Get a taste of tantalising Thailand as we cycle both the east and west coasts.
A scene of longtail boats pulling up onto white sand beaches through aquamarine waters with towering limestone cliffs in the background is usually the first thing we think of when we hear ‘Thailand’. In the south islands of Thailand this picturesque image is the norm; you can cycle from beach to beach soaking up as much sun as you have ever dreamed of. The south of Thailand is noticeably more tourist-oriented and is surprisingly easy to get around, whether on bike, boat, bus, or a combination of the three. While half of the Malay peninsula is shared with Myanmar, almost all of the coastline is made up of white sand beaches. The cities of Chumphon, Surat Thani, and Songkhla have their charms, but it’s the islands that bring the most visitors, so be prepared to island hop as much as possible.
On the eastern shores of the Gulf of Thailand you find Surat Thani and the three spectacular islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, and Koh Tao, and excepting Koh Tao, they make for great cycling. Full moon partygoers stick to the south of Koh Phangan, leaving the northern half of the island yours to cycle freely. The coastlines of Koh Samui are quite busy so cycling them is risking your life. However, the interior of the island is empty with miles of rural roads to explore.
From the islands in the Gulf of Thailand it is possible to purchase a ferry-to-bus-to-ferry pass that takes you from the islands in the east, to Surat Thani, then on to Phuket or Krabi, all for a fair price. Both Phuket and Krabi are busy tourist meccas so if you’re looking for some days off, or some nights out, these are your places. Phuket Island has some of Thailand's most popular beaches, excellent to see by road riding, or pedal inland for tropical rainforest mountain biking. The Phi-Phi islands don't offer much for cycling but the island of Koh Lanta is perfect for blending a beach-and-bike vacation.
The south mainland is a narrow strip of north-south land that makes for some good, yet busy, cycling between destinations. You will want to keep in mind that the summer months are monsoon season, and the winter temperatures can still skyrocket well above 30 degrees celsius (86 ºF) so any biking should be done in the mornings and evenings, leaving the midday for food and beach excursions.