Thailand offers many excellent cycling routes. Bicycle touring is popular with travelers and expatriates alike, so there are as many tour operators as there are professional bike shops. Southern routes are scenic and take in the coast, while northern routes are hilly and challenging.

Guided cycling tours last anywhere from several hours to a few weeks, taking in key sights along the way. Of course, it is possible to go at it alone as there is plentiful accommodation in the form of home-stays, guest houses and camping, even in the remotest areas.

  • Chiang Mai: The best cycling near Chiang Mai city is on Doi Suthep, the mountain looming above the sprawling metropolitan area. The climb to the temple is challenging, as there are relatively few flat stretches of road along the way. Cycling is also a nice way to see the sites around Chiang Mai. The local cycling club departs from Tha Pae Gate every Sunday morning.

  • Pai: Pai’s laid-back atmosphere is ideal for cycling, and visitors quickly learn that the best way to see the town is on two wheels. Forested trails head to waterfalls and hot springs, but cyclists can also take the sealed road all the way to Mae Hong Son. These two towns aren’t that far apart, but there are plenty of hills and hairpin turns to draw out the journey.

  • Sukhothai: One of Thailand’s ancient capitals, Sukhothai is a magical place to explore by bicycle. The historical park is a well landscaped expanse of crumbling ruins and Buddha images, much of which is closed to motorized traffic. This is the perfect opportunity to combine light cycling with sightseeing. Ayutthaya, Thailand’s other historical capital, also features a historical park with a similar, if slightly less wondrous, atmosphere.

  • Phuket: Phuket is the ideal setting for lazy cycling tours if you have a good bike and are aware of the road hazards. Its easy enough to use a bicycle to navigate the resort areas or explore the old city, but the rest of the island features hilly twists and turns that you must share with some crazy island drivers. It’s possible to do a tour of the entire island for those who have the stamina; circling Phuket Island can be done in a day.

  • Bangkok: It may come as a surprise to find that Thailand’s enormous metropolis offers a few cycling opportunities. Stay away from the busy thoroughfares in favor of the side streets and back roads that follow the old network of canals. Booking a tour increases your chances of finding those magical green spaces that defy the otherwise urban atmosphere.

  • Krabi: The best way to get out of Krabi and explore the countryside is by bike. Ao Nang is a good place to base an all-day excursion, taking country roads that follow the coast and circle back through rubber and coconut plantations. It doesn’t take long to shake the city and lose yourself in traditional fishing villages.

  • Kanchanaburi: Aside from using a bicycle as a means of getting around town, visitors can also plan a few short day-trips from the city. Grave plots from WWII can by reached by bicycle, as can the Mangkon cave temple.

  • Pattaya: The waterfront here lends itself well to cycling. Countless cycling shops are onsite to rent out all the equipment you’ll need. There aren’t many dedicated paths, and most people rent a bike simply as a leisurely means of getting around.

  • Surat Thani: Surat Thani is a solid layover destination for long-haul cyclists traveling between the gulf and the Andaman coast. The scenery alternates between coastal vistas and swathes of rice paddies in the interior. Karst rock outcroppings begin to spring up as you approach the west coast.

  • Hat Yai: In the far south, Hat Yai hosts a few excellent cycling routes that don’t see many tourists. The route to Betong is a nice 90-mile stretch of pavement cutting through verdant hills and passing a manmade reservoir. Be advised that this area is prone to political instability so it’s wise to check travel advisories before setting out.

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