MTB Adventure on the Thai / Myanmar Border

Another long holiday signaled another opportunity for mountain biking in Thailand. For some time I have been researching a well known hike among Thais called Khao Chang Puak and the surrounding National Park, Thong Pha Phum and border village of Pilok, situated on the Thai/Myanmar border in the province of Kanchanaburi. I had been to Kanchanaburi many times in the past to visit better known sights such as the bridge on the river kwai, Erawan waterfalls, Sai Yok, and Sanglaburi but never mountain biking in Kanchanaburi, and this was the first trip inside Thong Pha Phum National Park so I set off full of anticipation.

I had little idea of what lay ahead so I packed enough camping gear and food for 2 nights and set off hoping for the best, I was even unsure as to whether I could make it as far as Pilok, knowing the road was notoriously steep and badly maintained some blogs said that a 4×4 was required to drive up. Luckily my little Fiesta climbed up the hills with the greatest of aplomb and after a weary 7 hour drive from Bangkok I arrived at the National Park headquarters by mid-afternoon. The weather was atrocious with driving rain, wind and thick fog but I just presumed that it would clear after a short while as it tends to do in Thailand (how little I knew!) Being from Wales it was almost comforting camping out in such conditions, even the temperature was a cool 20 degrees with the altitude around the 1000m mark. By morning the rain, fog and wind was just as bad as the evening before and so I hastily cooked breakfast and got ready for the first ride of the day which was something of a recce having no information on biking in the area.

Armed with my trusty GPS I set off from Thong Pha Phum headquarters, and cycled towards the village of Pilok. The road was steep and winding at first, however the road soon descended sharply for several kilometers. Despite not being a fan of road cycling, the jungle surroundings and cool temperature made it fantastic cycling conditions and there was practically no traffic in this remote corner of Thailand. Eventually I came to a turn off for Jokkradin waterfall, which was 2.8km from the road with a warning sign that it was for 4WD only. Seeing this as the first chance of off road I followed the trail and continued along a very muddy trail towards the waterfall. It would take a brave driver even in a 4WD to attempt some of the hills, perhaps the reason we did not come across anyone else on the trail! After 30 minutes the trail ended and not seeing an alternative route I continued back along the same trail and back to the campsite for what was a fun experience mountain biking in Kanchanaburi.

Biking in Kanchanaburi