The
yunnan to
laos adventure

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Day 1

You'll arrive in Pu'er, check into the hotel and ready your bike for the ride. There will be a briefing in the evening and the excitement builds as you feel the tingle of adventure. This town lends it's name to the famous Pu'er Tea, which is the area's principal industry - make sure you buy some, it comes conveniently packed in cakes!

Day 2

103km

Pu'erXishuangbanna Wild Elephant Valley

The challenge starts early in the morning, and after leaving the city of Pu'er, be astounded how quickly you'll be surrounded by amazing hills and tea plantations. What a wonderful way to start, with a 50km downhill - however there will be a big climb in the second half of the day, followed by another descent. The day's ride finishes near the Xishuangbanna Wild Elephant Valley - if you finish before 6pm you'll be able to go down and see if you're lucky enough to spy some wild Asian elephants! HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, visited Wild Elephant Valley in March 2013. 

 

 

Elevation:+ 1264 / - 1767 m

 

The scale of the elevation profile above ranges from 793-1,315m. To view a larger size, right click on the image and select "Open Image In New Tab."

Day 3

75km

Xishuangbanna Wild Elephant ValleyMenglun

If you didn't have time to visit Wild Elephant Valley yesterday, you'll have time for visit this morning. If you're REALLY lucky (like we were on our research ride), you may even see some wild elephants from the saddle.  Back into the beautiful Chinese hills and tea plantations. You'll pass through several mountain top villages which are principally peopled by the Aini Tribe. We will take lunch in one such village. There is a flurry of activity as the famous tea is picked, and dried which dominates both the hills and remote settlements. The day's ride is characterised by two large climbs and a long descent. If you arrive early enough you will be able to visit the extremely well-respected Menglun Botanical Gardens.

 

 

Elevation:+ 1316 / - 1581 m

The scale of the elevation profile above ranges from 545-1,199m. To view a larger size, right click on the image and select "Open Image In New Tab."

Day 4

94km

MenglunMengla

The road really winds today as you switch back over the old hills; there are 3 big climbs and descents today. It's not unusual to see the locals, foraging for bamboo in the middle of nowhere - before whittling it into useful tools. The stunning, lush rainforest, impossibly clinging to the steep mountainsides takes your mind off the task in hand - it's not a race, so put your bike in a low gear and enjoy the extraordinary scenery. 

 

 

 

Elevation:+ 2044 / - 1962 m

The scale of the elevation profile above ranges from 545-1,113m. To view a larger size, right click on the image and select "Open Image In New Tab."

Day 5

65km

MenglaNateuy

The first 55km of today will be in China, during which there are no mega ascents - just gentle hills rising toward the border. Crossing the mountain border into Laos is an exciting moment - new alphabet, new language, new food, and a country of 6.8 million rather than 1.35 billion - you really feel it! The final 10km of the day into Laos is downhill - you can enjoy the utterly sublime scenery.

Please note that you'll have to carry ALL your possessions, including your bike, luggage and bike bag, over the border. There is an approx 500m walk between the checkpoints. With a bit of a sense of humour and the right attitude, you'll be fine.

 

 

Elevation:+ 820 / - 703 m

The scale of the elevation profile above ranges from 628-879m. To view a larger size, right click on the image and select "Open Image In New Tab."

Day 6

89km

NateuyMuang Xai

You'll cycle through small villages of stilted, thatched dwellings, past little children who will beam ear to ear, wave and shout "SABAYDEE!" (Hi!) The hills are now mostly given over to the banana leaf-laced forest, rather than being cultivated for tea. Watch out for wild boar! Today is dominated by a single large climb and the first 10km is all downhill. The quaint town of Muang Xai has a stunning monastery with a golden Buddga (pictured) overlooking the area. It's a popular area for local students to hang out in the hope of practicing their English with the few foreigners who pass through.

 

 

Elevation:+ 1226 / - 1339 m

The scale of the elevation profile above ranges from 614-1,050m. To view a larger size, right click on the image and select "Open Image In New Tab."

Day 7

80km

Muang XaiPak Mong

There are twin climbs today, followed by an extraordinary, exhilirating 900 METRE DOWNHILL over 20km. You'll pass through many hilltop communities, and you'll see artisinal methods which haven't been seen in the west for a century - such as hand milling of flour and rice, and hand looms for cloth. People crowd the water wells in the morning and evening in order to wash themselves... and to socialise. You'll see people crafting items from bamboo on the roadside - with extraordinary sweeping views of the forested mountains.

