For those who want to come to Thailand by bike, here are some of my experiences.
Cheap flight booking with bicycle transport:
It is important that the airline accepts a bicycle as normal luggage or as sports luggage without extra charge. This works best with the airlines that include 30 kg of luggage in the flight price. Oman Air was great. After booking on a flight search engine (I always compare several search engines to find the cheapest flight) one call to Oman Air was enough and I had already registered my bike – including an increase of the maximum weight to 35 kg. Similarly comfortable with super service flies Qatar.
The Vietnamese airline was not quite so comfortable, but also no problem with the bicycle (unfortunately, this has just changed). At Turkish Air (with whom I don’t want to fly anymore) I took my road bike in a box. Also Etihad accepts the bike transport. Qatar anyway and GulfAir, which is very cheap at the moment, also offers this service. No problem!
I do not pack my touring bike in a suitcase or cardboard box, but remove the derailleur hanger and turn the pedals inwards. Then I protect all moving parts with padding foil. This way the employees at the airports can immediately see that it is a bike, can carry it more easily and even push it. I hope that my bike will be treated well this way. It has worked well several times. By the way, I do not deflate the air whenever possible. The pressure in the tire caused by the negative pressure in the cargo compartment of the plane is much lower than the pressure that the tire and inner tube have to withstand when riding with heavy luggage.
If you want to pack your bike safely on the return flight, you should simply go to a good bike shop and have it packed in a bike box for little money (250 – 300 Baht). I transported my road bike on the last flight in a bike box.
By the way, bicycles are “oversize luggage”, i.e. there is a special counter at Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok where they have to be picked up. Just look for the big signs or ask the friendly staff. At Don Muang Airport the bike was brought to the baggage claim.
By bike at Bangkok airport:
If you want to store your bike for a few hours or days at the airport, you can do so on the 3rd floor at “Left luggage” (Suvarnabhumi) or on the 2nd floor between the terminals (Don Muang). Starting from 100 Baht per piece of luggage it is safe and practical. (more tips on Suvarnabhumi or Don Muang airport)
I was not allowed into the Airportlink (train connection to the city center), but my bike fitted on the back seat of a taxi after removing the front wheel. I had a 26, though. With a 28er you would have to remove the rear wheel. Costs about 400 THB including Highway Toll to Kaosan or Thewet. There are also bigger taxis, with which the bike transport should be no problem. Alternatively you can have your bike brought from Bellug to your hotel. You can find it at the bottom of the airport at the Airport-Link. Costs 599,- Baht.
An alternative I have tried now is to assemble the bike at the airport (on the lower level by the taxi stand) and cycle to Lad Krabang. Was possible with a little bit of local knowledge and GoogleMaps.
My tip: You pass by the Skylane and there you can get the tires to the right pressure more easily with stationary air pumps. There is also a blue ribbon leading there from the parking lot.
Travelling by train in Thailand with bicycle:
I have been travelling by bike on various routes in all 4 train categories. Always 90 Baht are due for the bike – no matter if I took the 5 stations from Lad Krabang to the main station or the night train to Chiang Mai (only to the Train Market in Samut Songkram it was different). In the Ordinary, the lowest category, the bike was lifted through the window into a wagon, in all others there was a special cargo wagon. Only in the Special Express no bike is taken along, because this train with 2 wagons simply has no room for it. It is important to register your bike in advance. Just ask at the info or at the counter.
By the way: People who like to book their train ticket in Thailand in advance can find all train connections in and around Thailand on the Bookaway website.
The bike as luggage in the bus:
My experience in northern Thailand: Most bus companies take bikes without any problems. Costs between 100,- and 200,- Baht. Sometimes a small tip of 20,- Baht is helpful for the person who packs the bike into the narrow luggage compartment. But this is not obligatory. Green Bus is now playing coy and wants the bike to be checked in as luggage. Sending luggage this way is very common. The stations are mostly at the bus terminals. In Chiang Mai near the Arcade Bus Terminal. Costs e.g. on the route Mae Sai – Nong Khai 400,- Baht. The sensitive parts like circuit etc. should be protected with cardboard or bubble wrap. I also always have adhesive tape with me anyway.
