Biking in Chiang Mai – From rivers to jungles and peaks

In Chiang Mai, biking is one of the best ways to discover the city, rice fields, forests and mountains. It’s a traditional city, vibrant of Thailand’s Northern culture. A perfect place to cycle, plus the weather is not as insane as in the Southern islands.

Cycling in Chiang Mai

The terrain across Chiang Mai offers a multitude of options. It can challenge even an expert rider. With mountains and hill ways through the jungle with steep inclines. But beginners will enjoy the very calm and breezy rides on flat plains near the lakes.

Going solo or with a tour?

Both have advantages and disadvantages. Bike tours can be arranged online, or through tour outlets/operators. They may cost slightly more, but you will get proper equipment, professional guides, and trip buddies. To go solo you can rent a bike, grab a map, GPS, and follow your own desire. The options for biking in Chiang Mai are plentiful. However should you wish to venture inside the wilderness Chiang Mai has to offer, then having a guide, or at least going with other riders is much more advisable.

Mountain Biking in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai offers plenty of mountain biking routes which will test your endurance and stamina. These tours go through some fabulous scenery. One of the prime routes runs through the banks of Ping River. This enchanting location surrounded by mountains, countryside and rice fields makes for unforgettable journeys.

Pilot Wilderness Mountain Bike Ride (Cascade Hut to Barry Way), Kosciuszko National Park

Biking on Roads in Chiang Mai

Cycling in the city of Chiang Mai can be quite daunting if you are not used to Thailand’s traffic and style of driving. There are literally thousands of motorbikes, bicycles and cars, tuk-tuks, and the style of driving is very different from that of the western world.  Be 100% aware when on the bike and always take precaution. And always wear your helmet! Even if the heat in this tropical climate can get challenging, your safety should be your first concern. Wear the helmet! Chiang Mai has literally hundreds of cycle routes, with many taking you off the beaten path, through some fascinating scenery. Stop-by to enjoy the traditional culture when passing a temple, shrine, or other trademark features of Thailand.

Another great thing about cycling in Chiang Mai is that apart from the bike rental costs, it is free! No petrol costs, no fines from police (provided you act responsively). Motorbikes get fined from 500 Baht to 1000 Baht for numerous things… Bicycles don’t.

Doi Suthep Biking Route

Doi Suthep is a moderate  cycle route of about 13 kilometres. The route is it is mostly inclined, so you will be cycling up a hill for the majority. Except if you get up with a truck. This also means you will have a nice trip on the way back downhill. The Doi Suthep route starts at the zoo, and goes up the mountain to reach a beautiful temple at the end. For a moderate fit cyclist, this ride takes about an hour. It is recommended not to start the ride after 8 am, as traffic and heat of the sun can be harsh. Alternatively this can also make for a beautiful evening ride. Fit riders can continue past the 13km mountain road. And 4 kilometers after the temple they will reach the Phuping Palace, another magnificent place to check-out for its scenery.  

Huay Tung Tao Reservoir

A fairly easy route, ideal for moderate riders. You start a the Chiang Mai University and take the canal road north.  This road takes you around the stadium and past the canal until you reach a very nice lake.It’s pretty much a flat ride with some small incline hills, breeze and a superbe sunset.

Samoeng Ring Road

The Samoeng Ringroad is a very challenging ride which loops around the national park. Taking you through some hard terrain and very steep inclines. Recommended for fit riders, as it takes a full day to complete.

If you are not an expert rider it might be best to go halfway, and split the ride into two parts. Samoeng offers some very affordable accommodation options for a night. And you can finish the second part of the ride the next day.

The route takes you through Doi Phu National Park, and the scenery here is amazing.

Chiang Mai’s cycle route through the River Ping next to the river bank is very nice. It’s pretty much following the river bank north or south. Quite an easy route for the average rider.

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