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Cycling out of Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand

Last updated: February 2024

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Key Facts Cycling

  • 55 days in the country, from 04/12/2023 to 27/01/2024

  • 330 km (205 mi) cycled

  • 5 cycling days

  • Overnight stays: 

    • Wildcamping: 2

    • Other free camping (villages, etc.): 0

    • Paid campsites: 0

    • Hosts & relatives: 37

    • Paid accommodation: 15

    • Transit (bus, ferries, etc.): 0

  • The Route: Bangkok - Chachoengsao - Tha Takiap - Wang Mai - Thung Kanan - Border Crossing Ban Pakkad (Phsar Prum)

Our Route through Thailand

Key Facts Country

  • Official name: Kingdom of Thailand (Ratcha Anachak Thai / ราชอาณาจักรไทย)

  • Population (2023 est.): 71.8 million

  • Capital: Bangkok

  • Official language: Thai

  • Currency: Thai Baht (THB)

  • Dialing code: +66

  • Area: 513,120 sq km (198,120 sq mi)

  • Bordering countries: Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia & Malaysia

  • Left-hand traffic

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Camping & Accommodation

  • Wild camping is officially not permitted in Thailand

  • However, we wild camped two times in the east of the country as it was remote and there was no accommodation around anyway

  • Both camp spots were quiet and we went through the night undisturbed

  • To be on the safe side, you could also ask locals if you can camp somewhere on their property

  • Accommodation is rather inexpensive

    • The most we paid while cycling was 590 THB (15.50 EUR / 16.50 USD)

    • In Bangkok we stayed in a nicer hotel for a couple of nights for 920 THB (24 EUR / 26 USD) per night incl. breakfast

    • On the island of Koh Chang we stayed in a little resort right at the beach for 920 THB (24 EUR / 26 USD) as well, without breakfast

  • Every accommodation we had in Thailand was well maintained, very clean, had hot water and WiFi

  • You could plan your route so that you can get accommodation every night and don’t have to camp at all, if you prefer that

  • We have also heard from other travelers who spent the night at the numerous temples throughout the country, but we didn’t try that

Food & Water

Delicious curries at a restaurant in Koh Chang.

Delicious curries at a restaurant in Koh Chang

Eating Pad Thai at a roadside restaurant.

Eating Pad Thai at a roadside restaurant

  • We didn’t have to cook at all while cycling in Thailand!

  • Small food stalls are abundant, the food is delicious and on top of that, very cheap: We usually paid 30 - 60 THB (0.80 - 1.70 EUR / USD)

  • While cycling, we stopped three times a day for a proper meal

  • Our favorite Thai dishes/drinks:

    • Pad Thai (fried rice noodles with egg, veggies and some meat or seafood)

    • Red & Green Curries

    • Pad Kra Pao (Minced pork with fried basil, served with rice)

    • Tom Yum Soup

    • Papaya Salad

    • Thai Iced Milk Tea (Black tea with sweet condensed milk)

    • Smoothies!

  • Most dishes in Thailand are really spicy (for us at least), so we always said “just a little spicy” or “not spicy” when ordering food

  • Basically every restaurant had a water dispenser (filled up with water from a canister, no tap water) and crushed ice (not made from tap water either) from which we could take us much as we wanted

  • For filling up our water bottles, in and around Bangkok we also encountered coin-operated water dispensers that offered filtered water for 1 THB per liter

  • Outside of the urban areas, we either had to ask at restaurants for water or buy water bottles at small shops

  • We encountered numerous of these shops, even in sparsely populated areas; they usually had snacks (cookies, chips, nuts, etc.), water, soft drinks and some basic toiletries like shampoo

Infrastructure & Traffic

  • We experienced Thailand to have a great infrastructure which made cycling easy and enjoyable

  • Almost all bigger roads had a wide shoulder to ride on

  • While cycling out of Bangkok, we could even take some bike lanes along the canals (they included several bridges with steep ramps though)

