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Located just north of the city, Koh Kret is a fantastic place to experience a slower pace of life on a day trip
The Chao Phraya River provides a counterpoint to the urban sprawl that surrounds it, also acting as an access point for some of Bangkok’s more bucolic tourist draws. One of these is Koh Ket, an artificial ‘island’ created 300 years ago when a canal was dug to shorten an oxbow bend in the river. The island, which is reachable by ferry and takes around an hour to get to from central Bangkok, retains a rustic feel far removed from the nearby metropolis. It is one of Thailand’s oldest settlements of Mon people, a tribe that dominated central Thailand between the sixthand 10thcenturies. Their distinct characteristics are visible in the design of the monasteries on the island and in the intricate patterned pottery, which is available to purchase at the 20 or so pottery workshops on the island.
With no cars to worry about, Koh Kret is one of the best places near Bangkok to harness pedal power to get around. There are several places to hire a passable (if ramshackle) pushbike near the main pier on the island. We love puttering around the perimeter track which extends around the island. Along the way you’ll find peaceful temples, the ubiquitous pottery shops scattered around the place and – best of all in our opinion – the island’s incredible food market. Here, visitors can fill up on an array of tasty snacks and meals including traditional Mon favourites like fried flowers and fish cakes as well as kanom jeen (soft, thin noodles made with fermented rice and served alongside a selection of fiery curries).
Koh Kret’s main claim to fame is arguably its pottery culture: a skill nurtured by successive generations of Mon people on the island. Their intricate patterned pottery is available to purchase at the 20 or so pottery workshops on Koh Kret. It can be difficult to know where to start as many of the shops have been in operation for well over a century and the experienced master potters are well versed in the ways of the pottery wheel. A good place to get involved is at the Soon Hatakam Kreung Pan Din Pao Centre, which will let you fire up the kiln and create your own pot for the princely sum of around THB50 (1.33 Euro).
Thailand’s craft beer scene has evolved significantly in recent years. While we love the selection of international brews available in city centre venues like Mikkeller, for a beer experience with a more local flavour there is no better place to visit than Chit Beer: a rustic Brewhouse by the river. Here, proprietor Wichit Saiklao serves up super cheap glasses of his own beers, produced next door in his academy and brewery, which is available for hire to aspiring beer makers.