Chiang Mai Bicycle Tour

Chiang Mai’s old city, surrounded by an exotic moat and remnants of ancient city walls, sounds like it would be small and easy to navigate.

It’s not. Chiang Mai’s old city is HUGE, with more than 30 temples inside the moat, as well as dozens and dozens of cafes, restaurants, convenience stores, internet cafes, laundromats, guest houses, offices, government buildings, schools and private homes.

Exploring by bike seems like the only logical way to do it. Too bad the thought didn’t occur to us until we’d been living in Chiang Mai for nearly three months.

Chiang Mai Night Cycle Tour

SpiceRoads Cycle Tours recommended their Chiang Mai Night Tour and booked us in for a Friday night. The three-hour Chiang Mai bicycle tour, on the Friday before Christmas, marked the start of our training for our 2012 Tour de Provence.

At the SpiceRoads office, we met our tour guide, Mr Win, (who I was determined to call Mr Spicy but didn’t because he was too sweet), and received a safety briefing, florescent safety vests and souvenir drink bottles. Then we investigated our steeds – immaculately maintained Trek hybrids.

Mr Win told us we could stop as many times as we wanted on the tour. Little did he know how many times we actually would take up his offer.

The first stop was just a quick check of Miss M, who felt a little insecure in her baby seat. Then it was Darling Man who wanted to stop. He’d spotted a temple and he was itching to take some photos.

Cycling certainly gives you different perspective of Chiang Mai’s old town. The boring bits glide by much quicker than when you’re walking and the interesting bits slip by much more slowly than when you’re on a motorbike, giving you time to peer over fences and check out the customers in the cafes. Oh yeah, baby, cycling is the way to go!

We rode to the Three Kings Monument, where a Christmas fair was underway. We had to stop again – Miss M had spotted the carousel and just had to have a turn. We stopped again to collect some adoration from a phalanx of Santas and Santa’s helpers, who gave Miss M a stick of marshmallow.

We left the fair and Mr Win took us on a twisty route through some back streets, past some beautiful buildings that require a return visit, then suddenly we were in the grounds of the amazing Wat Chedi Luang, one of Chiang Mai’s most famous temples.

Wat Chedi Luang Chiang Mai

After a photo-break, we left the wat behind and whooshed through the old city’s crazy-paved streets, passing tuk-tuks and pedestrians. Mr Win led us out of the old city to the huge Muang Mai market, full of flowers and fruit and vegetables grown by the hill tribes around Chiang Mai.

Spice Roads Chiang Mai Night Tour

Deep within the market, I called for a stop. I wanted to see what Miss M was doing behind me, something that involved sporadic clapping and quite a bit of wiggling. I dismounted to discover the ever-scientific Miss M had transmogrified her Christmas marshmallow into a super-sticky black gum, which was smeared all over her safety vest, the bike seat, the baby seat, her clothes and her hair, which was stuck fast to her helmet.

Mr Win, wise to the ways of toddlers, held my bike as I tried to get the worst of the super-sticky stuff off. It was a failed mission.

We set off again, along the river to the bustling Kad Luang market, bursting with street food vendors. The boys swept through the market, buying bits and pieces to eat later, while Miss Sticky and I watched the dark Ping River to see if a boat would pass by.

Then, the second-last leg of our tour, to Tha Pae Gate, where Mr Win chased the baby as Darling Man and I sat on a bench under a tree and ate our street food – corn, noodles, barbecued meat and tropical fruit.

The tour was, sadly drawing to a close. We would have liked to have gone further, but it was past 9pm and our three hours were well and truly up. Mr Win led us back to the SpiceRoads office, where cold drinks awaited us.

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Friday night in Chiang Mai, especially as the tour ended so close to the groovy bars and cafes of Nimmanhaemin Road, which are highly worthy of Friday night attention.

SpiceRoads offers longer tours in Chiang Mai, as well as cycle tours throughout Indochina. I have to confess I can’t stop thinking about SpiceRoad’s 11-day Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang tour. I know how hilly it is around Luang Prabang in Laos, but still… a girl can dream.

The Details

The Chiang Mai Night Tour is a non-challenging ride of about 15 to 20 kilometers (depending on how many times you stop) over lovely flat terrain. Traffic in Chiang Mai is relatively calm, with cars and motorbikes keeping a respectful distance from each other and from cyclists. Safety is a priority and the tour guide will recommend you dismount to cross the one or two busy roads you encounter on the tour. The three hour tour costs THB1,000 (US$32, A$31) per person and includes bike hire, lights, helmets, safety vests, drink bottles and street food snacks.

