The Green Oasis
I’ve lived in Bangkok for the majority of the 27 years I’ve spent on planet Earth, and I had never heard of Bang Krachao, popularly known as the “Green Lung of Bangkok” up until 2013, when I stumbled upon an eco-friendly tree house located in Bangkok while surfing the web. I knew I wanted to come back here and explore the area properly before the year ended. I figured, what better way to close out 2015, than to have a staycation on the last weekend of the year?
What is the “Green Lung of Bangkok”? Bang Krachao is an automobile-free, gorgeous green oasis depicting Bangkok as it was over 100 years ago. It’s the greatest and closest escape from Bangkok… within Bangkok itself! Almost an island, but not quite, Bang Krachao is accessible by car from one main road. In the green lung of Bangkok, you will find nothing but coconuts, small villages, jungles, cycling paths, temples, and fresh air.
I visited the floating market in Bang Krachao at the beginning of the year by accident, but never in my wildest dreams could I imagine such a cute abode full of lush green trees and water canals in the middle of Bangkok. I’m going to go ahead and dub this Bangkok’s best-kept secret.
Before I obscenely build up expectations, keep in mind that we are still in Bangkok. This means, all the garbage we are throwing in the river does resurface here. You are likely to see quite a large amount of trash on the outskirts of the green lung; sadly, that’s our own fault for not taking care of Mother Nature.
You can access Bang Krachao by car, but you’ll only be able to drive on one main road that cuts through this semi-island. I would recommend ditching the car entirely if you plan to enter Bang Krachao, otherwise you’ll find yourself battling a number of bicyclists and motorbikes during your drive. Finally… it’s a locale where bicyclists own the road, and cars are looked down upon. Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it? There are two options I recommend for going to the Green Lung:
By Car: Drive to Wat Bang Na Nok, a temple where you can park your car overnight. There are no parking fees, but feel free to donate to the temple there, as the monks will appreciate it. This temple is located about a 200-meter walk from Bang Na Pier, from where, you have to catch the ferry to get to Bang Krachao.
By BTS: Take the Skytrain to Bang Na station, followed by a taxi to Bang Na Pier, and take the ferry from there.
Crossing the Chao Phraya River with a green ferry boat will cost you 4 baht per person. Spending 4 baht for fresh air and a great view in Bangkok is a steal! Better than any rooftop bar I’ve ever been to.
Where to stay on your staycation? There are a limited variety of places to stay on this eco-friendly and sustainable oasis. More and more people are opting for home stays, as they can experience more deeply rooted culture. I opted to stay at one of the more beautiful locations that I had set my sights on since 2013, Bangkok Tree House.
So, what to do? I spent a very eventful day exploring the Green Lung. I arrived to Bangkok Tree House at noon and, after a short rest, decided to take the bicycle out for a ride and explore what Bang Krachao has to offer. I cycled to the floating market, a stick house, a mushroom farm, and a beautiful park. I managed to explore all of this in a leisurely pace within five to six hours, while cycling twelve kilometers in the scorching sun (take shade breaks!). Here’s a list of things I enjoyed during my 24 hours while exploring the green lung.
The elevated bike paths dissecting the jungle above water canals was by far the highlight of my experience on Bang Krachao and is the only authentic way of experiencing the place in my opinion. Cycling through these narrow paths while passing villages, stick houses, jungles, and farmlands was entirely too much fun. If you enjoy cycling, this is the best it’s going to get near Bangkok. If you aren’t very good at cycling, you should be warned of the narrow 50-80 centimeter cycling trails. One slight mistake, and you could find yourself in the canal. Luckily, I didn’t fall into the canal, but considering my track record of clumsiness, I would not have been surprised if I had.
Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market
This floating market is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Most of the shops start to close at around 2.30 p.m., so try and make it there early afternoon; especially if you want to enjoy some delicious local and cheap cuisine from some floating boats. As any market in Bangkok, aside from food, you will find an assortment of items from plants to handicrafts to body care products. The Bang Nam Phueng floating market is the busiest location on Bang Krachao, and not the best representation of the rest of the green lung itself. However, the activities and energy at this market does make for a fun afternoon of exploring and lunching.
If you like mushrooms, then you’re going to enjoy this man-made mushroom incubator. It has some of the craziest looking and most colorful mushrooms I’ve ever seen. This is not usually a place I would wander off to explore, but I’m really glad I did! It was a nice surprise, and a local there gave us a private tour.
The trees, lakes, and pavilions in this park cover approximately 100 acres of land, making it one of the main features in Bang Krachao. The park is dotted with walking trails, cycling trails, and even paddle boat and kayaking options. You can easily enjoy a nice afternoon picnic in this venue. If you plan on cycling to this park from the ferry pier, know that this bike ride will be about 10-11 kilometers round-trip. Don’t worry about the roads though, as they are pretty flat throughout the island.
My two Baht:
If you feel like refreshing your lungs, head over to Bang Krachao.
If you need a relaxation break from chaotic urban Bangkok, head over to Bang Krachao.
If you want to enjoy a picnic away from the noise and pollution, head over to Bang Krachao.
If you are a biking enthusiast in search of a stunning bike route, head over to Bang Krachao.
I cannot stress enough, how much I recommend the Green Lung of Bangkok. You will find this paradise less than 10 kilometers away from Sukhumvit. There is simply no excuse not to go.