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  1. #1
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    3 weeks but unsure where to go

    Hi all

    Im after a bit of advice.

    Basically me and my girlfriend have 3 weeks off work and want to go on a cycle tour.

    Ive done touring before so i know what its all about, so this has to be a good and interesting intro for my girlfriend.

    3 weeks in feb where to go?

    We are happy to camp but want decent weather. We are from london so this will involve a flight or two.

    Any advice would be much appriciated!

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I don't know what the area we're in is like in February, but we have discovered and like the area around Bordeaux. Go east and apparently you've got the small villages and vineyards. Go west, like we did and you've got the ocean and a great beach.

    But I'm not sure what the weather would be like here then ... it was gorgeous last week. This week we're stuck in a long, long storm.

    Or might you be interested in Australia? February would be a decent month to tour there. The kiddies have gone back to school, and toward the end of the month the temperature should be pretty nice.

  3. #3
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmitrij View Post
    Hi all

    Im after a bit of advice.

    Basically me and my girlfriend have 3 weeks off work and want to go on a cycle tour.

    Ive done touring before so i know what its all about, so this has to be a good and interesting intro for my girlfriend.

    3 weeks in feb where to go?

    We are happy to camp but want decent weather. We are from london so this will involve a flight or two.

    Any advice would be much appriciated!
    Corsica & Sardinia are calm and warm in October.
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  4. #4
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    If you can put it off until mid to late-March, Andalucia is nice and easy to get to from London. You should be able to fly from Gatwick to Sevilla. The problem with February is that many parts of the region can be chilly (at least at night) and wet.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies

    I was actually thinking some where warm - I don't mind flying long distance.

    Is south east asia a good option - vietnam top to bottom.

    Or cuba ?

  6. #6
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmitrij View Post
    I was actually thinking some where warm - I don't mind flying long distance.
    Like I said ... Australia.

    February is summer there. And there are many good camping opportunities in Australia.

    And if this is your girlfriend's first tour, Australia might also be a good choice ... no struggle with language, some similarities with the UK, reasonably easy to get around ... but different scenery, animals, vegetation, etc.

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    Northern Thailand and northern Laos are great in February. It's the dry season, and temperature in the north is comfortable for about 3 months of the year, from December to February. (Central and southern Thailand are hot and sticky year-round.) The roads are pretty good in both countries. In Thailand, you get incredible value for money. Accommodations are inexpensive and very good, and the food is fantastic. Food and lodging are both more basic (and cheaper) in Laos outside of the larger towns. I've biked in both countries and found them excellent for touring. I did a very nice loop starting from Chiang Mai and going northward along the border with Burma, then eastward along the border of Laos. I rode as far east as Nan (a nice town). You can take a ferry across the Mekong to enter Laos from northern Thailand. The road between Luang Prabang to Vientiane is a classic, but it's pretty mountainous.

  8. #8
    eternalvoyage
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    Some good possibilities here: travellingtwo.com/resources/top10

    American Southwest.

    Islands of Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Kauai.

    Islands of the Philippines.

    Thailand.

    India.

    The Yucatan.

    Baja and other parts of Mexico.

    Parts of Central and Southern California.

    Combination.

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    Another possibility is Sri Lanka. The cycling itself isn't as good as Thailand & Laos (road quality varies from good to awful), but it's a fantastic country to visit. Lots of varied sights in a relatively small country. Also some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. Language is much less of an issue than in Thailand & Laos, as a fair number of people speak English, and road & business signs are often in English. Great food. I haven't been to India yet, but several people who have been to both India & Sri Lanka have told me that: Sri Lanka is cleaner than India; people in Sri Lanka hassle you less than in India; prices are higher in Sri Lanka.

    Both Sri Lanka and Thailand have some trains which are fairly bike-friendly. I took a train from Bangkok to near the Lao border with my bike. I also took a couple of trains in Sri Lanka with my bike. The trains there look like they haven't changed in 100 years.

  10. #10
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmitrij View Post
    Thanks for the replies

    I was actually thinking some where warm - I don't mind flying long distance.

    Is south east asia a good option - vietnam top to bottom.

    Or cuba ?
    Yes and yes.

    Also Brazil.

    Also Argentina and Chile.

