Surrounded by Bangkok’s busy urban life lies a gorgeous green oasis: Bang Krachao (Bangkachao) island. This island, located in the mighty Chao Praya river is Bangkok’s ‘best kept secret’. Here you will find nothing but coconuts, little villages, jungle, buddhist temples, and cycling paths. It is truly one of my favorite places. A visit to Bang Krachao island makes a fun and easy DIY day trip from Bangkok.
Updated January 2019
Bang Krachao cycling tour
Paul Mueller is a friendly American expat cyclist who has been living on the island for many years. He knows Bang Krachao ‘Bangkok’s green lung‘ on its thumb. In September 2012 he started running bicycle tours and since then his tours have been featured in a number of publications (including the NY Times). Of course, we decided to join him on the bicycle.
The tour started at the hotel and we were immediately confronted with one of the narrow, elevated wooden bicycle paths that were spread across the island. The corners of the paths were sharp and sudden. Despite our Dutch cycle skills we didn’t feel at ease. When Paul explained that a small percentage of the tourists fall off the elevated paths, because they cut their corners too short, we felt even more uncomfortable and decided to slow down a bit.
Paul was a vivid storyteller and his love for the island was a returning element in every single story. He took us through small peaceful villages where the Bangkok city life felt miles away. He showed us temples, some of them influenced by the Mon culture that is still thriving on this island. We passed the Bang Nam Phuen Floating Market (closed when we were there) and cycled through a fairly new constructed park, a popular place for families to gather in the evenings. However, much of the cycle tour was on wooden ‘bridges’ through tropical forest with those beautiful typical ‘jungle sounds’.
We really enjoyed the Bang Krachao cycling tour. If you’re in Bangkok, feel free to contact Paul Mueller, who is more than happy to show you around and to give you Bang Krachao tips!
Tourism at Bang Krachao island
Paul Mueller also told us about the troublesome land-dealing on the island. Although part of the island is government protected, some pieces of ground are sold by residents to big developers. Since the island is slowly becoming more popular these developers smell their chance. The island is a haven for Bangkok cyclists and of course an attractive and peaceful location for tourists.
On Bang Krachao, tourism is still developing. Besides the eco-friendly Bangkok Tree House Hotel (check out this blog) there are no other accommodation possibilities. However, Paul told us that there are some homestay options on the island. Also, the first coffee bars have popped-up. And there’s a 7-eleven. However, for now, Bang Krachao remains a lovely laid-back option in Bangkok. And I would highly recommend to visit it when there.
Stay at a Bang Krachao tree house
The Bangkok Tree House Hotel is a gorgeous, eco-friendly boutique hotel on the banks of the mighty Chao Praya river. The hotel is carbon-neutral, cooks with organic products and has energy-saving lighting. The tree houses are also made of natural materials. Each tree house has an outside shower and soft, comfortable beds. Connected to the bedroom was a balcony from which a ladder led us to the rooftop terrace with sun beds and amazing views of the surroundings. If you’re not staying overnight at Bang Krachao island, it’s also a great to take some photos and have a cup of herbal tea during your day trip.
Hotel website: Bangkok Tree House Hotel
Preparation for your Bang Krachao day trip by bike
- Wear sunscreen and a hat.
- Bring plenty of water (although you can also get drinking water on the island).
- Bring mosquito spray.
- Bring a small backpack.
How to get to Bang Krachao Island (via Khlong Toei pier)?
You can visit Bang Krachao by boat from the Silom business district. Catch the MRT to Klong Toei (exit 2), and from there get a taxi to the Klong Toei Pier. At this pier, you can catch a longtail boat to Bang Krachao island (takes about five minutes).
There are also boats from Bang Na and Chong Nonsee.
What to do on Bang Krachao Island? – 5 tips
Tip 1. Join a bicycle tour or go by yourself
If you’re interested in the bicycle tour of Paul you can contact him on mad_muller[at]yahoo.com or you can contact the Bangkok Tree House Hotel stay[at]bangkoktreehouse.com. There are some other bicycle tours running (we can also recommend Follow Me Bangkok Tours). If you want to go by yourself, there is an excellent Bang Krachao cycling map in the Bangkok Tree House Hotel. There are multiple bicycle rental places on the island. Just take a photo of the Bang Krachao cycling map and be on your way!
Tip 2. Go on a firefly tour with a local boat.
Bang Krachao is probably not the best firefly spot in the world, but we did see a fair amount of them. These flickering little insects are a unique sight. A firefly tour is about 30THB per person.
Tip 3. Enjoy an amazing view on Bangkok’s city centre.
From the island you have an amazing view on Bangkok’s business district and it’s harbor.
Tip 4. Visit the Bang Nam Phuen Floating Market.
This market (which is only partly floating to be honest) is only open weekends and well worth a visit.
Tip 5. Visit Bang Krachao’s temples.
Visit the old Mon-influenced temples. Most of the ‘wats’ (Thai word for temple) can be found around the Bang Namphung Floating Market.
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A visit to Bang Krachao makes a perfect DIY day trip from Bangkok. Have you been to Bang Krachao island?