In the slow bus, which commutes, for example, between Mae Sai and Chiang Rai and stops at hand signals, all kinds of things are taken along. Even my bicycle with panniers. For that someone pulls in his legs and shows understanding.
In the Songthaew (a pick-up truck, where the loading area was converted to a minibus), the usual means of transport on short distances, I had to pay something for taking my bike with me.
Flight in Thailand by bike:
Ingenious! There are now 2 airlines where you can take your luggage with you free of charge. Especially helpful: both airports in Bangkok are now covered. NokAir flies from Don Muang, Bangkok Airwaiy from Suvarnabhumi. So you can choose from which airport in Bangkok you fly on with your bike in your luggage. This is practical if you are coming from Europe, for example, and want to continue without transfers between airports. The popularity of cycling in Thailand makes it possible.
Cycling in Bangkok:
For experienced bikers who know the Thai riding style, feasible. Do not forget your gas mask ;-)
In addition, there are tour operators that enable interested parties to discover Bangkok by bike without getting stuck in traffic jams on the major roads. For example Co van Kessel offers great service and good bikes. From 950 THB VeloThailand also offers city tours in its branch near Khaosan Road.
The Skylane at the airport offers a super great training track. 25 km long and only for cyclists. With brilliant infrastructure.
Cyclists in Bangkok train mainly in the two parks Lumphini and Benjakitti, which are connected by a cycle path, but also in Suan Rot Fai at the Chatuchak market. Also at Sanam Luang and on the road section near the parliament, which is closed at night, cyclists can be seen doing the short laps.
Find recommended hotels and hostels in Bangkok with the best hotel guide.
Cycling in Thailand:
Apart from that my experience with cycling in Thailand is very good. I experience the Thais outside the big cities as defensive riders and mostly there is a “slow lane” for mopeds and bicycles. But I don’t like to ride in the dark. On the one hand because of the dogs, on the other hand because of the many drunken moped and car drivers.
Last year there were several reports in the Thai media about accidents in which cyclists died. Especially the death of the South American cyclist was tragic. He had almost achieved his goal of circumnavigating the world.
I wrote an article about packing list bike tour here and a minimalistic packing list bike tour 1 week tour in Thailand can be found here on the blog as well.
Rent a bike in Thailand:
In tourist areas you can be lucky and rent good bikes. For example in Ao Nang near Krabi. Sometimes there are also cheap alternatives. So a new hostel in Krabi had bought 10 new bikes. For 150 THB they were really good in the first year. Unfortunately they were not really well maintained, so that the choice of functional bikes became less and less. And the high humidity did the rest. 3 years in a row I had rented these bikes. FatFreeBike also rents good bikes in its 7 shops in the Chiang Rai region. In Chiang Mai cycling is very popular with tourists anyway and so rental bikes are very easy to get.
Bangkok: At the Skylane around the Suvarnabhumi airport there are good bikes for rent. But of course only for riding on the blue circle around the airport. Or at VeloThailand for 150,- Baht (half day) / 300,- Baht (full day) for very good bikes. Here at VeloThailand you can also rent a road bike for a week for a self-organized tour. About 3600,- THB.
Chiang Mai: There are some shops where you can rent city bikes. If you want to go on a tour with MTB/touring bike or road bike, you can find very good bikes for 500 or 800 Baht at Spice Roads. Helmets, handlebar bags or luggage racks can be rented. Spice Roads actually offers guided bike tours all over Asia and also has branches in Bangkok and Phuket. Attention: The carbon road bikes offered on the website are only available for rent in Bangkok.
Chiang Rai: Fat Free Bike Shop rents approx. 20 bikes. Nice mountainbikes for 200,- Baht a day. There are several shops where you can rent cheap city bikes.
