Starting back in about December, I began hearing or reading about people doing bicycle tours around Bangkok. About every few weeks, the topic seemed to come up again in random conversations I would have with people. Everything I heard was very positive, so I started looking into it. In talking with another friend, he had also been hearing about them and was interested in checking it out. So we decided in February to give it a try.
There are several companies that do the bicycle tours, and I’ve heard good things about all of them. The one we went on was the original bike tour company, called Co Van Kessel. It was started over 30 years ago by a Dutch guy. Surprising I hadn’t heard about it before, but glad that I finally got to try it.
They have several different tours of varying lengths and sights. The one we chose was a 5-hour tour starting bright and early at 7am, and was a combination bicycle tour and longtail boat ride through the klongs (canals) of Bangkok.
We started out by riding through the Chinatown area of Bangkok. We rode through narrow walkways between rows of shophouses, with people who live there sitting out in front of their shops in their robes and pajamas having morning coffee and breakfast. We stopped at a Chinese temple for a bit to see it, take some pictures and light some incense. It was very peaceful to watch the people pray and give offerings at the temple, as the sun was just starting to rise.
We then rode into the heart of Chinatown and into one of the large market areas. We parked our bikes and the guide took us around the market and along the sidewalk vendors to point out various kinds of Thai fruits and foods. For 7:30 in the morning, it was surprisingly busy and crowded. Given that it was only a few days before the start of the Chinese New Year, the entire area was decked out with huge red and yellow banners across the roads, lanterns, and all kinds of dragons and other decorations for the new year celebration.
We then rode to a dock along the river and loaded the bikes on a small passenger ferry which took us to the other side of the river. From there, we rode along a narrow bike trail right along the edge of the Chao Phraya River. It was great to be that close to the river, watching all of the boats and barges going up and down the river as the sun was coming up.
After riding along the river for a while, we loaded the bikes into the back of a longtail boat and went for about a 90-minute ride through the klongs in the Nonthaburi area of Bangkok. I’ve been on many longtail rides through those klongs, but had never been back as far as we went.
We then unloaded the bikes and began riding through some small village areas, winding our way in between homes and through narrow walkways. The walkway then turned into a raised concrete path through huge farming fields. There were tons of banana plants and all kinds of vegetables in huge fields as far as you could see. The concrete path wound through them and we spent about a half hour riding through those areas.
Eventually we came back into a village area and rode to a temple along one of the klongs. There was a small market set up there with stalls of people selling all kinds of different fruits, vegetables, rice, and just about every kind of Thai food being cooked to order. There was also a small floating market, where women where in their boats and selling vegetables, fruits and cooking food for you. It was fun to go to the different stalls and sample some of the different food, most of which had likely just come fresh from the fields that morning.
From there, we rode through some more village and neighborhood areas, stopped for lunch at a small restaurant along one of the klongs, and then loaded the bikes back into a longtail boat for a nice ride up the river and back to the starting point.
Overall, it was a great experience and a fun way to see some new areas of Bangkok that I’d never seen before. If you ever are in Bangkok, I’d highly recommend doing one of the bicycle tours for half a day. With Bangkok being completely flat, there are no hills to navigate and it’s a very easy ride with tons of things to see and do along the way.