Exploring Bang Kra Jao, Bangkok’s ‘Green Lung’

20 May 2019, Voralak Suwanvanichkij

Bang Kra Jao (or Bang Kra Chao) is technically located in the Phra Pradaeng district of Samut Prakarn, nestled in an oxbow or U-shaped bend of the Chao Phraya River. However, the verdant peninsula is easily reached from Bangkok — it’s just minutes away by boat, right across the river.

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Klong Toey Pier is one easy place to cross over. In stark contrast to the bustling port and its huge cargo ships, Bang Kra Jao lacks major urban development; instead, you’ll find an abundance of greenery, including old growth trees, fruit orchards, and the large Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park and Botanical Garden. Bang Kra Jao also houses quiet communities, including private homes, temples, and markets, as well as a variety of wildlife like birds, fish, insects, and reptiles.

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Also referred to as Bangkok’s ‘green lung’, Bang Kra Jao is not so much of a hidden gem as it was, say, a decade ago. These days, it’s a popular weekend spot for bicyclists and outdoor enthusiasts, including bird watchers. It’s great for families who want to spend time outdoors, getting in some exercise and breathing fresh air. The experience also affords a glimpse of what Bangkok may have looked like before modernity descended; here, meandering paths still lead through a languid wonderland of stilt houses and gardens.

Recently, BKK Kids joined with Mantis Martial Arts to host two separate family-friendly excursions to Bang Kra Jao. We explored the area on foot, took part in some martial arts drills, and organised a scavenger hunt for the kids, which took them into the park and along some of the raised concrete pathways through the ‘jungle’. (Stay tuned for more such day trips in the future!)

Alternately, you can explore by bike, riding on paths that loop around the area. Bring your own bikes or scooters and take them across the river, join a biking tour arranged by a company, or rent bikes on the Bang Kra Jao side. This activity is more suited for older kids and teens who are strong bikers as there are paths without railings that would be too dangerous for the little ones.

There are cafes and restaurants here and there, serving drinks and simple Thai dishes.  Also, below are some places of interest to visit.

Getting to Bang Kra Jao

Simply head to any small pier along the river [such as off Narathiwas Road, at the huge Klong Toey port (next to Wat Klong Toey Nok), or near Bang Wa BTS station] and engage a boat operator to ferry you across — Bang Kra Jao is literally on the opposite bank. The fare should range from 6 to 20 baht per person, depending on the size of the boat. Please note that some boats, but not all, will provide life vests.

If you want to rent bikes, there are rental shops at some piers, including Pae-Jeab and M-Bike. The cost is 60 to 100 baht per day. Bikes with toddler seats are usually available. You can also ask for a free map.

Depending on the season, you’ll want to prepare accordingly. Bring water, hats, sunscreen, snacks, a basic first aid kit, rain gear, etc. You can easily spend a half day here — have fun!
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