    You might check out Heinze Stucke's favorites as well as those at www.travellingtwo.com/resources/top10

    If you could list some of your other priorities, it would help in narrowing it down. Spectacular natural beauty? Good food? Good roads? Long rides? Easy rides? Low Humidity? Uncrowded? Wide open spaces and campng possibilities? Solitude? Quiet? Different culture? Views? Swimming? Safe food and water? Friendly people and hospitality? Familiar culture and language? Others?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmitrij View Post

    Is south east asia a good option - vietnam top to bottom.

    Or cuba ?
    I am very leery of "Vietnam top to bottom" based on what a couple of cyclists told me, as well as other first-hand accounts that I've read. The road from north to south sounds like it has tons of traffic and is simply unpleasant for cycling. Vietnam is a densely populated country compared to Laos. Culturally it is very different from Thailand and Laos, where the people are much more laid-back. One cyclist I biked with in Laos told me that the only region of Vietnam that he could recommend for biking was the Mekong delta area, because he could take his bike on all of the boats, but the cars couldn't cross.

    I also biked in Malaysia, and while I had a good experience, I think that northern Thailand and Laos were generally better, especially from a climate standpoint in Dec-Feb.

    The stunning lake & volcano region of south-central Chile & Argentina is nice for biking. If you want something more challenging and rustic, there's the Carretera Austral in southern Chile.

    Cuba sounds good, and I hope it's a realistic option for me in the not-too-distant future.

  12. #12
    eternalvoyage
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    If I were taking a girlfriend I was serious about and in love with, I think I would lean in the directon of the South Pacific.

  13. #13
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    New Zealand. South Island.
    ...

  14. #14
    eternalvoyage
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    If she is an inexperienced bike tourer and traveler, I would ease her into it, make it plesant rather than too challenging, and minimize the number of things that could ruin the trip for her. Many inexperienced and even experienced travelers get ill from the food and water in South and Southeast Asia. I think I would just avoid this one. That sort of thing can ruin atrip for either or both.

    If she doesn't do well, or even might not do well , in heat and humidity, I might cross that one off the list too.

    I would try to maximize the chances of a good, un-derailed trip, in part through minimizing the possible spoilers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
    If she is an inexperienced bike tourer and traveler, I would ease her into it, make it plesant rather than too challenging, and minimize the number of things that could ruin the trip for her. Many inexperienced and even experienced travelers get ill from the food and water in South and Southeast Asia. I think I would just avoid this one. That sort of thing can ruin atrip for either or both.

    If she doesn't do well, or even might not do well , in heat and humidity, I might cross that one off the list too.

    I would try to maximize the chances of a good, un-derailed trip, in part through minimizing the possible spoilers.
    While it's fairly common for travelers to get sick in India, I honestly haven't heard of many travelers getting sick in Thailand. Nobody I know has gotten sick there. I routinely ate in the night markets there on 2 trips. Similarly, Sri Lanka has a better reputation than India. I didn't have any problems in Sri Lanka, nor did the other cyclist I was biking with much of the time.

    Strangely enough, the only time I ever got ill enough on a bike trip that I had to seek a doctor was in either the US or Canada. I honestly don't know where I contracted giardiasis. The symptoms hit me in Olympic Nat. Park, however I had just arrived from Vancouver Island the day before. I never drank stream water, and my friend didn't get sick.

  16. #16
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
    While it's fairly common for travelers to get sick in India, I honestly haven't heard of many travelers getting sick in Thailand. Nobody I know has gotten sick there. I routinely ate in the night markets there on 2 trips. Similarly, Sri Lanka has a better reputation than India. I didn't have any problems in Sri Lanka, nor did the other cyclist I was biking with much of the time.

    Strangely enough, the only time I ever got ill enough on a bike trip that I had to seek a doctor was in either the US or Canada. I honestly don't know where I contracted giardiasis. The symptoms hit me in Olympic Nat. Park, however I had just arrived from Vancouver Island the day before. I never drank stream water, and my friend didn't get sick.
    The incubation period for giardiais would make Washington impossible.

    You have to be careful with water. I'll check with some trustworthy medical sites on this. Both Sri Lanka and Thailand are likely much worse than USA, Australia, and New Zealand. Anecdotal evidence is not as reliable as well designed, larger population studies.

  17. #17
    eternalvoyage
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    South Pacific and Hawaiian Islands sound good. Three weeks for the Big Island and three or four others would be fine. You can find Nadine Slavinsky's 'Hawaii By Bike' for a song online. It has some good information in it. There are some other Island guidebooks that have excellent additional information. There is one series in particular that I've found to be exceptionally good. Will post more later.

