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Tips about our bicycle trip in North Thailand ?

Travel Forums Asia Tips about our bicycle trip in North Thailand ?

1. Posted by koen31 (Budding Member 2 posts) 11y

Hello everybody,

In November we will cycle from the northeast to the north of Thailand. We already have choosen a route, but we still have some question, so if anyone can help, that would be great !

Our route is as follows :
We arrive in Bangkok, we plan one or two days to visit this city, and we will take the night train to Nong Khai, where we will start cycling. We first cycle along the Mekong, via Si Chiang Mai and Chan Khan. In this village we leave the road 201 and we take the 2195 via Ban Pak, Pak Man, Dan Sai and Nakhon Thai. From this place we would like to visit the national park Thung Salaeng Luang. After that we will continu towards Sukhothai.

Question : Which road should we take to Sukhothai ? The big road (12) which goes straight to Sukhothai via Phitsanulok ? Or should we take the smaller roads via Chat Trakan, Uttaradit and Sawankhalok ? Are these places of any interest ? Or do we better skip this part, and take a bus to Sukhothai ? (our time is a bit limited; we only have 3 weeks, so we want to skip the less interest areas and take a bus instead on these roads)

In Sukhothai we would like to visit the national park by bycicle. After that we continu and would like to take the train to Chiang Mai, in Sawankhalok, a bit north of Sukhotahi.

Question : Is this possible ? I can't find any info about the trains from Sawankhalok to Chiang Mai. On the map it seems that Sawankhalok is a terminal station...

Question : If we would have enough time, is the Si Satchanalai historical park worth visiting ?

In Chiang Mai we will do some cycling in the region of the golden triangle. According to our information this, it seems that the first part from Chiang Mai is on quite busy roads, so it might be a good idea to do this part by bus ? After that we will continu cycling towards Fang and Thaton. From there you can take the boat to Chiang Rai, or you can cycle to Mae Chan or you can take a 'parallel' road via Mai Salong, which is maybe quite steep at times ?

Question : Which route is the nicest ? Probable the one via Mae Salong ?

Question : I read that the villages with the hill tribes are really worth visiting ? Where do we find them in fact ? Is this a touristy thing, or is it still authentic ?

There are several opinions about the golden triangle. Some people consider this as a must-see, others really didn't like it. The villages at the border are described in the footprint as not so interesting. Is this correct ?

How far we will continu in the area of the Golden Triangle we don't know yet. It will depend on our available time. We will take the train back to Bangkok from Chiang Mai.

Question : Do we have to make a reservation in advance for the train? How many days ?

I still have some general questions :
- Is it necessary to wear a helmet ? I know, this topic has probably been discussed a lot in other messages, but when you cycle in Thailand, do most people wear one, or not ? Maybe, when the roads are really calm with less traffic, it's maybe not necessary ?
- Which clothing ? Is it possible to wear cycling pants ? I read that it is sometimes not appreciated ?
- Can I expect problems with dogs ? (I don't like them...)
- Has anyone an idea about sending packages home from Chiang Mai ? Is it possbile by normal mail ? What would this cost ?
- Does anyone know if the area around Nan is nice/special ? Maybe another possibility of going North is via Nan, instead of via Sukhothai ? But I can't find much information about this area...

If anyone has a nice address of a place to sleep, eat or whatever, please let me know !

Thanks in advance for your help !

Greetings,

Koen, Belgium

2. Posted by flynn (Inactive 140 posts) 11y

hi koen,

lots of questions, some answers!

I can't find any info about the trains from Sawankhalok to Chiang Mai

answer to that: check www.railway.co.th/timetable/N_N.html !

Is it necessary to wear a helmet? do most people wear one, or not ?

i never saw anyone with a helmet, doesn't mean it's a good thing ;)!

Can I expect problems with dogs?

guess so, if you don't like them ! i don't know about bikes, but a dog loves to chase a motorbike, so i'd say same difference! don't panic, don't accelerate ;)!

