Looking for something different to do in Bangkok? Tired of the hustle and bustle of the city streets? Then take a trip to Phra Pradaeng, a small peninsula situated on the southern side of Bangkok in the Samut Prakan district. Phra Pradaeng offers visitors a relaxing escape into another world filled with all sorts of exotic flora and fauna. This community has one of the lowest population densities in Bangkok and gives us a glimpse at a more rural lifestyle without having to travel far. A construction ban was placed on the area in 1977 in order to preserve its natural beauty, which means it is the only district in Bangkok where you won’t find any high-rise buildings. Here, you can enjoy a break from the hectic day-to-day life that the City of Angels is so well known for.
There are a few ways to get to this verdant jungle paradise, but I highly recommend taking a taxi to the Chao Praya Port in Klong Toey. From there you can purchase inexpensive tickets on a small wooden boat that whisks you across the river to the pier at Phra Pradaeng called Tha Bangkrachao. The ride is an exciting way to distance yourself from urban Bangkok and a perfect start to your adventure, with fantastic views of the city.
Riding a push bike is the best way to get around once you have arrived in Phra Pradaeng. The peninsula is criss-crossed with a labyrinth of narrow concrete passageways elevated over the klongs and swamps, which allow you a chance to explore places that you can’t reach via car. A few steps from the boat terminal you can hire your own
push bikes for the day at a very reasonable price of about $100 BHT / day. (Make sure to check the brakes, gears and tyres before you take off). There are also several push bike companies that advertise full day-trips with a knowledgeable guide, brand new bikes and meals included for around $5000 BHT.
Visiting Phra Pradaeng is akin to travelling back in time, to an era when Teak houses built on stilts dominated the landscape of Bangkok. There are also several attractions to hunt down as you cycle along, such as the Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery. This building has two different sections that are filled with a diverse range of fighting fish on display, and the gardens surrounding the gallery are absolutely filled with flowers and butterflies. It’s a great place to catch your breath and take in the scenery. Or why not enjoy a picnic at Pom Phlaeng Faifa Fort, built in 1815. Once a military stronghold, now it’s an enchanting place to spend the day, with gorgeous gardens surrounding ruins of the fort. The facilities are open 7 days a week, from 8am-5pm.
Every weekend there is a lovely market where locals come to sell their products to passers-by. A famous lunch to be enjoyed here is Kuai-tiao Ruea , also known as “boat noodles”. There are a handful of longboats in the main Klong that serve Kuai-tiao Ruea, which is not to be missed. It’s a simple soup with rice noodles, broth, spices and assorted meats, a tasty delicacy that will win your praise instantly. Take some time to browse through the stalls at the market and marvel at the traditional handmade crafts. You can even improve your karmic disposition by making merits at the nearby Wat. For a few Baht you purchase small caged birds, or snakes, fish, eels or turtles, and release them back into the wild thus improving your karma, so they say.
Depending on what time of year your stay in Bangkok happens, there are a couple festivals that are spectacular to view from Phra Pradaeng. The area was originally settled by the Mon tribe and, to this day, it is one of the only places that celebrate Songkran (the Thai New Year’s water festival in mid-April), in the traditional Mon way. At the end of the calendar year, Thai’s celebrate Loi Krathong, the festival of light. The tradition is to float an offering down the river on a vessel made of banana leaves carrying candles and other objects in order to give thanks
to the river and all of its life-giving attributes. Phra Pradaeng is a great place to avoid the major crowds and enjoy the spectacle with the locals.
If one day isn’t enough for you, there are a few options for overnight stays. For a luxurious experience, consider the Bangkok Tree House with stunning architecture and views combined with a nature-centric atmosphere. For those of us on a tighter budget, there’s a more affordable option available at the Phuengnang Homestay, a lovely guesthouse equipped with a variety of amenities. Whichever you decide be sure to bring your camera and some mosquito repellent. You can rest assured that your time on Phra Pradaeng will not soon be forgotten!
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