A day in Bangkok’s green lungs.
In the small neighborhood of Bang Kachao, just over the Chao Phraya River lies Bangkok’s green oasis. Technically in a separate district, but practically only a 10 minutes ride from downtown Bangkok this suburban refuge feels like the middle of the countryside. Narrow roads are lined with trees intersected by small walkways leading over palm plantations. Instead of high-risers there are one-family town houses with children playing badminton on the streets.
Known as the green lungs of Bangkok this place stands under environmental protection making it unavailable for development. Hence, it feels a bit like taking a trip back into the past.
A popular thing to do is to take the ferry over the river, hire a bicycle and spend the day cycling about the leafy neighborhood, the large Sri Nakhon Park and visit the weekend floating market.
What to do?
Get a bicycle
You can get a bicycle right at the pier, when you get to Bang Kachao. If you walk around a bit, you may get a slightly better deal as several locations on the side of the road leading up to Sri Nakhon Park, are renting out bikes too. But I arrived there in the heat of the day, and I couldn’t be bothered to walk about looking to save ฿10. So I got my bike from M-bike, right at the pier for ฿60. When I returned my bike later that day they gave me a frozen refreshment-towel for free. I thought that was a nice touch.
The bike comes with a map of the area, which I found to be of limited use. Getting lost and just cycling about aimlessly for a while was part of the fun for me.
I encountered many street dogs which were all very well behaved. Obviously accustomed to cyclists, not a single one barked at me. Apart from the Sri Nakhon park you will mainly be cycling next to the road, where there is no shade. So bring a hat and wear sun protection.
The weekend market is right at the center of the neighborhood a good 4 km away from the pier, and was probably the highlight of my trip to Bang Kachao.
Like many other floating markets the former boats have been replaced by more permanent rafts and stall structures, so it doesn’t have the traditional charm of the big floating markets around Bangkok. Still I very much enjoyed my visit. Although there were a fair amount of tourists roaming around, the visitors were mainly Thai. The atmosphere is great, the people friendly and the prices low.
You’ll find all the colorful and fragrant Thai snacks and desserts, as well as stalls selling clothes, household items and medicinal products. You could get a Thai massage or just stroll about in wonder trying a bit of this and that. One of the food stalls stood out because of its super long queue. I waited 30 minutes for a grilled Thai pork sausage that came in a bag with raw cabbage, ginger and chili – and it was totally worth it!
If eating at markets is not your thing there are a couple of restaurants on the main road leading up to the market. Also, on the second pier there is a nice looking restaurant with outside seating right by the riverside. A perfect place for lunch or a cold Chang in the afternoon.
Sri Nakhon Park
The Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park And Botanical Garden is the neighborhoods other main attraction, and one of the reasons it is called the green lung. When I was there on a Sunday afternoon, there were definitely many people, but it did not feel crowded. Most people seemed to be local Bangkokians on a day trip escaping the city buzz. The park is lush and green, with cute wooden bridges over the lake, little shelters and lots of shade. It is a nice park, much larger then most others around here.
The trees drown out the noise of the traffic coming from the other side of the river, but you can still hear the airplanes flying over Bangkok and occasionally a high riser peaks out in the distance over the lake. For me that kind of sums up the experience. It is not that this Park, or Bang Kachao for that matter, are spectacularly beautiful. It’s the stark contrast between it and the surrounding city that makes it noteworthy.
Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery
The Siamese fighting fish gallery is just about 700 m down the road from the Sri Nakhon Park. So you may as well stop by if you’re in the area, but there is not too much to see. There are two buildings on the entrance side close to the lake, which house a small open-air aquarium displaying some fish.
There is also a very cute looking coffee shop here if you feel like having a break. Otherwise the place feels kind of empty. I walked around the small lake (no cycling here) and enjoyed sitting in a shady spot, just by myself for a while – a rare opportunity in crowded Bangkok.
How to get there?
The easiest way to get to the green lungs is by taking a grab/taxi to the Wat Klong Toey temple, which is where the main pier is, and take the ferry over the river. Don’t forget to have a walk about the temple while you’re here. It’s quite pretty.
If you’re staying at MonkeyNap hostel or in Phrom Phong area and are travelling solo, you can catch a motorbike taxi from the taxi stand at Soi 24/1 for ฿50. On your way back you’ll find a taxi stand around the corner from the temple in front of the seven eleven grocery store.
If you wanna come by public transport you can take the metro to Khlong Toei station. From there you can take bus 4 or 180, or a motorbike taxi to the pier.
The ferry to the other side has a fixed price of ฿10 and runs frequently.
When to go?
The most popular time to visit Bang Kachao is on the weekend, as the market is only open on Saturday and Sunday. You will probably get a very different, much more quiet view of the neighborhood if you come here during the week.
I started my trip at midday and was struggling in the heat, especially on the longish ride from the pier to the market. I’d recommend to come in the morning. The market opens 8 am to 4 pm, but some of the food stalls close early after lunch time.
For me Bang Kachao is not a must visit which you need to fit into your 2-night in Bangkok itinerary at all costs. You should definitely go check it out though, if you’re here for a long time, or you’ve been to Bangkok before, love the city and want to experience all aspects of it.
Rather than a highlight sight seeing trip I think of it as a fun thing to do on the weekend. It’s a perfect half-day trip for a digital nomad wanting to escape the city rush for a day.