Fancy A Winter Escape Cycling in Thailand?
The following is a little something that I put together during my time between Sri Lanka and a recent Tibet tour. I did it in the main part for fun, but should you be interested in such a tour then please let me know your thoughts.
the view that, over a year ago, prompted me to share this ride
Early last year as I recovered from a nasty infection in my leg I took a gentle ride south along Peninsula Thailand. Arriving at a lovely little restaurant hanging precariously over the sea one lunch time I looked at the menu, I looked at the golden sand and the silvery blue sea. I looked at the bottles of ice cold beer and the rooms just across the little meandering road I had been following. I decided to call it a day. I took a room, checked my emails, ate a sea food lunch and spent the afternoon siting on a deserted beach waist deep in the warm sea drinking cold beer.
I had just received an email from a friend who was at the time living on the outer fringes of London where the weather was, she told me, miserable. To do anything that she enjoyed; cycling, running swimming, walking, visiting cosy taverns – meant enduring climatic conditions of such dire proportions that if they were under the control of anyone less divine than The Almighty they would be banned as a human rights violation. I ordered another bottle of beer, applied a little more suncream to my bald patch and contemplated. It seemed that I had been receiving such weather reports from Northern Europe for months. It struck me then that the reality for most people who come along on my tours and read this blog is at least half a year in abject climatic poverty. It seemed quite absurd that all that separated these folk from a bleak and protracted winter and a beautiful bicycle ride in the sun along little used costal and country roads eating fine Thai food and splashing in the warm sea every day is a simple ten hour flight. That is it. Go the Heathrow, clamber aboard an oversized tooth paste tube, sit down drinking wine for ten hours, and emerge the other end in glorious sunshine with two weeks of fine food cycling beaches and beer.
I mentioned this to the friend, who agreed whole heartedly, jumped onto an aeroplane and together we spent this April reconnoitring a route between Phuket and Bangkok along mainly quiet rural roads.
Should you decide to escape the northern European winter and join me on this tropical adventure of sun sea cycling beer and fine exotic food you will clamber onto an aeroplane where the weather is cold and damp and generally miserable. You will be met at Phuket airport and transferred for ten minutes through a picturesque pine forest to the lovely little beach where your holiday will begin.
jungle and karst rocks
Day 1: Arrive at Phuket international airport where you will be met and transferred to your pool side hotel room just ten minutes walk from the beach. A quick shower and change of clothes and down to the beach for a splash in the sea and sunset drinks before a meal of Thai cuisine with your feet in the sand.
Day 2: A day to rest and relax after your flight and build up your bike or become acquainted with you hire bike. We will take a short ride along quiet roads to check our legs and bicycles and spend the rest of the day on the beach or relaxing by the hotel pool
Day 3: Today our journey begins with a short ride across Phuket to a small harbour from where we will begin our island hop to the mainland. A one hour boat journey will take us to the tranquil and amazingly unspoilt island of Koh Yao Noi. I have to confess to being stunned by just how quiet this little island is just a short hop from one of Asia’s premier tourist destinations. We will take a short ride around the island to our beachside resort offering stunning views of fairy tale like karst rocks jutting out of the sea. Sundowners and a barbecues on the beach polish of a wonderful days cycling and sailing.
the ferry from koh yao noi to the mainland
Day 4: This morning we will ride along the coast to the small harbour from which we will sail through the karst cliffs to the mainland.
Today is a longer days ride as we begin our journey across Thailand to the Gulf of Thailand. Our destination for tonight is Rachabrapha Dam. This evening we will enjoy sundowners as we watch the sun set over this stunning lake and dine alfresco on a lovely little plateau that affords magnificent view of the Kho Sok National park (before dark, of course. Although having said that with moonlight it could well be pretty special)
the view from rachabrapha dam
Day 5: A rural road winding through palm forests and rubber plantations with views of karst cliffs rising through the jungle takes us to our first night on Thailand’s east coast, The Gulf of Thailand. Setting the tone for the next six nights we stay in a quiet beach side guest house. [Note; the busy national highway is unavoidable for a short distance. Due to the hectic nature of several fast junctions we will transfer for approximately 25KMS today].
Day 6 & 7: Our first two days of beach side riding begin today as we follow the Gulf of Thailand riding sometimes beachside, sometimes through small fishing villages, sometimes through rubber plantations and sometimes through coconut groves where trained monkeys clamber through the trees harvesting the coconuts.
tropical beaches and winding roads
Day 8: A well deserved rest day at a small seaside town offering a variety of restaurants (pizza any one?) a long sandy beach, opportunity for cycling, and, of course, beach side beer.
Day 9: A longer day with a few more climbs and descents. We wind away from the coast in places riding though pine forests banana and rubber plantations and past sand dunes and a large Chinese temple. Of course the coast is never far away and today for lunch we pic-nik on the beach.
Day 10: Today is a short ride of just 45KMS. We can take full advantage of this by spending the morning snorkelling before riding to the sleepy little beach of Ban Krud in the afternoon.
beach side riding, or pondering. koh yao noi
Day 11: For our final day of cycling we have 75KM of flat beach side riding.
Day 12: Proper old style train travel to Bangkok where, with a fan whirring overhead and sounds aromas and tropical warmth coming in through the open windows and doors (remember such simple pleasures) we can while the journey away watching a backdrop of rice terraces, rural train stations and enjoying exchanges with ever friendly Thais.
Day 13: Final day in Bangkok where we can spend the day sight seeing, shopping or simply enjoying the atmosphere, little cafes and the delicious food of the local street restaurants in the characterful neighbourhood in which we spend our last two nights.
well, not a good illustration of the journey, but I like the shot, and it is en-route
out at sea
a cycle tourist, a coconut, a beach, and a bicycle