Three touring cyclists were spotted pedaling through a small back street of Hua Hin barely wide enough to accommodate the bulging side packs slung to their bikes. They were asked about their cycling experiences in Thailand and a long and enjoyable Q & A session followed with some friendly people who were happy to share their experience and knowledge.
Where are you going? What is the final destination of your trip?
We have come from Vietnam and are continuing to Singapore by way of Malaysia. Then to Indonesia and perhaps even further, Australia and New Zealand are in the plan.
What preparations did you make for coming to Thailand?
We believe you cannot plan for everything. That would not be in the spirit of bicycle touring. We enjoy spontaneity and think it is a big part of travel. But, you do need to stay ready for anything on a bicycle tour; bad weather or somebody getting sick can change your plans very quickly and you must be able to adapt to that. We all made sure that we got the two-month (60 Day) tourist visa to allow for adequate time to cycle through Thailand to the Malaysian border.
How are you finding your route?
We use paper maps mostly. These maps are quite reliable and durable for cycle touring, although they do not have very much detail for finding smaller roads. They are plastic and therefore can withstand the wear and tear associated with cycle touring. We have also used Google Maps online as a reference to get an idea of where we are and where we would like to go. It is a good resource, but you must have Internet access to be able to use it. Sometimes it has been difficult to find Internet access or the connectivity is not so good in places we have been during our trip.
What do you find easy about cycle touring in Thailand?
The Thai drivers seem very tolerant of cyclists, more so than in other Asian countries we have traveled. Many of the roads in Thailand have good quality shoulders, even though they are not specifically bicycle lanes. Also, riding in Thailand feels more like we are on holiday than the tough cycling we have experienced in other countries. Finding accommodation, food and water is very easy here in Thailand. It seems like there is a petrol station along the road every 10 kilometres with bathrooms, water, and many other things we need. Finding these basic needs while cycling in other countries can be very time consuming and frustrating.
What do you find difficult about cycle touring in Thailand?
Riding through Bangkok! Even though we rode through on a weekend day, Sunday, which we thought would be less busy; we still had nerve-wracking and tough days of cycling on the roads of Thailand’s capital.
Have any of you traveled to Thailand prior to this cycle touring trip?
We have very little experience with Thailand. Even though two have spent a very short holiday here some time ago, we all feel that we are really seeing Thailand for the first time on this cycling trip.
What advice would you give to other cyclists thinking about coming to tour in Thailand?
Don’t bring a tent and sleeping bag. You will not need it, the guesthouses can be found very easily and the price is very good. Try all of the food, it is wonderful. Don’t worry about having to carry a lot of water, you can find water in many places along the road. Always be flexible with your plans.
How does Thailand compare to other countries you have done cycle touring in?
We can give you the Pros and Cons of what we have experienced so far during this part of our trip in Thailand. We will spend a few more weeks cycling through Thailand so maybe these will change, but so far: The Pros – great food, inexpensive accommodations, good roads, and easy to find maps & route information. The Cons – cycling through Bangkok. It is not impossible, but it is not very enjoyable.
Prime Minister Prayut recently promised that his government will build five more bicycle lanes in Bangkok and extend bike lanes to cover the entire capital so as to facilitate people to use bicycles for travels. In making improvement of existing bike lanes, he said the surface of roads, including drainage covers, will be smoothed for safe pedaling. For safety, all lanes will be painted in green with symbols to show they are reserved for bicycles.
Source: Touring Cyclists in Thailand