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Ten Wonderful Days of Cycling in Stunning South Thailand

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Ten Wonderful Days of Cycling in Stunning South Thailand

By Jay Jacobson, NYCC Member since the 1990's
Contact the author: [email protected]

If you like warm weather biking, beaches, boats, islands and al fresco dining you would love it!

I arrived at sunny Surat Thani on the Gulf of Thailand the day after New York had a ten inch blizzard.  The tour, which was organized by Bangkok-based Spice Roads Cycle Tours had just two couples (one Belgian and one Russian), myself and a very capable guide/leader, “Aum” and a (a/c) support vehicle driver,” Mr. Sit”.

The tour progressed in a backwards, upside-down letter U direction crossing the Southern Thailand peninsula from East to West from the Gulf of Thailand and ending along the Andaman Sea. (The Andaman Sea is not named after a Dutch or Moslem explorer, but after the Indian-held Andaman Islands which in turn were named after Hanuman, the Sanskrit name of the Indian Monkey god.) During the inland crossing we spent one evening in chalets floating on a spectacular lake surrounded by steep karst cliffs.  It seemed like we were always near or at a lake, gulf or sea!

The daily rides ranged from 25-75 km for a total of about 250 flat to rolling  miles.
Most of the roads had light to moderate vehicular traffic.  At several points where there was heavy urban traffic or a very steep climb we were shuttled in the van.  Traffic moves on the left side of the road in Thailand.

Such movies as “The Beach” and “Man with the Golden Gun” were filmed in this area and cycling through it, we can see why it was a suitable setting for such films.

The area is all about rain forests (although we were hardly ever rained on while cycling-this was the dry season), limestone mountains, Buddhist temples, mosques, waterfalls, caves and caverns, occasional monkeys and elephants, unusual birds, rubber and palm plantations, Tsunami victims monuments, shrimp farms.  Coconuts were everywhere.  It is easy to see that Thailand was the destination of the Hawaii pineapple industry diaspora.

We had the opportunity to cycle and stroll through small towns, cities and night markets. One day we visited the home of a Moslem fisherman and his wife cooked the sea food her husband had caught that morning for lunch and dinner.

The guide, Aum selected generally excellent (not always spicy) Thai dishes from  therestaurants menus—almost all the meals were included in the tour price. Featured was fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables and   Thailand’s amazing fresh fruit was also always available at rest stops and Mr. Sit always had a bag of ice for my water bottle. Almost all the hotels were very good-they ranked about 4 stars on the Europe ranking system, had a/c, nice pools and beaches.  I felt that we had just about right amount of  down time (non cycling) including a full day off at a gorgeous resort.

The tour’s price is $2295.  I also paid $625 for a single room and rented a 400 series Trek Mountain Bike.  (We rode mostly on paved roads—Spice Roads used Trek road bikes on other tours.) for $150.  Air fare and small amounts for beverages and tips were extra.  The daily cost for this tour is substantially less that US companies charge.

Without exception we found the Thai people to be pleasant and friendly.  BTW we didn’t encounter any Americans for the first seven days of the tour.

This tour wasn’t especially demanding except that at times it was somewhat warm and humid. About 75% of the riding was on flat terrain and the remaining 25% was rolling.  The roads were generally well paved and we usually had nice shoulders for cycling.  I enjoyed arriving at the hotels in the early afternoon and spending a few hours relaxing at a splendid pool or beach before dinner.

The places we cycled through (in order) were: Surat Thani, Khanom Beach, Cheow Laan Lake, Khao Sok National Park, Takua Pa, Kho Kho Khao Island, Khao Lake, Kok Khoy, Phuket, Koh Yah Noi Island and Krabi.

 

cycling trips