Apr 16 2013
It’s always lovely to find a good, friendly independent coffee shop after you’ve been trudging around in the heat of Bangkok. Whether you’ve been exploring the Grand Palace or Sanam Luang, Cafe Velodome offers just such respite in the form of a lovely air-conditioned space with park views, delicious cake and a lengthy coffee menu. But more than that, Cafe Velodome also offers bikes, books on bikes, advice on bikes and a really welcoming biking community. [Editor's note: Readers, the writer of this piece cycled from Bangkok to Singapore -- so she knows bikes.]
Owner Nonlany Ung is a huge driving force behind the biking community in Bangkok; she’s pushing the government for more bike lanes and paths and more awareness for the growing cyclist community in the city.
Nonlany is so passionate about biking that the cafe offers bikes and helmets to rent for free — bring your passport along if you fancy a ride– as well as a library of books on the subject and even free bike tours. The cafe is based in a beautiful part of Bangkok, near the river, the Grand Palace and lots of little sois hiding markets, Muay Thai training tents, tiny local shops and restaurants and old architecture, which Nonlany will point out.
The free tours are held almost entirely along tiny streets and paths, with the aim of promoting cycling in Bangkok and helping people get over their fear of biking on the road. The tours vary in length and time, so clear your schedule if you want to join. We’ve known of five-kilometre trips to last more than two hours, due to restaurant stops, photo ops and feeding the river fish, which is all very beautiful unless you’re on a tight schedule.
The cafe understandably attracts a largely cyclist crowd who are welcoming and encouraging when it comes to getting new people involved in the movement. But even if you’ve just come for the air-con and a slice of carrot cake (79 baht), you won’t be disappointed. The coffee is cheap and good, the service friendly and the location to die for. It’s hard to think of a more pleasant spot to while away an afternoon.
The bike trips are usually held early on the weekends, but if you’re on Facebook, you can check their page for more details.
Sanam Luang, Thammasat University, Thaprachan Campus
T: (02) 623 6340
Open daily 08:00-20:00
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