    The Slavinsky book would give you an overview and possibly a better idea, if you think it might be of interest. I'e lived and toured there, and it has a lot going for it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    We are going to Laos in February but we are doing a 7-day commercial bike tour from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. This route is highly rated in Southeast Asia from what we've read. We're also spending time (off the bikes) visiting Thailand and Cambodia (Angkor Wat.)

    If Mexico gets high on your list, I highly recommend this route: Lake Chapala (just south of Guadalajara airport), Patzcuaro (w/ a side trip to Morelia) and end up in the beautiful beach resort of Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo. We spent two months this summer in that area of Mexico and LOVED it! This route is 550 miles total. This is a very interesting region of Mexico with beautiful countryside, nice and sunny weather in February, nice people, overall courteous drivers and very rich culturally. It will take 2-3 weeks to do it really comfortably as you might want to stay in some places a little longer or do some side trips. BTW, I have this route routed on MapMyRide if you ever need it.

  19. #19
    Senior Member saddlesores's Avatar
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    lots of options, but i'd be a little worried about countries with large
    muslim populations. indonesia, malaysia, sri lanka, southern thailand, etc.

    not that you'd be targeted as a cyclist or a traveller or even as a western-
    looking dude (and dudette), but with the recent film protests, and the
    soon to come romney-bombing-iran protests, it would be easy to get
    stuck in traffic at the wrong time in the wrong place.

    three weeks: myanmar, thailand, laos are all good. some parts of vietnam.
    (avoid the saigan-hanoi route). new zealand. southwest usa.

    i'll be doing about three weeks in cambodia early next year. three weeks
    is enough to circle tonle sap lake, with angkor wat on the route.

  20. #20
    eternalvoyage
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    Do you have a sense of which places would be most enjoyable for her?, or where she would be especially happy to be?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
    The incubation period for giardiais would make Washington impossible.

    You have to be careful with water. I'll check with some trustworthy medical sites on this. Both Sri Lanka and Thailand are likely much worse than USA, Australia, and New Zealand. Anecdotal evidence is not as reliable as well designed, larger population studies.
    Agreed that anecdotal evidence has limited value. But by the same token, I wouldn't base a decision of a destination for a 3-week trip on a still fairly unlikely possibility of serious illness in a place like Thailand. There's an enormous difference between Thailand and India.

    As for my own case of giardiasis, while I was on Vancouver Island before Olympic NP, I arrived on Vancouver Island from elsewhere in Washington, and we weren't on the island that many days. So it could have been anywhere.

  22. #22
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    I would second that Cuba would be great in February. The people are friendly, out of the cities trafiic is net-to-none, and the place is beautiful. Take a peek on cgoab and look up our journals from when we toured there over the past few years.

    B

  23. #23
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    i hear new zealand is nice.....
    Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.

  24. #24
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Argentina, Chile? Gabon is right on the equator. so year around tropical.

  25. #25
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
    Agreed that anecdotal evidence has limited value. But by the same token, I wouldn't base a decision of a destination for a 3-week trip on a still fairly unlikely possibility of serious illness in a place like Thailand. There's an enormous difference between Thailand and India.
    People do get sick in Thailand. Water isn't terribly safe in rural areas where bike touring would take dmitri and his girlfriend over the course of three weeks of touring. Nor is the food. I certainly wouldn't eat salads there, to take one example. I had a nasty bout of amoebic dyssentery from the food there. Nor would I eat street food that was not served piping hot; and I would be careful with plates, cups, glasses, utensils, etc. Better yet, I would go somwhere where I and my girlfriend could eat, drink, and relax freely.

    Places without these and various other issues and potential consequences.

    I would have to see more data before using words like 'enormous difference,' particularly where rural Thailand is concerned.

    Some of the illnesses are serious -- whether foodborne, waterborne, or other. Others are more of a nuisance, but enough of a nuissance to take into account. One friend got Hepatitis A with some serious lifelong consequences; another a less serious illness -- a bad case of the runs -- that merely ruined a trip she had looked forward to for months and spent her savings and rare time off on.

    'Fairly unlikely possiility of serious illness' may or may not be good enough.

    When equal or better options exist, I would lean toward those, particularly if I were taking someone important to me, someone I cared about deeply, and who was trusting me to make some good decisions.

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