Even most Bangkokians think that the nearest island to the city is Koh Samet in the Gulf of Thailand, often forgetting that they have a little gem more or less right here in town. While Koh Kred is actually in Nonthaburi, which is indeed a province, it is basically a suburb of Bangkok. This quiet island is the perfect place for a city escape, and even better when seen from the seat of a bicycle.
Koh Kred is a small island in the middle of the Chao Phraya River. Founded during the Thonburi era, it is the home of ethnic Mon people who were famous for their pottery as well as tradtional khanom or Thai desserts. There are no cars on Koh Kred, and weekend tourism aside, the islanders lead quiet lives, making ceramics and growing local produce and flowers for which the isle is famed for.
It might seem to the visitor that there are more dogs than humans on Koh Kred, as every nook, cranny, stairwell, and table leg appears to have a canine hanging around. They tend to sum up the island’s languid pace, just not one that involves a whole lot of motion. Koh Kred is only 6 or 7 kilometers round, with a mostly single lane alleyway circling its perimeter. Locals try to weave their motorbikes through the small lanes, but bicycles are the way to go, either available for rent to visitors or else one can make a full day of it and go through an established operator like Spiceroads, who run highly informative and fun tours here from Bangkok.
Along the riverfront, there are a lot of old wooden homes, with residents sitting on the verandahs, fishing, chatting, or preparing food. There are several restaurants on the water, serving up a variety of sweets and different varieties of fried flowers, a specialty of Koh Kred. Wandering through some of the alleyways with whitewashed walls, one feels like one is out on a Greek island rather than somewhere in Southeast Asia, especially with all the lazy dogs hanging around.
There are several Mon style wats on Koh Kred such as Wat Poramaiyikawat, which is the island’s main temple, and then there is Phra Wihan, which houses a giant reclining Buddha from the Ayutthaya period inside. There are also several small pottery villages to visit, certainly out to sell some of their well crafted and inexpensive wares, but also places where pottery is a way of life, regardless of visitors arriving or not, and fans of ceramics won’t want to miss the Kwan Aman Pottery Museum.
Make sure to visit the appropriately named “dessert canal” where traditional sweets are made, and try the Mon tempura and spiced fish cakes for which the island is noted for.
Travel Tips: Koh Kred can be reached from Bangkok by taking the #166 bus from Victory Monument to Pakkred then a moto taxi to the Pakkred pier, and then the ferry across the river. Alternatively, there are boats from Nonthaburi (last stop north on the Chao Phraya ferry run) to Pakkred and then proceed as above. Longtail charters from Nonthaburi are also available. There is one homestay guesthouse on the island (Koh Kred Guesthouse, 081-832-0637) should you get the urge to stay.
SpiceRoads Bicycle Tours
14/1-B Soi Promsi 2,
Klongtan Nua, Wattana, Bangkok
Tel: 02-712-5305, 089-895-5680