The best way to explore Bangkok is by bike. It’s always a unique experience. You’ll go past places that, as a tourist, you would be likely to miss. It’s a great way to get to know both the bustling city life as well as the quiet and surprisingly green countryside. We’ve gone on multiple Co van Kessel bike tours and we highly recommend it. This is what to expect!
The madness of Chinatown
All Co van Kessel bike tours start in the Yoawarat neighborhood, also known as the largest Chinatown in the world. Accompanied by our guides, Paksoi and Aod, we made our way through a maze of narrow streets that weren’t really suitable to bike through. And it’s exactly that that made it special and so much fun!
In these little streets you’ll encounter everyday life in Bangkok. We rode past rapidly heating, sizzling woks in the middle of the street, honking mopeds fearlessly zigzagging through the busy traffic and tiny market stalls displaying pigs’ heads, shark fins and roasted ducks on meat hooks. The combined smell of roasted chestnuts, exhaust gases and smoldering incense was so intense, that it seemed like the neighborhood was on fire.
Amidst the sound of all the traffic noise, welding machines and hammer blows, was a man on a fold-out chair quietly reading his paper. We stopped at a small Chinese temple, beautifully ornamented and with incense altars, which we wouldn’t have found had we been on our own.
The real Bangkok
From Chinatown the tours can go in any direction. You can get on – bike included – the train, the long tail boat, the sky train or visit local markets and temples.
Whichever tour you choose to go on, you’re guaranteed to see some surprising sights.
And best of all: all you have to do is follow. Everything will be explained to you along the way in English. You can ask whatever you like. They’re Thai guides living in Bangkok and tell you everything you want to know about life in Thailand.
You’ll be surprised and amazed to see how people live here; Bangkok’s outskirts are nowhere near as hip and modern as the center is. Here you’ll encounter makeshift cabins, made out of corrugated plates and wood scraps. The families here, who will wave at you as you go past, live in miniscule houses in which, surprisingly enough, the TV always seems to be on.
Then, before you know it, you’re passing another ultra modern shopping mall, housing some of the most expensive shops in the world. It’s a country of extremes, which is never clearer than when you’re biking through it.
Paddy fields and banana trees
Short tours will take you around the area immediately surrounding Chinatown, where you’ll visit temples and markets.
The slightly longer tours will take you past some of Bangkok’s surprisingly green parts, on the other side of the Chao Phraya River. You’ll be biking along a narrow path lined with hundreds of palm trees and past green banana trees. It’s a sea of peace and tranquility.
Again you’ll notice the huge contrast between city life and life in the country. Time and again you’re in for a surprise!
Co van Kessel
The very first time we visited Thailand (more than 7 years ago), a Co van Kessel bike tour was the first excursion we went on. It was really well-organized and, at the time, one of the few bike tours Bangkok had to offer.
These days there’s a lot more competition. Still, nothing beats Co van Kessel’s tours. We should know, we tried a few other ones as well.
So stop hesitating and prepare to be blown away. It’s worth it 100% and a great thing to do on your first day in Bangkok. To find out more, click here: Co van Kessel bike tours.