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Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand Mountain Bike Expedition
If you are starting with a pick-up in Phuket and plan to return to
Phuket after the trip, this trip is best run in reverse... starting
off with the long drive to Surat Thani and ending with a short ride
back to Phuket. This also allows you to start with flatter terrain
as the first day out of Surat Thani is fairly flat and easy. The terrain
gets gradually more hilly.
Day 1: Andaman Sea close to the Sarasin Bridge to Ban Bangnu School
The first day starts off with a transfer to a beach on the Andaman Sea side of the Malay Peninsula. The first stretch is a secondary road that courses through farmland. Soon, you’ll be riding in the shade of rubber plantations.
Single track trails are plentiful. Smooth riding through gentle terrain allow you to enjoy the scenery and overall pleasantness of the environment.
You’ll experience a couple of hills on the morning ride, but they’re easy. And, what goes up, must come down. There are some wonderful downhill stretches as your reward for making it up the hill.
Lunch is in a small village. As you sit in cozy thatch-roofed huts eating the scrumptious local cuisine (vegetarian food is available), you can relax and reflect on the journey so far.
After lunch, there’s a bit of road travel on secondary roads. About the time lunch has worked it’s way through your tummy, you’ll hit a very fun stretch of dirt tracks and single tracks. The terrain is undulating, so it’s a bit challenging. You can walk the hills quite easily however.
Back on a secondary road, you’ll pass through friendly villages and farmland. Now, the toughest part of the day is reached. Dirt and gravel roads lead to a village on the edge of a mangrove forest. Eventually you’ll come to the main highway. Crossing the road, you’ll be back in a small village and a concrete road. This turns into dirt in places, then back to concrete.
Over a hill and through another village, you’ll come to Ban Bangnu school. The school allows us access to their toilets and there is an outdoor well shower as well. You can clean off a bit before heading to Phang Nga Town for the evening.
You’ll spend the night in Phang Nga Town, a charming little town with plenty of character. It’s cradled by towering limestone mountains. The two best places to stay in town are the Phang Nga Guest House and the Phang Nga Inn. Air conditioned rooms are available and you’ll probably appreciate a nice cool sleep. Dinner is at a riverside restaurant that serves Isaan food (food from Laos and NE Thailand). For breakfast, you’ll visit a very friendly Muslim family-owned restaurant that specializes in Roti, middle-eastern fried flaky bread. You can have it with a light curry or they can make a sweet Roti for you with either egg, banana, condensed milk or any combination.
Day 2: Ban Bangnu School to Tung Maphrao Temple
The next day’s cycling starts with a gravel track that eventually turns to a dirt road, which eventually turns into a single track. The topography is rolling hills, but you’re generally going up for the first hour. Your incentive is a mildly demanding downhill. Part of the trail is concrete, but there are busted up sections, so care must be given. Once near the bottom, it turns to smooth dirt. You can fly down this section.
Reaching a friendly local mini mart, you’ll be treated to some cold drinks.
Secondary roads will lead you to the lunch spot. There is no tourism in this area, so the food is authentic Thai. Actually, the entire way thus far features authentic Thai cuisine.
The rest of the day is on fairly flat roads. Secondary roads are interspersed with some dirt/gravel stretches.
You’ll reach a blissful little Buddhist temple. There is a huge meeting hall which we use, so you’ll have access to shower and toilet facilities.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3: Tung Maphrao Temple to Phang Nga Town
You’ll start off on a dirt track behind the temple. Riding through rural countryside, you’ll reach some secondary roads and ride over rolling hills until you reach a slightly bigger road. You’re only on it for a short stretch before hitting some nice single track.
This next stretch is fun and a bit tricky as you’ll cross a couple of log bridges. Eventually you’ll come to a concrete road and then a main road. After a few rising and falling bits, you’ll come to a major road (there are no other routes in the region due to big hills). There’s a minimart where you can get a cold drink before hitting what we affectionately call the “Fruit Loop”.
The Fruit Loop is a big “U” that leaves the main road and starts off as concrete, then gravel, then dirt, then single track. At the far end there’s a lovely cold creek where you can take a refreshing dip. You’ll deserve it by the time you reach it as there are some nice hills along the way.
