Bangkok is known for many things – green space is not one of them. Sure, there are parks which are nice, but you can’t easily escape the skyscrapers, smog and general bustle of the city. Bang Krachao is the answer to the urban chaos.
Most posts I’ve read recommend the tempting but drastic option of binning off Bangkok altogether and heading in search of Khao Yai, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi or similar ‘nearby’ destinations. Whilst these are definitely places to visit, I’m not sure they’re exactly doorstep material; more akin to looking for green space in London by driving to Snowdonia.
Thankfully, Bangkok has a little known gem that will have you surrounded by lush greenery, few vehicles, PUPPIES!, and general nature-based goodness just 30 minutes from downtown BKK.
Getting to Bang Krachao/Kachao is an easy enough process (detailed directions at the end of the post). In simple terms: 1) Hop on the MRT to Khlong Toei 2) Get a 5min taxi to Khlong Toei Port and follow the yellow sign that says ‘Bangkrachao’ 3) Get in the (free) motorised floating bookcase and pray it’s watertight 4) Wait 60 seconds until you’re transported to a completely different Thailand directly across the river.
The ‘boat’ drops you off at a small pier which conveniently doubles as a bike rental shop. You don’t need bikes to get around Bang Krachao, but they do help see the whole place. Unlike in central Bangkok where only a maniac would cycle, the small roads around the area are almost completely free of cars – bikes and scooters are the order of the day. 2 bikes in bad but working order, bottles of water and the single worst map I’ve ever seen set us back 160 baht (£4) and my driving license as a deposit, with free boat travel both ways thrown in. You don’t get locks with the bikes; it’s not that kind of vibe in Bang Krachao and they aren’t those kind of bikes. Just drop them wherever as you explore and they’ll be waiting when you’re done.
If cycling’s not for you, just walk – you won’t be able to get to the market, but you can get to the main nature park in 15 minutes or so and this would be a great trip in itself.
Where to go
And with that, it’s off into the wilderness! Bang Krachao is a genuinely stark contrast to the city (and it’s technically not in it – it is the northerly point of Samut Prakan province). Small but well-made and cycle friendly roads are flanked by scattered houses, many on stilts, dense greenery and waterlogged groves of coconut trees. There’s very little noise and the smell is of forest as opposed to, y’know, Bangkok. There are also very few people around in general, and we’re certainly off the tourist map at this point.
A short ride brings you to rather grand entrance to Sri Nakhon Khuan Khan Park, a nature reserve with a cycling trail.
It’s decidedly beautiful and very quiet. There are walkways out onto lakes where you can spot monitor lizards or feed the frighteningly large fish that wallow in the water. There’s also a tower which takes you above the treeline for birdwatching and general views. It takes around 30 minutes to cycle around the park.
we dumped the bikes and had a stroll afterwards, meeting some furry friends along the way:
Typically, the first serious rain we’ve seen in Bangkok in three weeks struck when we were in the park. So we stopped in for coffee and shelter at Secrets Coffee, just by the park entrance. Come for the coffee, stay for the mantra. Also, better coffee in Bangkok can be found here.
Food and drink
Thankfully the storm was short lived and we headed off in search of food in Bang Krachao – and its famous food market. Largely following the ‘main’ road eventually led us to the floating market after a 15 minute ride (if using Google Maps, ‘Aroma Home Bangnamphueng’ is a good target to find the market) which apparently runs Saturday and Sunday. This is a very, very local setup but the market is extensive both in terms of food and general produce. Also goldfish and BB guns, because why not.
For lunch, we adopted the tried and tested approach of sitting down where there were already lots of people – they can’t poison us all right? This approach and some basic Thai (Moo, Sen Yai, Nam = Pork, flat noodles, soup) landed us with delicious bowls of noodle soup, with fresh basil, beansprouts and condiments on the table. They cost 25 baht (£0.60) each. We then splashed out on some little fried dessert goodies. 20 baht got us a box of freshly cooked, griddled coconut and banana pancakes, which were heavenly.
On a full stomach we hopped back on the bikes and looped back around the island on the other side, passing through a couple of small villages. It takes about half an hour to get back to the starting point this way; if you were pushed for time you could always go back the way you came in.
After another mooch around the nature park, we dropped our steeds back at the pier, hopped on the boat, and in the blink of an eye it’s back to Khlong Toei and the chaos of the city. It really is that quick to get to Bang Krachao – this is the entire boat trip back:
All in all, a great day out with minimal effort, cost or time taken. If you’re looking for an easy outdoor trip in Bangkok, Bang Krachao is for you!
- Take the MRT to Khlong Toei station and use Exit 1
- Get to Khlong Toei Pier – several options here:
- Motorbike taxi from right outside the station
- Hail a cab off the main road – we found this tricky
- Use Grab if you have data – we waited a bit and paid 80 baht but no problem with directions or getting the car!
Directions to Bang Krachao
- Take the MRT to Khlong Toei (easy change from Sala Daeng BTS)
- Take a taxi or motorbike taxi to Khlong Toei pier – Grab is a good app and is Bangkok’s answer to Uber
- The pier is right next to Wat Khlong Toei temple if the driver doesn’t know it, or see this map:
4. At the port, there is a big blue security-restricted zone where all the lorries and freight goes. On the right of this is the entrance to Wat Khlong Toei temple. In between is a small road with a gate. A small yellow sign says ‘Bangkachao’ – follow this to the boats! Ask anyone around and they should be able to help if you get stuck.
- Google is your friend. I’d highly recommend having a Thai sim card so you can track where you are accurately with Google Maps (you can get a SIM with 4G data for less than £10 at the airport or anywhere ins Bangkok – it’s generally useful)
- Bring suncream, plenty of water and make sure to spritz with bug spray before you leave!
- Go at the weekend so you can get to the market. We went on a Saturday and it wasn’t crowded at all.