Bangkok is a bustling metropolis known for its vibrant energy, never-ending traffic, and towering skyscrapers. It is certainly not the first place that comes to mind when you think of green spaces and tranquillity.
However, hidden amidst the urban chaos lies a hidden gem. Bang Krachao, often referred to as Bangkok’s Green Lung, is a lush oasis that offers a welcome breath of fresh air in the heart of the city.
Overview of Bang Krachao
Bang Krachao is an artificial island formed by a bend in the Chao Phraya River. Tucked away in the Phra Pradaeng district, this green haven provides a unique escape from the urban jungle just across the river.
This predominantly agricultural region spans 16 square kilometers, encompassing mangrove forests, quaint homesteads, and precarious elevated pathways situated above meandering canals. Within this picturesque landscape, you will discover a floating market, 250-year-old Buddhist temple, a beautiful park, and an eco-resort offering tree-house-style accommodation.
How to Get There
Boat from Klong Toei
The most popular means of reaching Bang Krachao is by taking a small boat from the Klong Toei Pier. Accessible by the MRT to Klong Toei station, you can either embark on a half-hour walk to the pier or opt for a quick 10-minute taxi, Grab, or tuktuk ride.
The small boats operate frequently, ensuring a wait time of no more than 15 minutes. The boat costs 10 Baht.
Boat from Bang Na
While not as well-known as the Klong Toei route, this pier might be preferable if you find yourself staying farther down the BTS line on the east side of Bangkok. Additionally, it is the closest pier to the Bangkok Tree House Hotel and the floating market on Bang Krachao (see further down the page for more information on both).
To reach it, take the BTS to Bang Na station, followed by either a half-hour walk or a 10-minute taxi, Grab, or tuktuk ride to the pier. Boats from this location are reported to be slightly cheaper at 6 Baht each way.
Driving to Bang Krachao
For those with access to a car, driving to Bang Krachao is an option. However, it entails navigating to the west side of Bang Krachao, which is a considerable distance. Personally, I wouldn't fancy the traffic. However, the crossing point is the Bhumibol Bridge, which you can then cross off your bucket list.
One of the best ways to explore Bang Krachao is by renting a bicycle. The island boasts a network of cycling paths that wind through lush landscapes, mangrove forests, and traditional Thai village life.
At Bang Krachao Pier, there's a bicycle rental shop where you can rent a bike for approximately 70 Baht per day.
If the heat of Bangkok becomes too intense for cycling, you also have the option of a motorbike taxi. The standard fare for a motorbike taxi to nearly any destination on Bang Krachao is 20 Baht. You'll be able to grab one pretty easily; just approach one of the guys in the orange vests.
Cycling provides an eco-friendly and leisurely way to soak in the serenity of the Green Lung. Check out the cycling route detailed on the map below.
What to Do on Bang Krachao
1. Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market
The name is a tad misleading, because this is what Thais refer to as a half floating market. That is, in contrast to the Damnoen Saduak or the Amphawa Floating Markets in Samut Songkhram, the market isn't situated directly on the water but instead constructed around the canals. Still, it actually makes it more accessible and easier to shop.
All the usual fare is on offer: traditional Thai dishes, handicrafts and souvenirs.
2. Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park and Botanical Garden
Encompassing a vast expanse of 111,000 square meters, Sri Nakhon Khuen Khan Park as one of the city's largest parks.
The park is a centerpiece of Bang Krachao, featuring expansive greenery, well-maintained gardens, and a diverse collection of plant species. The park boasts a massive lake, charming wooden bridges, a serene mangrove forest, and a bird-watching tower.
Sri Nakhon Khuen Khan Park is conveniently positioned near the pier of arrival from Klong Toei, and welcomes visitors free of charge. A cyclist's haven, the park prohibits cars, offering a delightful bike path and numerous wooden boardwalks for exploration.
3. Wat Bang Nam Phueng Nai
Wherever you go in Thailand, there is always a temple to see, and this one is quite a gem.
Constructed in 1907, Wat Bang Nam Phueng Nai was initially named ‘Wat Dusidaram.' The appellation underwent a change to ‘Wat Bang Namphueng' during the tenure of Phra Khru Wiboon Thammakut. The precise identity of the temple's creator remains unknown.
Wat Bang Nam Phueng Nai is distinguished by its rural Ubosot* adorned with modest decorations. In proximity to the ordination hall, visitors can explore a remarkable stupa spanning three floors. Upon reaching the summit, a panoramic view unfolds, encompassing the lush surrounding jungle and extending all the way to the towering skyscrapers of Bangkok.
The temple is located directly at one of the entrances to Bang Nam Phueng market.
* An “ubosot,” also spelled as “ubosoth” or “ubosatha,” is a term used in Thai Buddhism to refer to the main hall of a Buddhist temple or monastery. It is the consecrated and most sacred area where important religious ceremonies and rituals, including ordination ceremonies for monks, take place. The ubosot typically houses the main Buddha image and is considered the holiest part of the temple complex.
Where to Stay on Bang Krachao
The Bangkok Tree House
If you'd like to stay overnight, or base yourself in Bang Krachao for your visit to Bangkok, the Bangkok Tree House offers a unique eco-friendly accommodation experience. Nestled amidst the greenery, this boutique hotel provides a sustainable and peaceful retreat.
The hotel is a feature in of itself, and even if you're not staying in Bang Krachao, dropping in for a drink to see the innovative building is well worth your time.
Each smoke-free unit contains a bathroom with shower facilities on the first floor. The second floor houses a bedroom and a well-equipped workspace with a desktop computer, and to top things off, you can unwind and soak in scenic river views on the rooftop terrace.
Guests are given access to free bicycle rentals and enjoy unlimited ice cream throughout the day. Additionally, the hotel extends the convenience of complimentary rental cell phones with local numbers for the duration of your stay.
Bangkok Tree House is a 10-minute motorbike taxi ride away from Bang Namphueng Floating Market, a 15-minute drive to Central Bangna Shopping Complex and Bangna BTS Skytrain Station, and a 30-minute drive from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The Green Lung, in Summary
Bang Krachao stands as the last bastion of clean air in an overly populated, polluted, but amazingly fun and interesting city. The area maintains a commitment to preserving green spaces amid rapid urbanization.
Whether you're a nature lover, adventure seeker, or someone simply in need of a serene escape, Bangkok's Green Lung offers a perfect blend of biodiversity, outdoor activities, and cultural experiences, making it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Bangkok.