Located in the Chao Phraya river just a few miles north of Bangkok lies Koh Kret, a tiny island known for its pottery, desserts and distinct Mon culture. Only a few hundred people live on the island full time but during the weekends the population multiplies as Thais, foreigners and tourists alike flock to this oasis in the middle of the urban sprawl.
The area around the pier is dominated by Wat Poramaiyikawat, the largest temple on the island, and shops selling various food items, souvenirs and handicrafts. Most shops are only open on Saturday and Sunday and visitors should come early to avoid the crowds and enjoy a bag of fried fish cakes with chilli sauce and sliced cucumber or buy a piece of Mon-style pottery made from unglazed terracotta and decorated with intricate patterns.
One of the main attractions on Koh Kret is desserts that come in all the colours of the rainbow. Most of the shops are located along the first part of the walk way that runs around the island and bar a few exceptions they all sell more or less the same style of cakes, wrapped and packaged in small boxes that cost THB20 baht. Some shops also offer a make-your-own-mix concept where customers choose from an array of sweets and pay per weight. Shops are mainly open on the weekends from 8am to 6pm.
Despite its small size, Koh Kret is home to a relatively large number of temples, amongst them Wat Chimphli Sutthawat, located just around 10-15 minutes south of the pier. The street outside the temple is decorated with prayer flags, and vendors selling snacks and cold drinks line the street. Built during the late Ayuthaya period, Wat Chimphli Sutthawat is a Mon-style temple, which can be seen in the way the temple is decorated – keep an eye out for the colourful glass on the bell inside the pagoda and the two Chinese rock statues on both sides of the ubosot door.
Koh Kret is also known for its pottery. The island’s many pottery makers open every day from around 9 in the morning and to 4 or 5pm. Pots come in many shapes and sizes and can be bought for as little as THB500. Most of the sellers make the distinct Mon-style unglazed terracotta with intricate design and many also sell cold drinks in typical Mon style pottery. They make a cute souvenir and the terracotta keeps the sugary drinks cold.
Getting There and Away
Getting around on Koh Kret is easy. The island is only around two kilometres wide and two kilometres long and walking along the ring road that goes around the entire island takes only around one and a half hours. There are also some places that rent out bicycles for as low as THB40 for an entire day, and all along the river small taxi boats await to take you on a tour along the banks for an outside view of the island. A map of Koh Kret welcomes guests as soon as they step on to the island, highlighting points of interest.
There are several ways of getting to Koh Kret. If you decide to go via boat, get up early and take the BTS to Saphan Taksin on the Silom line. Get off at Saphan Taksin and take exit 1 or 2 down to the pier. Get the Express Boat service (the one with the green flag) all the way to Pak Kret pier (THB20), which has number N33. The pier is right next to Wat Sanam Nuea. It will take around one hour and the boat leaves every 15-20 minutes from 6.15am to 8am in the morning and again in the afternoon from 3.30pm to 6pm. From Pak Kret pier, take the THB2 ferry across the river to Koh Kret.
Another, and faster, option is to take the BTS to Mo Chit on the Sukhumvit line and get a taxi to Pak Kret pier, then take the ferry across. The taxi ride is around half an hour and will cost around THB150.
Getting away from Koh Kret you can hire one of the many taxi boats to take you back to the main pier, or cross back over to Wat Sanam Nuea/Pak Kret pier and get a taxi back to Mo Chit BTS station or all the way back to the city centre.
- There are a few ATMs on the island so fear not if you have forgotten your cash at home. One of them is located just when you get off the pier and turn right towards Wat Poramaiyikawat and Wat Poramaiyikawat Museum.
- The boat from Pak Kret pier to Koh Kret leaves every 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day. The journey takes less than 5 minutes and costs just THB2 each way, payable at arrival on Koh Kret.
- Koh Kret is known for all its handicrafts so don’t leave the island without a souvenir. Apart from the pottery, there are also shops selling spoons, forks, spatulas, and knives with prices starting from just THB10 baht for a small wooden spoon.