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Cycling Thailand: The Do’s and Don’ts

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Cycling Thailand: The Do's and Don'ts

Lirene CilliersBy Lirene Cilliers   Posted 29th Aug 2023

Hopping on your bike for an epic ride while juggling the mental gymnastics of 'what to do,' 'what not to do,' 'where to go,' and 'how to get started', can seem a little overwhelming. Especially when you're gearing up for an adventurous cycling tour through Thailand's scenic wonders?  

With our 20 years of experience in the bag, we get it, and we've got your back! In this article, we'll decipher the dos and don'ts when planning a cycle trip through Thailand. 

So, hop on as we guide you through this maze of tips and pointers that'll ensure your cycling journey is not just smooth but also unforgettable. 

Do's for an Unforgettable Cycling Adventure in Thailand:

When it comes to embarking on an epic cycling journey through the enchanting landscapes of Thailand, there are a few essential do's that can transform your adventure from ordinary to extraordinary.  

1. Do Embrace Street Food

Ah, the tantalizing aroma of street food! Don't just zoom past, let your taste buds join the ride.

You might be wondering, "Is it safe to eat street food while cycling in Thailand?"  
In short, yes!
Embracing the local street food scene is not only safe but also one of the best ways to experience authentic Thai flavors.  
Take a break from your riding, pedal over to a stall on a street corner, and indulge in a mouthwatering Pad Thai with a side of some of the freshest tropical fruit you’re likely to eat. These culinary delights are not only a treat for your taste buds but also a great source of energy to fuel your ride with local zest. 
“But won't eating street food make me sick?"  
It's a common concern, but many cyclists who've embarked on Thai adventures have embraced street food and happily lived to tell the tale.  
A tip to help you out – opt for busy stalls with a high turnover of customers, this is usually an indicator that the food is fresh and safe, and usually delicious as well. 
Read more about Thailand’s top 5 must-try dishes for travelers

2. Do Stay Hydrated Under the Thai Sun

Riding under the Thai sun can be both exhilarating and dehydrating. It's no secret that staying hydrated is essential for performance, but in Thailand's warmer seasons, it becomes even more critical.  
Make it a habit to pause often for sips of water. Try also rolling over to the local food stalls for some coconut water, this not only quenches your thirst but is also an excellent source of essential electrolytes to keep you going strong. 
Read more about when’s the best time to visit Thailand here

3. Only Focus on a Few Core Regions

Focusing on a few core regions and highlights is like discovering your own treasure map, but instead of gold, you get the opportunity to dive deep into the heart of local life.  
Thailand's vastness is both its charm and challenge. It's tempting to cover every inch of Thailand, but remember, quality often trumps quantity.  
Instead of a whirlwind tour, focus on a few meaningful experiences. This approach not only keeps you energized for riding but also lets you savor moments rather than rushing through attractions. 
By delving deep, you'll forge a more profound connection with the culture, landscapes, and people, absorbing the authenticity and charm that can be missed on the typical tourist routes. 
Discover Thailand in its full glory with these handpicked cycling tours: 
Cycle Bangkok to Phuket 
Thailand Bike, Boat & Beach 
Chiang Mai & North Thailand Bike Tour 
Thailand Self-Guided Cycle Tour 

4. Do Enjoy Time Off the Bike

You might be eager to ride as much as possible, but a fulfilling cycling adventure isn't just about the hours spent in the saddle. Allocating ample non-riding time is crucial.  
Just as you wouldn't rush through an enthralling novel, it's wise to give yourself more downtime than you might initially think.  
This extra time buffer is like a helpful bookmark in your adventure. At the very least, it gives you some breathing space – which is a good thing. It takes away stress and lets you take your time, which is what an enjoyable adventure should be all about.  
Whether you choose to take an extra day to explore a captivating town or relax on a pristine beach, this buffer not only ensures flexibility in your schedule but also allows for unexpected detours and spontaneous side trips. You might even discover a charming village or a serene beach cove that wasn't on your radar initially.  

