, alongside terraced paddies – the crops change depending on the season. Lunch will be a at a local tea shop or similar. Though most of today's ride is on tarmac, there will be some cobble stones and single track on dirt thrown into the mix. The charming little town of Kyauk Me has a market and several local tea shops and beer stations- a great place to sit and people watch. Ayeone Do Hotel. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided.
Overnight in Kyauk Me.
Day 12: Kyauk Me - Pyin Oo Lwin (70 miles/114 km)
On our way south to Pyin Oo Lwin we’ll pass by the amazing Gotiek Viaduct on the way- a great place to stop and take photos and just before reaching town we'll stop at Pwe Kauk Falls. The former colonial hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin, which is still referred to as Maymyo. At an elevation of 1070 m/ 3510 ft Maymyo was popular with the British colonialists to escape the heat and it’s one of the few towns where they truly left their mark. Many colonial buildings still fill this lovely hamlet and the gardens throughout are far more English inspired than Asian. Watch out for watching out for the gharry, the colourful horse-drawn Victorian carriages that are still used as transport. We check into our colonial-style hotel and meet up for dinner. Kandawgyi Hill Resort. Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided.
Overnight in Pyin Oo Lwin.
Day 13: Pyin Oo Lwin - Mandalay (37 miles/60 km)
We visit the immaculately manicured Kandawgyi Gardens that are adjacent to our hotel and then as we leave town we'll pass by the Aung Htu Kan Tha Pagoda. We have a fabulous downhill ride today, descending 1,000m to Mandalay. After we check into our hotel we'll catch the sunset on Mandalay Hill with its panoramic views over the city then onto our farewell dinner. Mandalay Hills Resort. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided
Overnight in Mandalay.
Day 14: Onward travel
Please ask us for advice regarding connecting flights home -- or if you wish to extend your time in Mandalay or travel onto Bagan. Breakfast provided.
We recommend that you tuck away a few extra dollars, perhaps US$10 per day, for incidentals. It is customary to tip local tour guides and drivers, however, the amount you give should be dependent on the level of service you receive. As a general guide we suggest US$ 3-4 per person per day is appropriate.
We'll stay in a variety of accommodation along the way and this will include a hill station resort, guest houses. There will be some basic nights, but that only adds to the adventure!
Because some people can't imagine going on a trip without their own beloved bicycle, we do not provide them as part of this tour. However, you are able to hire bikes locally for the price listed in the prices and package section.
The bikes are well-known makes of mountain bikes with lightweight alloy frames, 24- to 27-speed gearing, disc/v-brakes and Shimano components and front suspension. If you bring your own bike, please make sure it is a mountain bike, preferably with front suspension, and that it is in good mechanical order.
Basic spares and tools are carried by the guide and on the support vehicle, though we cannot guarantee having spares for every conceivable problem. Carrying a basic tool kit, a spare tube and a pump while riding is recommended.
Wearing a helmet is strongly recommended on all our biking adventures and if you choose not to wear one you will be asked to sign a liability waiver. Your tour leader is trained in first aid and emergency rescue, but to a large degree you must be responsible for your own safety while riding. It is therefore compulsory that you take out travel insurance that will cover you for a mountain biking tour.
We will be supported by vehicles that follow us the whole time and are always available for tired cyclists. It is very easy to get bikes on and off, so you can rest when you are tired and cycle whenever you feel like it.
You'll need an adventurous spirit to join this tour as there will be climbs, some remote riding and of course the unpredictability of local authorities. The reward will be meeting local Chinese and Burmese who have never met a foreigner before, seeing pristine landscapes and cycling in an area not frequented by Western tourists.
We ride 878 km on country lanes and quiet roads. We will ride through scenic countryside, passing many villages and you will find the locals curious, friendly and polite. We share the road with ox carts, horse carriages, local cyclists, and waving children. There will be many tough climbs so being prepared physically will make this a more enjoyable trip to you. A vehicle follows us for the entire journey, so exhausted riders can skip the tougher sections if they wish. We stop frequently to view temples, rural scenes (especially if riding during rice cultivation period) and villages.
This tour covers 878kilometres in 12 cycling days, so it will be quite challenging. This trip has a variety of roads, some in quite good condition to broken tarmac roads, to cobble stones, to vehicle wide and narrow dirt trails. There is no technical riding on this trip, but there are some days with long distances.
This trip is an adventurous bike journey and suitable for anyone who is willing to cycle up hills, have long riding days and stay in basic guesthouses when necessary. Participants who cycle the whole distance should expect a fairly challenging two weeks.
Nearest airport: Kunming Wujiaba International Airport (KMG / ZPPP)
Nearest airport: Mandalay International Airport (MDL/VYMD)
International flights are not included in the tour price. Domestic flights listed are included. Please contact us for advice before arranging flights for the best arrival and departure times.
Passports and Visas
All nationalities are required to posses a valid passport. An entry visa is required to enter China. Most travelers will seek a type L visa, stemming from the Chinese word: luxing (travel).
