The words “Bangkok” and “Nature” may not sound a good match, but there is a hidden gem of a tropical park within city limits that makes for a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the Thai capital.
Bang Krachao is a nature park and wildlife sanctuary just across the Chao Phraya River from Klong Toey (less than a 5 minute ferry ride). The park is also known as the “Lungs of Bangkok”, as its green space acts a form of respite for the city, and is a way for the locals to get away from the sounds of car horns, the threat of stray dogs, and the smells of street food. I learned later on that another reason Bang Krachao is called the “Lungs of Bangkok” is because of its shape as seen from the air.
The area has been inhabited by Burmese immigrants since its inception, and strict planning laws actually prohibit building things like factories and high-rise buildings there. Despite the lack of industry, there is a bustling floating market here, where the locals can bargain their way out of a paper bag! I very much got a kind of Pulau Ubin vibe when visiting Bang Krachao. Much like Pulau Ubin, you can rent bikes here at Bang Krachao, and it is a great way to explore the surroundings. And, again, much like Pulau Ubin with Singapore, Bang Krachao is a great way to experience what Bangkok must have looked like before its modernisation in the bustling metropolis you see today.
Quite near to the ferry pier at Bang Krachao, you will encounter a labyrinth of trees and waterways. You can ride straight through here, or possibly stop and check out some wildlife on the way. I didn’t want to stop and think about what may be in that water! I am sure snakes are present here, although I was lucky enough to have avoided them. In fact, there are probably more snakes here than people, as Bang Krachao is not very well-known among the backpacker community. It is very much off the beaten path, and as such I highly recommend it for a few hours if you get bored with all the temples and food downtown.