Bangkok’s tropical heat doesn’t lend itself to excessive exertion, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors if you are prepared to stay hydrated and focus your activities in the cooler early morning or evening hours where possible. There are gyms aplenty if you want to get your exercise indoors.
1. Cycling tours
Spice Roads Tours organises cycling tours of little visited parts of the city, mostly on the Thonburi side of the river. Ride along narrow paths through fields and alongside khlongs, visiting markets, temples and small communities. As Bangkok is determinedly flat, cycling is not hard.
2. Lumpini Park
Bangkok’s biggest green space is Lumpini Park. In early morning it bursts with joggers, walkers, tai chi exponents and people practising ballroom dancing. You can pedal a ‘swan boat’ around the lake, but an encounter with one of its huge monitor lizards will really get the heart started.
3. Koh Kret
Koh Kret island in the Chao Phraya is busy only on weekends when its market is operating, but even then the island’s one main path is little visited. Rent a bike or simply walk through a lovely rural setting. A walking circuit will take about two hours.
4. History walk
Chinatown is one of Bangkok’s most fascinating districts, and perfect for a walking tour. Begin at Wat Traimit, with its giant pure gold Buddha statue, and then disappear into the alleys of the Chinese district. Don’t miss Sampeang Lane market, Thieves Market or Wat Mangkol Kamalawat.
Anyone travelling on the Silom Skytrain will see the golf course at Ratchadamri, but it is for well-heeled members only. The nearest course to central Bangkok for visitors is Thana City, close to Suvarnabhumi Airport. There are others within an hour of the city, including championship courses.
6. Boxing lessons
Muay Thai is an essential part of Thai society, as much about training the mind as it is about training the body. There are fight nights at Lumpini and Rajadamnern stadiums twice weekly, but visitors can learn the art in Bangkok, notably at Fighting Spirit Gym, which offers individual training.
7. Chatuchak Park
Next to the famous Chatuchak Market, this park is one of Bangkok's biggest green spaces, and great for cycling, walking or running. There is even an outdoor 'gym' – although that title probably overstates its quality. And if it's the weekend, get your exercise at the sprawling market instead. You will sweat.
8. Bang Krachao
This little piece of countryside on the 'other' bank of the river a little south of central Bangkok is a revelation. You can rent a bicycle for a few dollars for the day and pedal about on elevated concrete walkways, and on weekends explore a non-touristy floating market.
9. Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World
Dive with the sharks or don a futuristic diving helmet and walk through an underwater tunnel at this centrally located aquarium in Siam Paragon shopping centre. Shark diving, which includes tuition if you are not a qualified PADI diver, has to be booked three days in advance.
10. Flow House Bangkok
The beach – sort of – comes to Bangkok at Flow House of Sukhumvit Road, which features a wave-riding simulator for surfing and bodyboarding. The California-beachy vibe is accented with a bar serving cocktails and burgers. There's table tennis, pool and darts for the more sedentary.