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The artificial island of Ko Kret has been providing Bangkokians with an escape from the city for years now. It has recently become a popular destination for visitors too, as it is filled with unique attractions, a weekend market, and more. Here, everything you need to know about Ko Kret, the quieter side of Bangkok.
The island of Ko Kret is located about 20 kilometers north of downtown Bangkok. We use the term ‘island’ loosely, as it is actually the result of a canal being dug in 1722 to shorten the river route to Ayutthaya. It is found in the northern province of Nonthaburi; the Mon people settled on the island after it was formed by the canal works.
The Mon was a civilization that originated in southern Myanmar and the people are some of the country’s oldest inhabitants. The Mon people played a large role in developing and defining the culture in Myanmar. The area in which they lived was continuously plagued by war, particularly one raged by Thailand and two ethnic groups found in Myanmar: the Bamar and Rakhine. This turmoil forced many Mon people to flee their homes and go to Thailand. Many of them also left in 1757 when Burmese armies came and stole their land and killed their people. Today, most of the people living in Ko Kret are Mon descendants. The Mon people on the island are best known for their pottery work.
The main path around the island of Ko Kret is about six kilometers in length. The best way to explore is via bicycle, which visitors can rent from locals at the main piers on the island for about ฿50 for an entire day. The island can take a whole day to explore.
Unlike Bang Krachao, the capital’s second urban oasis, the paths on Ko Kret aren’t cluttered with motorbikes. The only drivers on the narrow roads are a handful of motorbike taxis taking locals around the island. You might even be lucky enough to see a monk or a child holding a rooster zoom by on the back of one of these.
Those who do not want to cycle can also pay a motorbike taxi to take them around to the top sites. Boats can also be rented to explore, however, these are a bit more expensive and it is best to find a small group of people who want to explore by water, to share the cost.
The island is a hodgepodge of cultural and vibrant finds. Local Thai homes double as rickety restaurants, serving up delicious and authentic cuisine right along the river. Spirit houses clutter the edge of the roads, decorated with small and shiny relics. There are unique finds all over Ko Kret, but here are the top ones visitors should be sure to check out.
This temple, previously known as Wat Pak Aow, houses one of the most important Buddha images on the island. This is also where visitors will find the famous leaning pagoda, known as Phra Chedi Mu Tao, or Slant Chedi. It can be seen by visitors who make their way to the island via boat from the Pak Kret pier, and it is over 200 years old.
There is also a museum visitors can wander through, should they want to learn more about Mon-style pottery techniques, in particularly porcelain, glassware, and the Hem, a coffin that is made by Mon people to mimic the coffin style of the Lord Buddha. Entrance to the museum is free.
Visitors will find that the island of Ko Kret is teeming with religious structures. Wat Sala Kun is one of the stunning examples found on the island, with a colorful exterior constructed of tiles and peaceful, quiet grounds.
Visitors to the Mon Cultural Center will find an abundance of Mon-style clay pottery and can purchase many of the pieces they see. It is said that pottery-making demonstrations are held here.
Wat Chim Plee Sutthawat, previously known as Wat Pa Fai, sits just adjacent to the Mon Cultural Center. The glistening structure was built during the Ayutthaya era and is a monastery, so expect to find a handful or two of monks meandering about the property.
Those visitors lucky enough to venture to the island on a Saturday or Sunday will come across the thriving weekend market here. Though the market is fairly busy, there are hardly any foreigners in sight as visitors weave through people, foods, goods, souvenirs, and more.
One of the most unique finds at this market is surely the abundance of traditional Thai desserts. It seems that every other vendor is equipped with a colorful display of sweet treats, including foy thong, a shredded egg yolk dessert that is meant to bring good luck to those who devour it.