(Lonelyplanet)-An escape to Bang Krachao, known as Bangkok’s Green Lung, can offer welcome respite from the crowded city.
Just across the Chao Phraya River, this largely agricultural area comprises 16 sq km of mangrove forests, small homesteads, and elevated pathways precariously perched above the canals. You’ll find a floating market, 250-year-old Buddhist temples and an eco-resort where you sleep in a tree house.
Hire a bike for a leisurely ride, enjoy the serene setting and explore Thai village life – you’ll find it hard to believe you’re near the centre of the Thai capital.
A large green area dense with trees, with a few temples and other buildings standing out. Taller buildings and signs of industry can be seen along the nearby river and the city in the distance
The Green Lung with some of Bangkok’s city high-rise buildings in the background © anutr tosirikul / Getty Images
Long boats run from Wat Klongtoey Pier to Kamnan Khao Pier for the 5-minute river crossing. Bike hire can be found at either pier for around 80B per day. Alternatively, take the BTS to Bang Na then a taxi to Wat Bang Na Nork Pier for the short river crossing by ferry. Do note it is custom to ask for an ID as a ‘deposit’ for your bike that will be returned at the end of your rental.
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Once over the waters at Kamnan Khao Pier, head clockwise around the main (and only) two-lane road that follows the Chao Phraya River. First stop, the Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery, a museum and parkland dedicated to betta fish, known as fighting fish as they can be highly territorial. Its Green Corridor is an educational outdoor walkway that details the heritage of the Phra Pradaeng District while the Fish Gallery houses a small collection of these local marine creatures. There is a camping zone with tent rental on site, should you wish to stay overnight.
Continue along the 6024 road that weaves its way past canals and elevated pathways. Take a rest stop at Wat Bang Kor Bua temple, its weathered facade crumbling from the humid tropical air, then park up at Wat Bang Nam Phueng Nok to wander its leafy grounds. Ride over narrow pathways around clusters of bamboo trees and you’ll find Bangkok Tree House by the river’s edge. This eco-resort has 12 multilevel bungalows sculpted from sustainable and recycled materials. Its restaurant, Reflect, serves up Thai classics and fusion dishes using locally grown organic produce. Grab a seat on an upper terrace for the best lunchtime views.
A cycle path with yellow-and-red railings stretches into the distance. Palm fronds and other green plant life surrounds the pathway
Cycling one of the pathways surrounded by lush vegetation in Bang Krachao © David_Bokuchava / Getty Images
Ride along Buaphueng Pattana Road towards the weekend ‘floating’ market of Bang Nam Pheung. Most of the stalls are on dry land with some vendors cooking up dishes over a wok fire from their boat kitchens. The majority of the market features food, plants, and bric-a-brac items on sale from stalls shaded from the glaring sun by canopies. Its lanes get busy at lunchtime when strolling becomes more of a steady push.
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Continue west to Ganesha of MahaDewalai, the only Hindu temple on Bang Krachao. The god of beginnings and the remover of obstacles, this large elephant statue is a serene stop for a scenic picture. A few kilometres further, Si Nakhon Kheun Khan is a public park and botanical gardens with bike trails, fishponds, and a multilevel bird lookout to its east. Relax here where the chatter of wildlife is the only noise for miles, surrounded by coral, banyan, cork and portia trees.
Heading back to the starting point, Kamnan Khao Pier, you pass teak-framed houses on stilts, many with private walkways over water- and reed-filled canals. Bang Krachao became an island when a small canal, Khlong Lat Pho, was created in the early 1800s, detaching it from the mainland. Today its jungle lanes are easy to navigate on your own, making it an ideal day trip within a city oasis, its mangrove forests, small farms, and quiet hamlets transporting you to a leafy land devoid of urban sprawl.