Why you should explore congested Bangkok by bike and boat

Thailand’s president recently announced plans to move the country’s capital away from Bangkok, citing traffic congestion. But look a little closer and it’s actually one of the easiest cities to navigate, says Tamara Hinson

Thursday 27 February 2020 10:49 GMT
See more of Bangkok by bike
See more of Bangkok by bike

Fifteen years ago I flew to Bangkok to write about its nightlife. It was my first visit and, unaware that Bangkok’s roads are some of the most congested in the world, I decided to use taxis to travel between the bars I had to visit. The low point came during rush hour, when my taxi crawled 2km in 90 minutes. I vowed to rely only on alternative modes of transport from then on.

If only more people took the same approach. In 2019, Thailand’s prime minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, revealed plans to relocate the country’s capital, blaming traffic problems. The irony is that, since shunning Bangkok’s taxis, I’ve realised it’s one of the easiest cities to navigate – a place that hums with the rattle of moto-taxis and tuk-tuks, and the chug of water ferries criss-crossing the Chao Phraya river as wooden long-tail boats splutter along the canals that wind from Bangkok’s centre to its outskirts.

And there’s a reason I’ll always base myself at the beautiful Anantara Riverside hotel, namely the complimentary shuttle-boat service that whisks me across the Chao Phraya to the Saphan Taksin BTS Skytrain station. Dozens of hotels operate similar shuttle services, and the drop-off point is served by various express-boat services, which transport me around Bangkok for about 45p per journey.

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