Asia - Cycling in Bangkok
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Hi fellow bikers,
for those of you who travel to Thailand, I'd like to recommend cycling in Bangkok. Co van Kessel (http://www.covankessel.com) organises very nice half day tours showing you the real Bangkok. It isn't physically demanding; anyone who can ride a bicycle can do it. He works mainly for the Dutch expat and tourists, but anyone is welcome. I've done his tours many times (but I live in Bangkok myself, so that isn't too difficult for me), and I sincerely recommend it. The tours include a bicycle and everything else.
The pics I took last Sunday (18 March) on a tour myself. This tour was in the PM, last part was on a longtail boat (bikes were in the back) were I could take a great shot of Wat Arun against the setting sun.
05-15-07, 07:28 PM
Hey, there is an outside chance that I'll get a job in Bangkok. What is cycling like there? Is it OK for commuting? How about road cycling outside the center of town? Are there good places to go to? And what about track? I googled around a bit, and found that they built a velodrome for the asian games. Is it still up, and can people go use it? Is there racing?
Are there good bike shops around? Is there any bike scene, whether it be racers, environmentalists, or hipsters?
05-23-07, 06:59 PM
If I 'm right in taking your 'uptown' location to mean the very same borough of Manhattan I'm in, then I'd say you'll probably be fine with bike commuting in Bangkok, tho you might want an extra-hard helmet and an oxygen tank. Most Americans are likely to be frightened crossing the street, but if you're a New Yorker it'll only seem slightly crazy sometimes, and a lot of the time it'll feel just like home. Except 95 deg w/ 95 percent humidity and smoggy as all hell. Also, terrible traffic jams, all the time.
Last time I was in BKK was my pre-cycling days, but there are definitely serious runners in Lumphini Park. They can clue you in.
You can ride a bike to work. If you're cray (like me) or mormon :). I see sometimes mormon missionary kids riding bikes in their white shirts and of course wearing a helmet.
It took me a while to get used to the traffic, but it can be done. Nowadays I always ride a bike if the time & distance allow for it. In any kind of traffic. Up to and including the Sukhumvit rush hour and the Din Daeng intersection. Trips which are generally declined by ex Imperial Kamikaze Pilots, as they consider it much too dangerous...
Remember that driving is done here on the left side of the road. Thais are generally quite forgiving in traffic. It rarely happens I get into trouble because of cars. Usually you have to be very aware of human torpedo's: a guy on a motorbike is just as dangerous as a WW2 torpedo. Exactly the same mental capabilities and they can only go forward. Fast. What they lack in explosive power they make up with much higher speed.
I've been riding a bike to work since 2001. There are plenty of bicycle shops, especially in the poorer areas of town. You'd be amazed what a humble shopowner of a bicycle repair shop can do for you, and how little they charge for it. A very good area is called 'mahachak', near Klang Hospital in Chinatown. About 40 dedicated bicycle shops. Mainly low cost bikes, but also some reputable dealers for upscale brands, like Trek. Also a lot of repairshops close by.
High end shops you can find all over the city. Not a lot, but Bangkok is quite large. So you find plenty of them. They tend to be rather expensive and not quite as friendly as your local bike repair shop.
Biking community? I don't quite know, as I am more or less a loner. There is some biking going on, in clubs. Maybe if you have some info about them, mail me.
Helmets: I'm Dutch, so I never wear them. Ever seen a Dutchman with a helmet on a bike? :lol: (The last who did were taken POW after the German invasion in 1940)
According to Thai law, a bicycle is a pedestrian on wheels. You can ride on the sidewalk, and have to be careful on the road. Not that people will hate you for it, but simply because they aren't used to it.
I never wear a mask, as I think the benefits don't weigh up to the disadvantages. You prevent breathing in dust particles, but that is about it. Dangerous gasses you certainly inhale. Not even a military gasmask will help. A bike is a big advantage in a traffic jam, as you can zig zag very easily though the traffic. Actually, I rather cycle through a almost not moving traffic jam. Almost zero danger. Except from those human torpedo's who do the same thing.
08-07-07, 09:11 PM
I did some riding around BKK this last winter. While doable, I wouldn't call it a pleasant experience. Did a short ride from BKK to a few towns just to the north. Leaving the city was a nightmare. I'm not very skittish about mad asian traffic, but there is very little room for bikes on the busier streets, especially if you're between the curb and a city bus.
That said, it's a good place to get ready for a tour. There's a pretty good shop just behind Lumpini Park called Probike. They probably have info about the local bike scene. Very friendly. Chinatown shops are ok too, especially for stuff in the lower price ranges.
08-08-07, 06:58 AM
Jos, you have my respect for cycling in the streets of Bangkok. I have to close my eyes when sitting in the back seat of car. Way too crazy traffic for me.
It took me quite a while to start biking. It isn't as dangerous as most people think, or as it looks. Cars are very decent. Motorcycles are different matter. We drive (/ride) on the left hand site of the road. Bicycles are by law equal to pedestrians. Meaning, you can cycle anywhere you want. Never had any problems with the police.
I have the plus of living in the center of Bangkok. (If one can talk about a center, that is.) Most destinations are within 10 km cycling.
It took me some nerve to start bicycling, but I don't regret it. Think of it this way: a skytrain round trip ticket costs Bt 80. One month worth commuting = +Bt 1600. The skytrain paid for a very nice bike in just a few months.
The bicycle tours I mentioned are a very different matter. You don't have to worry about traffic at all. Completely save, and without any dangerous rout situations.
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