5. Do Use a Bike That Can Handle a Variety of Terrain

Now, let's dive into a crucial aspect that can make or break your cycling escapade – your trusty two-wheeled companion. 
Although Thailand's road network boasts the title of the most developed in Southeast Asia, it's not all black and white. You've got the wide tar highways with generous side lanes, a mix of smoothly paved paths and backroads, and a touch of adventurous gravel, especially when off the beaten track in the mountainous north. 
Your bike needs to be your trusty sidekick, ready to take on whatever the terrain throws at it. Opt for a hybrid bike that's all about comfort and versatility. But hey, if you're more into drop-bar bikes that can be fine, for comfort just make sure it's armed with disc brakes and can fit a larger tire, we’d recommend at least a 32c touring tire or larger. 
So, whether you're navigating the charming north or cruising the coastal wonders of the south, remember this: your bike isn't just a mode of transportation; it's your partner in adventure. Choose wisely, prioritize comfort, and let your wheels roll you into the heart of Thailand's diverse beauty. 
Read more about the bikes and equipment we recommend.  

Don'ts for a Smooth Ride 

Discover the insights that will steer you away from common missteps, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable cycling adventure. 

1. Don't Fear the Language Barrier, Go Local

We’re going to assume that you're not fluent in Thai, and the locals might not be fluent in your language – but these language barriers are no reason to shy away from authentic experiences.  
Embrace the art of non-verbal dialogue – gestures, smiles, and a friendly nod. You'll be surprised how far a little sign language can take you and engaging with locals through non-verbal interactions can lead to surprisingly meaningful moments. 
Yes, it's tempting to stick to the comfort of familiar chains like McDonald's and Starbucks. But if you step out of that comfort zone, you'll discover the real gems – the local haunts that offer not just food but memories and experiences that gift you with stories to cherish forever. 

2. Don't Ride Your Max Every Day

Let's talk about giving it your all – but not necessarily on the pedals. While you might be comfortable tackling impressive distances daily, keep in mind that your cycling adventures in Thailand is a blend of both on-bike and off-bike moments. You've embarked on this journey to savor every bit of it, right? 
By allowing yourself room to breathe, you'll uncover the true essence of Thailand – one that goes beyond the mere number of kilometers conquered. 

3. Don't Ignore Temple Etiquette

Temples – the beating heart of Thailand's culture and spirituality. But before you step into their serene embrace, there's something you should know. 
Temple etiquette isn't just a list of rules; it's a way to pay respect to a culture steeped in tradition and meaning. Think of it as a mutual gesture of hospitality – you're being welcomed into a sacred space, so reciprocate by learning a bit about Buddhism, removing your shoes, dressing modestly, and not showing public affection
Read more about the dos and don’ts of Thai culture to be a respectful tourist in the Kingdom of Smiles. 

4. Don't Overpack and Bring Every Piece of Bike Equipment You Own 

Do you really need that extra jacket or a mountain of toiletries? Think minimal. Thailand's tropical climate doesn't call for heavy layers, so lightweight, quick-drying clothing is your best friend.  
Save space and pack only the essentials.  
Keep in mind; you're not venturing into the untamed wilderness. Towns and vendors are frequent along most routes, ensuring you’ll find access to water, snacks, and supplies at regular intervals. 
Here’s a list of 10 essentials for cycle touring

5. Don’t Try to Do Everything Yourself 

Weighing the choice between going solo or opting for a guided tour? 
With a guided tour, your focus shifts to the ride and taking in the beauty and experiences all around you to fullest. The logistical puzzle? Already solved, freeing you to fully immerse yourself in the adventure. Instead of juggling maps, you can savor the thrill of the ride, the camaraderie of fellow cyclists, and the joy of exploration.
And here's the icing on the cake: Grasshopper Adventures tours come with support vehicles. If you ever find yourself struggling, help is just a vehicle away.  

If you prefer a bit more independence then it always pays to get advice and support from an expert regarding routes, accommodation, and emergency assistance (in the off chance it’s required). Our Self-guided tours take all the hassle out of planning an independent trip, and they include luggage transfers so you can ride light and enjoy the most of your adventure!  

Ride, Relish, Repeat 

In a nutshell, your cycling adventure in Thailand is a chance to embrace the unexpected, savor authentic moments, and explore a captivating land on two wheels.  
From indulging in street food to respecting temple customs, these do's and don'ts will guide you toward a smooth and unforgettable ride.  
So, gear up, pedal forth, and let Thailand's beauty and charm unfold before you. 



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