Has anyone an idea about sending packages home from Chiang Mai?

did that once at the thai post office in BKK, no problem and cheap, but couldn't give you a figure. there's also EMS, you could check the rates here: www.trekthailand.net/hand_made/postage/

hope i could help ,

flynn

3. Posted by allthai (Full Member 88 posts) 11y

Wow lots of questions here. I will try to answer as many as I can as I live in North Thailand.

First I would take the bus to Sukhothai as the area is very dry and not much to see. Visiting the old ruins in Sukhothai by bicycle is the way to go. Go early in the morning before all the big tour buses arrive. Nov. 14 - 16 is the Loi Krathong festival which originated in Sukhothai. Book your hotel now or you won't find a place to stay. If you can book the Khantoke dinner with Thai dance and music and a lazer light show during the festival. It takes place at night at the old ruins and very spectacular. I wrote a Blog about the festival See http://allthai.travellerspoint.com/4/ but No photos as Not enough storage space on TP. If you send me a message I will let you know where you can see the pictures.

Not much at the Golden Triangle however the raod from Nan to Chiang Rai stopping at Wang Kham for the evening in between is very nice.

The mountain road to Doi Mae Salong is very steep. I would bet a "songtheaw" to take you to the summit from Mae Chan. Ride down the mountain toward Thaton, very nice and filled with hill tribe villages.

I wrote an article "The road from Thaton to Mae Salong" which agian I can show you where to find it on the internet (send message).

A lot of Thais are now riding bikes a long distance and yes they do wear helmets and cvcling pants, shirts etc.

if you have any other questions about North Thailand please let me know.

4. Posted by travelfish (Full Member 75 posts) 11y

I still have some general questions :
- Is it necessary to wear a helmet ? I know, this topic has probably been discussed a lot in other messages, but when you cycle in Thailand, do most people wear one, or not ? Maybe, when the roads are really calm with less traffic, it's maybe not necessary ?

Cyclists with helmets are a pretty rare breed, but motorcyclists with helmets are becoming more and more common (you are legally required to wear a helmer for what its worth).

- Which clothing ? Is it possible to wear cycling pants ? I read that it is sometimes not appreciated ?

You can wear them no problem -- they are what virtually all cyclists wear.

- Can I expect problems with dogs ? (I don't like them...)

Yes and No. Every village will have a couple of dogs that will howl at you, but in my experience they bark a lot more than they bite.

- Has anyone an idea about sending packages home from Chiang Mai ? Is it possbile by normal mail ? What would this cost ?

Go to the post office - very simple, inexpensive and secure. Lots of people send lots of stuff from there.

- Does anyone know if the area around Nan is nice/special ? Maybe another possibility of going North is via Nan, instead of via Sukhothai ? But I can't find much information about this area...

Nan is stunning, and a popular area for cyclists. As another option, you could swing north from Dan Sai (2113) to Na Haeo then 1268 further north to Ban Khok, 1083 to Na Noi, 1026 to Nan. From Nan you can do a loop further north on 1080, south on 1081 via Ban Huay Kon -- the scenery is breathtaking, but would involve an awful lot of cycling and long distances between accommodation -- I've only done it by motorbike. There are loads of other options -- the hinterland on Nan and Phayao provinces is spectacular, though if you've only got three weeks and are already planning on cycling by the Mekong (also stunning) then this would be an awful lot of miles to cover.

Hope that helps!

5. Posted by koen31 (Budding Member 2 posts) 11y

Hello all,

We are leaving in about a month for our cycle trip in North Thailand.
Our itinerary is roughly : starting in Nong Khai, following the Mekong, then to Sukhthai and Chiang Mai. From there we will vcycle to the Northern region, the golden triangle.

My questions :
- do you think we need vaccinations against rabies ? Is it necessary ?
- do you think we need also malaria pills ? There are mixed opinions about this.

Any advice is welcome !

Thanks,

Koen