Phuket: Since 2005 Siam Bike Tours is successful with road bike tours in Thailand and a rental service. In the shop near Laguna you can find Canyon Endurance Alu with Ultegra Group. Big advantage: They are available in many sizes.
Beautiful routes for tour riders in Thailand:
In Thailand you can make beautiful bike tours of several days with an excellent infrastructure. In the south, the most beautiful for me was from Chumphon to Prachuap Kirikhan and north of the National Park Sam Yoi Jod (on the Gulf of Siam). But also cycling in the area around Krabi is beautiful. I find Phuket and Koh Samui dangerous because of the nervous driving on these islands. Koh Phangan is nice, but also to be enjoyed with caution.
In northern Thailand the 3 days from Chiang Mai via Chiang Dao and Thaton to Mae Sai were very attractive. Even more brilliant was the 7-day round trip from Chiang Rai. The area where I live – Chiang Rai the northernmost province of Thailand – is wonderful to ride. Either leisurely through the rice fields or searching the challenges of the mountains: Doi Thung, Doi Chang, Phu Chi Fah or Doi Mae Salong.
One of my favourite tours was with my daughter from Ayuttaya to Chiang Mai. Very authentic and also good for beginners or less experienced people. By the way, we search our overnight stays with a combination of GoogleMaps, Booking.com and Agoda. Works great.
I will gladly arrange an individual tour for you or your group for little money. Just ask.
Guided tours in Thailand:
Those who do not want to deal with tour planning themselves can turn to professional tour providers. They offer everything a cyclist’s heart desires, from half-day tours in Bangkok to tours lasting several weeks. My experience in this area is limited to one great road bike tour from Bangkok to Phuket. Not having to worry about luggage and technical equipment, riding fast in a peloton with like-minded people and staying in good hotels were the highlights of this tour with Siam Biketours. The rental bikes are modern and well maintained.
Annoying challenge for cyclists – dogs:
A problem are the dogs. Sometimes they just doze in the sun – in the middle of the street – and leave me alone. But sometimes one of them thinks he needs to fight with a cyclist or one of them shoots out of a driveway. Dogs of all sizes and breeds run barking or yapping behind me, with their muzzle at the height of my calves. That sometimes frightens me. Usually a loudly shouted “Pai” (go away) and pointing with the arm at them is enough, but to be on the safe side I have a loud whistle with me (Tornado 2000, really loud if you blow hard). After a loud whistle I don’t hear any high-pitched sounds for a few minutes, but the dogs stay behind.
The best time for cycling in Thailand:
The best season for cycling so far is November and February, but December and January are also good, but then it is quite cool here in the north in the morning and evening. That is the Thai winter (cold season), in which it rains very rarely.
Supply with electrolytes:
It is usually hot when cycling in Thailand. I sweat a lot and therefore have to make sure that I take in enough electrolytes. Besides the usual precautions like eating salty soups and drinking lots of beer, I also take isopowder or isodrinks with me on tour. Most of the time the brought along stocks are quickly used up. I have taken the advice of a world cyclist to heart: The worse the isodrink tastes, the better it works. So I leave Gatorade aside (it’s too expensive anyway) and buy “Sponsor”, which can be bought in almost every small shop. And I can buy isopowder cheaply in the pharmacy. That means “Glüa rae” there (เกลือแร่, mineral salt). My favorite is “J-lyte”. Can be easily dissolved in 250 ml water – that’s a glass – and the taste is okay.
Be present at cycling or bike events in Thailand:
Meanwhile there are many bike events for the many bike enthusiasts in Thailand. For a long time there has been a sports scene with many races up to the Tour of Thailand. New are the big events for ordinary people like the Mae Fah Luang Memorial Tour or Bike for Dad, or Chiang Rai Road Classic at Singha-Park where I participated.
A lot of fun to all who are on the road in Thailand by bike.