Bangkok can feel claustrophobic with its endless high-rises and congested traffic jams. Breathing in the constant smog doesn’t sound appealing either, even while the air quality in Bangkok has definitely improved as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. Still, escaping the city just for some fresh air and nature can be challenging in a busy schedule. If only there was a place close by where you could do just that… Oh yeah, that’s right, you did read the title already.
Just across the Chao Phraya River is an area comprised of 16 sq km of mangrove forests, a botanical garden, fish ponds, and a nature-lovers perfect hideaway — Bangkok’s Green Lung, Bang Krachao. This man-made island is the green heart of Bangkok and it’s visible from many central high-rises. It still remains relatively unknown to most travelers, making it a great destination for those who enjoy exploring those off-the-unbeaten-tracks.
Bang Krachao is an island, so let’s burst the bubble right away: do not expect those postcard-esque white sand beaches and coconut trees you might associate with Thailand. However, it is a unique and worthy destination in its own right.
How to get there
You can access Bang Krachao by boat from Silom, or by catching a long-tail boat from Klong Toei Pier.
Hiring a bike is the best way to enjoy the island, take a leisurely ride, and enjoy the serenity of the island — you’ll find it hard to believe you’re still inside Bangkok. You can find bike rental shops at the pier, costing around 80 baht for the full day.
The weather in Bangkok is always hot, so if you’re like me and didn’t receive the blessing of perfect genes for hot climates — expect to get sweaty. Remember to bring enough water along to keep yourself hydrated.
If you rather walk or cycling is just not your groove, you can always trust the local motorbike taxi. A standard rate to almost any destination on Bang Krachao is 20 baht per person.
Things to do on Bang Krachao
- Visit the Bang Krachao Floating Market.
The most popular destination on the island is the Floating Market, officially named the Bang Nam Peung. To be honest, the market is only half floating, but it’s still worthy of a visit.
The market itself is surprisingly big, and you can find a wide range of local foods and handcrafted goods. If you were worried where to grab those souvenirs head over. Just make sure it’s weekend and don’t oversleep, as the market is only open from early morning until 3 PM. The Floating Market is closed during weekdays.
- Go cycling in the Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park and Botanical Garden
The true green heart and oasis of Bangkok and highlight of the visit. This wetland area covers an extensive 111,000 square meters, making the park one of the largest in the city.
This area is well-suited for cycling, and the bike routes are paved with wooden bridges crossing the fish ponds. You can even venture into a jungle trail, where you can truly tune out from Bangkok’s busy life.
Be ready to spend most of your time in this area, it has the most sections to discover. The park has many good picnic spots, lookout points, and fish ponds — be sure to buy some fish food for 10 baht to feed them!
- Wander through Soi Petchueng 57 to Bua Beung Phatthana
Dwindle your way through the small streets back to Bang Krachao pier. Along the way, you’ll see the relaxed vibe Thai village life has to offer, with local farms, small boutique coffee shops, and smiling fishermen.
- Visit Bang Krachao’s Mon-influenced temples
No trip to Thailand would be complete without viewing the rich ancient Thai culture, and Bang Krachao isn’t an exception. Over here you can find Wat Bangnampheung Nork, a complex of Mon-influenced temples. Mon was a group from Burma that helped to spread Theravada Buddhism in Indochina. Look for these colossal temples near the ferry pier, they are decorated with faraway murals and provide a breathtaking sight.
Stay at Bang Krachao Tree House
The Bangkok Tree House Hotel is a jaw-droppingly gorgeous concept hotel. The property is set right by the Chao Prayar river and is decorated with tropical flowers and bamboo. It’s one of those places where you can just go enjoy the picturesque scenery and relax by a cup of herbal tea — even if you’re not willing to cough up their understandably hefty price of 3000-4000 baht per night.
The whole experience is definitely worthy of the price tag, the hotel is unique and you can’t find anything like it. They are proud to be carbon-neutral, breakfast and meals are made from organic ingredients, and naturally, the treehouses are constructed ecologically from local materials, such as bamboo. Each treehouse has an outdoor shower and large comfortable beds, while still providing enough privacy. The rooms offer a stunning view of the surrounding Bang Krachao island, creating a perfect little hideaway inside Bangkok.
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