Bamboo biking: A unique and eco-friendly way to see Intramuros, Manila

I have walked around the walled city of Intramuros many times, and the historical forts and buildings as well as the colorful ancestral houses have always been charming to me. Intramuros is an attraction I also recommend to foreigners who are visiting Manila for the first time.

Recently, I was given the chance to see Intramuros another way – riding a bamboo bike on a guided tour. Bambike is a social enterprise that builds bamboo bikes with fair-trade labor (employees are paid fairly) and sustainable building (bamboo is a great eco-friendly material!). They also take guests on bamboo bike tours around Intramuros and Bonifacio Global City.

Bambike, happy biker, Intramuros, Manila, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour.JPG

First time to tour Intramuros on a bamboo bike!

Bambike parked bikes, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour, Intramuros, Manila.JPG

Some of the bamboo bikes outside Bambike’s headquarters at Plaza San Luis Complex

The enterprise was founded by Filipino-American Bryan McClelland, who worked on his master’s thesis on sustainable development for impoverished communities in the Philippines. He partnered with Gawad Kalinga, a community organization focused on poverty alleviation, and hired his bamboo bike builders through the organization’s community development program.  Prior to working with Bambike, his employees were working in menial, low-paying jobs. (If you want to know more about Bryan and his bamboo building and testing experience, see this article.)

Bambike’s bamboo bikes are as strong as steel bikes (yes, they’ve tested it!) yet so lightweight and easy to bike. Each bike takes 50 man hours to build. Bambike has also won an award for its design at the Katha Awards at Manila FAME.

I could feel the ease and lightness of the bamboo bike when I tried riding it.

Bambike biking, Intramuros, Manila, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour.JPG

Love the lightweight feel of the bike! Photo by Jherson Jaya

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Bambike bamboo bike up close. The frame is made entirely of bamboo.

We went on the 2 hour and 30-minute tour of Intramuros (P1,200) which took us to nine attractions around the walled city. Our group was assigned a tour guide (which they call a Bambassador). Russell Leyco was already a seasoned Intramuros tour guide before he joined Bambike, and he support’s the organization’s advocacy.

P2030212.JPG

Our guide, Bambassador Russell Leyco, calling for guests to start the tour

Our safety was secured as there was Russell riding out front, and  a “sweeper” at the back (much like in mountain climbing) to ensure that no one is left behind. They also direct vehicles sometimes to ensure that we safely cross the busy roads.

During the tour, I was happily surprised as I found us visiting spots in Intramuros I haven’t been to yet, like Puerta Real Gardens. It was also nice revisiting classic Intramuros spots like Fort Santiago (Jose Rizal’s prison) and Manila Cathedral.

Bambike guide explaining, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour, Intramuros, Manila.JPG

At Galleria de los Presidentes, our first stop. The place literally means “Gallery of Presidents,” and indeed there was metal art of past Philippine presidents here.

Bambike, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour, Intramuros, Manila.JPG

Listening to Russell on our first stop

cannon, Bambike biking, Intramuros, Manila, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour.JPG

First time to go to this walled area with a Japanese cannon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Russell, before heading inside to the Japanese cannon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the way to Puerta Real

Bambike,  guardia civil, guard, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour, Intramuros, Manila.JPG

Welcoming guard dressed in the Spanish guardia civil uniform at Puerta Real

Bambike, going down fort, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour, Intramuros, Manila.JPG

The fort protecting Puerta Real, Revellin de Real De Bagumbayan

Bambike, fort, view of golf course, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour, Intramuros, Manila.JPG

Up at the fort is a view of a golf course. This is my first time to see the Intramuros golf course from this perspective.

Bambike, guided tour, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour, Intramuros, Manila.JPG

Outside Puerta del Parian. It was closed during our visit, though, so we couldn’t go inside. 

Bambike, guide explaining, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour, Intramuros, Manila.JPG

Russell sharing some trivia about Puerta del Parian. This is one of the earliest entrances to Intramuros.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Biking along one of Intramuros’ historical buildings

Bambike, ruins, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour, Intramuros, Manila.JPG

Stopping by the Aduana ruins, which was one the Customs House and then the Central Bank 

Manila Cathedral, bamboo bike, Bambike eco tours, eco-friendly tour.JPG

Stopping by Manila Cathedral, one of the classic Intramuros tour spots

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Biking alongside Intramuros’ ubiquitous calesa

Fort Santiago entrance, ruins, Bambike bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour, Intramuros, Manila.JPG

We parked our bikes to walk around Fort Santiago.

Fort Santiago, ruins, bamboo bike tours, Bambike, Intramuros, Manila.JPG

Love the greenery around

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And the pigeons!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are also “huggable” trees like this!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My first time to see this life-sized figure of Rizal in Fort Santiago. I haven’t been to this fort in a long time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We went outside the fort to see Pasig River, where we stayed to rest for a while.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Heading back to the Plaza San Luis Complex, we made a quick stop to San Agustin Church.

Bambike, couple, San Agustin Church, bamboo bike tour, eco-friendly tour, Intramuros, Manila.JPG

Lovers outside San Agustin Church! San Agustin Church is a famous wedding venue.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We headed back to the Bambike headquarters, where they offered local craft beer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We stayed at Bambar a bit to rest and chat…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

…and bought some snow cones to cool off!

The Bambike ecotour was a fun tour that helped me see Intramuros with fresh eyes. It is definitely worth trying, both for Intramuros first-timers and old-timers!

Try it for yourself. The rates are reasonable too!

Bambike Ecotours details:

Tours start at P600, which is the 1-hour express Intramuros tour.

Other tours are:
Intramuros experience tour – P1, 200, 2 1/2 hours (what we experienced. It is their most comprehensive Intramuros tour)
Intramuros sunset tour – P1,200, 1 1/2 hour, with the sunset at Bayleaf Hotel’s roof deck. Perfect for summer
Intramuros night edition –  P1,200, 1 1/2 hour. Even better for summer.
Filipino experience tour – P600, 1 1/2 hour. The tour is done in Filipino.

There is also a tour outside Intramuros, particularly the BGC Mural Art Tour in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig (P1,200, 1 1/2 hour)

If you want to ride the bike on your own, you can rent one for P100/hour.

Bambike contact details:

Website: https://www.bambike.com
E-mail address: info@choosesocial.ph
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/choosesocial.ph 
Address: Bambike HQ, Plaza San Luis Complex, Real Street corner General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s