When you come out of the far end, the road types reverse – single track to dirt to concrete. You’ll have lunch at a nice little local restaurant. If you’re into spicy food, this place rocks. If not, they can tone it down for you.
Now, there’s no way to reach the next cool section without doing a bit of road work. There is, however, a wide bike lane so it’s not scary.
You’ll come to a school hut and turn off onto wonderful selection of rural countryside smooth concrete roads. You’ll pass through friendly villages with a river that often parallels the route.
Day 4: Phang Nga Town to Wat Bangriang
The ride today starts off with a bit of a road warm-up, then goes straight into a mountain range. This is the old route from Phuket to Krabi. It’s called the “Hundred Curve Road” for good reason. It’s challenging, but certainly not something that a reasonably fit cyclist couldn’t handle. If you wish, you can be driven to the top of the mountain and just do the downhill side.
Near the bottom of the hill, you’ll turn right onto a concrete road that passes by a cave temple. The temple is actually high up on the cliffs. Climbing the stairs, you’ll get a lovely view of the lush valley.
The concrete stops and the road turns into dirt, then, of course, to great single track. You’ll gain a bit of elevation, but not too much before a superb stretch of single track downhill. The first bit is a bit bumpy, but it soon smooths out and you can fly! The road gets wider, but stays dirt and gravel.
There are some small shops in a nearby village where you can get a cold drink.
Concrete roads lead you to the main highway where you’ll travel briefly before cutting off onto back roads. A gravel and dirt track parallels an aqueduct. Soon, you’ll reach a creek that flows through a mountain. This is a popular local swimming spot. Snacks and interesting fruit drinks are available here.
The next section is a mixture of smooth dirt roads and single tracks. You’ll come out on a road, but quickly leave that for concrete, dirt and hills. This bit is a bit challenging, but there are easier routes if you so desire.
Eventually, you’ll come out near a very interesting temple called Wat Bangriang. At the lower level, you’ll stop for lunch. The temple is on the summit of the mountain. It’s too steep to ride, so our bus will take you to the top. The view is very nice indeed.
Day 5: Wat Bangriang to Ban Ta Khun (near Khao Sok National Park)
The next section is a valley. Actually, you’ve been working the valley already, but once you get to the top of the temple you’ll fully appreciate what you’ve done and what you’re about to do.
From here until the end, you’ll combine riding short stretches along the main road and nice off-road sections that eventually join back up with the road.
You’ll come to a turn-off and head down a concrete road that leads to a river. You can see how far you can ride it, but no one has made it so far. You’ll likely end up with your bike on your shoulder or over your head. The water is refreshing. Once across, traveling along back roads, you’ll steer through the pastoral countryside.
Accommodations are at a small resort just outside of Khao Sok National Park. Air conditioned rooms are available. The restaurant makes very good food.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Ban Takhun to Ban Yao Yan
Picking up where you previously left off, you’ll travel on soil tracks through some secondary growth and farmland.
The fact of the matter is, you’ll be off-road almost all day! You’ll go by farms, small villages, through stunning limestone karst mountains along smooth dirt roads, rough dirt tracks, single tracks and occasional secondary roads.
Accommodations are at a small local resort that is fairly clean and air conditioned rooms are available. Dinner is in a small town that receives no tourism at all.
Day 7: Ban Yao Yan to Surat Thani
The last day starts off with winding trails through rubber plantations along single track trails, past farms and villages and eventually on secondary roads.
You’ll end up in a mangrove forest, thus completing a coast to coast ride.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (depending on departure time and destination)
YouTube Video: Three days of mud, sweat and gears in Phang Nga Province.
YouTube Video: Very fun English Navy gang mountain biking on Phuket Island.
Bangkok Patana International School mountain biking video.
Ao Luk to Nakon Sri Thammarot exploratory mountain biking trip.
Bangkok Patana International School December 2009 cycling trip in Phang Nga and Surat Thani.
Are you limited for time or not sure if you can swing a seven-day trip? Check out our five-day cycling trip.
Authority of Thailand License Number 31/0204