Ko Kret is an artificial island found on the outskirts of the city. It provides visitors with a much-needed break from Bangkok’s otherwise gray, inner-city décor. The locals are friendly and welcoming, the food is cheap and delicious, and there are plenty of cool sites found scattered throughout the island. Here, a guide on how to spend a day on Ko Kret.
8 a.m. – Pack your belongings and start your journey to Ko Kret
Leave your accommodation option and head for the island in the morning. Though it is known as the island of Ko Kret, it is actually an artificial one. Ko Kret was formed in 1722 after a canal was built to shorten the river route to the ancient city of Ayutthaya. The new canal eventually swept off enough land to form an island, which is now known as Ko Kret.
The earlier you can leave, the better. It can take up to two hours to reach the island, which is about 20 kilometers north of the city center in the province of Nonthaburi. It is found on the Chao Phraya River, otherwise known as the River of Kings.
To get to Ko Kret, visitors must take the BTS Skytrain to the Saphan Taksin station. From there, take exit two and the pier is within walking distance. From the pier, visitors will want to purchase tickets for the Chao Phraya River Express boat. One ticket is ฿15. Take the boat to the very last pier, or the Nonthaburi pier (N.30).
From there, get a long-tail boat and tell the driver you want to go to Ko Kret. This should cost under ฿400 (approximately $US12). Taking the long-tail boat is both memorable and (as Kit would say) the most terrifying part of the journey. The small, wooden boat sits just inches above the murky water, with drivers who take to the water as if they are driving hydroplane boats.
On the way to the island, passengers will get small glimpses into life along the river. Locals fish lazily from their wooden porches, children escape the heat with a dip in the dark river, and life seems both easy and slow-going. This is certainly in stark contrast to the Bangkok visitors may become accustomed to during their time in the capital. After a 15-minute ride on the long-tail boat, visitors will have finally arrived on the island of Ko Kret.
10 a.m. – Grab lunch on the river
Visitors will likely arrive at one of the main piers near or at the Pa Fai Pier. From here, it is time to fuel up with an early lunch on the river before exploring the vibrant weekend market. There are plenty of Thai restaurants lining the murky banks of the river. Each one is equipped with a handful of local dishes that will give visitors a real taste of authentic, Thai cuisine. Whether you’re hankering for a pad Thai or want to give som tum goong a go, there is a restaurant for every type of palate lining the river. Prices range from ฿40-100 (approximately $US1.20-3).
11 a.m. – Explore the weekend market
The main path around the island is some six kilometers in length. The best way to explore is via bicycle from the main pier of Pa Fai Pier. The first stop on the day-long itinerary will be the pulsating weekend market. This is not your typical market, as the shops that make it up only stretch down one path and do not stray on either side. The walkway is lined with local vendors selling everything from organic soap to Mon-style pottery. All the goods and souvenirs here are a steal in comparison to Bangkok’s oftentimes inflated prices.
12:30 p.m. – Rent a bicycle and grab a refreshing drink
There are a few places to rent bicycles on the island, though be warned Lance Armstrong (or anyone, for that matter) will be unsatisfied with the conditions of the bicycles here. Though the bicycles are unsteady at best, the price to rent them simply cannot be argued with. Bicycles can be rented for an entire day for ฿50 (approximately $US1.50). The main path around the island is some six kilometers in length, and cycling around its entirety could take a few hours. Stick to the main sites on the island and stop for a picture or two, however, and visitors could be finished in about 45 minutes.
1 p.m. – Meander the grounds of the nearby temples
Down the road from the weekend market is the colorful Buddhist temple of Wat Sala Kun. It is quaint yet stunning, and worth a short visit. Wat Chim Plee Sutthawat, previously known as Wat Pa Fai, is a short ride away and is found next to the Mon Cultural Center. The temple was built during the era of Ayutthaya and doubles as a monastery, so monks are not an uncommon site at this stunning temple. Across the way from the religious structure is the river, and locals congregate here to enjoy the riverside views and surrounding scenery.
2 p.m. – See how pottery is made at the Mon Cultural Center
The Mon people originated in Southern Myanmar and are some of Thailand’s oldest inhabitants. Many Mon people fled their homes after the country was overcome with fighting between Thailand and the other ethnic groups there. Many left around 1757 and moved to Thailand seeking refuge. Shortly after the canal was built, Mon people settled on the island of Ko Kret. Today, many descendants of this ethnic group are found on the island. This group is especially known for the beautiful pottery they create, and visitors get the chance to see their stunning work at the Mon Cultural Center.
3 p.m. – Cycle the island’s walkways
Continue on your journey around the island with your unsteady bicycle in tow. There are several stop off points along the way, and visitors can pick and choose which quaint sites along the narrow path they wish to venture to. Visitors will be hard-pressed to find a vehicle on the island, though do be on the lookout for motorbike taxis as they chauffeur locals around Ko Kret.
4 p.m. – Photograph the Slant Chedi
The leaning pagoda, or chedi, is one of the first memorable sites visitors will come across on their way to the island. It is nestled along the banks of the river. The pagoda is called Phra Chedi Mu Tao, meaning Slant Chedi. It is over 200 years old. It’s stark white color is in contrast to the murky water it towers over, making for a great photo opportunity.
5 p.m. – Grab a traditional Thai dessert and explore the adjacent temple
Thai desserts are some of the most unique and colorful treats in the world, and there is no better place in Bangkok to find a wide variety of them than on Ko Kret. Grab a small container of mung bean candy, many of which are vibrantly designed to look like small pieces of fruit. Those with a sweet tooth may instead opt for a sweet Thai crepe, great finger food which is normally topped with foy thong, or shredded egg yolk. Those down on their luck may instead grab a few desserts which are thought to bring consumers good luck, such as med kanoon, cylinder orange sweets made with coconut milk, pandan leaf, salt, white sugar, water, and egg yolks.
After fueling up on a few delicious treats, be sure to check out Wat Poramaiyikawat Worawihan. The temple was previously known as Wat Pak Aow. It is here that one of the most important images of Buddha on the island is housed. The Buddhist temple is filled with locals meandering its extensive and stunning grounds.
6 p.m. – Head to the pier to go back to Bangkok
To get the bus back, you will want to take the ferry from the pier sitting to the right of the leaning chedi and Wat Poramaiyikawat Worawihan. The ferry is only ฿2 and will take you to Wat Sanam Neua Temple, and from there you will make the short walk out to the main road. Visitors will find buses that will take passengers to the Mochit BTS Skytrain station.