From skyscrapers and sky bars that reach up to the heavens, to shopping centres that go on and on, Bangkok’s status as a concrete jungle is well known – but lesser known is the real jungle that’s hidden here. Nestled inside this sprawling city is the enclave of Bang Krachao. Known as Bangkok’s green lung due to its green spaces and geographical shape, it’s a calming natural space in one of the world’s more chaotic cities – and here’s what you can expect from it.
Many visitors to Bangkok assume that Lumphini Park is the best green space they’ll find in the city, but Bang Krachao trumps it, hands down. Getting there is easy; you’ll need to cross the river near to Wat Khlong Toey Nok temple, doing so in a wooden longtail boat that should only set you back 10 baht. Shortly after arriving at Bang Krachao, it’s hard to believe this is Bangkok at all – there are no skyscrapers or tall building of any sort, no factories or signs of industry and the din of traffic melts away, what was a short boat journey feels almost like a portal to another world. Locals will use motorbikes on the island, but bicycles are more than fine for exploring, and can be rented from near the pier for only 100 baht a day.
Whilst it technically isn’t an island, exploring Bang Krachao almost feels like visiting an island that time forgot. For starters, it looks like a typical rural Thai village, with rustic wooden houses sitting amongst the palm trees and jungle, rather than garish condominiums.
Elevated paths take you above the ground and provide a greater sense of immersion and better views, but care must be taken not to cycle off the edge whilst lost in the splendour of your surroundings. There are also typical Thai temples to take in whilst you’re there.
No visit to Bang Krachao is complete without taking in Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park and Botanical Gardens. There’s an abundance of natural features to enjoy here, from pretty flowers to scenic water features such as ponds and lakes, that provide a taste of what one could expect from Thailand’s amazing national parks. Such an environment leads to a wealth of local wildlife too, with fish food available that will lead to a frenzy in the water should you decide to feed them. Its quaint walkways are perfect for romantic souls, and the various viewpoints provide a pretty place to recover from all that cycling.
The presence of locals, Thai day trippers and foreign tourists means that should you somehow get bored of the natural beauty of Bang Krachao, there are still things to keep you entertained. There are a scattering of restaurants located in the area, as well as a floating market. Bang Nam Pheung floating market comes with a sense of authenticity and “real” Thailand that can be lacking at similar places in Bangkok. It is also fairly priced, with no need to pay the “farang” premium. Food is prepared freshly and methodically in front of you – in the way it has been done for decades – and the low prices mean you can afford to sample a few dishes and find a new favourite. Away from food, there are souvenirs and trinkets available to buy, which make for thoughtful gifts and reminders of the time you spent in “the other” Bangkok.