SpiceRoads Cycle Tours
34 Nimmanhaemin Road Soi 7
Chiang Mai
Tel: +66 (0) 53 215 837
chiangmai@spiceroads.com
www.spiceroads.com/destinations/chiangmai

*Many thanks to SpiceRoads for our complimentary Chiang Mai cycle tour. All opinions expressed are (as always) my own.

11 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.

23 Comments

  1. I’m so happy to read this! You will love cycling in France – travel on bikes is the best way to see the world!
    Nancy from Family on Bikes recently posted..A year in pictures: 2011 in review

    • Barbara says:

      You know what’s really funny about our France planning? Darling Man didn’t know what on earth we could eat there… because rice and noodles are not common. We spent an afternoon Googling Provence food and it eased his mind enormously. He wasn’t taken with my offhand sweeping statement that we’ll eat cheese and bread and drink lots of cheap wine.

  2. You just can’t beat pottering around on a push bike. We love it. Happy New Year to you and your family. Hope 2012 is a good one for you! 🙂
    Julia
    Turkey’s For Life recently posted..Happy New Year From Fethiye

    • Barbara says:

      Oh, so English to “potter” on a pushbike. I am sure our technique is more “whoosh” than potter. (We have to try to convince the toddler its fun!)

      Happy New Year to you in Fethiye. I hope we make it there someday.

  3. how awesome is this? and mr win – he deserves a medal – that’s a lot of stops!! what great photos. i want to go!
    wandering educators recently posted..The Confident Elegance of an Uninhibited Husband

    • Barbara says:

      Mr Win was a really winner! He had a real knack for toddler taming and he was so patient with us. We were the only ones on the tour. We may have had to have forsaken a few stops if there were other cycle tourists on ouri night cycle tour.

  4. EJ says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Bicycling around Chiang Mai at night sounds lovely. By the way, the link to the bicycle tours doesn’t link up. I think it should be http://www.spiceroads.com/destinations/chiangmai

  5. Cool bike tour! Cycling really does give you a different perspective of places. I’d love to do a few bike tours this year. Wonderful photos — Santas and Miss M pic is really cute. Happy New Year!
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..A Wonderful Year

  6. Sophie says:

    A night time bicycle tour…Chiang Mai is beginning to sound really interesting.

    Hope you’ll all have a wonderful 2012!
    Sophie recently posted..On the wagon in a Costa Rica coffee plantation

    • Barbara says:

      Chiang Mai is appealing on many levels, Sophie. We’re going to be sad to leave. I hope we come back again. We have so many great memories of the place already.

      Happy 2012 to you too!

  7. I wish I would have done this while in CM! What a cool experience. Just another reason to hurry and return to town!
    dtravelsround recently posted..Ch-ch-ch-changes

  8. Great article! I have done 5 Spiceroads tours in SE Asia pre-hubby and pre-baby and it hadn’t occurred to me to try it with my toddler on board. Gives me food-for-thought for our next Asia trip!
    Allyson Newburg recently posted..Preparing Yourself (and your kids) for Airport Security

    • Barbara says:

      Hey Allyson, I’d say give it a go with a toddler. After our introductory ride, I think ours would be OK to sit in the baby seat for an hour at a time. Maybe for two hours. We’re actually planning on getting a trailer for our grand cycle tour of Provence, so I’m hoping she’ll be able to entertain herself with books and toys so we can ride for three hours a day. But… you know how it is with planning and toddlers.

  9. SpiceRoads says:

    Hi Babara,

    We really enjoyed reading your article on our Chiang Mai Night Tour and glad you and your family had a great time. We certainly will pass on your praises to Mr Win / Mr Spicy 😉 We look forward to seeing you on the Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang tour – Miss M may become the youngest ever rider to compete that trip!

    Have a great 2012

    The SpiceRoads Team

    Note: To help find the right tour in Chiang Mai, we also recently launched www.http://www.chiangmaibikerides.com

  10. Sounds like I missed out on an awesome tour! I will have to take this when I am back in your neighbourhood… 🙂
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Travel Photo Roulette Round #33: And the Winner is…

  11. Karen says:

    I love this blog. Thanks for stopping by our website or I may never have found yours. Happy cycling!

  12. My favorite way to explore a city.

  13. […] place for kids. Our daughter loves tuk tuks – spotting one gives her a thrill, even from the back of a bike! There are dogs and cats roaming around everywhere. Everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – […]

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