BY Professor Bear

Koh Kret: The Complete Guide to Visiting Bangkok's River Island

Did you know that thereโ€™s an island in the Chao Phraya River near Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok)? ๐Ÿง Koh Kret is an island village in the middle of the Chao Phraya River. To find this place, you must travel north of Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) in the province of Nonthaburiย ๐Ÿ’ฏ

This small artificial island's old-world charm reflects its early settlements, evolution, and culture ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ You can see Koh Kret as an old village-type island where the Mon people stay. So, it is suitable for a one-day trip if you are interested in seeing how people in the past lived in Thailand ๐Ÿง Sticking to their roots, their lives are interwoven with cultural practices reflected in their daily life and occupation.ย 

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For those in Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) seeking an exciting day trip away from the city, Koh Kret is a fantastic destination. To learn more about this charming island paradise, read this enthralling guide until the very end ๐Ÿ’ฏ

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Exploring the Hidden Secrets of Mon Island

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Koh Kret is a serene, small Mon island located on the Chao Phraya River near Bangkok, measuring three kilometers in length and width ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ It is famous for its traditional cuisine, Mon clay pottery, and peaceful rural ambiance.

This tranquil island, consisting of only seven little villages and no roads or vehicles, provides a soothing retreat from the hustle and bustle of Thailand's congested and traffic-laden capital city ๐Ÿ’ฏ Koh Kret is technically not a part of the Bangkok Metropolitan area but is situated in the Nonthaburi province, approximately 20 kilometers from downtown or old town Bangkok ๐Ÿง

Depending on traffic, driving there takes approximately 40 minutes to an hour ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ A more relaxed way of arriving at the island is by taking a ferry followed by a miniature boat ride, which is particularly appealing if you stay in a Chao Phraya River hotel ๐Ÿง

Koh Kret is characterized by verdant farmland surrounded by towering palm trees. Its perimeter features charmingly run-down wooden and weatherboard houses on stilts, some of which are built in the traditional style and boast spacious verandahs that connect via a network of raised concrete and timber pathways ๐Ÿ’ฏ

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Discovering the History of Koh Kret

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Koh Kret was originally a meander located on the Chao Phraya River ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ Due to the Chao Phraya river's curvy path; ships often took longer to reach Ayutthaya, Siam's capital at the time. In an effort to enhance the Kingdom's economy by reducing shipping time, King Thaisa, during his reign, initiated a plan to construct a canal that would act as a shortcut for maritime transport, bypassing the meander.

The Ayutthaya chronicles state that the canal was dug in 1722, taking over a month to complete and requiring approximately 10,000 men. Upon its completion, shipping to Ayutthaya became faster, and the locals named it "Khlong Lat Kret."ย ๐Ÿง As time passed, the canal became gradually wider due to erosion. It became part of the river itself, causing Koh Kret to become an island.

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Koh Kret has thrived since the Ayutthaya period ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ But the island was deserted when the Burmese occupied the city. After Siam gained independence, King Taksin allowed the Mon people to settle down on Koh Kret. After the district and sub-district were named Pak Kret, Koh Kret remained as the name of the island district ๐Ÿ’ฏ During World War II, Koh Kret served as a safe haven for many politicians and officers who wanted to avoid the bombing in Bangkok. In preparation for a crisis, many of them built spare houses to stay in on the island. However, after the war, the government confiscated these houses ๐Ÿง

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Essential Facts About Koh Kret

People of Koh Kret

Koh Kret has historically been home to people from the Mon ethnic group, typically associated today with the neighboring country of Myanmar ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ It is, however, a group that once also lived in the central areas of Thailand. Islanders still retain many of their old customs and traditions, and it is relatively easy to see differences between religious practices, food, clothing, and language ๐Ÿง

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Interesting Pottery Making

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The island is famous for its traditional Mon-style pottery, known as Kwan Aman. Detailed terracotta pieces include bowls, vases, candlesticks, incense holders, and lanterns ๐Ÿ’ฏ Several pottery villages and homes are dotted around the island. Watch as craftspeople create intricate items ready to fire in large kilns. There are also plenty of opportunities to purchase locally-made pottery.

The small pottery museum close to the main pier and Wat Poramaiyikawas is an excellent place to take a peek at the different types of wares produced on the island. It may not be that informative, but itโ€™s interesting for a quick stop ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ Kwan Aman Pottery Museum is another place to add to your Koh Kret travel list if you are interested in the islandโ€™s pottery heritage.

