My love affair with cycling started when I was young. So in love with it, that I always make sure to get around by bicycle during vacation. Taiwan, Netherlands, Nepal, Myanmar, Laos, and many more. Cycling is considerably an easy sport to me – there is no need to be super fit. All is required is to be persistent and continue pedaling, pedaling and pedaling. With bicycle, you get to do thing at your pace, stop and smell the roses easily, and you need to focus just enough to stay safe (unlike driving).
That brought me to the impressive 23.5km bicycle track that loops around the Suvarnabhumi Airport. Since 2018, it has been renamed as “Happy and Healthy Bike Lane” (HHBL), matching its official name of ‘Charoensuk Mongkholsuk’ (เจริญสุขมงคลจิต). Even though there is a change of name, I (and many others) still fondly refer to it as Sky Lane – sounds cooler too! The park has gone a long way from their first opening in March 2014, and it’s seems to me that it’s a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program done right – so kudos to AOT and SCB for the great efforts!
The far-flung location is a bummer. HHBL is located at the other end from where I stay, and it’s without direct public transport access. The closest Airport Rail Link (ARL) stop is Lat Krabang, and taxi is 10-15 minutes away to HHBL. From Makkasan station, I caught the ARL to Hua Mak for a friend to pick me up, 8 minutes ride (20 baht). From Hua Mak station, it’s around 20 minutes away by car. In the car, my friend told me horror story of his first-timer friends not able to finish the whole 23.5 km track and I was apprehensive even before I get started.
For first-timer, registration is required for the “SNAP Bands” with either ID card (for Thai citizens) or passport (for non-Thai). No access without the SNAP band. The SNAP bands are embedded with GPS technology showing cyclists’ location in case of accident – amazing! It’s also used for payment – a bit annoying as you can’t buy anything without credit stored on the snap band, even though some places doe accept QR-payment.
Most cyclist come with their own bicycles, and only that few rented bicycles. For those without own bike, there is bike rental service – payment is either via Snap e-wallet or QR-payment. We paid 400 baht (max 4 hours) for a hybrid bike, and that’s the cheapest. There are also other bicycle types: aluminum road bike 700 baht and carbon road bike 900 baht. Curious about the differences, it seems that carbon road bike (carbon frames) are usually a bit lighter than aluminum road bike (aluminum frames) – and a lighter bike is easier to handle. You need to provide your height and the bicycle frame given will be according to your height. The rental also includes helmet and rear light. The bicycle comes with “bottle cage” – please bring your own water bottle.
If your bag is bigger than A4 size, it’s possible to leave your bag at the bicycle rental office.
The track is a one-way track – there’s no turning back! It is divided into a purple lane for fast riders and emergency vehicles (yes, they’ll pick you up if you give up half-way) and a blue lane for more leisurely cyclists.
There are signs for every 250 meters, and that gave me strength to cycle on. And rest areas every 5km, with clean toilet.
The first 5km was hell. I came across as a cyclist rookie, for not knowing/forgetting to shift the gears – I was cycling on gear 1 (low gear) throughout the first 5km, imagine it! My friend cycled ahead, and I lost sight of him in the first 1km or so. Other cyclists kept on overtaking me, and I was stick to my stomach that I would never be able to complete the whole 23.5 km loop! I knew that I am slow, but not THAT slow, I thought.
At the first rest stop, my friend pointed out that I was on low gear (oops). He then showed me how to change gears and phew, it was effortless from 5km onwards until the last 5km or so. There are vending machines at rest stops; please ensure you have enough water – my 600 ml bottle served me just fine.
Both my friend and I had bike saddle pain – hint: wear padded bike short and do come prepared with sunblock (for daytime), face towel, sunglasses and water bottle and you’ll be good to go for a fun ride. Do note that when the air quality is poor, bike riding is not allowed at HHBL.
Happy & Healthy Bike Lane สนามลู่ปั่นจักรยานเจริญสุขมงคลจิต
999/1 Moo 1 Survarnabhumi 4 Road
Nongprue Bang Phli District
Samut Prakan 10540, Thailand
Tel: Rental & Services – 080-284-7787
Nearest ARL station: Lat Krabang
Business Hour: Mon-Sun 6.00am-7.30pm