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  • Bang Krachao, Bangkok: The “Green Lungs” of The City.

    Bang Krachao, Bangkok: The “Green Lungs” of The City.

    Bang Krachao (sometimes spelt Kachao) is a large area of land on a lazy bend of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya. Full of lush greenery, plantations, and parks, it is often referred to as Bangkok’s “green lungs”. It is an ecologically important leafy green pocket located to the southeast of Bangkok city in Samut Prakan province’s Phra Pradaeng region. For more than a century, Bang Krachao has also been home to members of the displaced Mon community, originally from Burma, adding to the area’s cultural identity.

    An ‘Island’ is Created

    Back in the 1780s, maritime authorities, looking to shorten the distance boats had to travel up and down river, created a small canal across a narrow neck of Bang Krachao. This canal cut around 18 kilometres of steaming time for river vessels. However, the channel also allowed salty water from the Gulf of Thailand into the upper reaches of the river, damaging marine and riverbank life. The canal was subsequently dammed. Although water flow through the channel stopped, the idea that Bang Krachao as an ‘island’ was born.

    Fast forward to more recent times, and King Rama IX, wanting to help manage the impact of flooding in the greater Bangkok region during the monsoon seasons, identified this canal as a potential solution. After suitable analysis, the 600-meter canal Khlong Lat Pho was excavated to a depth of 7 meters and widened from 15 to 65 meters. 

    Four floodgates were also installed, which during seasonal flooding, funnelled excess river water down to the river mouth at Phra Chulachomklao Fort. This diverting of flood waters also meant the communities on both sides of the Chao Phraya in the Bang Krachao region were saved from significant impact. Subsequent analysis indicates this important canal increases drainage efficiency for the Chao Phraya by 10 to 15%.

    Linked to this impressive project was the construction of the Industrial Ring Road and Bhumibol Bridges 1 and 2. These bridges soar above the modern-day Khlong Lat Pho. Canalside below the motorway is a park and small museum dedicated to the late King, providing insights into the project and the local Mon people of Phra Pradaeng.

    Sustainable Tourism

    The Lat Pho Canal floodgates have eased annual damage from flooding in the Bang Krachao area, meaning locals, whose families have lived there for generations, can continue to follow their traditional lifestyle. However, this large pocket of green space, so close to Bangkok, has caught the eye of property developers who offer top money to locals for their real estate.

    To combat this, government authorities are working together in a drive to promote community-based tourism in Bang Krachao. This push would enable locals to receive a steady income, keep their homes, and maintain their culture and lifestyle. In so doing, Bangkok retains the benefit of these vitally important “green lungs”. Planned initiatives will encourage visitors to linger longer, offering more specialised activities, including homestays. 

    Adding weight to this, the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA) is working on a proposal to develop Bang Krachao as a new zone for sustainable tourism, in line with international standards. A proposal will be submitted to the national tourism policy committee and cabinet in late 2022 or early 2023. DASTA also plans to nominate Bang Krachao to the Netherlands’ Green Destinations Foundation for inclusion in their “Green Destinations Top 100 Stories” listing.

    Getting to Bang Krachao – Part of the Adventure

    Two cross-river ferries make accessing the ‘island’ relatively easy. First, visitors must travel to the area, and the MRT Blue line or the BTS Sukhumvit line are the best options.

    Cross river from Khlong Toei: those who escape from Bangkok can take a train to MRT Khlong Toei or BTS stations Phrom Phong or Thonglor. Then catch a taxi to Khlong Toei Pier and take a leisurely cross-river ferry to Bang Kachao Pier.

    Cross river from Wat Bang Na Nok, Sanphawat Pier: Located on the eastern side of the river bend, people may find BTS stations Bang Na or Udom Suk closer stops. It’s a short taxi ride to Wat Bang Na Nok and the pier. The cross-river ferry regularly runs to Wat Bang Nam Phueng Nok Port, on the ‘island’.

    Both ferry services cost approx 10THB per person. Once you have arrived at the pier, you can hire a bicycle for less than 100THB per day or take a songthaew or motorbike taxi to travel around.

    If choosing to drive onto the island, you need to approach from the western side over the Khlong Lat Pho.

    Bang Krachao Things to Do

    With around 16 square kilometres or 12,000 rai to explore, many people decide cycling as their preferred means of discovery. All on relatively flat roads and lanes, shared walk/cycleways and some narrow paths. The Green Road is especially attractive. The area has traditionally been agricultural land, and cycling provides a unique insight into traditional Mon and Thai lifestyle and culture.

    Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park, a small park developed in 2003, has approximately 2km of cycle and walking paths snaking through mangrove forests, coconut and Nipa palms, and to a bird watching tower. Birdwatchers enjoy the park, especially early morning – look out for the Pink-necked Green Pigeon and Stork-billed Kingfisher. Picnicking in the park is popular too. 

    Bang Krachao Floating Market is actually on the canal banks, not floating, offering a much more authentic experience. Serving all sorts of snacks, noodles, soups, Thai desserts, fresh fruits, and refreshing drinks, it is inexpensive and delicious. There’s a spacious area with wooden tables and chairs. OPEN: Saturday and Sunday only, from 8am till about 4pm.

    Canal excursions allow you to explore the canals taking you through farmlands, jungle-like areas, and past local families offering cheering greetings.

    Bangkok Tree House is about a 10-minute walk from Wat Bang Nam Phueng Nok Port. This beautifully eco-designed boutique hotel offers unique tree-house accommodation and organic dining with an extensive range of Thai individual and sharing dishes.

    Small restaurants, cafes and attractions are scattered around the island, making great stop-off points as you meander by bicycle. Approximately nine temples, including a Hindu temple and several shrines, are worth calling in at.

    Living and Investing near Bang Krachao

    If you are moving to Bangkok and fancy living close to Bang Krachao but still need easy access to mass transport, supermarkets, shops, local markets, restaurants and the like, locations along the Sukhumvit BTS line, like Phrom Phong, Thong Lor, Phra Khanong, and Bang Na are worthy options. 

    As Bangkok city continues to sprawl, these areas become increasingly popular with people buying to live or investing in Thailand. Foreigners buying off-plan condos have enjoyed a good return on investment, especially when purchasing the right property in the right location. Talk to our Lazudi agents for their advice.

    You may also be interested in: Bangkok’s New Benjakitti Forest Park And Opportunities Around

    Thailand Blog Neighbourhood Guides Bang Krachao, Bangkok: The “Green Lungs” of The City.