Back in the saddle: our favourite cycling routes in the Thai Kingdom
There are few things in life as joyous as whizzing down a path on two wheels, the sun peeping out of the foliage above and a constant breeze in one’s hair as birds and bees dart from tree to tree and flower to flower (we can’t be the only ones?). In spite of competition from ever-more adventurous, new forms of sport, cycling quite simply still holds a special place in our hearts.
In Thailand, putting the pedal to the metal is part of everyday life, and for shorter distances, many locals prefer a bicycle to a scooter; if only for the fun of getting active! Want to come along for the ride? Here are some great routes to get started.
Down to Pai’s impressive sights
A little village hidden in the highlands of northern Thailand, Pai offers adventure tourists an escape with an alternative feel. This is where the country is at its most National Geographic cover-worthy and many of Pai’s sights are best taken in by bike.
Cycle down the jungle-adjacent Mae Hong Son Road east of Pai River and take a sharp left just past the crossing with Pong Mai stream to visit the region’s popular hot springs (perfect if you need to relax your muscles already!). Back on Mae Hong Son, it’s only a little further until you reach Pai’s famous World War II Memorial Bridge. Cross the bridge – after taking a few pictures, that is – and ride back up to the village, exploring its most memorable attraction on the way: the majestic Pai Canyon! A word of wisdom before you go: leave your wheels by the entrance of the canyon…
Around Ayutthaya’s ancient temples
If you thought biking is exclusively reserved for nature enthusiasts, buckle up your seatbelt because it’s going to be a cultural ride: Thailand’s ancient capital of Ayutthaya is predestined for a cycling tour, though you’ll be stopping a lot to take in the sights…
Ride around the city’s main island, hugged by three rivers on all sides (in essence, it’s a scenic coastal road!) and make sure to pause for the iconic sights of Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Chaiwatthanaram and Wat Mahathat, along with its otherworldly Buddha head – you know, the one overgrown by the roots of a Banyan tree.
Not running out of steam yet? Follow Ayutthaya Ang Thong Road in the island’s northwest and keep going until you’ve passed the reservoir to your left. Take a left here and voila – the Monument of King Naresuan the Great and, a bit further down, the stunning, white Wat Phu Khao Thong await!
All across Bangkok’s green island Bang Krachao
Cycling in Bangkok? It’s not only possible but actually pretty amazing! Catch a longtail boat down to the capital’s Bang Krachao Island, where time has stood still, resulting in an absence of skyscrapers and tuk-tuks improved only by an abundance of nature.
People tend to spend a whole day here, aimlessly whizzing around Krachao’s countless dirt roads and boardwalks, skirted by bamboo and palm trees thick with the sound of crickets. There are a few, small temples here as well, but if you ask us, the island unofficially known as ‘Bangkok’s green lung’ (although we think it looks more like a stomach, viewed on a map!) is all about nature. Oh well, and food: you’ll see what we mean when lunch is served at Krachao’s Bangkok Tree House – better get in the saddle fast!