A few weeks ago, I posted about three European cities that were fab for cycling trips. I’d been prompted by the advent of the ‘Uber for bikes’. This is a service where you can hire, locate and pick up a bike on your smartphone, and there are a range of different apps available, depending on your location. It’s bound to make bikes more easy for travellers to access. The apps are becoming increasingly popular in Asia too, judging by this article in the Guardian. One company alone has placed more than 100,000 hire bikes in each of the cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
I haven’t visited Asia since I was seven years old, and I’m now hankering after a trip to the continent. Here are my three top picks for cities that I’d like to visit…on a bike.
(Disclaimer: this is a wishlist. I haven’t been to any of these places…yet. My friend Jenny has written about the place extensively on her blog Travelynn Family, though, so do head on over if you’d like some first-hand family travel tales!)
When I was a student, I missed out on the opportunity to teach English in China. That’s something I’d still like to do (post-retirement, maybe?) but in the meantime, Shanghai is on my city cycling hit-list. The place has an exotic history, marked by colossal sky-scrapers and art deco buildings, as well as top-notch cuisine, with a Michelin guide for the city introduced this year.
This most populous city in the world caters well for its cyclists, with the Forever Bike Rental Scheme. Visitors will find banks of the iconic orange bicycles available for public hire around the city. I’m told that the local tourist office can help with arranging a hire card, and then travellers are free to pedal past weeping willows on the tranquil Pudong waterways; cruise along the leafy backstreets of the French concession, with a refreshment stop at one of the local cafés; or sail past the museums and art galleries dotted along the Huangpu waterfront.
The ‘little red dot’ city state is a heady mixture of jungle, skyscrapers and luxury condos. Travellers can roam between Chinatown, Litle India and Geylang, taking their pick of the different Asian cultures and cuisines.
Although it’s place of car-lovers, for the last few years, Singapore’s government has been actively promoting cycling as a transport option. Construction work has just begun on the first 60km of a 150km continuous green trail around the city. And by 2019, Ang Mo Kio will have been transformed into a model cycling and walking town, with cars giving way to cyclists, Dutch-style. In the meantime, the East Coast Park takes cyclists past the coast, and Marina Bay offers a stunning skyscape.
The former Imperial capital of Japan has to be the ultimate city in Asia for cycling. Everyone seems to commute by bike, from staid businessmen to flamboyant salespeople, as well as families on the school run. The city is mainly flat, with orderly traffic.
Kyoto’s romance as a destination is unquestionable: it has over 1,000 Buddhist temples, scores of cherry-blossom trees and centuries-old tearooms. This romance is reflected in its popular cycle routes. Visitors can ride along the canalside Path of Philosopy, through bamboo forest or past the Kyoto Botanical Gardens, with its fragrant rose, cherry and herb gardens. If I were forced to pick one destination for cycling in Asia, this would be it.
What is your favourite city for cycling in Asia?
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For more on Asia, read our post on five reasons to go on a family holiday to Cambodia
All images by Pixabay.