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Koh Kret: A Tranquil Oasis Near Bangkok

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Escape the bustling energy of Bangkok and embark on a journey to Koh Kret, a serene island paradise nestled in the Chao Phraya River. This hidden gem, located just a short distance from the Thai capital, offers a harmonious blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, providing a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience for discerning travelers.

An In-Depth Exploration of Koh Kret

Believed to have taken shape approximately 300 years ago during the reign of King Taksin, Koh Kret boasts a rich history steeped in local legends. According to folklore, the island emerged as a result of a canal being dug to shorten the distance between the Chao Phraya and the nearby Mae Klong River. Completely isolated from the mainland, Koh Kret presents itself as an ideal refuge, providing respite from the hectic urban pace of Bangkok.

One of the island’s most distinguishing features is its significant Mon population. Originating from Myanmar, the Mon people have called Koh Kret home for generations, leaving an indelible mark on the island’s architecture and local culinary traditions.

Beyond its cultural richness, Koh Kret is renowned for its natural allure, with attractions like the Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park and Botanical Garden showcasing a stunning array of tropical plants and flowers.

Getting to Koh Kret

Accessing Koh Kret is a straightforward journey, albeit an unconventional one due to the absence of bridges. Ferries or boats become the primary means of transportation. From Bangkok, travelers can take the Chao Phraya express boat to Nonthaburi and then transfer to a longtail boat destined for Koh Kret. Alternatively, a ferry from Wat Sanam Nuea provides a direct route to the island.

Getting Around Koh Kret

Exploring the island is a delight, whether on foot, by bicycle, or utilizing motorcycle taxis for those seeking a quicker mode of transport. The absence of cars adds to the island’s tranquility, allowing visitors to immerse themselves fully in the laid-back atmosphere.

What To Do At Koh Kret

Although only an hour away from Bangkok, Koh Kret feels like a world apart with its unhurried pace of life. Visitors are encouraged to fully embrace the unique offerings of the island:

      • Visit Wat Poramai Yikawat: One of Koh Kret’s top attractions is the stunning Wat Poramai Yikawat, located on the northern tip of the island. This temple is considered one of the most important religious sites in the area, drawing visitors from around the world. The temple houses a large golden Buddha statue and features numerous shrines and pagodas adorned with intricate carvings and colorful decorations.

        • Explore the Pottery Villages: Koh Kret is home to several pottery villages where local artisans craft beautiful Mon-style pottery using traditional techniques passed down through generations. Visitors can observe the process, purchase handmade bowls and vases from the numerous pottery shops, or even participate in a workshop to create their own piece under the guidance of skilled artisans.

        • Visit The Koh Kret Market: The Koh Kret Market is a vibrant and lively spot on the island, offering a chance to savor delicious street food and interact with locals. Open only during the weekends, the market provides an opportunity to try traditional Mon dishes like kanom jeen, a type of noodle served with curry, or khao chae, a refreshing dish of rice in iced water. Navigating through the market’s narrow streets, visitors can absorb the local atmosphere and enjoy the unhurried pace of life.

        • Try Traditional Mon Cuisine: One of the highlights of visiting Koh Kret is the opportunity to indulge in traditional Mon cuisine. The Mon people have a distinctive culinary tradition, featuring dishes not commonly found elsewhere in Thailand. Sample dishes such as kanom jeen, a type of fermented rice noodle served with spicy curry sauce, khao chae, a refreshing dish of rice served with various accompaniments, and khao kriab pak mor, a steamed rice cake stuffed with shrimp and served with a tangy dipping sauce. Local waterfront restaurants provide an ideal setting to enjoy these unique flavors while overlooking the picturesque river.

        • Biking Around the Island: Renting a bike is one of the best ways to explore Koh Kret. The island boasts well-maintained bike paths, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages. As you pedal around the island, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the river, countryside, and local flora and fauna. Venturing beyond the main tourist areas near the market allows you to explore local villages and gain insights into the traditional way of life on Koh Kret.

      Best Time to Visit

      The Koh Kret Market, along with several other attractions on the island, operates only during the weekends. Therefore, planning a visit during the weekend is recommended to experience the vibrancy of the market. However, for those seeking a quieter and more intimate experience, visiting on a weekday provides an opportunity to explore the island at a leisurely pace without the crowds.

      Staying on Koh Kret

      For travelers captivated by the island’s tranquil ambiance, the option to stay overnight on Koh Kret is available. While traditional hotels may be scarce, a variety of homestays and guesthouses welcome visitors, offering a unique chance to stay with local families and immerse themselves in the daily life of the island. These accommodations provide a more authentic and personal experience, allowing guests to deepen their connection with the community.

      Koh Kret stands as a testament to Thailand’s diverse cultural tapestry and natural beauty. This hidden paradise, with its rich history, unique cultural influences, and laid-back atmosphere, offers a perfect retreat for those seeking an authentic and off-the-beaten-path experience. Whether exploring ancient temples, witnessing traditional crafts, savoring local delicacies, or simply enjoying the scenic beauty on a bike ride, Koh Kret promises a memorable and enriching journey for all who venture to this tranquil oasis in the heart of Thailand. Click here for an extraordinary experience in Koh Kret.

      About the Author

      Scott Mallon is an American-born photojournalist who has called Bangkok, Thailand his home since 1995. His words and images have been featured by HBO Sports, the Bangkok Post, the Guardian, the Phuket Gazette, Marie Claire, Irrawaddy Magazine, Ring Magazine, Boxing Digest, Boxing News, Black Belt Magazine and various other publications. In 2008, Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University exhibited his photographs from the 2008 Beijing Olympics in "One World, One Dream.

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