Mountain biking is set to really explode in Koh Phangan. There are plenty of places to hire bikes, and there are plenty of tracks to follow on the island. Moreover, there is now a mountain biking club in Thongsala (Fun Bike Shop) who have pioneered a few exciting inland trails.
Koh Phangan remains 90% virgin rain forest. Most of the main roads on the island are near the coast. Other than the main Thongsala to Chaloklum road and the Baan Tai to Thong Nai Pan Road the interior remains a small dirt tracks and jungle paths that are perfect for developing into a series of challenging mountain bike routes. The scenery is truly beautiful as you bike through the interior – lush jungle foliage, tropical flowers, the sound of birds and insects and the dappled sunlight filtering through the trees make for a wonderful biking experience, and also a great chance to see something of the ‘real’ Koh Phangan.
The demographics of visitors to the island have changed over the last ten years or so. The budget conscious travelers are being replaced with tourists who have more money to spend on better quality accommodation as well as other activities. Many of the new type of travelers are keen on experiencing the Full Moon Party, and many are also keen on pursuing healthy activities, extreme sports and Muay Thai. Where there is a demand for more outdoor adventure activities the supply is sure to follow.
Most of the beaches on Koh Phangan have at least one vendor with mountain bikes to hire. They usually cost between 100 and 150 Thai Baht a day to rent. As is to be expected, they vary in quality. It is worth checking the bike first before renting. Another option is to buy a new mountain bike in Thongsala or in Koh Samui. Mountain bikes have a good re-sale value.
Nearly all the main roads in Koh Phangan are now paved in concrete. This reduces the chances of getting a puncture. It should be remembered that the island coast is very hilly except for stretches between Thongsala and Haad Rin and parts of the West Coast. This makes using bikes as an alternative to renting motorbikes an option only for those used to a hard work in the hot sun. If you undertake any journey on a mountain bike make sure to bring at least a liter of water with you, a hat and to put on sun block.
For people who like off-roading, there are plenty of tracks that can be found going off from the main roads. One such track is the ‘road’ leading to Haad Sadet from the main Baan Tai to Thong Sala road. Another is the rough road going from Thong Nai Pan to Bottle Beach. The road starts just before the turning to Thong Nai Pan Noi, near the crest of the hill. There is also a short track through the forest from Chaloklum to Haad Khom.
Care should be exercised when exploring other trails leading into the jungle as you might end up trespassing on someone’s property.
If you are serious about pursuing mountain biking as an extreme sport the best place to seek advice is the Fun Bike Shop. They are located to the Tesco Lotus in Thongsala (tel: +66 (0) 857 905 246 website: http://www.funbikeshop.sitew.com/#Welcome.A). The shop has lots of bikes to hire and buy, plenty of accessories, and best of all, a wealth of knowledge about the best trails. Fun Bike Shop also takes people on mountain bike tours, choosing trails suitable for people’s level of expertise.
Check out the video. As you can see off-road mountain biking is lots of fun in Koh Phangan. It is only a matter of time before it really catches on as a major tourist activity.