When in Bangkok, do as the Dutch do…
“Oh my God, we are not really going to ride a bicycle in a megacity like Bangkok!? “
This was our first, intuitive reaction.
We were about to travel to Thailand with our kids (5 and 8 years old) and our first stop was, no surprise, Bangkok. This post shows you one of the best ways to discover Bangkok: on a bike! And yes, it is also very recommendable if you travel with children.
“Yeah, this was great!! Can we do it again tomorrow?”
This was our second, intuitive reaction right after we finished our 3-hour Bangkok bycicle tour.
Yes, we are Dutch. We are famous for our bicycle mania.
So why not go and discover Bangkok by bike?
Brilliant Dutch idea
It should come as no surprise that a Dutchman came up with the brilliant idea to organize bike tours throughout the city of Bangkok. And when you ask me to give you one best travel tip for Bangkok, this is it! Go cycling!
While cycling you will get a glimpse of not only the bustling city life, but also the green outskirts of Bangkok. Just outside the city center, across the Chao Phraya river, you can find peace and quiet. This is Thonburi area, small canals surrounded by forest. Here the people from Bangkok go when they want to escape the city for a while.
Cycling is a feast for all your senses: you can see, smell and hear the city. Every corner you take will make you experience a new part of Bangkok.
Loosing yourself in Chinatown
“Oh my God, we lost the group!”
This we shouted at least a dozen times when touring the narrow alleys of Bangkok’s Chinatown.
“No, wait, I can see them, over there….damn, lost them again.”
Bangkok is a maze of narrow streets, full of corners and hidden entrances. You can quickly lose sight of the person cycling in front of you. Luckily with every corner you take, you will get them in your sight again. And lose them again..
“Daddy, I think we are cycling in someone’s kitchen!”
A lot of food is prepared outside in Chinatown. We started cycling around 7am in the morning and the streets of Chinatown were already packed with people carrying goods to their stores and people preparing food on the street.
The smell of seasoned meat, soup and baked bread filled our nose. And as we went through this one alley, covered by roof plates and so narrow we could hardly pass the pans of soup and curry, my son shouted his famous words “We are cycling in someone’s kitchen!”. This was so much fun!
Bikes on the river
After Chinatown’s heat we passed on to the coolness of the Chao Phraya river. The river cuts Bangkok in two, and is a great way to travel the city.
After crossing the river, we spent the next hour cycling through the green area of Bangkok. A longtail boat dropped us with our bikes. Our children loved the river! It’s Thailand’s main route of distribution, so many large ships pass by. Also, you can watch a cross-cut of Bangkok’s population using the ferries to cross the river. Monks, families, business men; just sit down and watch Bangkok pass by you and your children. This is a great experience!
On the other side of the river, in the so-called klongs, you and your children will be surprised. Here you can enjoy peace and quiet, very well received after the bustling downtown experience.
Children run out of their houses to greet you, a monk raises his head sitting in front of his small temple, dozens of fish seem to jump out of the river when you only mimic throwing some bread in the water….
Our tour was a true Bangkok Experience. Of course we also visited the MBK shopping centre, the Royal Palace, the lying Buddha at Wat Pho, and other landmarks, but the bycicle tour showed us the real life and the undiscovered territories of the city. I would do it again, every single time I would visit Bangkok.
Interested? Visit the website of Co van Kessel.