discover at your own pace
cycling around Asia
Where to begin…
Cycling around Asia is a great alternate way to travel & explore the area. It’s the best way to connect with the new foreign surroundings and meet the locals. Also possibly the cheapest, but also the hardest…(well hitchhiking would be cheaper, but is difficult in Asia since it is not common practice even for the locals, they have no idea what you mean when you are sticking your thumb out onto the road!!!)
There are many possible itineraries to choose from, all depending on the time you have. If you are not sure you could just pick any location and set of in any direction for a week and then come back to the same place. Also you could just buy a one way ticket and see where the road takes you. If you want to play it safe, stick to the bigger well paved roads, but if you really want to go far away from tourism take the small winding roads through all the small villages. Some areas might only have dirt tracks. Though even in a developed country like Thailand, you can easily go for weeks without seeing another foreign face.
Friends of mine have been cycling around Asia solo. A great thing about SE Asia is that it is generally very safe. It is even possible to solo travel as a woman without any big hassle. The same can’t be said about South America for example. One of them traveled from Japan to Thailand. He took the ferry over to China, and from there went through Laos, Cambodia and then arrived at his final destination. Another colleague went the reverse he started in the south of Thailand, traveling through Cambodia and then into Vietnam.
getting ready for cycling around Asia
There is no need for big preparations when cycling around Asia to go on a trip like this. Actually you can get almost all supplies in most major towns. Even if you haven’t made a trip like this before, don’t worry. You don’t even need to be a super mechanic. There are motorbike mechanics all over the place, they can fix anything, and at very low cost. If you plan to cycle in extremely remote areas, basic skills are good to have. You should be able fix a punctured tire, adjust the brakes and chain. Also in remote areas people tend to be very friendly and helpful. Often going out of their way to help you, and want nothing in return. So don’t worry if you get stranded somewhere.
what kind of bike?
The bike you could just buy at your destination. It might even be possible to get a 2nd hand one. Also bags, accessories, repair kits and so forth you can get at any larger city. There are 2 ways to pack your bicycle depending on what you plan to do on your trip. Either you buy the typical saddle style bags, made for bicycles. The other option is to just take a backpack and strap in on the back of your bike. The latter is the more versatile. If you want to go on some side trips like trekking, you have a bag for that already.
sleeping & budget
If you want to go really low key, you can bring a tent and use it most of the way. Then your budget would be around $10 per day for food and drinks. If you want to sleep in hostels and guest houses, calculate around $20-30 per day. Of course you could mix-it up, every day in a tent can be very tiring. Five days a week in tent and 2 in a guest house, home-stay or hostel.
when to go
When cycling around Asia also you need to plan what season you travel in, depending what part of Asia, the season vary. Generally you have the rain season, and the dry season, though it can rain in both. Obviously in the wet season it rains more, but not every day, and not all day long as most people presume. If you are unlucky you might get a big storm. There might be a cyclone in the Philippines, which will affect the weather in the whole region. Also generally it rains in the afternoon. So plan to do most of your cycling early in the morning. This way you can also avoid the midday heat. A good rhythm would be anything from 40-120km per day.
When on your journey, it is easy to find a place where you can store some bags or even your ride. Most guest houses are very helpful. Some might charge you a small storage fee. The roads can be dangerous around Asia, especially in Thailand, and especially in cities. So be careful and stay as far on the side as possible. They love overtaking in turns and drive out onto the road without looking.