Asia's Best Cycling Routes
Bikes tourism is all the rage these days: It works for your bod, your wallet and the environment, plus it promises adventure on narrow byroads that you’d have otherwise missed—what’s not to love?
Mongolia (210km around the Khan Khentii range)
Start your adventure in Khan Khentii National Park and make the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue your first stop here. Climb to the horse’s head of this 131-ft steel sculpture for a killer view of the vast grasslands studded with white ger tent camps. Bike along the Tuul River and you’ll come face to face with flocks of domesticated yaks as you continue your off-road journey to Janchivlan Hill. Feast on stone-roast lamb barbeque under the star-dotted sky as you pitch a tent next to a nomadic family in the unspoilt wilderness. End your trip back at Ulaanbaatar, where you’ll return to civilization and warm water. Plan your trip between Jun-Sep for the most moderate temperatures.
Get pedaling with... the 4-Day Mongolia Mountain Bike Odyssey Tour ($8,148) on viator.com. Experience the above trip and more during this 210km tour, which involves river crossings and off-road jeep tracks. Package includes bike rentals, three-night accommodation and meals.
Cambodia (110km through Kirirom National Park)
While many go to Cambodia solely for Angkor Wat, you can pedal away off the beaten path in Kirirom National Park, which is a two-hour drive from the capital Phnom Penh. Burrow through the dense pine forest for some #nofilterneeded shots of cascading waterfalls and the Cardamom Mountains’ hazy outline in the distance. For a dose of local culture, spend the night in Chambok, a collection of farming villages on the border of the park that support community-based ecotourism. Electricity may be limited at the homestay, but the warmth of the Khmer families (and their fabulous food) will light up your night. Visit in December for cooler temps.
Get pedaling with... SpiceRoads Cycling Tours’ two-day, one-night Kirirom Explorer tour ($1,903, spiceroads.com), which takes you from Phnom Penh to Kirirom and back on a 110km route. The package includes bike and helmet hire, park entrance fees, accommodation and meals.
Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan (30km)
Tired of all the hustle and bustle in Taipei? Head south and get some fresh air at Sun Moon Lake in Taichung. The entire course around the lake takes up to four hours, but it’s a flat and smooth ride embellished with the verdant beauty of palm trees and ferns, and occasionally enlivened with wildlife like frogs and birds. Hop off your bike to revel in the sunrise on Shui She Dam, or grab a quick lunch from street vendors along the way. In November you can catch the Taiwan Cycling Festival, which features a month of themed bike rides including a “Come! Bikeday” leisurely tour around Sun Moon Lake (Nov 13).
Get pedaling with...the Nantou Bus Sun Moon Lake Bike Pass ($148, ntbus.com.tw) which includes a bus ticket from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake, a boat ride around the lake’s attractions, a round-the-lake bus pass and a bike rental voucher.
Yeouido Island, Korea (25 km)
Test out your pedals around Yeouido, the mecca for Seoul cyclists. Start from Yeouido Hangang Park and head east along the Han River on a three-hour route that will eventually lead you past the popular neighborhoods of Gangnam and Amsa-dong. Relive scenes from your favorite K-drama as you cycle along the waterfront and cross picturesque bridges on the way, with well-paved courses perfect for beginner bikers. Plan your trip in mid-April when cherry blossoms and azaleas are at full bloom during the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival.
Get pedaling with...the bicycle rental shops at the southern end of Wonhyodaegyo or Mapodaegyo bridges ($20 per hour for one-person bike; $39 per hour for a tandem bike). You’re required to leave your photo ID during the ride.