Bang Kra Jao (or Bang Kra Chao) is locally known as Bangkok’s green lung and a place where city dwellers flock to get their dose of nature and escape the high rises that dominate the Bangkok landscape. It 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.
Technically it is located in the Phra Pradaeng district of Samut Prakarn and nestled in an oxbow or U-shaped bend of the Chao Phraya River. It is a preserved area with not a skyscraper in sight and offers a relaxing day out for the whole family. You have the option to stroll around the small elevated pathways or hire local bikes and cycle through the bamboo forests and waterways. Top tip, download a map of the area as the paths are like a maze and it’s easy to get lost!
In stark contrast to the bustling port and its huge cargo ships, the small port at 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.
Bang Kra Chao is easily reached from Bangkok — it’s just minutes away by boat, right across the river. The Klong Toey Pier is one easy place to cross over (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. Bringing your own bikes or scooters is also an option and you can easily take them across the river. Another fun experience is joining a biking tour arranged by a company, Covan Kessel offer various different tours depending on how long you want to spend in the saddle and they have some especially designed mini tours for younger kids. If you decide to meander along the paths alone, do bear in mind 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.
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!)
Lucky for us our friends over at The Urban Green Scene have recently updated a fantastic map of this area which can be downloaded for free here. Thailand Green Map has been around for 10 years but two wonderful ladies joined forces almost 2 years ago to make it the amazing map it is today. They are 2 avid greenies who wanted to create a resource for other like minded greenies living in Thailand. The pointers include eco, organic, sustainable, supermarkets, restaurants, eco lodge, experiences, businesses and organisations in Thailand. The information in the map has been gathered from personal experience, exchanges with business owners, personal visits and then cross checked using websites & social media. The map was developed using Google Maps. It is best viewed using the My Maps Google App.
There are cafes and restaurants here and there, serving drinks and simple Thai dishes. Also, below are some places of interest to visit.
- Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery (not always open to the public)
- Bangnamphueng Floating Market (weekends only)
- Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park and Botanical Garden
- Bangkok Tree House
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!