PHOTOS AND VIDEO
October 19, 2017
Jungle, rivers, culture, cuisine – all from the vantage of two wheels. Bangkok may not have the most bike-friendly roads, but it does have a diversity of sights and experiences that can rival anywhere else in Asia.
From the massive Chao Phraya River bisecting the city to a hidden jungle getaway in the city’s “Green Lung” and a river island from the 18th century, Bangkok has a wealth of biking byways and backroads for active daytrippers. The key is finding the most suitable path.
When it comes to navigating the city’s streets, there are few who know more than the dedicated cyclists at SpiceRoads.
“It’s a great way to explore the greener side and local communities of Bangkok,” says Daniel Moylan, managing director at SpiceRoads, referring to Bang Kra Jao. “Best reached by boat, this island is often referred to as the “green lung” of Bangkok and has incredibly been left untouched by city developers.”
Yes, Bangkok has a jungle – or as near as can be reasonably expected: flowers, fruit, mangroves, villages, and even a floating market. Despite being about 20 kilometers wide, Bangkok’s green lung is one of Bangkok’s best kept secrets, and the bucolic atmosphere is accompanied by well-maintained and easily traversed bike paths.
Given the area’s friendliness to bikes, it’s popular with local cyclists; SpiceRoads has a tour that leaves daily.
Chinatown’s Alleys and Food
Bangkok’s Chinatown fades from anachronistic culture to neon lights and from crowded markets to eerily empty alleys. “Bangkok is all about contrast,” SpiceRoads tells Travelogues. “On this tour you get to delve wheel deep through the markets of Bangkok’s vivacious yet mysterious Chinatown.”
The area is steeped in history and culture. After a bevy of markets, temples, and parks – forbidden to those on four wheels – the best paths through China town lead to the Santa Cruz Catholic Church, the Temple of Dawn, and the biggest monk bell in Thailand.
The winding alleys of Chinatown can be confusing, so it’s best to have a guide and to wear clothing appropriate for temples.
Car-Free Ko Kret
A little further afield is Ko Kret, 20 kilometers north of Thailand. Created in the 18th century as a shortcut for travel on the Chao Phraya River, Ko Kret is a center of Mon ethnic culture and feels a very long way indeed from the bustling of the capital.
“The main village is a thriving market place where you can see the pottery making process and shop for pots, mortars, and flowerpots,” SpiceRoads tells Travelogues. “But the best thing about this excursion is that no cars are allowed on the island; you have the road all to yourselves.”
Ko Kret is, indeed, a car-free area, and the highlights include the pastoral scenery, market, temples and Mon pottery – a specialist art that goes back to the 7th century and features distinctive, delicate handiwork.
Bangkok Sunset Ride
With a cool breeze and the sun tucked away, the Bangkok Sunset Ride from SpiceRoads takes in all the major sights of historic Bangkok, including the Temple of the Giant Swing, one of the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok, as the city starts to light up.
Going across the canal, the tour leads to the Khlong flower market for some color, then it’s on to Nakraphirom Park to watch the sunset over Wat Arun, a temple that has been around since the Ayutthaya Kingdom. “The highlight of this trip is the stunning view of Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, from across the river,” SpiceRoads tells Travelogues.
After the sun goes down, it’s on to the Grand Palace, Pinklao Bridge, and the Wat Indra Viharn for a gander at a 30-meter-high statue of the Buddha.
Bangkok Bike and Cook
The Thai capital’s proximity to agrarian peace is well established, but it’s perhaps less well-known that one might pedal their way to a cooking class through Bangkok’s fields.
Travelers can wend their way into the nearby Bangkok wilderness for lessons in cooking from Thai locals. “Learn from locals how to prepare, cook and serve classic Thai dishes,” SpiceRoads tells Travelogues. The trip, for riders of all ages, educates cyclists on a pleasant ride through the countryside for a farm-to-table experience.