  • There was a lot of traffic on the bigger roads, but all the drivers (trucks, cars & scooters) were very considerate and always left us enough space

  • As soon as we took some smaller roads, the traffic died down and we had many back roads completely to ourselves

  • Most roads we cycled were nicely paved

  • The few gravel roads we took were also in very good condition and hardly corrugated

  • We cycled in January, so in the middle of the dry season, therefore the non-paved roads were dusty, but not muddy

  • During rainy season, we might have thought twice before taking unpaved roads

  • Thailand has a good railway infrastructure

    • We only took one train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, without the bikes though

    • A one-way ticket cost 20 THB (0.50 EUR/USD) per person, we bought it directly at the Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal Station

    • We have read that it is possible to take your bike on some Thai trains, depending on the train, but we can’t tell you more about this as we didn't do this

Spare Part Availability

  • Bangkok has several well equipped bicycle stores, we went to PROBIKE for some spare parts we needed

  • While cycling through the sparsely populated east of the country, we didn’t encounter any kind of bike shop

  • Therefore, we would advise you to get any necessary repairs on your bike done while being in a city (e.g. Bangkok, Chiang Mai) and bring the most important spare parts with you when cycling in more remote areas

  • Check Google Maps to find a bike shop/mechanic near you

Sim Card & Internet

  • Getting a local sim card always makes sense in our opinion and is usually one of the first things we organize upon arrival in a new country

  • Main Thai cell service providers:

    • dtac

    • AIS

    • TrueMove H

  • We had a sim card from dtac

    • We had good coverage everywhere we went, in Bangkok as well as in more remote areas in the east of Thailand

    • We bought the sim card upon arrival at an official dtac store at the Don Mueang International Airport

    • The sim card plus a 7-day 15 GB data package cost 299 THB (7.80 EUR / 8.50 USD)

    • We needed a passport to officially register the sim card

  • We also had an AIS sim card which we only used in Bangkok though

    • The AIS upload and download speed was much better than with dtac

    • We bought this sim card at a small AIS pop up store in a mall

    • The sim card plus a 30-day 100 GB data package cost 500 THB (13 EUR / 14 USD)

    • We needed a passport to officially register the sim card

  • All the cell service providers offer Tourist Sim Cards with different data options

  • Both dtac and AIS offer apps with which you can check your balance and data usage as well as recharge and purchase new packages 

Climate & Weather

  • Thailand has a tropical hot and humid climate all-year round

  • Three seasons:

    • Wet season (May - October)

    • 'Cool'/Warm season (November - February)

    • Hot season (March - June)

  • In October 2023, we briefly stayed in Bangkok for three days, it was very hot, humid and rained every day (short, but strong downpours)

  • When staying in Thailand from December 2023 to January 2024, we basically had no rain at all, it was still pretty hot (~30°C / 86°F) though, but not as humid as in October

Border Crossings & Visa

  • Coming from Australia (via Indonesia), we entered Thailand through the Don Mueang International Airport

  • Want to know more about flying with bicycles? Check out our tips and experiences!

  • Travelers from over 60 countries are allowed to stay up to 30 days visa-free in Thailand

  • For us, there were no costs and no documents to fill out

  • You might be asked for some proof of onward travel (we weren’t asked to show this though)

  • We stayed in Thailand for almost two months, so we had to extend our 30-day-allowance once
    • Beware: The office for the extension of the visa-free stay is not at the same place as the office for the extension of a proper visa

    • To extend your visa-free stay, go to the Immigration Office - Short-term VISA, located in the IT Square Laksi, 3rd floor

    • Fill out the laid out documents (1, 2 & 3), on the wall you can see examples of how they are supposed to be filled out

    • You also need a copy of your passport and a passport photo

    • Next to the immigration office is a print shop where you can have photos taken and the copy of your passport made

    • Visa extension fee: 1,900 THB (50 EUR / 53.50 USD)

    • It gets really full at this immigration office, so arrive early and if possible, have all the necessary documents at hand and filled out already

