(meals key: B = breakfast; L = lunch; D = dinner:; S = snacks)
Day 1: Arrival in Bangkok.
Arriving at either Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi or Don Muang International Airport you will be met and transferred to our hotel in the Samsen district. A quiet residential area populated by Thai families and expats, Samsen gives a vastly different and more authentic view of Bangkok life than the more mainstream tourist areas. This evening the group will come together with their tour leader for a briefing and to get to know each other over a meal of delicious Thai food.
Day 2: Bangkok to Prachuap Khiri Khan.
Following breakfast, we will acquaint ourselves with our bicycles before boarding our AC support bus and leaving the hectic traffic and pollution of Bangkok far behind as we head to the seaside town of Prachuap Khiri Khan, the start point of our ride to Phuket. After lunch, we can saddle up and take a short ride to stretch our legs. Following the coast, we visit a beautiful wooden Buddhist temple before riding to a splendid crescent beach in the middle of an airbase for a splash in the sea and a sunset beer - welcome to Thailand.
Day 3: Pretchuap Khiri Khan to Ban Krut.
Our first full day of cycling is a fascinating mix of smooth tarmac, hard-packed dirt trails and concrete lanes as the route winds to and from the coast making its way south through coconut groves, palm oil plantations and a national park. We will arrive at the small Thai style holiday resort town of Ban Krut with daylight to spare for a pre-dinner dip in the briny.
Day 4: Ban Krut to Ban Bang Burd.
Leaving Ban Krut we follow mile after mile of deserted coastline and pass through a little fishing community before reaching a well-kept secret, a wonderful little cove where we will stop for our morning break.
Due to the short distance to be covered today we will reach the lovely little fishing village of Ban Bang Burd in time for lunch and a leisurely afternoon lounging by the resort’s pool or wandering around the bay that is the focal point of the village. At the northern end of the village colourful squid boats moor up during the day. Come nightfall we can watch the bright lights of these squid boats bob up along the horizon as we dine beachside.
Day 5: Ban Bang Burd to Thung Wau Lean.
We leave Bang Burd on a new, wide, perfectly surfaced road with wonderful red bicycle lanes. Despite the elaborate nature of this road, there is very little traffic and the views over the azure blue sea and emerald forests are quite stunning. Atop one of the rises is a Chinese temple well worth a visit for its huge statues of a wide selection of deities, its wonderful views, and its rather graphic depiction of the heaven and hell realms. The rest of the ride tracks the coast on quiet rural roads towards the little Thai resort town of Thung Wua Lean.
Day 6: Thung Wau Lean: Rest Day.
Thung Wau Lean is a quiet seaside town 20KMS north of the provincial capital town of Chumphon. A popular spot for Thai families to picnic by the beach on weekends it is still little frequented by Western tourists who prefer to take a ferry to the bustling islands of Koh Samui and Koh Pang Nang. There is plenty of scope here for more cycling, swimming, or in-season kite surfing. For those inclined more towards relaxation, our resort boasts an infinity pool with fine views of the beach which is just meters away. The town offers plenty of dining and drinking opportunities ranging from traditional Thai seafood to pizza to a beachside blues bar.
DAY 7: Thung Wau Lean to Paknam Lansuan
We begin by taking a back road route that navigates around the city of Chumphon without our even realising the city is there. A few kilometres of red dirt trail is necessary to avoid joining the main north-south Asia Highway. Back on sealed roads, we make our way through palm and coconut plantations where we may see trained monkeys collecting coconuts.
Tonight we again dine beachside as we overnight in a small characterful resort.
DAY 8: Paknam Lansuan to Lam Sai Beach
Today we ride alongside beaches, through rubber and palm plantations and past fishing villages. Before we reach our destination for the day we take to a brief off-road section where we follow a sheer cliff face to a sacred meditation cave containing ancient Buddha statues. At the far side of the cavern, a huge reclining Buddha is illuminated by a shaft of natural light from a hole in the cave’s roof. After we leave the cave we make our way once more to the sea where our home for the night is once again on the beach, as is our restaurant.
DAY 9: Lam Sai Beach to Ratchaprapha
This morning we leave the Gulf of Thailand behind as we begin our journey west towards the small inland town of Ban Tha Khun.
Once we have taken up residence in our rooms we can take the short transfer to Ratchaprapha Dam where we can enjoy pre-dinner drinks as we watch the sun setting over the stunning Chiao Lan Reservoir. This is a beautiful scenic spot where the sight of the lake trailing off through karst spires may well stir the imagination to thoughts of myth.
Day 10: Ratchaprapha to Ao Luk
We now head towards Ao Luk, our gateway to the jagged karst spires protruding through crystal sea at Phang Na Bay, an icon of Thai beach life. Our ride follows mostly rural roads, occasionally unsealed, weaving through palm groves and rubber plantations.
DAY 11: Ao Luk to Koh Yao Noi
Our final morning on the mainland is a ride through a verdant blanket of tropical flora through which limestone pinnacles reach skyward as we wind towards Thalin Pier. A traditional long-tail boat will take us through a fairy-tail like seascape of jutting jagged cliffs to the tiny island of Koh Yao Noi. It is little short of astonishing that just a short ride from one of Asia’s premier tourist destinations an island can remain so tranquil and unspoiled by tourism. A twenty kilometres lap of the island offers a lovely ride on roads that are amazingly free of cars and high on beautiful views. For those feeling less energetic today's guesthouse is just across a narrow road from a sandy beach affording stunning views.
DAY 12: Koh Yao Noi to Phuket
A short ride to the pier and another hour at sea takes us to the tropical gem that is Phuket Island. Similar in size to Singapore and joined to the mainland by twin bridges in the north, Phuket offers all things to all men. The wild anything and everything goes beachside party town of Patong in the south is in stark contrast to the lazy Nai Yang Beach where we spend our final night together. Being just five minutes from the international airport one would expect this to be a beach teeming with tourists. Fortunately, the reality is that most tourists pass Nai Yang by in a mad dash to the south, leaving this beautiful little beach as a perfect spot for a final evening watching the sunset as we reminiscing about a wonderful bicycle ride through Thailand.
DAY 13: Finish
The tour officially finishes this morning. For those who are flying out today, we will provide transport to Phuket International Airport.
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