Touring Thailand by bicycles is a popular alternative in the country. It is the fastest and probably the easiest way to go around sight-seeing because it allows exploration of small alleys and hidden paths that are otherwise ignored for being off the beaten tracks. Cycling in Bangkok allows tourists to see the city, its people and their everyday life closely from up the saddle.
Riding a bicycle is a welcome change for many tourists and vacationers who come from big cities and are used to riding cramped and air-conditioned cars in their countries. But while authorities have done a lot to make cycling safe in Bangkok by creating bicycle lanes in roads and designating bicycle tour routes, many locals will still contend that cycling in Bangkok is like driving a car with your eyes closed. It has a lot of advantages for sure, but there are also disadvantages. We’ll leave it to you to decide which weighs heavier. Should you decide to go for it, here are a few tips to make the best out of your experience:
- Make sure the bicycle suits your frame. Remember that Asians have small frames and thus use bicycles with small frames too. Make sure that you’ll be using bicycles with American frames. Such bicycles usually have American brand names, or you could always try riding it first to see if it fits.
- Check your gears. Before the tour starts, the tour guide will show you what and how to check if your bikes are ready and safe for the road. Check to see if: your brakes are working, you don’t have a flat tire, your lights are working, your horn doesn’t sound like a bell of a local ice cream vendor (something that sounds like a car’s horn is ideal) and you have a bike lock (for when you have to park your bike). Some tour companies will also provide GPS.
- Stay close to your tour group. It’s best to stay close to your group, not only because you might get lost on your own but cycling in a group also provides protection from muggers. Also, if you ever go on main roads, motorists will spot a group of bicyclers more easily than one bicycler alone on the road. This ensures that they give you a wide berth, which translates to safe journey.
- When you’re on the road, mind the other motorists. Be responsible and remember that the road is not yours and yours alone. Like when you’re driving a car, you should take note of cars approaching and be aware of vehicles driving fast. Keep your distance, especially from buses and taxis picking up passengers along the road, and let the others behind you know when you’re going to change lanes or slow down.
- Choose your tour guide carefully. Opt for a tour company that uses small lanes and the quiet sides of the city in getting around Bangkok. You’ll have a more enjoyable time cycling in Bangkok if you go through its small roads and alleys because you’ll truly see the heart and soul of Bangkok this way.