Did I ever tell you about the time when I did a cycling tour of Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, where we rode to ancient temples that were being excavated, and then wound up at a leper colony?
Well it was as awesome and fun as you might imagine. I've been thinking a lot about biking on vacation, lately, as it happens. While its certainly possible to plan a whole adventure travel vacation around cycling, you can also add a bike tour to a lot of other kinds of trips. We've been researching (and booking!) both kinds of bike trips for clients (and for ourselves!) lately, and here are some of our favorites!
1. Cycling in Thailand.
Biking around Chiang Mai was really fun, and not at all challenging. (It was very flat.) There was so much to see, and having a guide who knew where we were going made it super easy. Our bike tour actually started in this weird, kind of Buddhist amusement-park-looking place, with a crazy Chinese dragon that you could walk through to learn about Buddha's enlightenment. From there, we started pedaling around Chiang Mai, to a couple of different archaeological sites, and eventually wound up in a former leper colony, which now serves as a rehabilitation facility for a people with other disabilities. But in addition to Chiang Mai, you could also schedule a bike tour in other parts of Thailand, like perhaps Bangkok, Hua Hin, or Ayutthaya.
2. Sonoma / Napa Bike and Wine Tour.
We just booked one of these tours for some clients, and I can hardly wait until they come back to hear how it was? It's certainly possible to do a self-guided tour on bicycle through California's wine country, but there are good reasons to do this as an organized tour. For one thing, if you're out and about, cycling from winery-to-winery, you might not be near a place where you can get lunch quickly and easily. Having a tour company handling those details for you could be a real help. Plus, some of the tour operators might be able to actually arrange for off-road biking through the actual vineyards, themselves. Just remember to pace yourself. Biking while tipsy is not only unsafe -- it's also unlawful!
3. Loire Valley Bike Tour.
One of our adventure travel providers has a really incredible cycling trip through the Loire Valley from Blois to Angers, with 8 days of cycling on each leg of the trip. You'll see troglodyte caves, châteaux, vineyards, and loads of quaint, tiny villages. Obviously, this is a more intensive cycling trip than just a day tour by bike, or a half-day of biking. But the tour operator takes care of all the details, including providing you with the bike and other cycling equipment, so if you're looking for a really fun, authentic way to see this part of France, spending a week cycling through the Loire valley would be a really amazing way to do that.
4. Cycling in Cuba.
Cuba seems to be at the top of everyone's list of "must visit" destinations, these days. So, why not experience all the country has to offer by bicycle? We work with an adventure tour operator that has an 8-day Cuba cycling trip that includes short rides through the hills outside of Havana, as well as bike excursions to gorgeous secluded beaches, UNESCO biosphere reserves, and National Parks. Again, you've got guided cycling on this trip, as well as a support vehicle. I wonder if the support vehicle is one of those cool old cars... Hm...
5. A River Cruise.
I know you're probably not thinking that a river cruise would show up on this list, and yet--most, if not all of the river cruise companies that we work with, for example, Avalon Waterways, have bicycles available for guests to use. If you want to really explore the towns along your route, borrow one of the bikes, and see the town like a local would! On some itineraries, it might even be possible for you to depart the ship at one stop, bike 25 or 30 miles to the next town, and meet up with the ship, there. And, on at least one of our favorite luxury river cruise companies, they have electric bikes available for guests. Maybe it seems like you'd have to be super lazy to use one, but then again, if you're on a luxury vacation, is it really so wrong to only pedal a little bit?
We had a hard time narrowing it down to our top cycling trips. Our travel providers have amazing cycling and multi-sport trips to Tuscany, China, Iceland, Costa Rica Peru, Jordan, New Zealand, The Galapagos (cycling in the Galapagos, can you imagine?), Japan, Myanmar, Ecuador, Spain, Argentina... I can't type them all, actually. But you could ride any of them. Just let us know if you want us to start planning your cycling trip!