Biking in Thailand

Off the Pedaled Track

Pod, the youngest member of the Phitsanulok Bike Club, ripped past, flying down a steep hill. Like any fourteen-year-old, he has no fear on his bike; what he does have on it is every gadget imaginable—headlight, toe clips, lightweight mud fender, studded tires, speedometer, you name it. Crouched over the handlebars, letting his full suspension Cannondale do the work, Pod blurred by, right past me and his father. I had pulled over for the view; he for a smoke.

While thousands of tourists and travelers invade Thailand each year to trek in the Golden Triangle, climb the rock faces of Krabi, and dive Koh Tao, the people of Thailand typically look on in mild amusement at the strange foreigners. So it was a welcome opportunity to stumble on the Phitsanulok Bike Club and be invited to cycle through Thung Salaeng Luang National Park with a group of 40 Thais and a few Western expatriates.

Thailand has 79 national parks, many with single-track, off-road, and hiking trails. Thung Salaeng Luang National Park, in central Thailand, offers some of the country's largest forest areas, spread across more than 300,000 acres. Attractions include natural rock formations covered with orchids, ferns, moss, and seasonal flowers. The scenic vistas from the sloping mountains are reason enough to explore with a bike.

Thung Salaeng Luang lies north of Bangkok and south of Chiang Mai in an area that most tourists either fly over or see only from the train. Footpaths recently turned into bike paths traverse rolling plains, split off into forested mountains, and wind back out again. A network of dirt roads also link up otherwise inaccessible areas of the park. We found many rivers and lakes, many of which proved to be great swimming holes.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 8 Nov 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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