This letter is stamped directly onto the 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. There are also 60 and 90 day visas available. The 90 day visas where once difficult to get but are now more easily obtainable. A Chinese visa covers virtually the entire country with the exception of some restricted areas and Tibet.
All nationalities require a valid passport. A visa is required for all visitors to Myanmar and must be procured from a Myanmar Embassy at least six weeks before departure. Please send visa number to SpiceRoads so we can procure the special permission needed to cross overland.
Yunnan is well known for its mild climate year-round. In fact, its name translates to: “south of the clouds.” Despite having a mild climate – extremes can be found especially at higher altitudes. The region we are riding has ideal temperatures year-round where winter never drops below 4c and summer doesn’t climb above 25c.
Myanmar/Burma has a tropical climate with fairly high humidity. There are three seasons: from March to June it is hot and dry, with temperatures between 80-104F (27-40C), and with night temperatures in the 60s (F). The rainy season is from July to September. The cooler season (particularly in the mountains) is from September to February, with average temperatures between 68-86F (20-30C). It can be cold at night in the hills in Yunnan and Shan state and adequate cold weather clothing – gloves, hats, jacket - is required.
Weatherspark.com offers information on average weather conditions at most destinations throughout the globe. Type a destination in the search box, and select "Averages," and you'll find a range of information such as average high and low temperatures, precipitation, cloudy days, humidity and wind speed/direction.
Of course, if your tour is coming up in the next week, you can also select "Forecast" to get the most current information on upcoming conditions.
Recommended vaccinations include: Adult diphtheria, typhoid, polio, tetanus and Hepatitis A and B, Measles, mumps and rubella, Varicella, Influenza, Japanese B encephalitis, Pneumonia, Rabies, and Tuberculosis.
A certificate for Yellow Fever is required if arriving from an infected area within the prior six days. Some areas of Burma may be considered malarial areas. Please check with your doctor prior to departure for the most recent information.
In China, Renminbi can be exchanged for foreign currency or travelers checks at border crossings, international airports, branches of the Bank of China, tourist hotels and some large department stores. The official rate is given almost everywhere and the exchange charge is standardized, so there is little need to shop around for the best deal. ATMs are common in all sizable towns and cities and you can use Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Maestro, Plus and American Express (AmEx) to withdraw cash but there is a maximum daily withdrawal amount.
Burma’s everyday currency, the kyat, should cover buying small items, bottle of water or a snack, while dollars are used for everything else and the euro is also increasingly being accepted. There are no ATMs in Burma. You can exchange money at the border, guesthouses, shops, travel agencies or on the street.
SpiceRoads endeavors to offer high-quality, educational, and adventure-filled itineraries that highlight and focus on the diversity of landscapes found in Asia and its people. As a specialized "niche" bicycle tour operator since 2000, we provide the most authentic, unique and exciting adventures in Asia.
The SpiceRoads family began back in the mid 1990s, when Hamish Keith was creating, operating and leading ground breaking cycle tours throughout Thailand and in emerging destinations such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar for well known companies such as Exodus Travels and World Expeditions and his own company the Wild Planet.
In 2000 Hamish decided to concentrate on what he loved doing the most and he established SpiceRoads as a specialist cycle tour operator in the region he knew best - Southeast Asia. The “niche” was to promote bicycle group tours directly to clients all around the world via the internet. Hamish set the standard for all subsequent SpiceRoads tours by offering a high quality tour - from customer service, to bicycles, to well researched routes to the guides we use – at a good value.
In 2002, when Hamish left to pursue other opportunities in the travel industry, Struan Robertson came on board, and with his skills in management, IT and of course cycling, the company has grown to encompass other Asian countries. During the years of growth what hasn't changed is the spirit of SpiceRoads, which is to offer professional, international standard cycle tours and services to independent travellers and cycle enthusiast looking to discover Asia by bicycle.
Our well-planned eye-opening cycling tours provide an active immersion into local cultures, languages, scenery and, of course, the most delicious of foods. By combining legendary service and rare opportunities for cultural experiences, our travel philosophy continues to excite, enthuse, and positively impact every guest. Take a look at our guestbook if you don't believe us!
SpiceRoads' staff and all of our professionally licensed multi-lingual tour guides are passionate about creating the best possible experiences, with fun, creativity, and total dedication to satisfaction.
We're always peddling towards making your tour perfect so you can See Asia by Bicycle!
(Involuntary) On the rare occasions when we, SpiceRoads, must cancel a trip, all payments received to date will be 100% refunded, which constitutes full settlement. There will be absolutely no deductions.
(Voluntary) If you, the client, must cancel your reservation, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the following formula:
For all tours (except short Thailand tours 4 days or less, see below):
Number of days prior to trip start
Cancellation fee per person
50% of tour price
70% of tour price
**Administration fees include bank fees and exchange rate losses.
Exceptions to this policy cannot be made for any reason, including weather or personal emergencies. Please note:
We strongly advise that clients have full personal travel insurance that covers for the refund of monies paid in case either party cancels the tour for any reason.
We regret that we cannot be held responsible for incidental/consequential costs or expenses you may incur as a result of any changes or cancellations. No compensation is payable for minor changes.
