One Bike In Bangkok!
Phil Hopkins, Travel & Arts Correspondent
If you are prepared for at least one late night and an early morning alarm call that will leave the most robust insomniac feeling blurry eyed, there’s a side to Bangkok that the majority of snoozing tourists will miss.
And it will be to their detriment, for the underbelly of this 24-hour city has a flavour that will tickle your tourist taste buds, more effectively than an award-winning patisserie chef.
However, before you depart your hotel to join Bangkok Food Tours’ midnight feast, just make sure you haven’t been seduced into sampling the evening dinner menu first, otherwise you may run the risk of splitting your pants within a matter of hours!
Were you to go on foot, the pending problem would be less of a threat, however, in the case of the ‘Midnight Food Tour’, which actually starts at 7.30pm and well before the witching hour, you are ferried from food kitchen to culinary establishment via a three-wheeled tuk tuk. Exercise is kept to a minimum, eating to a maximum!
So, ideally, try and make sure you are in the company of someone of equal size, otherwise there is a Bangkok style Reliant Robin disaster in the making!
This ‘city of angels’ is said to be always eating and, considering that wherever you lay your head you are never far from a steaming wok, there is more than a grain of truth in the claim. But what better way to discover Bangkok than to chomp your way through a post-sunset smorgasbord of Asian eateries?
First stop was Jae On, a Thai restaurant where we sampled Tom Zaab, a spicey vegetable soup, washed down with Larbe chicken salad and, to my complete surprise, the next eatery, Ann Guay Tiew Kua Gai noodle restaurant, was Michelin recommended, even though the kitchen was outdoors and probably broke every UK health and safety rule going!
The special dish there, costing just over £1, was chicken in stir fried noodles.
Over the evening we waddled our way across Bangkok like two prized-pigs, with a brief food break in the wonderfully frenetic flower market.
And, as if we needed culinary protection from Buddha himself, we paid a short visit to a temple and the stunning Grand Palace, which is like a beehive during the day but wonderfully calm at night. “Not many tourists even know it opens at this time,” confided our guide. An absolute bonus.
After at least four hours of great conversation with our amiable host, more food than you would see at a Royal banquet, a palace, a temple and a brief visit to Bangkok’s legendary Red-Light District on Khaosan Road, we were delivered back to our hotel, where the concierge ferried the two of us to our room on a suitcase trolley!
But, whilst I may sometimes be inclined to hyperbole, I can honestly say this was a sumptuous evening and great fun.
Less than six hours later the phone rang in our room at the Amari Watergate Hotel where, thankfully, the doors are very wide. It was time for an early breakfast ahead of our Bangkok By Bike tour. The prospect of more food was a traumatising one, but at least there would be a four-hour cycling experience in which to stave off the threat of pending obesity.
Cycling is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Bangkok, however, exploring the city using pedal power is an exciting way to experience Thailand’s capital, and Bangkok Biking promise to show you a side of the city rarely seen from the skytrain, tuk-tuk or a taxi.
Interestingly the half-day ‘Colors of Bangkok’ tour takes you to a part of the city where there is almost no traffic, just narrow streets and backyards, Bangkok as you have never imagined.
Witness huge villas, town houses and, in between shops, companies and small factories. We make a first stop at one of the many hidden ‘slum’ communities, home to thousands including dozens of youngsters who attend a kindergarten, so that mum and dad are able to work.
At the pier riders and bikes board a typical Thai longtail boat to cross the mighty Chao Phraya river and, at the other side, we are back in the ‘Jungle’ or the ‘Green Lung’ of Bangkok, the greenest area in the city. Cycling elevated pathways through lush vegetation and in the shade of coconut palms and banana trees, we enjoy lunch before heading back to manic traffic, viewing a Thai Boxing gym en route.
This is a first-class off-the-beaten-track experience, and you don’t need to be a cycling fanatic to join the excursion. The pace is relaxed and terrain largely flat with ample stops for photos, explanations and water breaks.
The Watergate Affair
Bangkok is a city steeped in wonderful history with unique neighbourhoods to discover and, amongst its nicknames, is ‘Venice of the East’ because of its intricate canal system created, across history, to support the city's commerce and transportation.
The network continues to play an important role in everyday life, and the area known as the Pratunam or ‘Watergate’, also home to our hotel, the Amari Watergate, is part of this important man-made eco system in the heart of one the city's most bustling commercial districts.
Entering the hotel guests are greeted by a sleek lobby awash with warm earthy tones and, at its heart, streams of light which cascade from an amazing lighting sculpture featuring 847 pieces of hand crafted Murano glass signifying the hotels street address 847 Petchburi Road.
The installation is reminiscent of falling rain and titled "Water of Life", inspired by the hotel’s location and the significance of water to both the city and wider Thai culture.
Ideal for both business and leisure travellers, Amari Watergate Bangkok offers 569 rooms ranging from deluxe to the presidential suite, all with panoramic views of the city skyline.
But a journey to Bangkok is not complete without sampling the vibrant cuisines the city has to offer, and taking street foods to new heights is the Amaya Food Gallery where, on Friday evenings, you can enjoy the seafood night …..
…….followed by an eighth floor Thai massage – one of the best I have ever had – at the Breeze Spa where a diminutive Thai lady pulled me in every conceivable direction, and sent me back to my room in a state of relaxed delirium!
Thailand’s vibrant capital is a popular destination for travellers from all over the world. It combines colourful city life, rich history, friendly people, unparalleled shopping opportunities and, for the uninitiated, it may well start a Watergate Affair with a much happier ending!
QUICK TIPS / CONTACTS
Food Tour – www.bangkokfoodtours.com
Not suitable for vegetarians
Get yourself to the departure point
7+ delicious food & drink tastings
Experienced and friendly fully-licensed local tour guide
A chilled Thai beer or a non-alcoholic drink at secret bar location (great views)
Drop off service at the end of the tour (only hotels in Bangkok city centre. Check drop off area)
Bike Tour – www.thailandbiking.com
Cover your head (something that won’t blow off!). Bandana?
Wear mosquito spray
Suitable for most people. Nearly all flat cycling
Mainly quiet areas. Some short stretches of busy road.
To make the most of their Bangkok stay, guests can plan ahead using Destination Amari destination.amari.com/en/bangkok/ a guide to where to EAT, where to SHOP, where to GO and what to DO.
Or connect with the Amari Host who are on hand to guide guests with any questions and insider tips for the best ways to discover Bangkok.
One Bike In Bangkok!, 28th April 2018, 11:20 AM