    • Tip: If the main entrance of the mall is still closed, go to the left side of the building and see if you can enter the mall there already (approx. location: 13°53'06.6"N 100°34'50.1"E)

    • You can also apply for the visa extension online to avoid the queue and save some time

      • You still have to go to the office though, to have your passport stamped

      • And you have to pay a service fee on top of the visa fee, it’s 500 THB (13 EUR / 14 USD) extra

      • This is the official website for the e-extension

  • Thailand to Cambodia:

    • Ban Pakkad / Phsar Prum Border Checkpoint 

    • This border crossing seemed to be mostly used by locals, we only saw a few other tourists

    • The process was quick and easy, we were through within ~30 minutes

    • For “checking out” of Thailand, we had to stand in line to get our passports stamped and were asked about our onward travel destinations

    • On the Cambodian side we filled out a form to get our visa on arrival, paid the 30 USD fee and could enter the country

    • We could actually pay the visa on arrival fee in Thai Baht, which helped us to get rid of our remaining cash

    • Either way, the fee has to be paid cash

  • Remember to check country and visa regulations regularly as they might change on short notice

Health & Safety

  • Thailand is generally a rather safe country to visit as a tourist

  • We experienced the Thai people as some of the friendliest people we have met on our journey and never felt unsafe during our time in the country

  • That being said, we always take precautions against pickpockets, we avoid shady areas (especially at night) and when camping, we always do our best to avoid being seen

  • Don’t say anything disrespectful about the monarchy, Thailand has some of the world's strictest lèse-majesté laws, meaning it is illegal to defame, insult, or threaten the monarchy

  • Dogs:

    • We had some encounters with (aggressive) dogs in Thailand, most of them belonging to houses 

    • Want to know how we deal with dogs when cycling? Find out here!

  • If you need to fill up your travel pharmacy, Thailand is a good country to do so

    • You get lots of medication without prescription and for little money in the pharmacies

    • We needed some new painkillers and emergency antibiotics, both of which we got at a pharmacy for 50-100 THB

  • Thailand is also known for its medical tourism

    • Therefore, you will find many modern clinics, especially in Bangkok

    • If you are traveling long-term and want to undergo some checkups or you need some vaccinations, Bangkok is a good place to do so

    • We got our Japanese encephalitis vaccination at the Thai Travel Clinic

  • Emergency numbers: 

    • Police & General emergency: 191

    • Ambulance: 1669

    • Fire department: 199

    • Tourist police: 1155

Cash & Expenses

  • For us, Thailand was a rather inexpensive country

  • Exchange rate February 2024: 1 EUR = 38.40 THB / 1 USD - 35.50 THB

  • Check out some examples for pricing of accommodation or food further up

  • As far as we know, all ATMs in Thailand charge a fee for withdrawing money with a foreign credit card

  • Typical ATM fee: 220 THB

  • We only encountered ATMs in bigger cities and/or touristy areas

  • In many shops you have to pay cash, so always carry enough money with you

  • Make sure to also have some small change at hand when traveling around

Tourism

  • Thailand is a popular tourist destination

  • High season is from December to January/February

  • As there are so many well known tourist attractions throughout the country, we will only mention the places we visited and share our opinion about them

  • Bangkok:

    • We were able to stay in the city for over a month and really loved it

    • Thanks to the great public transport (metros, monorails, trains, ferries & buses) it’s fairly easy to get around this huge city

    • When using the MRT lines you can tap on and off with your MasterCard  or VISA card and can thereby avoid the queue for buying tickets at the counter or ticket machine

    • For other lines you still have to buy a ticket though

    • Wat Pho

      • A Buddhist temple complex, covering an area of 80,000 sq m (861,110 sq ft)

      • Houses a very impressive giant reclining Buddha and over a thousand Buddha images

      • We liked Wat Pho, it was very impressive to explore this massive temple complex

      • It was very full though, but this was also due to New Year's Day when we visited

      • Entry fee (January 2024): 300 THB (7.70 EUR / 8.30 USD)

