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Looking at doing one in January or thereabouts.

Anyone been on any and have recommendations? Chiang Mei region or Andaman Coast? Been reading up a bit, but first hand tales would be great...
 

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Haven't done the bicycle tour thing, but when I was in Chaing Mai (sp) in late March/early April a few years back they were doing the controlled burning they do during the dry season. I doubt it lasted from January, but might want to check that out and consider avoiding it, as the air is filled with smoke pollution (though it won't kill you - I hiked fairly hard in that stuff). If the tour's north of the city (in hilltribe country) expect lots of, well, large hills. That's a generalization though, and Chaing Mai itself was pretty flat if I remember correctly. And if you're in Chaing Mai, try to have time to check out the night market and be sure to haggle (politely). It's fun! Bangkok's is bigger.

Haven't been to the Andaman Coast.

Oh, and if you land in Bangkok and take a night train to where you're going, in an unairconditioned car, try to get the bottom bunk. It actually has a window and therefore functions less like an oven. :thumbsup: That said, I think I remember Chaing Mai having an airport?

Hope that helps, if only a tiny bit.
 

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Smiling Albino

Hello, I strongly recommend Smiling Albino. It's a company run by a couple of great Canadian guys from Calgary - Scott and Daniel. They're both fluent in Thai, at least as far as I could tell. We did their inaugural mountain bike trip in northern Thailand, starting in Chiang Rai about three years ago.

Check out www.smilingalbino.com
 

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In may i toured for 2 weeks in northeast thailand. This is kind of the forgotten area in thailand and it is very interesting from an agro economy perspective and also culturally. The language and culture is closer to what you'd find on the other side of the Mekong, in Laos, the people are very friendly and welcoming, Im sure thats the case in the north and central plains also.

We began in Khorat, which is about 5 hour train ride northeast of bangkok. We proceeded east to Surin. There are some great Khmer ruins dotting this ~ 150km stretch, not too far north of the cambodian boarder. After we reached surin, we went north through Roi Et and Kalasin and to Sakhon Nakhom. Coming into Sakhon Nakhom will provide a solid day of mountain riding and an occasional scenic view where the trees thin out, and a wonderful switchback descent into Sakhon Nakhom.

Next, we went eat to Nakhon Panhom, beginning our roughly 1 week time following the Mekong north, then west through some amazing farmland, towns, scenic views. If you are near here, take a few days to go further south on the Mekong, as there are some supposedly interesting things in That Phanom. Following the Mekong upriver, we came inland for a day to visit Ban Phu where there is a huge and very interesting archielogical park. Also, if you are near the area, you HAVE to visit Wat Phu Tok, its one of the coolest religious sites Ive ever seen....its a meditation center for buddhist monks, with living quarters and small temples carved into absolute vertical cliffs with rickity wooden catwalks connecting them, and stairways to ascend to higher levels, each representing a level of enlightenment. Many monks from thailand come there to visit, or spend time meditating, its a huge, very impressive sight.

Nong Khai is a great town worth spending a rest day and crossing into Vienntiane if oyu are so inclined, we found plenty to do in Nong Khai and surrounding for a few days, including the trippy buddha park just 5 km south of town.

We followed the Mekong further west Sang Khom and Chiang Khan which have some great waterfalls and really, really scenic roads, views of the mekong and surrounding mountains. After we reached Chiang Khan, we went south to Loei which is an okay town...we bussed to Udon and then took a train back to Bangkok from here.

I found the first week a bit dull aesthetically and for cycling, but culturally you can be constantly engaged if you are open to it and there are a lot of khmer ruins in the southern parts of Isaan. Once we reached Sakhon Nakhom, things became very scenic and enjoyable. Theres nothing like after a long day of cycling, sitting on the banks of the Mekong, sipping a Chingha while the sun sets over the mountains in Laos.

We took 13 days which included 1 rest day in Nong Khai. We covered roughly 1500km and I found we had plenty of time to take in the local cultures- the night markets, great food, friendly people, etc..

Im sure the north is great for touring if you've the legs and 3rd chainring for it- i hear chiang mai/chiang rai has some very steep roads! You may find the western part of the central plains intresting, perhaps through the three pagodas pass area and death railway and kind of near the burmese boarder (just watch where you go, its safe if you know where to go.) I hear there are some displaced burmese refugee camps north of the three pagados pass which, to me, is something ive never seen and interested me if i were ever to cycle in thailand again. The central plains are supposedly beautiful and if you reach Chiang Rai, I hear many of the hill tribes are welcoming.

Have a great time! :)
 
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