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.
There are plenty of reasons why going on a cycling tour is a great idea. Here’s a look at the reasons why you should do one of our bike tours – as described by participants from past multi-day cycling tours organized by Art of Bicycle Trips. You can also find more reviews for Art of Bicycle Trips on the ‘Reviews’ page of our website.
“We feel we have just experienced the trip of a lifetime! Thank you so much for graciously sharing Kerala with us.
You(Dibin*) are a great ambassador for this beautiful spot on our planet. We so appreciated your attention to details, your organization and focus on safety.
We return home with full hearts and many very special memories.
Wishing you all the best for continued success, happiness and health.” Nancy and Richard, Classic Kerala – 16th to 26th August 2015
This has been an absolutely perfect trip. I have so enjoyed every part of it, the riding of course, the camaraderie, learning about India, Indian culture, Kerala, tasting a toddy!
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your kindness and patience. You are a great tour leader. I appreciate you good humor and openness to all our questions. I truly enjoyed getting to know you a little.
You have a wonderful, beautiful world here and it is a joy to find someone who has sought out what he wants and is happy. You did a great job with putting together the group of guys. A smile comes to my face when I think of you all.
I do hope our paths cross again sometime. I hope this is the first of many trips to India for me..” Gina, Classic Kerala – 18th to 28th January 2015
“Thank you for the wonderful trip!” David and Susan, Classic Kerala – 11th to 21st January 2015
“Art of Bicycle Trips,
All in all we feel we had a fantastic trip. Cycling is a superior way to experience Kerala!
Our guides as well as our driver were terrific. Very accommodating and informative. Well done!!
There were several highlights but outstanding for us was the Kerala backwaters on Day 2 and the houseboat on Day 8.” Joe and Shelley, Classic Kerala – November 2013
Great tour, all round. Very good mix of cycling and sightseeing/activities.
Early morning start to cycle while cool
Finish cycle early; so can relax in hot time of day and then do other activity late afternoon
Try to keep max. gradient to say 10%
Driver – Excellent
Guide – Very good knowledge + explanation
Leader – Great all round”
“Dibin is an excellent guide – thoughtfully assessed how we rode and amended the program to suit. We like the mix of cycling & site seeing, riding 55 km then relaxing on a boat.
The day we rode along the coast from Fort Cochin then stopped at the boat building yard, fish auction then took a canoe for lunch was excellent. The SGH Earth Hotel were all excellent. A great trip all round.”
– Lindsey Bruce & Lindsey, Classic Kerala November 2013
“Dear Dibin, Ramzan + Biju,
Thank you so much for everything! I have had such a brilliant time over the past week and now love cycling! Thank you for putting up with us(sorry we weren’t waiting outside the hotel at 6 a.m 🙂 )
Thanks again for showing me how beautiful Kerala is – I really hope to come back one day.
Thanks so so much for such an amazing experience and being such a fantastic team, you helped me a lot. I know I found it difficult at first but have had a great week and don’t find the uphills as hard any more! 🙂
I also have seen such a beautiful side of Kerala with great people! Thanks Dibin for telling us so much about Kerala and being such a wonderful guide. Hope to come back one day.
Thank you so much for an excellent trip. Sorry I occasionally had to walk uphill but I am very old we all very much enjoyed your calm command of the trip and for giving such insights into India.
Thanks so much for a fantastic experience, I had so much fun, even on the uphill! You were all so helpful and helped to make it so great.
Many many thanks for your good humour and patience. It was a memorable trip for all of us and we all appreciated so much your efforts. Kerala is such a special place and we hope to return again one day.”
With best wishes,
Suzanne Suzanne and family, Classic Kerala – 22nd to 31st December 2013
Art of Bicycle Trips (ABT) has been offering bicycle trips in Kerala directly to visitors since 2012-13. Back then, there were no Indian companies offering day tours or classic tours for visitors who wished to cycle here in India.
Today, one can choose from many options from a number of operators who run tours in Kerala. If you are considering the cycle tour operators available in Kerala today, we suggest that you be highly aware of one other company with offerings similar to ours.
Our experience has shown that the person who owns and runs this one particular bicycle trips company in Kerala, got his start by stealthily using intellectual and digital property that belongs to Art of Bicycle Trips. The said former ABT guide exploited the goodwill in the industry for our company to further his own agenda and continues to use ABT property and imitates our every move to this day.
Imitation might be a form of flattery but we hope you watch out when it comes to choosing your cycle tour operator in Kerala, because as the American jazz musician, Wynton Marsalis would put it, “Ethics are more important than laws.”
Northern Kerala was always a place in my wishlist to visit and when I heard about the cycling event ‘Three States One Brevet’ , I never had to give it a second thought.
