For a lot of people Bangkok is not a walking city. In fact a lot of locals are shocked if you say you are going to walk for 15 minutes. When I first moved to Bangkok I told the estate agent I wanted an apartment 15 minutes walk from the Skytrain. It appeared this was an unusual request and I soon learnt how common it was to use a motorcycle taxi instead of walking. That’s said, there are a lot of locals who do love to explore Bangkok by foot or bicycle when the time is right and they are not rushing around.
At first perception Bangkok can come across as a dirty, noicey concrete jungle. Not a city that is great for walking! However, if you walk off the main streets you will soon discover diversity and hidden gems at every corner. In fact the only way to really explore a place is to get off the main roads and walk around. By doing so you can witness local life, the people, the buildings, the markets, the temples…..
Even in the built up areas of Sukhumvit, Silom and Sathorn, you will probably be surprised at what you discover if you venture 500m from the main road. The diversity can be huge with mansions in one street and relatively low living conditions around the corner. You can find street food vendors selling just 20m from the most expensive restaurants in the city. You can find mosques, temples and churches all within a few hundred meters of each other. You can find a local market hidden behind a supermarket – the old and new existing together. You may even find a hidden car free bicycle route connecting parks several kilometers apart!
The more a city is different from you home town the more there is to observe. As you walk you will see the random things that demonstrate the differences in culture. The spirit houses, the plant pots, the use of recycled bottles, the food vendors….. So it’s time to slow down and observe the differences.
Thailand is known as the “Land of Smiles”, and walking around the city allows you to slow down for long enough to see these smiles, and we are not talking about the smiles the hotel staff give you, but the smiles of everyday locals as you cross paths.
Walking is a great way to explore this diversity and way of life. Of course it can be hot but if you are a little acclimatized and avoid the heat of the midday sun then it helps.
Bangkok is developing, and in some ways for the good and in some ways there is a risk that the diversity in each area will change as the old buildings, business, markets get replaced by condos, malls, offices and new buildings. Now is a perfect time to explore.
For the more adventurous of traveler, possibly the best thing to do is just walk and get lost. Surprises will be in store for you. For the less adventurous traveler or someone who values the insight a guide can provide then one of our walking tours wil open up your eyes.
So to sum up we will adapt the chorus of a famous song by Nancy Sinatra (daughter of Frank Sinatra)
Bangkok you’re made for walkin’
And that’s just what we’ll do
One of these days our guests are gonna walk all over you
(unfortunately we are not skilled enough to fit the rest of the song to make it all about walking in Bangkok. We wil stick to running tours rather than song writing)