Tuk Tuk Tours
Explore Bangkok by the iconic tuk tuk
Bangkok might not seem the most obvious place to get on your bike and go for a cycle – its biggest roads – its biggest roads are famed for their traffic-choked congestion and walkways that are unfriendly to those on foot, let alone on a bicycle. But get beyond the major thoroughfares and you’ll discover parts of the Thai capital that are the perfect territory for those on two wheels.
This artificial island in the Chao Phraya river, south of the capital and just inside Samut Prakan province, isn’t called Bangkok’s ‘green lung’ for nothing. It’s an oasis from the high-rise downtown area, and somewhere you’ll instead find pleasant elevated pathways over green mangrove swamps. It’s a great area to discover on a long, leisurely cycle; attractions include numerous temples, a weekend floating market and an expansive public park. Word about Bang Krachao has definitely gotten out, and it’s now a popular inclusion on the itineraries followed by bicycle tour companies, but come on a weekday and you can enjoy at least a high degree of solitude. The cyclist-friendly Bangkok Tree House eco-hotel makes it an even sweeter deal, and it’s a clinch to get here thanks to cross-river ferries you can take you bicycle onboard (or you can rent one when you get there). The one from Sanphawut pier is just a short hop from the Bang Na BTS station; there is more information on how to get there in our detailed blog post on Bang Krachao.
Another artificial island in Bangkok’s Chaophraya river, cycling is definitely the way to go if you want to see the whole lot in one day. Apart from a popular weekend market, Koh Kret – which is located in Nonthaburi province, also just outside Bangkok but at the extreme other end of the capital’s stretch of the waterway – is popular as a pottery manufacturing centre, since it’s long been home to a thriving ethnic Mon community. Take your bike across the river from a temple pier in Pak Kret (itself reachable by Chaophraya Express river boat from downtown) or hire one when you arrive on the island. You’ll find more details on getting to Koh Kret in our blog post on things to do with kids in Bangkok.
Hopping on your bicycle is the perfect way to discover the historic old-town areas of Rattanakosin island and Banglamphu, and a newly commuted network of cycle lanes only makes it easier. It’s the ideal way to take in the sights of this culture-rich part of Bangkok, including temples like the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Ratchabophit, numerous peaceful parks in which to while away the days, and countless fantastic street kitchens to feast at! Getting across the city from here by bike is easy, too, since Chaophraya Express river boat piers like Phra Athit offer connections to downtown Sathorn and onwards to the Skytrain. Find out more about Banglamphu and Rattanakosin island in our detailed blog post on old-town Bangkok.
In many parts of Bangkok, it’s the prospect of sharing the streets with cars that puts most of us off cycling. But in Thonburi, the old Thai capital on the ‘other’ side of the Chaophraya river, that’s not an issue – because most of the charming little alleys are too small to fit anything much bigger than a motorbike anyway. Thonburi is by and large far less explored than Bangkok proper, which means you’ll find it easy to stumble across quiet village-like streets (themselves made for cycling) and to interact with locals who are still going about their daily lives undisturbed. You’ll have to negotiate one rather larger road on the way, but starting out in the narrow alleyways of Kudeejeen’s old Portuguese neighbourhood (it’s one we take in on our Diversity & Harmony walking tour), and then working your way across to the quiet road that runs between Wongwian Yai and Talat Phlu railway stations is a great introduction to the benefits of cycling in Thonburi.
Where are your favourite spots to go cycling in Bangkok? Let us know in the comments!
Photos by James Antobus; Mark Fischer; Aapo Haapanen; Paul_the_Seeker