Two of the easiest countries for cycle touring would have to be Malaysia and Thailand. The people are incredibly friendly, the terrain along the coastlines is mostly flat with excellent roads, and the variety food options make it easy to take a break from cycling – especially when meals occupy a large portion of your thoughts. Accommodation is very affordable, making these two countries some of the cheapest to cycle through.
So our ultimate beach town deserves an entire post all to itself, and it’s going to be a big one. So settle in, get comfy, and let us show you around!
Crystal blue water. Squeaky soft sand. Tropical islands covered in jungle. This is the picture of Thailand that is commonly lusted after by holiday makers and planners. However with over 29 million visitors a year, is it difficult to find a patch of paradise that’s not covered in crowds all vying for the same bit of sand. Finding a beach outside of the tourist areas is off-putting if you don’t know where to go. Also the garbage situation is horrendous; much of the coastline is incredibly dirty, full of trash spat out from the rivers from villages, or washed up by the tide, derelict buildings and shrimp farming operations running drains to and from the water.
Usually thought of as a quick stop between Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Ipoh is quietly coming up the ranks as a tourist destination in its own right. Little laneways with historic shophouses, classic Malay dishes with serious reputations to uphold and tiny vintage cafes popping up, Ipoh is steadily establishing a firm foothold in charisma and confidence. Of course Malaysians and Chinese tourists have long known about the regional specialities of Malaysia’s 19th century tin mining town, but it will be hard to keep this a local secret for long.
Twenty kilometres were all it took to cycle from one side of Singapore to the other. The roads were busy but there were plenty of shared paths for us to jump on. It was hard to pull away from the amazing hospitality from Suyin’s family and the daily food comas but we had a flight booked in Bangkok and needed to ride up the coasts of both Malaysia and Thailand to get there.
Everything you need to know about Singapore’s relationship with food is explained when I tell you the above photo was our breakfast.
Sleek, futuristic, food-obsessed Singapore. A city of billion dollar skyscrapers, luxury shopping malls and rush hour expressways, built on the foundations of hundreds of buffets, hawker centers and restaurants. A leader in the world economy of banking, shipping and cutting edge technology, all of which are powered along by huge helpings of hainan chicken rice, nasi lemak and wonton mee. We spent most of our time in Singapore in a self-induced food coma but every now and then we did engage in a few things not found on the usual list (menu).
As we are spending a year bike touring, we will have flown with our bikes as baggage six times, which means we would have set them up and broken them down twelve times as follows:
Cycling the west coast of France is a Beginner Bike Tourer’s dream. Information is plentiful on how to complete this journey though I’m sure I can whittle it down for you into five easy steps.
What do you do when you meet up with friends? Drink, eat, chat, and bounce from one sidewalk cafe to another, as the hours disappear along with the sun. And repeat!
Cycling in Croatia is hugging the white line with no shoulder, sweat dripping down your nose, climbing hills and getting cramps in your fingers from grabbing the breaks. It also has an incredible landscape, rocky and mountainous, with tiny bays, fishing villages, and gorgeous beaches one after the other filled with restaurants serving freshly grilled seafood.
As soon as we began riding in Croatia everyone seemed to mention Plitvice as a must see. From Croatian friends back home to apartment hosts to shopkeepers, all fingers seemed to be pointing us straight to that direction. But nothing could have prepared us for the incredible natural wonder that is Plitvice.
After our epic 125km day of riding we spent the next few days holed up in our AirBnB apartment doing not much more than small, knee-creaking ventures out for groceries and gelato. We cooked dinners in our tiny galley kitchen, caught up on Game of Thrones and basically moved as little as possible. After about three days of that we promised that we would make an effort go out and see the city. Budapest was waiting for us. And she was glorious.
Throughout our time bike touring across Europe we could clearly see how cycle tourism has created successful businesses and kept small towns thriving. The Danube path between Linz and Vienna is on both sides of the river to combat the large numbers of cyclists. In quite a few sections we could see bars, grills, penzions, hotels and bike friendly signage. Countries are now rolling out kilometer after kilometer of perfect cycleways to encourage this type of tourism.
The Austrian capital Vienna has incredible imperial, artistic and intellectual roots from residents such as Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud. Once the centre of the powerful Habsburg monarchy, historical palaces, monuments and opulent buildings line the streets in a seemingly never-ending display of grandeur. Such a grand city can easily burn a hole straight through your wallet and your trip budget. Due to our trip timing we spent only one whole day in Vienna which barely scratches the surface of this great city. However we did manage to keep within our budget of $100AUD (€70) for two people, including accommodation. Read on to see how we did it!