Bang Krachao, Bangkok’s Hidden Garden

Click here, zoom in, switch to aerial view, and you will witness the BIG GREEN SPOT.

  • This green spot is known as Bang Krachao, part of the Phra Pradaeng District.
  • Often the Bangkok locals are not even aware of this place.
  • Lush, green forest is ubiquitous and serves as a perfect day trip a stone’s throw away from Bangkok.

I had previously written about Bangkok and its spectacular skyscrapers and bumper-to-bumper traffic. However, an urban oasis is surviving amid rising skyscrapers. Welcome to Bang Krachao!

It was a surprise when I found out about Bang Krachao. I was exploring Bangkok on Google Maps and spotted a big green area below Khlong Toey market. I first thought it was strangely colored cloud, but zooming in, I realized it was a huge forest!

One week later, I sampled fruit and veg at Khlong Toey market and decided to walk down to Wat Khlong Toei Nai, a temple next to the Chao Phraya River where the most popular activity is feeding (very fat) fish alongside the river. The Klong Toey District (Toei and Toey are used interchangeably) is known for its slums but walking around I have never had any trouble, but one should obviously be streetwise and not flash any expensive items such as cameras. Alternatively, one can take the MRT to Khlong Toey MRT and then take taxi.

I followed locals’ indications to the Klong Toey Pier which is nothing more than a pontoon next to the river. A little “ferry” (actually a long-tail boat) brought me to the other side of the river for 5 baht (0.15 USD; one way).

Once crossed the river, I was dropped off at a pontoon next to a wooden house that is hosting little shops selling sweets and renting bicycles. I decided to walk but took note of the prices: cycling should not set you back more than 100 baht for a day or 50 baht/hour. The alternative is the omnipresent motorbikes which will happily drive you from A to B.

Bang Krachao is a collection of lush forest and mangroves. Traffic is scarce and you can follow narrow pathways on stilts snaking through the jungle while listening to, well, nothing. How refreshing for Bangkok!

A 30 minute walk brought me to Sri Nakhon Khuen Khan Park. Entrance to the park is free and many locals were picnicking in the shaded pavilions. I decided to explore the park a little more and walked into a labyrinth of dirt tracks lined with trees. The park is not well maintained with many wooden bridges damaged but still features in the middle of the park a watchtower from which you can spot tropical birds.

Getting hungry, I hopped on a motorbike to Bang Nam Phueng market, a floating market open during weekends. Surprisingly, this is the first floating market where I witnessed more locals than tourists. Indeed, the market is very popular with locals looking for curries, way-too-sweet coffee, and of course, Thai sweets. Everyday, I’m reminded that eating is still the Thai national sport!

After the market, dusk set in and a group of very territorial dogs seemed they were interested having me as desert. Hence, I decided to hop on a completely random bus which dropped me off back in the concrete jungle of Bangkok.

Bang Krachao is the rare, surviving green lung of Bangkok. The question is: for how long?

 

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