Bangkok Cycling in Bangkok
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Bangkok Cycling in Bangkok

Despite its reputation for heavy traffic, bike culture is catching on in a big way in Thailand’s capital

Despite recent efforts by the city’s authorities to improve the cycling infrastructure, Bangkok is far from catching up to the traditionally bike-friendly destinations such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen. Nevertheless, as a means of negotiating the traffic and exploring its myriad nooks, Bangkok by bike is an exhilarating experience.

A bit of background

Bike enthusiasts have ramped up initiatives to improve Bangkok’s cycling infrastructure – and what’s more, the authorities appear to be taking notice. In June 2014, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration announced plans to build 242 further bike lanes around the city. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and members of the Thai monarchy including King Maha Vajiralongkorn, are among those to have publicly lent their weight to a campaign for better road conditions for cyclists.

A public, green bicycle program for rent provides residents and tourists with around 300 bikes, free of charge
Cultural cycling routes

“There are so many interesting places to visit in Bangkok and they are all easiest to reach by bike,” raves Henry Hsu, Business Strategy Manager at Co Van Kessel Bangkok Tours, one of the first companies to offer bicycle tours in the city. Several tour companies like Co Van Kessel now offer itineraries to enclaves such as Kang Kra Jao, or the “Bangkok Jungle” – a verdant peninsula rich in tropical orchards, coconut groves and wooden stilt houses that’s nestled into a bend of the Chao Phraya River – Chinatown and Rattanakosin Island, home to star attractions such as Wat Pho and the Grand Palace.“Canals and streets lead to small communities and there’s lots of old wats (temples), markets and shophouses,” adds Hsu. “What’s more, the best cheap restaurants tend to be on the streets where there’s lots of traffic but no parking spaces. Biking is by far the most practical way to get around.”

Kang Kra Jao bike route
Bangkok’s best bike resources

With its boom in Brooklyn-style bars, retro flea markets and obsession with craft beers and food trucks, Bangkok has become a repository for hipster culture. And, in the view of Wararat Puapairoj, the founder and manager of Velayenn Bike Shop, a hub for the city’s “fixie” scene, this development has been key to the capital’s emergence as a biking city. “In my view, the real change in Bangkok’s biking scene came around five years ago when fixed-gear bikes really started to make their presence felt in Thailand,” says Puapairoj. Velayenn, a café that doubles as a cycle service shop, will service your bike starting from just USD$2 and you can grab a coffee or Italian soda while you are waiting. Other bicycle cafes include Aran Bicicletta in Ari, Bkool Café in Phaya Thai and Sora City near Asok, while there are now several online communities devoted to cycling. Online forums such as Life Cycling Bangkok and Bikeloves are bringing bike enthusiasts together and organising trips through the city as well as to out-of-town locations.

Travelling by bicycle into Wat Mahathat temple
The history of shopping Central Chidlom opened in 1973 and has been a must for tourists in town and a destination store for locals ever since. Discover the interesting and unique selection of Thai-Asian handicrafts, the best local brand-name merchandise, and the FoodLoft – one of the most innovative and exciting dining spots in Bangkok.
A standout in the skyline Central Embassy can be easily recognised on the horizon, with its dynamic facade of curving contours that boldly contrast the city’s skyline. And the best is yet to come: here you can delve into a fantasy land for shopaholics and foodies. From the first coffee in the morning to a superb restaurant in the evening, it’s so much more than you expect.