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Essential Tips for Bikepacking in Thailand

January 03, 2023 2 Comments

Essential Tips for Bikepacking in Thailand

Written by Mont Ambassadors Sam Rice and Bec Norman

Idolised by generations of travellers, Thailand needs little introduction. For many, “the land of smiles'' is synonymous with tropical beaches, bustling cities and full-moon parties. However, away from the tourist trappings, the high mountains of Northern Thailand are emerging as a world-class bikepacking destination. 

With literally thousands of kilometers of undiscovered dirt roads, sprawling jungle, stunning landscapes and ridiculously tasty food, Thailand provides the perfect playground for adevntutes on two wheels. 

In this piece, Mont Ambassadors and bikepacking route builders, Sam & Bec discuss some of their top tips and gear recommendations for your next bikepacking trip in Thailand. 

Beat the heat

If you’re on a multi-day or even multi-week trip, the best single piece of advice we can give you is to wake early and beat the heat. Even in ‘winter’ daytime temperatures will soar to 35℃ and make every pedal stroke feel like wading through mud. 

We set our alarm for 5:30am each morning. Pack down the tent, make coffee and leave for 6:30am. The landscape is covered in low-hanging mist. The villages are still sleeping and you feel like you have the whole country to yourself. It’s a magical way to start the day. Plus, we can guarantee at least three hours of solid riding in the cool, before the heat really ramps up.

Choose a good sleep system

With stunning National Parks, unique forests and sprawling jungle, wild camping is easy, extremely safe and highly encouraged in Thailand. The country is littered with campsites, and most villages will allow you to stay in Schools, Monestries and Police Stations too. There’s nothing quite like watching the sunrise at 2000 meters, with a thick cloud inversion carpeting the villages below you. 

However, there are a few key things to bear in mind when choosing a sleep system for bikepacking in Thailand. 


Thailand is a tropical country with hot, humid weather across most of the country. However, in Northern Thailand winter (between Nov–Feb) temperatures regularly range between 7–12 degrees celsius. This also happens to be the best time of year to cycle, making it ideal for bikepacking. To tackle such a wide range of temperatures we tooka silk liner for those hot nights and a lightweight sleeping bag for the cooler mountain camps. 


Thai hills are no joke with 20-25% climbing gradients very common. So when you’re pushing your rig up hills, a lightweight sleep system that won’t weigh you down will make all the difference. 


Mosquitos are just part of the Thai experience. So it pays to factor them into your sleep system plans. 


Types of shelters:

Depending on your personal preference (and tolerance for mosquitos), choose either a lightweighttent,shelter, hammock orbivvy bag. For some, a simple bivvy under the stars is a dream come true. For others, the refuge of a tent with full mesh walls to keep the bugs out is worth the extra weight. It’s completely up to you.

As we travel as a pair, we opt to use the Moondance 2. With it’s large floorplan, full mesh walls and lightweight design – it’s the perfect tent for both of us. Plus, sleeping with the fly sheet off, still means you can see the stars. 


Getting a good night’s sleep:

When it comes to choosing your sleepingmat, forget high R-Values – they’re just overkill in Thailand. Instead, try to find the sweet spot between comfort, weight and pack size. Also, don’t forget your pillow. You deserve a bit of luxury. 

The most crucial part of any sleep system is the sleeping bag or quilt. For the flat, southern regions of Thailand, a sleeping bag just isn't necessary, and a lightweight liner will be all you need (so you don’t sweat into your mat!). However, in the Northern Mountains, temperatures drop dramatically and a lightweight bag is worth its weight in gold. We both took the newZero ultralight bag paired with asilk liner and were blown away by the performance. At just 300g and with a temperature rating of 12–6°C – it’s the perfect bag for bikepacking in Thailand. 


Kick-ass clothing essentials

There are a few key clothing items that are essential for bikepacking and camping in Thailand. Not intended to be an exhaustive list, here’s a few of our top tips when choosing your clothing:

Pack a sun shirt: 

It seems counterintuitive, but wearing a long-sleevedsun shirt will keep you cooler! Plus, with the high humidity factor, sunblock just melts, leaving a sticky residue that’s not very nice. So, choose a lightweight shirt with high UV resistance (30–40+) and superb moisture-wicking ability and kiss, sunstroke and sunburn goodbye!

Sandals = sensible:

When you’re riding in the jungle, you never know when a perfect puddle opportunity or river crossing is coming, so it pays to have a pair of solid sandals at your disposal. Plus, who doesn’t like air-con for their feet? 

A good pair of sandals can transform your trip. We ride, bathe and hike in ours every day. Sam doesn’t even bring another pair of shoes with him. So, if you want the ultimate Thailand experience – sandals are king!

Merino is a must:

Quick drying, stretchy, comfortable, breathable and odour-resistant, merino is perhaps the king of natural fabrics. If you’re bikepacking in Thailand, you’re going to sweat. So having a tee or pants that will mitigate smells and dry in no time is a real lifesaver. 

When we’re not in our sun shirts, we use Icebreaker techlite tees

So there you have it, your complete guide to bikepacking in the tropics! If you have any further questions on kit – feel free to drop us a message on Instagram too at @adventuresbycycle. 

2 Responses


January 11, 2023

Thoroughly enjoyed this read. LOTS of great advice and recommendations. Thanks Bec and Sam!


January 11, 2023

Great article… and I’m with Sam sandals are the way to go 👍

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