Thailand has been a cyclist destination for years with ideal scenery for touring and safe enough to go it alone, but until recent years mountain biking in Thailand has been unheard of. But lately the sport of mtb is getting more and more popular and people are discovering more and more places to ride.
Not too far away from Bangkok and a great place to ride is the jungle single track trail of Tam Pratoon, originally used as an off road trail for motorcross bikes it is an ideal single track trail for mountain biking and ridden in reverse this is one thrilling track.
Tam Pratoon is almost on Bangkok's doorstep and its a great place for people living in the City to do some single track mountain biking. Tam Patoon is fairly technical with lots of ups and downs so come with lots of gears, water and determination for this hot and humid trail. There are 2 loops of trails to try and it's only a 2 hour drive on the expressway from the center of Bangkok.
The trails start from a small very well maintained park next to a resovoir. There is a car park there and a large sign showning rough outline of the trails. Getting to the park is fairly straight foward but finding the start of the trails can be a bit more difficult.
There are 2 trails a larger loop and a smaller more technical loop. Both are maintained and are kept in resonable condition.
Larger loop in reverse
At first sight when arriving in the car park you get the impression that Tam Pratoon is more like the type of place you would take the family for a picnic or feeding the fish day out, but when you venture past the park with the plastic animals and neatly trimmed hedges you will find a technical mountain bike trail through the jungle to suit most mtb riders.
Tam Pratoon's gritty trails are nearly all single track consisting of a mix of terrains, sandy, rooty, muddy and sometimes rocky. The park at the start makes a great launching point for this challenging ride. The first part of the climb pushes you up through the humid trees along some sandy, rocky, grassy and rooty single track all within 1 km. You will have 2 choices left or right left is for the larger loop and right for the smaller loop This is the first climb of the day and probably the toughest. Some of the signs have fallen down so be ready to navigate your way through the trees, this can take time but adds to the adventure of your ride. You probably won't know where you are but continue following the trail and you will eventually pop up on a small clearing near the top of the mountain. Heres a nice place to stop and catch your breath or collapes on the floor and thankfully you will have completed the most physically exhausting part of the ride. Next is a short blast down the mountain on some roller coaster like single track with criss crossing trails eventually shooting out on to an opening. There are two trails at this clearing take the lower one. From now on the trail is easy to follow there is another steep climb and tons of technical fast flowing single track which will have you ducking under fallen trees, splashing full pelt through streams and jumping over fallen branches.
When you get back to the car park there is an opportunity to take a shower and if the hose pipe is around to clean your bike.
Starting the larger loop
To start the larger loop ride from the car park back the way you drove in pass the volley ball court on your left and then turn right. There is a straight un tarmac ed road running next to the reservoir follow this and turn right at the end of the reservoir, you are now on the trail.
However we have found that the larger loop is a lot better going in an anticlockwise direction rather than a clockwise direction as there is a lot more down and less up hill riding. Doing it this way round there is a first very steep up hill climbs but don't worry once these are completed its mainly down with some gradual climbs.
To start large loop backwards ride through the well maintained park to the back near the plastic flintstone's rocks behind them to the left you will be able to see a trail which is outside the park in the trees. Go to the trail and head left this is the trail to follow and climbing begins.
How about the riding?
Tam Pratoon is quite technical singletrack and there are some steep climbs.This is one of the few places in Thailand with proper single track for mountain biking. The riding can be hot and humid so bring plenty of water in a camelbac. One bottle of water in the water bottle on your bike probably wouldn't be enough for most people.
The bigger trail is about 10.4km, miles and the shorter technical trail is about 4.4 km. It is possible to do the 2 together and miss part of the trail which is a total of 13.2 km.
When's the best time to ride?
We have found the afternoon/evening time is the best time because its cooler.(But not too late or you might end up riding in the dark).
Car Park, Toilet and shower block, small shop but not always open.
How to get there?
From Bangkok follow the road 7 towards Pattaya. It's at at Khao Mai Kaew (or Gaew depending on how you spell it) reservoir see google maps below for directions.