Koh Kret is something of an oddity. A traditional community, no roads, no traffic, and yet in Bangkok. Its an oasis of calm in a frenetic city.
Koh Kret in an island in the Chao Phraya river, about 20km north of central Bangkok. It was created in 1722 by the creation of a canal where there is a wide bend in the river. This new island was settled over time by people from the Mon community under the encourage of the Thai government.
Koh Kret hasn’t developed at the same rate as the rest of Bangkok. Whilst tourism has started encroaching on what has been for centuries an isolated community the island retains a lot of its rural charm. It doesn’t have any roads and cars. There are some concrete paths and concrete by the ferry port but that’s it. You need to walk or cycle to get around and bikes are available to hire. People live in smaller houses like they do in the countryside.
The Mon people have a distinctive cultural identity. They are famous for their pottery and this is the main industry on the island. There are lots of pottery shops on the island and a pottery museum which is open from 9am to 5pm. They also have a distinctive cuisine. Notable dishes are deep fried flowers and a Mon version of tempura served in a banana leaf bowl.
Koh Kret is fairly small covering an area of approximately four square kilometers. It’s roughly square with each side around 2kms long. You could walk all the way around the island in 1.5 to 2 hours. This is a nice stroll and it takes in the island’s main sights. There are several temples constructed in a distinctive Mon style. The main temple is Wat Poramaiyikawat and there is a small arts and crafts museum next door. The other temples though are perhaps more interesting as they are older and one has a large reclining Buddha.
Getting to Koh Kret from central Bangkok is a bit of a trek, although well worth the effort. The best way to get there is to take to the river. Pick up the Chao Phraya Express Boat from any of the piers along the river. If you are coming by skytrain go to Saphan Taksin BTS station which is adjacent to Sathorn Pier for the Express Boat.
If you get up early enough in the morning you can get a boat virtually all the way. ‘Green Flag’ express boats run to Pak Kret Pier from 6.15 am to 8.15 am. After that time the boats stop one pier earlier at Nonthaburi Pier.
From Pak Ket Pier it’s a short walk to another pier at Wat Sanam Neua for a quick 2 Thai Baht ferry ride to Koh Kret island. If you have to get off at Nonthaburi Pier we advise getting a taxi. Simply tell the driver you want to go to Koh Kret and they will take you to the ferry pier for the island, its not far.
Return Chao Phraya Express Boats run from Pak Kret Pier from 3.30pm to 6pm. A much easier journey than it may sound, and not at all expensive.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a day then a trip to Koh Kret is ideal. It is also possible to find basic accommodation on the island. Thankfully, there are no big hotels, just small mom-and-pop guest houses.