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Majestic Spiritual Sites on Koh Kret

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In addition to the great shrines and spirit houses that can be found almost everywhere around the island, Koh Kret is home to two significant temples: Wat Poramaiyikawas and Wat Sao Thong Thong ๐Ÿ’ฏ Wat Poramaiyikawas, a popular pilgrimage spot, is the largest temple on the island, and itโ€™s an excellent place to get a taste of the Mon Buddhist practices ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ Many monks chant in the Mon language, and sacred texts can be found written in the Mon script.

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On top of a long reclining Buddha, a giant seated Buddha, and many smaller statues of the Lord Buddha in various postures, the temple also houses one of Koh Kretโ€™s most well-known landmarks: a gleaming white leaning chedi draped in a vibrant red cloth ๐Ÿง Wat Sao Thong Thong dates back to the Ayutthaya period and combines traditional Mon and Thai elements. Wat Chimplu Suttahawat, on the island's eastern side, Wat Phai Lom, and Wat Salakun are also worth a quick photo stop ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“

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Embracing the Relaxing Nature

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This is a rustic and rural island with bountiful orchards, lush gardens, wet patches of lotus plants, tall trees, and a rather rugged feel, especially when compared with Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ Chickens peck at the ground, dogs nap at the edges of pathways, cats sleep in doorways, and various bird species fill the air with joyous songs. Follow the marked trail around the island, and you will quickly find yourself in the heart of nature ๐Ÿ’ฏ

The Demonstrative Local Vegetable Plantation provides a good overview of farming practices on the island and different produce grown on Koh Kret. The artificial waterfall and park next to Wat Phai Lom make lovely pictures ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ The benches and well-tended grass may also tempt you to rest your feet and take a break.

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Abundant Market on Koh Kretย Koh Kret  The Complete Guide to Visiting Bangkok S River Island 7

Visit Koh Kret on a weekday. You will find a small selection of local shops and restaurants and enjoy the island most serenely ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ The weekend is a great time for shopaholics and bargain hunters to visit, as the island hosts a large riverside market each Saturday and Sunday. The narrow lanes through the market can feel claustrophobic, though, as many fun-seeking Thais also have the idea of escaping the city for a few hours. As soon as youโ€™re away from the market, the islandโ€™s peace returns ๐Ÿ’ฏย 

The market sells various items, from clothing and kidsโ€™ toys to souvenirs and pottery ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ There are also many different foods and drinks to sample as you meander from place to place ๐Ÿง Fried fish cakes, fermented eggs surrounded by fish cake, the Mon delicacy of Khao shae, and coconut sweets are especially abundant in Koh Kret.

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Exciting Performance on Koh Kret

Small traditional dance performances are held at various times over the weekend on a small stage at the far end of the weekend market ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ Dancers wear traditional outfits and dance to tunes played by live musicians ๐Ÿ’ฏ

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Bike Rides in Isolated Paths

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When visiting Koh Kret, one of the top activities is to take a stroll or bike ride around the island on the raised concrete paths ๐Ÿง You can experience everyday life on the island and stop at interesting places along the way. The pace of life in Koh Kret is much slower than in the nearby city, with shiny new condo towers and sprawling suburbs visible across the river. However, on Koh Kret, you'll feel like you've been transported to the heart of Thailand's countryside, even if only for a short time ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“

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Irresistible Cuisineย 

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If you decide to take the long tail speed boat, you will probably stop at Ran Baan Khanom Wan (The Thai Sweet House), from where you can buy sweet and savory snacks to gorge on ๐Ÿ’ฏ Ran Lek is a famous coffee shop known for serving coffee in clay pots you can take home.

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The local markets are filled with shops and vendors, ensuring you never have an empty stomach. Here they sell local produce and foods that are native to the area and not found anywhere else. You can also stop at Koh Kret Brewery or Chit Beer for a refreshing beer. However, it is open only on Saturday and Sunday ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“

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๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ Quick Trivia!

Although all year round makes for a great time to visit Koh Kret, the best time to visit Koh Kret is from November to April, which are the dry months if you want to enjoy the coast.

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A Glimpse of Rural Food and Culture

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Koh Kret gives you a glimpse of the old Vietnamese rural culture with its Mon settlement. The same is reflected in most dishes prepared in local homes, and the market ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ Tort Man Nor Galah is a dish of Mon Origin where Tort Man means deep-fried fish patties with herbs and mushrooms.

Nor Galah is an aquatic vegetable that is deep-fried. This is served with tongue-tingling sweet and sour sauce ๐Ÿ’ฏ Another popular dish is the Kanom Jeen, fermented rice noodles served with various gravies.