I started one day ahead from Kochi, along with other participants, to reach Vythiri in Wayanad district, which was the starting point for 200km/300km Brevet ride . The bikes were loaded up in the tempo traveller and we were off to Vythiri. We reached Vythiri by evening. At around 7:30pm, we had the Brevet briefing and other formalities being done.
Cycling events like brevet is also a good time to catch up with rider friend’s who may not be in touch for sometime. This time it was Dr.Nuveen, whom I met after quite a while. Dr. Nuveen is one of active bikers from Thrissur area in Kerala and I used to do morning group bike ride with him and other bikers, in the country sides of Thrissur. We had dinner together with Balu, a biker friend I made during this Brevet. It was 11:30pm and I was off to the bed, with alarm set for 4:00am.
I woke to a cool Vythiri morning with sun yet to rise. Had a Kerala plantain or “ethakka” (in malayalam), as the pre-ride food. I hope to last on this one plantain for another hour and a half of biking.
Soon the flag was off and Wayanad brevet had rolled out, with dozens of bikes coupled with its shimmering bike lights. It was very early in the morning and still dark. My front light was not powerful enough to see the road, at the speed I was biking. I didn’t want to slow down and so was riding alongside a rodie, with nice bright front light. He was showing me the way and I was pacing with him. Thanks to this unknown guy who showed me the way for a while.
It was dawn. The sights and scenaries of beautiful Wayanad were slowing unfolding with beautiful plantiontations of coffee, tea and many more. It was a pretty place to ride with very less traffic and well paved roads, most of the time. I crossed Tamilnadu border and reached Gudalur which had an unmanned checkpoint. Took out an ATM slip as instructed by the Brevet officials, for the proof of passing through Gudalur. Had some guavas and bananas and I started climbing the hills again. There was no mercy from the beginning of this brevet ride and we were climbing almost all the time.
I had lost contact with Balu in between and now I was riding solo from Gudalur. It was the best cycling stretch for me in the Brevet, starting from Gudalur towards Devarshola. For sometime now, there was a continuous tapping sound from my rear tire, but I didn’t care much. Soon I saw that my rear tire was slowly cracking up, with a deep cut on it. I stopped and released bit of air, so as to slow down the tearing down process of the tire. I was able to ride for a while, soon to hear the blasting sound of the tube. Alright, now that’s the end of my 200km Brevet ride, I thought. It was only 55km and my tire was torn badly, with no tire bot with me.
I rested under a tree for some time and thought about how to ride from there. Although the tree was not a Bodhi tree and I was not the enlightened one, an idea popped up in my head, to create a temporary tire bot with puncture patch sheet I had with me. I cut the sheet into small rectangular patches and placed it under the tire, where it was cut. Took the spare tube I had and placed it inside the tire to inflate it to a level until the patches won’t pop out through the cut in the tire. In between, Balu joined me, to help fix the problem and left only after making sure that I could ride.
I started riding once again with minimal pressure in the rear tire. Had my objectives reanalyzed now; the game was to just finish the 200km cycling. If I finish it within the time-limit of 13.5hours, it will be a bonus. I kept riding, taking weight off the saddle most of the time, so as to put less pressure on the broken tire.
At the second check point, I was told that I had just enough time to cross the forthcoming one. I rode from there with a good pace to reach the next checkpoint just within time. It was a ferry crossing from there, across the river ‘Kabini’,with us and our bikes in canoe. Once we crossed the river, voila, I was in Karnataka and could hear people speaking in Kannada.
Rest of the ride was through a reserve forest with lot of teak wood. Pacing up to reach the Kabini checkpoint, had made me tired and with the low pressure in the rear tire, things were supposedly getting tough on my legs. I took a break, pushed the bike for a while. It was getting dark and I was riding solo. My front light was not good enough for the ride in the dark. I kept on riding plus pushing the bike at times. Only thing that helped me to navigate was the intermittent white markings on the road. I kept on pushing myself and at 7:39pm I saw the finish line. I knew I was late by almost 9 minutes, but was really happy that I could finish the brevet.
Things I learned from this Brevet:
Have powerful front lights on the bike.
Check the tire for signs of wear and tear before setting off.
Carry a tire bot.
Having done brevets previously, this one left me with sweet memories of riding through one of the most beautiful part of Kerala and fulfilling my wish to ride through Wayanad.
All praise to the organizers ‘Cochin bikers club’ and ‘Happy bikers’ for conducting the ‘Wayanad- Three States One Brevet’. We at Art of Bicycle Trips were proud to support this Brevet as one of the official sponsors and help to continue to help more cyclists get out and about here in India.