Doi Suthep Bicycle Ride

Bicycle Ride up Doi Suthep

Doi Suthep (ดอยสุเทพ) is a mountain directly to the west of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. Doi Suthep is named after a legendary hermit (Suveda). The mountain is granite with diciduous forest below 1,000m and evergreen above. The top of Doi Suthep is at 1,676 meters. There is around 1,200 meter elevation gain and it approaches 18% grade in some places.

Doi Suthep

Doi Suthep (ดอยสุเทพ) is a mountain directly to the west of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. Doi Suthep is named after a legendary hermit (Suveda). The mountain is granite with deciduous forest below 1,000m and evergreen above. The top of Doi Suthep is at 1,676 meters. There is around 1,200 meter elevation gain and it approaches 18% grade in some places.

Chiang Mai Viewpoint on Doi Suthep

Hillbillies

Doi (ดอย) is apparently the word for mountain in Kam Muang (the Lanna language). It is not the Thai word which is ภูเขา. This is taken as a kind of bumpkin word and apparently Central Thai speakers call Northern Thais "hill people" (คนดอย), aka "hillbillies". (Since my father is from West Virginia, this kind of language is of course quite familiar.)

Comparing Routes - Tantalus in Hawaii

The best thing to compare the bicycling experience of Doi Suthep is with Tantalus/Round Top in Honolulu. Tantalus was my bicycle exercise of choice for many years while living in Hawaii (2001-2008). That route was equally a hill to climb and return down, and went through a dry climactic zone and into a rain forest. Lovely ride, very enjoyable. Around 1.25 hours round trip from my house. Some have told me that Tantalus is the best bicycle ride in all of the Hawaiian Islands.

Not my view - 2

Steeper, Longer, Hotter

Doi Suthep is basically steeper, longer, and hotter. There are some advantages, such as two lanes going up, which means the bicyclists are not crowded. The disadvantage is more traffic and some of the stinky songthaews which have poorly adjusted exhaust. In spite of that the air is generally cleaner and smells great, and it is cooler near the top. Riding in the late afternoon the sun is mostly behind the mountain.

For me, it is close to 2 hours round trip from my house (30kms) with nearly 1.25 hours of that mostly uphill slow-going. Doi Suthep is a butt-kick or f!@&kin excellent (สุดยอด) as the Thai people say. There are some old-timers who can do the uphill part in 0.75 hours, so I am pretty slow right now. One local fellow exclaimed that Doi Suthep is the best bicycling (especially mountain biking) in Southeast Asia.

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