As our guests get set for their multi-day cycling holiday, they often ask – What do I do after booking my cycling holiday? How do I prepare?
So here’s a handy guide that clearly outlines the steps involved in preparing for your cycling holiday of South/Southeast Asia.
This post includes information on insurance, visas, vaccinations and travel alerts to make things simple. Please use this a reference only and consult official guidelines for the final word.
For a hassle-free travel experience, we strongly recommend that all our clients opt for travel insurance. Buying travel insurance ensures that you are covered in case things don’t go according to plan.
If you intend to tour with your own bike, then you are going to need bike insurance to cover bike theft and damage. On the other hand to reduce the risks associated with illness and injuries, you would need travel insurance.
Before buying travel insurance for your cycling holiday, be sure to check that cycle touring is covered by the provider. Shopping around in advance could bring down insurance costs.
Visa requirements vary depending on where you are from and where you intend to travel. Ensure that you have all the necessary documents and get in touch the consulate to verify before submitting your visa application. Don’t forget to factor in public holidays that apply in both the countries involved. Travel agents can help make this process hassle-free.
Bangladesh, Maldivians, Thai & Indian nationals do not require visa to enter Bhutan whereas all others do. To obtain a 28 day tourist visa to Bhutan, you have to submit documents as specified by the Bhutan Government through your Bhutanese Tour Company/Travel Agent.
Note: Current Bhutanese visa norms dictate that you can only apply for the visa after having paid the Bhutan Tourism Council for your whole tour.
For Cambodia, single entry tourist visas can be obtained online for visits of 30 days or less. 30 day extensions are can also be obtained through the Government of Cambodia’s eVisa portal.
Laos also keeps things simple with a 30 day visa on arrival available to people of most nationalities. Check out the official Laos’ Tourism Department’s website for more information.
If you plan to travel to Myanmar(formerly Burma) for tourism, you can apply online for an e-Visa. This would allow you to enter Myanmar once for a duration of 28 days. You can find out more about the e-visa offered by Myanmar here.
For short touristic visits to India, refer to the Indian Government’s e-Tourist Visa page. For long visits and multiple entries to India, you would need to apply for a regular Indian visa at an Indian embassy in your country. Both these processes require time ranging from 3 to 14 days or more.
We highly recommend that you prepare and apply (at least 4 weeks) in advance so that you have plenty of time available as a buffer in case unexpected issues arise. Travel agents and visa service agencies would be able to help you with this in your home country if needed.
The internet has surely made things a whole lot easier as far as visas are concerned. The Sri Lankan Government has taken the cue as well and it provides visas online too. Sri Lankan Electronic Travel Authorization is valid 30 days from date of arrival and you can apply for this even before you book your flight tickets. Find out more about Electronic Travel Authorizations for Sri Lanka here.
Having established itself on the travel circuit decades ago, Thailand continues to attract visitors to this day. The 15 day long Visa-on-Arrival certainly helps and tourists can also choose to apply for a 60 day long Tourist Visa if needed. You and find out more about visas offered by the Government of Thailand here.
Vietnam does things a bit differently. Although you apply online, you will then receive a visa approval letter which must be used on arrival for obtaining the visa at the airport. The processing time ranges from 4 working hours to 2 working days, doesn’t get any quicker than that really but as mentioned earlier, best to get visas done earlier. Read more about tourist visas for Vietnam here.
Published: May 2016 For reference purposes only
We recommend that you verify all visa related information with the Embassy or Foreign Office of the country you plan to visit. Alternatively, your Travel Agent might be able to streamline the visa process for you.
Make an appointment with your doctor 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to get any vaccinations that may be needed. Talk to the doctor about your planned adventure activities so that you can follow any special health recommendations that might be necessary.
The handy CDC TravWell app will also give you destination-specific vaccine recommendations and help you keep records and reminders related to your medications, immunizations, vaccine booster doses etc.
This allows U.S. citizens traveling abroad to receive free updates about safety conditions in the destination country so that you can make informed decisions about your travel plans. These are a good reference in case your own country does not issue travel warning or alerts.
With that, we are at end of this post on how to prepare for your cycling holiday. You can find more of our blog posts here.
Southeast Asia, located South of China and East of India, also known as Indochina, comprises of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and West Malaysia. Laos is one of our top picks for a cycling holidays in this part of the world. The reasons to visit Laos are many and avid cyclist, Pankaj Mangal, the founder of Art of Bicycle Trips, will highlight his Laos cycle tour experience here in this post.
Terrain: Laos is home to mountains covered with lush tropical forests. The rolling terrain combined with gradual climbs from low-lying riverside valleys are just perfect – a cyclist’s delight.
Rivers: If you are tired of Thailand’s crowds, head to North Laos. Here you will get to ride along the three beautiful rivers viz. Mekong, Nam Ou and Nam Pak. When you want to take a break, switch from your bike’s saddle to a seat on a slow boat. This is an excellent way to see and experience life along the rivers of Laos. The rivers are the lifelines here and you can soak up the beautiful vistas of this intriguing country, at a leisurely pace and meet its people too, only on the slow boats.
People: Laos is less developed and less visited compared to other countries in the region and that makes it more appealing. Some of the people here, for instance, the hill tribes have yet to experience modern living and that what is reflected in their way of life and in their way of dealing with travelers. This friendly, down-to-earth culture embodies the hospitality that you will experience. Make sure you spend time with villagers in rural areas because the feeling that you are almost one of them is priceless!
History and Culture: Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is situated alongside the Mekong and Khan rivers. Here, the Buddhist monasteries, royal palaces and ancient temples and shops lend a unique charm and make Luang Prabang one of the quieter and more soulful places of Southeast Asia. You can spend days here, walking or riding around, content and happy by yourself or with friends and family. If you are interested in knowing more about Buddhism, then this is the perfect place to do so. The temples and monasteries will welcome you and you can spend time watching monks, hearing their chants and contemplating life and all its beauty.
Go on, experience Laos on a bike like a local – As they like to say in Laos – ‘Lao Syle’ i.e., Go for it! Start planning your Laos bike tour now.