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Kow Chaa is a rice dish camphor scented and served with knick-knacks. It has cooling properties.๐Ÿง Hence considered appropriate for summers to beat the heat.ย 

Koh Kret and Thailand, in general, are known for their sweet (Kanom) and savory snacks (Korng wahng). There is much sweet stuff owing to the abundance of sweet plums that grow here. For the Korng wahng, you can try Miang Kam, wild tea leaves with herbs and sweet-savory sauce ๐Ÿ’ฏ

Pan Sip are like tiny deep-fried rolls oozing with a mixture of shredded fish, peanuts, and black pepper. Try Gai Sarong, minced chicken wrapped in egg noodles and deep fried into golden balls. Pandan noodles are a must-try ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ There are a string of open-air restaurants in the area that you can try in Koh Kret, like Pa Ka Lung, which serves Kow Chaa, Kanom Jeen, and many other local dishes.

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Visit Bangkok's River Island NOW!

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A visit to Koh Kret allows you to quickly escape Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) and get lost in a unique island culture where the feeling of stepping back in time awaits you around every corner ๐Ÿ’ฏ

Koh Kret is home to Thailandโ€™s Mon people, who immigrated from Burma more than 200 years ago ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ The Mon people in Koh Kret have managed to preserve much of their unique culture and lifestyle because the island remains isolated from the surrounding area.

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Your visit will be a truly unique experience. The Mon culture can be seen in the design of traditional riverside houses, which have remained unchanged for hundreds of years, and can be felt in the hospitality locals show visitors ๐Ÿง If you are looking for one of Bangkokโ€™s hidden gem destinations that few foreign tourists take the chance to visit, then Koh Kret is a definite recommendation ๐Ÿ’ฏ

Koh Kret is especially known for earthenware and ceramics, all handmade in the kilns of the islandโ€™s pottery villages. Another of the islandโ€™s reputations comes from the villages along Khlong Khanom Wan, where sweet local desserts are made. Donโ€™t visit Koh Kret without tasting one, or more, of the local desserts ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“

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Things to Know When Visiting Koh Kret

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  • Comfortable shoes and clothing are highly recommended since you must climb in and out of boats.

  • Feel free to take photographs during the entire tour.

  • Make sure to come with a big appetite and a sense of adventure.

  • Respectful attire is required if you plan to visit any of the temples on Koh Kret.

  • The top places near Koh Kret are:

    • Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) is 19 km from Koh Kret
    • Pattaya, which is located 119 km from Koh Kret
    • Hua Hin is located 161 km from Koh Kret
    • Samut Prakan is located 39 km from Koh Kret
    • Ayutthaya is located 50 km from Koh Kret

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Best Way to Visit Koh Kret

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While several operators make stops at Koh Kret as part of longer trips along the waterways, traveling to Koh Kret on your own isnโ€™t as difficult as you may at first thing ๐Ÿง Catch a city bus from central Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) to Pak Kret, an area within Nonthaburi province. Once in Pak Kret, you can catch a tuk-tuk or taxi to the pier. Alternatively, it is just a short walk of around half a kilometer ๐Ÿ’ฏ

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While the pier may not be very well signposted, the temple of Wat Sanam Neua is easy to find; the pier can be found towards the rear of the temple. Services are frequent during the daytime, and the crossing time is just a few minutes ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“

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Getting Around Koh Kret

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There is no public transportation on Koh Kret, though several motorbike taxis zip along the narrow lanes ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ A six-kilometer walking trail leads around the island, and bicycles are available to rent if you donโ€™t fancy using your feet all day. Several smaller tracks lead away from the main trail, letting you immerse yourself even more in nature and the peaceful lull of local island lifeย  ๐Ÿ’ฏ

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Koh Kret  The Complete Guide to Visiting Bangkok's River Island

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๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽ“ Vocabulary Time!

Claustrophobic
: having an extreme or irrational fear of confined places

Confiscated
: appropriated by the governmentย 

Delicacy
: usually a rare and expensive food item considered highly desirable, sophisticated, or peculiarly distinctive within a given culture

Earthenware
: refers to pottery that has not been fired to the point of vitrification, which makes it slightly porous and coarser compared to stoneware and porcelain

Gridlock
:ย ย a situation where traffic in a network of intersecting roads is so heavily congested that vehicles are unable to move

Meander

: a regular sinuous curve in a river or watercourse channel, occurring as part of a series
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Written by
Professor Bear

Hello, I am Professor Bear and I travel by choice. I will take you on a journey to a new place every time and give an immersive experience by telling the history and giving you a detailed tour. Join me for an unforgettable travel experience of your life.

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