Any damages/injuries incurred that are attributable to your own actions, acts of some other party unconnected with the contract services or where the damage/injury results from events/circumstances which our outside our control and could not be reasonably foreseen.
For damages where SpiceRoads is responsible, our liability is strictly limited to twice the total price of the tour. In booking a tour with SpiceRoads you, the client, are agreeing to these terms and you accept this limit on our liability. This limit allows us to keep the prices of our tours as low as possible.
You must be in possession of a valid passport and all the visas and permits required for your tour. This includes any medical certificates that are required. The client accepts full responsibility for obtaining any and all such documentation. Every client is encouraged to contact the consulate/embassy for the countries they are traveling in respectively to receive the latest and most current information about their immigration / transit policies.
SpiceRoads does not accept responsibility if your documentation is not in order. Information provided by the company about these matters and other related items (clothing, baggage, climate etc.) is given in good faith but without responsibility on the part of the company.
For all tours (except short Thailand tours 4 days or less, see below):
SpiceRoads insists that all clients must take out good travel insurance before joining one of our tours. There are inherent risks involved in cycling and mountain biking and we will not be liable for your medical expenses or evacuation in case of an accident.
This insurance must include adequate coverage for any personal accident, medical expenses, injury, death and repatriation. Insurance should also provide coverage for cancellations or curtailment of the holiday. Clients should also ensure that there are no exclusion clauses limiting protection for any dangerous or unusual activities that might be included in their tour.
If you join the tour without adequate insurance you may be disallowed from continuing on the tour without the right of refund. Clients are solely responsible for arranging their own insurance and they should ensure that they are covered for the full duration of their tour. Your tour leader will ask for copies of your insurance before allowing you to join the tour. This protects both you and us.
In case of an accident, please consult with your tour leader or contact our reservation staff at +66(0) 89 895 5680 (24 hour hot line).
Upon signing up for a tour you must agree to accept the authority of the tour leader who is the representative of the company. The tour leader should be regarded as the same as a “ship’s captain” or an airline’s “Pilot.”
At all times the authority of your tour leader will be final when concerning matters likely to endanger your own health or safety or in regard to behavior or ill health that is causing or is likely to cause danger, distress or disturbance to the group and the well-being of the tour. Failure to abide by the authority of the tour leader could result in legal proceedings and the immediate termination of your participation in the tour without recourse.
In such circumstances we reserve the right to terminate all travel arrangements without liability on the part of the company. You must always comply with the local law, customs and drug regulations of the country/ies you are visiting. Failure to do so may lead to you being ordered to leave the tour without recourse to any refund or any legal claim against the company. In the case of ill health the company and its operators can make those arrangements that it sees fit and recover all monies paid from the client. The person who signs the booking form (which incorporates these conditions) warrants that he/she does so, with full authority on behalf of all those whose names appear thereon, and confirms thereby that all such persons accept and are fully aware of these conditions.
No refund will be given for non-utilized services, however if we are able to obtain a refund ourselves for these services we will endeavor to pass these on to the client less reasonable administration charges.
SpiceRoads pledges never to increase the tour price except under exceptional circumstances for those that have previously book the tour. Circumstances of this policy include: government action or legislation that directs the company to increase prices, exceptional and unfavorable changes in exchange rates that exceed a 20% fluctuation or currency devaluation.
Clients will be notified of any price increase at least 4 weeks before departure.
We will not accept any liability for any delay in your outward or inward flight/s, whether the cancellation or delay is caused by the weather, airline rescheduling, industrial action or mechanical failure. We will give no refunds or compensation for lost time and services from the itinerary.
Should you have a complaint while on tour, you must notify your guide, or the local operator, at the earliest opportunity, so that they can do what they can to immediately rectify it. Failure to do so will result in the limiting of a client's ability to claim compensation. If the problem is not brought to our attention we have no opportunity to rectify it. Any complaints should be sent to us in writing, or by email, not more than 28 days after the tour ends.
Complaints related to booking, inquires, billing, sales or operations should be directed to the Sales and Marketing Manager and/or the General Manager.
If there is anything else you need to know or want to hear in order to put your mind at rest, please do not hesitate to contact us.
SpiceRoads is not liable for any bodily injury or property damage as a result of (but not limited to): physical exertion for which a guest is not prepared; forces of nature; travel by plane, train, auto, boat or other conveyance, or by bicycle, horseback, foot or other form of active or adventure travel; consumption of alcoholic beverages; civil unrest; terrorism; breakdown of equipment; high altitude; lack of or limited access to medical attention in remote locations; and the adequacy of medical attention once provided.
SpiceRoads is also not liable for: expenses (e.g., meals, transportation or hotel costs) that are not specified as included in the trip cost but may be required to get to or from a trip start or end point.
SpiceRoads reserves the right to make route and hotel modifications as necessary to improve the trip quality or to accommodate the comfort and well-being of guests. Guests grant SpiceRoads express permission to take photographs or make film records of its trips for promotional and commercial use, as well as approve such use by third parties with whom SpiceRoads may engage in joint marketing, without financial remuneration.
To view our liability release form click here. You will be asked to sign this form before you start your tour.