Travelling in Thailand – Camping and Cycling

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Fancy Cycling around Thailand?  It’s the perfect way for travelling in Thailand.

This was the favorite leg of my south-east Asia cycling trip.  Spending time alongside Thai people eating delicious food at campground BBQ’s and travelling through national parks far from the reaches of crowded tourist sites was worth every moment.

Cycling In Thailand

Lasting 10 days with a distance of 763 km, the journey was tough especially with my lack of cycling experience.  Here is a list of the amazing things you should know about.

  • Street food is so amazing and its cheap. (Just spicy sometimes)
  • Thai people love camping, so for me its the cheaper more authentic experience.
  • There are lots of national parks to explore.
  • Compared with neighboring countries (Myanmar and Cambodia) the roads are nice to ride on.
  • Easy to hitchhike if you have any problems

The Route

The further north you get in Thailand, the more mountainous is gets.

The further north you get in Thailand, the more mountainous is gets.

My Bike

One bag for clothes and one bag for essentials. Then the tent on top attached with a bungee cord.

One bag for clothes and one bag for essentials. Then the tent on top attached with a bungee cord.

 

The Steep Climbs Near Tak Near The Myanmar Border

If you plan on cycling and camping in Northern Thailand, you need to be in good shape.  It’s not uncommon for you to have an elevation of 500 meters in one day.  Granted the roads are good and you’ll have plenty of room, but that beating sun and carrying your kit behind certainly takes it tole.

Steep climb up to Taksin National Park

Steep climb up to Taksin National Park

 

Luckily Thai people are often willing to pick you up.  This was a big help!

Hitchhiking through Taksin National Park

Hitchhiking through Taksin National Park

What To Bring When Cycling And Camping In Thailand

In every national park that I visited there were opportunities for camping.  It’s extremely popular for Thai families to come and enjoy in a very welcoming environment.  Consequently provisions have been made across the country for it to be easy for people to come and camp.  Tents are available for rent, along with well-stocked and clean shower and toilet facilities.

It’s important to remember when travelling in Thailand that often the climate in the national parks is certainly chillier to that of the major cities in the country.  This is due to the attitude of where they are located.  Make sure to bring warm clothing and blankets to ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible.

There are sometimes restaurants located within the grounds but to be on the safe side, bring enough food and drink for an overnight stay.  I noticed multiple times that alcohol wasn’t allowed, however people brought it anyway.

Campsites normally offer their own tents as well as cabins (costing 1100 baht)

Campsites normally offer their own tents as well as cabins (costing 1100 baht)

 

As soon as I crossed the border into Thailand, I made sure to get a sim card.  This meant getting from campsite to campsite was easy, otherwise I’d have to have found Wifi which wasn’t always readily available.

Other than these, make sure to stock up on the essentials of plenty of water and sun cream (check my preparations article for extra info)

Popular Camping Spots in Thailand

Camping in Khao Yai National Park

Whilst travelling in Thailand, camping is certainly the cheapest option.  I had my own tent and prices ranged from 100 to 300 baht to be allowed to put up my tent on their camping site.

The best spot I stayed in was Timber Khoayai, situated near the north entrance of the park, the atmosphere is very welcoming.  It cost only 100 baht and without doubt this was the most comfortable I felt.  Their hospitality was excellent and anything i asked for like extra blankets and pillows was taken care of.

Haew Su Wat Waterfall is located in the park and was the setting for the film ''The Beach''

Haew Su Wat Waterfall is located in the Khao Yai National Park and was the setting for the film ”The Beach”

 

Elephants are coming under increasing threat at Khao Yai, as developers continue to build within the national park without permission

Elephants are coming under increasing threat at Khao Yai, as developers continue to build within the national park without permission

 

Camping in Chang Mai

The Doi Suthep Camping site is a popular spot high above the city below.  Looking out of the glittering city below, the atmosphere is serene and completely detached from the madness that is Chang Mai.

Much like camping in Khao Yai the tents are already set up and all your need to thing about is lighting the candle (make sure its away from the tent) to create a very romantic setting indeed!

To rent a tent for 2-3 people it costs 150 baht and is a short drive up the Doi Suthep mountain.

To rent a tent for 2-3 people it costs 150 baht and is a short drive up the Doi Suthep mountain.

 

If you camp in Chang Mai, you’ll also be close to the Doi Inthanon National Park.  Visitors to the park often scale the ”roof of Thailand’‘ which is another name for the summit of Doi Inthanon.  There are the most insane walks and there is plenty to see.

Camping in Taksin National Park

The price of the ticket was 230 Baht and this included camping.  This was the largest campsite I visited, with over 200 hundred staying in the park,  it felt like a mini city!  The park included a food court and supermarket.  At this location you really must bring warm clothing as during the night temperatures went down to 15 degrees.  The environment was really special though and people were more than hospitable as they invited me over to spent the evening singing and eating with them.

Friendly People

Being in the middle of nowhere in an off the beaten track city, people often stare at you and try to strike up conversation in a country like Thailand.  However I even found this included the tourist areas, where people were super friendly and just wanted to know everything about me.

There maybe occasions as you are travelling in Thailand, that you will encounter steep climbs which can be demoralizing. In times of despair  drivers would often stop to make sure I was alright, and would ask if they could give me a lift up to the top.

Amazing Food

Where ever I turned the food was incredible.  When I was living in Saigon, I didn’t eat too much street food as it often made me feel sick.  This for sure isn’t the case in Thailand.  It’s insanely cheap as well, but be prepared for it to be on the spicy side!

Thai street food is certainly on the spicy side!

Thai street food is certainly on the spicy side!

Getting Fitter And Emotional Learning

After cycling from Ho Chi Minh to get to Thailand, my body was feeling stronger every day.  However it hadn’t really been tested as the terrain in Cambodia and Vietnam was extremely flat.  After the first couple of days of tough ascents, my body felt like it took an extra step in endurance and after a days solid cycling, it became easier.

Cycling on your own for such a long time gives you plenty of time to think.  To have time to analyse what are the toxic aspects of your life was really important.  Getting more of an insight in how best to allocate my energy is something I really hope to take forward after this trip eventually comes to an end.

Advise When Cycling The Roads

Travelling in Thailand is not without its dangers.  Granted the roads are a lot nicer than in Cambodia, however this does not mean you can get complacent.  Often huge lorries will whizz right past you, creating a large gust of wind that could easily suck you into the road.  Make sure to take precautions against this.  I always made sure I gripped the handlebars tightly whilst keeping at tight as I could to the side of the road.   A couple of times, some fairly mean looking dogs came steaming towards me from the drives of their houses.  Apart from scaring the hell out of me, I tried to stir away from them but this meant going into a busy road.  If this ever happens to you, make sure to keep in a straight line. The dogs aren’t likely to bite, they will more often than not just bark.

Going Again?

Travelling in Thailand has been the highlight of my round the world trip.  Honestly I can say that the scenery was the most spectacular of the my whole trip.  There are so many amazing things to experience as you make you way through the country, that it really does leave you wanting more.

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