 

 

 

 

Elevation:+ 1773 / - 2040 m

The scale of the elevation profile above ranges from 372-1,209m. To view a larger size, right click on the image and select "Open Image In New Tab."

 

Day 8

109km

Pak MongLuang Prabang

No major climbs, just genrle climbs on this last day hence a slightly longer distance, but no less brilliant scenery. You'll notice rice cultivation again, and you'll pass through many more thatched villages, with piglets scurrying around, children rushing to "high five," and ladies carrying impossible amounts of dried goods using bags looped around their heads. You'll pass the mighty Mekong river, and finish for celebrations in lovely Luang Prabang on its banks!

 

 

 

Elevation: + 1127 / - 1212 m

The scale of the elevation profile above ranges from 289-412m. To view a larger size, right click on the image and select "Open Image In New Tab."

Day 9

You will wake up with the wonderful realisation of what you have achieved. Perhaps you have arranged a few days to explore Luang Prabang, or perhaps you're heading home today - with a great deal of stories and pride to match. Time to start planning your next Mad Dog Challenge!

 

Info

 

Credit for photos 1,2,4,7,9,12,13,16,18,20 (from top to bottom of this page in numberical order), Tom Damek. Tom met Mad Dogs founder Humphrey on his bike ride across Eurpoe and Asia - and this section was one of Tom's favourite parts of his journey (from London to Singapore).

Elevation profiles produced with Ride With GPS and OSM.

 

When is the next edition?

This ride is only available to private groups. Get in touch and make it happen!

 

What is a Half Mad Dog Challenge?

The format and function is exactly the same as a full Mad Dog Challenge, however the daily distances are generally half that of a full challenge - approximately 75km to 110km for a day's ride rather than 150km to 210km. This is great for those who are new to long distance adventure riding, although more seasoned cyclists will also enjoy a more relaxed cycling schedule, with potentially more time to stop and see things - or relax in the afternoon. The large climbs should not be off-putting - just put it in a low gear and take your time; you'll be rewarded on the descent. If you run out of puff there's always the support van, although this will impact your certificate!

 

Can I pay a single supplement to guarantee my own room?

Yes, price will be confirmed on demand.

 

What is the terrain like?

This is a very hilly challenge, as described in the itinerary! Please see the elevation profiles above.

 

What type of bike should I bring?

A strong road bike would be fine although this is adventure cycling and if you're not good at watching the road for rougher spots, a fast tourer, hybrid or even a mountain bike may be better.  This is probably not a ride for your all-carbon "Ferrari" of a road bike. Save that for Japan, Thailand or Taiwan! The road quality in China is varied (muddy in parts), in Laos it is a beautiful brand new road!

 

Where does the Challenge start?

In Pu'er, Yunnan Province. 

 

Where does the challenge finish?

Luang Prabang, Laos.

 

How do I get to the start, and which flights should I book to get home?

Pu'er Simao Airport is served by China Eastern Airlines from Beijing, Kunming and Shanghai-Hongquai. It is served by Lucky Air from Kunming and Lijiang. For most people it will be most convenient to reach Pu'er with an easy transfer in Kunming. 

From Luang Prabang, most useful routes are as follows. Bangkok Airways flies to Bangkok; China Eastern to Kunming; Lao Airlines to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Seoul, Singapore; Thai to Bangkok; Vietnam Airlines to Hanoi.

 

Do I need a Visa for China and Laos?

Yes, although these are usually simple to obtain. The Chinese visa must be obtained from a Chinese embassy, such as in Wan Chai, Hong Kong or through an agent such as CTS, which will save time queueing but will cost you an admin fee. The Lao visa is available on arrival to most nationalities (http://www.tourismlaos.org/show.php?Cont_ID=348), make sure you bring a passport photo and US dollars to pay (usually US$38 - any change will be given in Lao Kip. If you have a Lao Embassy nearby, acquiring a visa in advance will save time and "faff" at the border. In Hong Kong, the Lao Consulate is conveniently located on Queen's Road in Sheung Wan.