I could have laid on a beach on Koh Lanta for 14 days, but that’s not really for me. I wanted to do something different in Thailand and visit an area not quite so well trodden by travellers…and I thought I should ride a bike, because, well why not? And so I embarked on my first cycling tour in Thailand.
If you’ve seen the film Bridge over the River Kwai, read the Railway Man (or seen the movie); you’ll know that the Kanchanaburi area is known for the railway built during the 2nd world war by prisoners of war and slaves, stretching from Thailand to Burma. You’ll also know that the conditions the men worked and lived in, were pretty horrific. What you might not know is that the area is naturally beautiful, though I imagine slightly less so during the humid rainy season. I chose a trip with Spiceroads called the Kancanaburi Explorer, which mixed a bit of history with trails through stunning scenery. It was in a word, EPIC!
Despite being epic, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for me and I wasn’t as prepared as maybe I should have been! But, what the heck…I made it.
5 ridiculous things to avoid
One: Looking out of place and potentially uncomfortable
- Bring some padded shorts to stop your bottom hurting
- Bring a sporty looking t-shirt or 2. You can pick these up cheap on ebay
- ….don’t spend too much as they are bound to get filthy sweaty!
Two: Do not wear a cap under your cycling helmet.
I tried this, it looks silly and reduces the protection your helmet is supposed to give. I also found mine was lopsided even after I removed the cap.
- Make sure your helmet fits correctly by asking the guide to adjust it, or take your own if you have one and have room to pack it
Three: Changing into the wrong gear half way up a steep hill.
The result of changing to a low gear is coming to a complete standstill, with the inability to change up again without either going back down, or in my case shifting along with both feet up the hill (not recommended lol)
- Learn how the gears work right from the start, ask the guide questions about which gears are suitable for the terrain.
- You won’t look an idiot by asking…… you will by crawling up the hill!
Okay I managed to avoid this, but one of the cyclists had some hilarious tan lines
- Sun cream, lots of it and changing clothes regularly to avoid lines
Five: Being unable to breathe on hill climbs.
Whilst I consider myself to have a reasonable level of fitness, actually I don’t. I found the hills much harder than the other cyclists. In some respects this was good as it meant I found it a challenge (who doesn’t love a challenge)…..maybe my one day of experience on a mountain bike in 2009 wasn’t quite the right preparation. I was often flagging behind the other girls, but also weigh at about 10kg more, which obviously doesn’t help
- Honestly I just think go for it! It really doesn’t matter if you’re a little behind (a lot behind may be more of a problem).
- One thing you can do is follow the advice in point 3, knowing how to control the bike most efficiently will make things considerably easier
- ….oh and maybe lose a few pounds
The tour took us from a train ride across the bridge over the River Kwai, through farmland, jungle and local villages around Kanchanaburi. From some great cycling, wondefruel scenery and lovely lunches, to fab resorts and meeting the locals, it really was a wonderful adventure.
Heres’ some of the scenery you can expect if you take a similar route.
As you know I mostly travel solo. This time I travelled to Thailand with my friend Jess and she’s actually still friends with me (maybe I’m not as annoying as I thought). You can find our full Thailand itinerary here
I’d love it if you’d share this post with your friends on social media. Thanks Karen