If you are looking for some different to do in Bangkok then you should look no further than cycle tours. To many people, it probably still seems strange to suggest to go on a bike tour in Bangkok. Apart from the heat and pollution you also have bad traffic congestion. On the surface it doesn’t sound like fun, but in truth, bicycle tourism in Thailand is a fast growing market with new bike tour companies being set up all the time. Just take a look at the Top 10 of popular tours in Bangkok on the TripAdvisor website. Five of the most popular tours in Bangkok are bicycle tour companies.
One of the latest bike companies based in Bangkok is Follow Me Bike Tours which is already doing very well on the TripAdvisor Top 10. Although I have my own bike now, it is sometimes a good idea to go with a knowledgeable local Thai guide. On trips like this one, you always discover something new about your home city. When cycling or driving, we tend to stick to the same routes. Tour guides, on the other hand, will push the boundaries to show the real sights, smells and sounds of the city that would be difficult to find by ourselves. This is exactly what happened when I joined Follow Me at the weekend for their “Siam Boran” bicycle tour of the historical sights of Bangkok.
The Follow Me Clubhouse can be found down a small soi off Sathon Road. It is about a 10-15 minute walk from BTS Chong Nonsi Station (see map). At the moment they are offering two bicycle tours. Each of them last about four hours and cover about 20 kilometers. The second one, called “Siam Sawan”, goes to Phra Pradaeng, which, with its jungles and parkland, is often called the “Lungs of Bangkok”. I have explored that area quite a bit already, so I was keen to try a new route. Tours leave twice a day at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. I know that some people have done one tour in the morning and liked it so much that they joined the other tour in the afternoon.
The Siam Boran tour took us on both sides of the river and included two cross-river ferries.The advantage of bicycling is that we were able to go down narrow lanes and dedicated cycle paths. In fact, we were hardly on the main roads at all. We spent most of our time up close and personal in various local communities. We saw more events and every day activities on this tour than the average tourist will see on their entire trip. In Chinatown we saw dancing dragons. We passed a Christian cathedral where people were just leaving after a service. In a Muslim community we came across a bird singing contest in an open field. And in one of the backroads we passed a house where nine monks were performing a ceremony for the opening of a new shop.
The guide on our tour was a yong Thai man called Tobb. He was very knowledgeable and often stopped to talk about various old buildings that we were cycling past. From my point of view, the Unseen Bangkok is of more interest than say The Temple of Dawn that we also visited. But, we had a good mixture that had something for everyone. I particularly liked the old Customs House, that despite its derelict state, was being used as living quarters by the local fire department. We also visited a temple that had the largest bell in Thailand and the largest sitting Buddha in Bangkok. Tobb also stopped several times to buy us refreshments. He also made it clear that it was no problem to stop and take pictures at any time or stay at a place longer than what was originally planned.
By the time we got back to the Follow Me Clubhouse, I was probably more hungry that tired. One of the great things about Bangkok is that it is mainly flat and the cycling wasn’t strenuous at all. Although we are in the middle of the rainy season at the moment, and we did have some rain during our tour, it wasn’t enough to spoil our fun. In fact, it was almost perfect weather for cycling as there was a nice cool wind. Each of the tours finish with a free fish spa where you can put your tired feet in water and let the fish give you a massage! There is also a complimentary BBQ. The price of the tour was 1,000 Baht and with all of these extras I think it was really good value. I would definitely go with them again. They have a new trip planned which combines a food tour in the morning and a bicycle tour in the afternoon. Sounds perfect as they are two of my favourite things.