Almost 1,5 month we spent in Thailand and paced the country nearly in it’s entire length, therewith accumulating about 2300 km.
During that time we experienced Thailand as a pretty comfy and interesting country to cycle. In a sense its not a very challenging country to cycle, something we really enjoyed and let us pass with considerable cosiness. Various things were accounting for that:
Weather. Most important for cyclist but really not a big concern in Thailand in February and March. There was actually no weather at all. Every single day we cycled under the same conditions: sun and still bearable temperatures of about 30 to 36°C.
However, there is one nuisance that makes cycling in particular in North-Thailand very unpleasant, I dare say impossible: from January to April there might be days with a unbearable haze of smoke caused by purposely set fires in Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. The severe air pollution is not only quite unpleasant for the health (especially when physically active) but also seriously limits the view. North-Thailand is supposedly nice but we haven’t seen much for that very reason. Also we might have experienced one of the worst burning seasons within the last years, the problem seemingly appears every year at least for a couple of days, sometimes weeks.
Things to see. Well. Temples. Innumerable. Apart from temples there are also nice stretches of countryside ,that is beaches, few national parks (most of them don’t offer much but still can be quite pricy for foreigners – sometimes ten times as much as a local would pay), waterfalls, rock formations, some mountains, islands etc. Our favorite place was the Krabi-region with its overgrown rocky hills forming a unique scenery. However, nobody probably comes to Thailand for its nature exclusively. Its beautiful in some cases though not exceptionally stunning or spectacular.
Food. Plenty and almost everywhere readily available. Delicious and relatively varied – still I very often stick to my favorite dish: simple fried noodles (Pad Thai). And most food is relatively cheap. An average Pad Thai is approx. one Euro. The food is easily obtainable at food stalls, simple street restaurants or something in between. Thus, there was really no need for us to carry any food, let alone to cook. A fact that makes cycling in Thailand incredibly comfortable.
Accommodation. Another main reason that contributes to the ease and comfort of cycling in Thailand is the broad availability of affordable accommodations. Hotels, resorts, bungalows, or hostels can be found in many towns although it might take some time to identify them as those – as happened to us occasionally in towns off the tourist grid. Usually we never had to pay more than 10 Euros to find a room, sometimes of surprisingly high standard. Consequently, the distribution of the modes we spent our nights is pretty much dominated by hotels or hostels (accounting for 37 nights). We only spent 6 nights camping and 2 nights in temples.
People. Thais are just nice people. Very kind but never obtrusive. In the tourist places, however, we noticed a slight difference in the Thai’s attitude towards us. A little bit more hard-boiled and indifferent. However, what is true worldwide is in particular true for Thailand, the land of thousands smiles: in case of problems, misunderstandings, or whatever, don’t forget to smile and things will get much easier.
Traffic. Big roads are often quite busy and should naturally avoided by cyclists although they have a big shoulder. Accidents do happen quite often and Thailand’s traffic is supposedly one of the most hazardous. But not where we were cycling most of the time. We found it very easy to resort to smaller roads when necessary and, hence, really weren’t annoyed, let alone scared, by the traffic in Thailand at all.