Tokyobike is a bicycle brand from Tokyo, widely favored by creative professionals throughout Japan as well as their counterparts in Berlin, London, Milan, Melbourne and New York. One and a half years ago, when Thanaphong “Nueng” Baphotchit and his business partners were looking for a location to open Tokyobike’s first official retail store in Thailand, Northern Bangkok wasn’t their first choice, but it soon became obvious it was the best one.
“We were looking at different locations, from Hua Lamphong to Silom and Thonglor—places we were more familiar with—and we finally realized that even though those places are bustling with urban energy, Ari stands out for its community,” Nueng recalls. “The atmosphere here is of a small, friendly, livable village. There are hip events and new happenings—not as many or as flashy as those in Thonglor, but just enough to keep the neighborhood lively.”
From Chatuchak to Ari, this is a rather walkable part of Bangkok, thanks to its leafy streets and quiet residential districts. But distances can be that little bit too long for a stroll. “You can walk around Ari but you have to acknowledge that Ari is not like Shimokitazawa [a neighborhood in west Tokyo, Japan] where shops are set next to each other,” says Neung. “Here, you might have to pass many private residences between each shop or restaurant. So to avoid breaking a sweat people cycle instead of walk. As a result, there’s a large community of cyclists here, from security guards and housemaids to expats and executives.”
For Nueng, Tokyobike’s strength is its ability to cater to that community as a whole—not just those who can afford their bicycles, which start from B23,000. “People here come to see us to get things fixed up. Not all of them ride Tokyobike bicycles and we love that,” says Neung. “We wish to simply be a community bike shop where people come to us for anything bicycle-related.”
A long-time biker himself, Nueng discovered Phahonyothin is full of good surprises for cyclists. “The area is made up of various small lanes that really reward exploration. For example, if you ride further to the north part of Ari like Phahonyothin Soi 9 and Soi 11, there are also small, cute shops and cafes to check out,” he says. In fact, he and his business partners are looking to provide a bike rental service to give visitors an alternative option when in the area. “Let’s imagine you have arrived at Casa Lapin and you want to continue on to Pladib, that’s a sweaty walk, but a very comfortable ride.”
Beyond Ari, all of Northern Bangkok’s bicycle scene is booming, with a growing number of bike shops in neighborhoods from Ladprao to Sutthisan. Add to that the quiet residential streets around Chatuchak, Suan Rot Fai’s fantastic bicycle trails, plus a growing community of cyclists, and you’ve got an entire district embracing a greener, more relaxed means of transportation.
Tokyobike. 20 Soi Ari 2, Phahonyothin Soi 7, Semsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok, 0-2117-1016. Open Tue-Sun 11am-8pm.
3 Good Reasons to Ride your Bike around Ari and Pahonyothin
1. The friendly biking trails
This is a residential district, hence the many narrow leafy lanes to ride along. But for some serious biking, head out to nearby Chatuchak Park and Vachirabenchatat Park (Suan Rod Fai) which offer even better options: car-free bike lanes run alongside sprawling lawns, tropical gardens and large ponds.
2. Cool bike cafes
Tokyobike is home to slow-drip coffee experts La Liart Coffee (Soi Ari 2, 089-142-8203, 081-556-9745. Open daily 10am-6:30pm), which is run by two young creative professionals. The neighborhood has several more bike-friendly venues worth checking out. Park your wheels in front of petite burger joint Salt Smoke (Ari Soi 1, 02-619-6886), Porcupine Cafe (Phahonyothin Soi 7, 086-889-9210). Or ride on over to the The Artwins (Phahonyothin Soi 9, 092-563-6542), a cute cafe run doing comforting fusion dishes. Equally cool, PH1b (Phahonyothin Soi 11, 088-222-6700) sees locals pop open their laptops and enjoy a solid cup of Joe in a relaxing atmosphere.
3. Bicycle joints
Apart from Tokyobike, velo-lovers should check out JJ Green Market, an open-air bazaar next to Suan Rod Fai. On Thursday-Sunday nights, there is a flea market where you can search for bicycle parts and gadgets (both brand new and secondhand) displayed alongside clothes, plants and vintage collectibles.
Brought to you by Sansiri. Find out more about living in Chatuchak at thelinebkk.com