    • Wat Arun

      • This famous missile-shaped Buddhist temple is situated opposite of Wat Pho, but on the other side of the Chao Praya river

      • Translated it's called the Temple of Dawn

      • Even though it was crowded and obviously a very popular photo spot, Wat Arun was a nice place to visit

      • Entry fee (January 2024): 100 THB (2.60 EUR / 2.80 USD)

    • Wat means temple in Thai

    • If you visit a temple in Thailand, wear proper clothing that covers your shoulders and your knees

    • The Grand Palace​

      • A complex of different buildings in the heart of Bangkok, next to Wat Pho

      • Former residence of the royal family​

      • While the complex itself was impressive to visit, we didn't enjoy the palace as much as Wat Pho, mostly because it wasn't possible to enter the majority of the buildings

      • Entry fee (January 2024): 500 THB (12.80 EUR / 13.90 USD)

    • Chatuchak Weekend Market

      • According to the market's website, it's the world's largest Weekend Market with over 15,000 stalls and 200,000 visitors every week

      • As the name suggests, it's only properly open on Saturdays and Sundays

      • The market was very interesting to see, but also crowded and a bit too touristy for our taste​

    • Night Markets​

      • You don't really need to visit a designated, "popular" night market​, as they are everywhere

      • There was a small night market every weekday at our MRT station Sutthisan and we liked it much better than all the touristy ones we went to

      • In the end, every market that's still open at night, is a night market, no matter the name

    • Sukhumvit

      • Here you can find one of the tourist hotspots with lots of restaurants and bars

      • Also known for the red light areas

      • We went there once just to see it and didn't really like it

      • It was way too full and touristy for our taste

    • Calypso Cabaret

      • A lip-sync show, mainly performed by transgender women​

      • It was about an hour long and quite entertaining to watch

    • Bangkok's Parks​

      • Thailand's capital has several very nice parks to go for a stroll​

      • We went to the Chatuchak Park (right next to the Weekend Market), Queen Sirikit Park, Benchakitti Park and Lumphini Park

      • All the parks we visited were very well kept, clean and had public toilets as well as drinking water fountains

    • There are many huge and modern malls in the city, which we enjoyed visiting now and then 

    • Our tip: If you have the time, just stroll around the city for a while or take a taxi/tuk-tuk to get around and see a bit outside of the tourist areas

    • When taking a taxi, make sure to ask for a taxi meter, as this is usually way cheaper

    • For a cheap (and basic) 'river cruise', you can take the Chao Praya Express Boat (a small ferry)​​

​The head of the 46 m long reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

The head of the 46 m long reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

Louisa & Tobi ​visiting the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok

Visiting the Chatuchak Weekend Market

  • Ayutthaya:

    • We took a train (approx. one hour from Bangkok) to visit the temple ruins of Ayutthaya

    • It was surprisingly empty and very nice to walk around these centuries old temples

    • The temple ruins are widely spread out, so consider renting bikes (or actually cycle there)

    • Beware, the afternoon trains returning to Bangkok can be really full!

The temple ruins of Ayutthaya

The temple ruins of Ayutthaya

Louisa & Tobi at the temple ruins of Ayutthaya in Thailand

Umbrellas are a great protection from the burning sun

  • Koh Chang:

    • Thailand’s third largest island

    • Close to the border to Cambodia

    • We stayed in a hotel by a pebble beach (Pearl Beach) on the western side for four nights

    • The island was fairly empty, which we liked

    • We didn't explore a lot on the island though and only visited the Khlong Phlu Waterfall (which was a bit disappointing)

    • In our opinion, the island is great if you just want to get away from the city for a few days (6 hours by bus/ferry from Bangkok), and want to chill at the beach

Louisa & Tobi at Pearl Beach, Koh Chang, Thailand

Pearl Beach, very rocky but completely empty

The Khlong Phlu Waterfall in Koh Chang, Thailand

The Khlong Phlu Waterfall

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