Where to ride a road bike in Bangkok
At the first glance, Bangkok doesn’t seem as a great place to ride a road bike – there’s heavy traffic pretty much everywhere at almost any given time, there are no hills, no nature, car drivers are reckless and so on. While that’s true to an extent, this doesn’t stop many from riding a bike here and the popularity of road cycling seems to be on the rise in Bangkok.
True cycling enthusiasts, like me, choose to overlook the negatives and instead focus on the positives, one of which is being able to ride 365 days a year! If you belong to this category and are looking for inspiration where to ride, below are a few places in Bangkok that are worth riding a road bike in.
1. Bang Kra Chao (บางกระเจ้า)
Bang Kra Chao, dubbed as green the lungs of Bangkok, is a peninsula located just beneath the city on the other side of Chaopraya, in Samut Prakan. With its slow life and many trees, it is the exact opposite of Bangkok. The old roads were recently renovated and now feature smooth asphalt and designated bike lanes on both sides. In contrast with busy Bangkok, riding here is a lot more relaxing and safer. The only disadvantage is Bang Kra Chao’s relatively small size, so if you are looking to clock a lot of miles, be prepared to ride back and forth 0n the main road (it’s the only straight road on the peninsula where you can ride fast). It can be accessed via the main bridge or a short boat ride from Khlong Toey or Bang Na.
Safety: 9/10 (watch out for dogs and other slower riders)
Hours: accessible at all times, ferry from Bang Na departs as early at 5am
2. Lumpini Park (สวนลุมพินี)
Lumpini park is to Bangkok what Central Park is to New York. Located in the very city centre, it is within easy reach of many Bangkok residents. This can be evidenced particularly on weekend mornings when the park is stuffed with people and lanes are dedicated to runners only. Cyclists are allowed to ride in the park between 10 am and 3 pm with a speed limit of 20km/h. Due to people wandering on the road throughout the day, it’s not a good place for competitive riding and will better suit casual riders. One lap is 1.8km long.
Safety: 9/10 (watch out for runners and people on the road)
Hours: The actual park opens at 4:30 am – 9 pm
3. Benjakiti Park (สวนเบญจกิติ)
Benjakiti park features amenities for both runners and cyclists, as does Lumpini Park. There is one notable difference though – the lanes are separated from each other and thus eliminate the risk of runner-cyclist collision. Narrow rectangular lane stretches over the distance of 1.8km and provides ground for a slightly faster riding than in Lumpini. The park is located within a walking distance from BTS Asok.
Safety: 9/10 (the cycling lane is narrow, watch out for other riders)
Hours: 5 am – 8pm
4. Phuttha Monthon Park (พุทธมณฑล)
Despite its inconvenient location for most Bangkokians, the park is probably the second best riding zones in the city, right behind Sky Lane. Those who are lucky enough to live nearby can enjoy long laps of 7.6km in length. Large number of trees alongside the lane means that riding here is enjoyable at any time of the day.
Hours: 5 am – 7 pm
5. Sky Lane at Suvanarbuhmi Airport (ลู่ปั่นจักรยาน Sky Lane)
Sky Lane is Bangkok’s best place for riding. The dedicated cycling lane revolving around the airport is 23.5km long and once the reconstruction has finished in November 2017, it will be upgraded with accompanying services, such as medical centre, restaurants, repairs shops and others. Most people drive their car here, but it is also accessible by bike. The good thing about Sky Lane is that if you have no one to ride with, you can easily join other rides and form bunches. This makes riding much more enjoyable and you will also get more out of yourself, both speed and performance-wise. Ironically, you don’t have to worry about cars on Sky Lane, but you need to look out for other rides. Accidents and falls in speeding bunches are commonplace, so be careful.
Safety: 8/10 (watch out for other riders)
Hours: 6 am – 10 pm
6. Bangkok – Ayutthaya (กรุงเทพมหานคร – อยุธยา)
If you are bored of riding in Bangkok, a “short” trip to Ayuthhaya can liven up your experience. There are two options – either follow the main road (above) or an alternative countryside road. Even though the main is the more direct option, it is incredibly boring and is occupied by big trucks and lorries. On the other hand, the countryside option is more exciting and almost totally empty. The only downside is its rough terrain that is more suited for an MTB bike rather than a road bike.
Safety: 10/10 (countryside road), 5/10 (main road)
7. Bang Na – Bang Puu (บางนา – บางปู)
You can start anywhere on Sukhumvit road and make your way all the way down to Bang Pu. Then return back to Bangna-Trat road and head back. Depending on where you start, this circuit is 70km+ long.
8. Bangna-Trat-Sukhumvit Intersection – ABAC (ถนนบางนาตราด x ถนนสุขุมวิท – ABAC)
Bangna-Trat road is one of my most favourite roads to ride. Most car drivers would say it is dangerous, but the truth is that the leftmost lane is almost always empty or has very little traffic due to parked vehicles. On several stretches of the road you can find a dedicated motorbike lane that can be also used by cyclists. If you start at the intersection of Sukhumvit and Bang Na-Trat roads, you just go straight all the way to the Assumption University and then make your way back using the U-turn bridge. From the intersection the distance is about 70km. There are no traffic lights nor crossroad so you can ride really fast. The only downside is the fumes from traffic.
Getting Around Bangkok with a Road Bike
Obviously, you can ride everywhere in Bangkok, but that’s not recommended when you are trying to transport yourself to a riding location. Some roads, such as Sukhumvit, have a really dense traffic and you are asking for trouble if you ride there too often. Instead, you can use BTS or a bike-specific taxi. The bad news about BTS is that it only allows cyclists with non-foldable bikes either very early in the morning or very late at night, rendering it practically unusable for most (Mon–Fri: 6 am – 6.30 am; Sat–Sun + Public Holidays: 6 am – 9 am; Daily: 10 pm – midnight). In that case, bike taxi has your back. It’s a regular taxi with a bike rack on the roof that can safely get you wherever you need to go. The price is a regular taxi fare + 100 THB on top for each bicycle. Since it is a specific service, you need to book the driver ahead of the time. My experience with it has been very good.
Ultimately, riding in Bangkok can be an enjoyable experience if you know where to go. The flat terrain and straight roads certainly make it a bit dull, but if you have a car and some cycling friends, you can easily overcome those inconveniences. Add an all-year-round summer into the mix and the prospect gets even brighter. 365-day season is something your friends in non-tropical areas of the world can only dream of.
Bonus: A Few Tips for Riding a Bike in Bangkok
- On 3+ lane roads, occupy the leftmost lane. If there isn’t a bike lane on the side, it will be safer and smoother, because there is less dirt on the ground and cars will have to make more effort to take you over.
- Watch out for motorbikes coming your way in the opposite direction. Cars from behind are less of a threat than these motorbikes disregarding basic traffic rules.
- Get comfortable with clipping and unclipping your shoes before riding on busy streets. Some roads, such as Sukhumvit, have a lot of intersections and traffic lights, so the ability of quickly clip and unclip your shoe is essential.
- Having a health insurance is a no-brainer. In case of an accident, having it is priceless.
Looking to buy a new road bike?
If you are planning to buy a new road bike and need some help with locating the bike shops in Bangkok, you may want to see the list of some of the best, foreigner-friendly Bangkok bike shops. That should save you time and prevent you from traversing the city from shop to shop.