A weekend in Phra Phradaeng
First published 22nd September, 2013
Want a countryside escape from Bangkok -- without leaving Bangkok? Just a five-minute taxi ride from Bang Na BTS station plus a four baht ferry hop across the Chao Phraya River and you could be chilling to the sounds of crickets and frogs rather than tuk tuks and bars. Here’s our idea of a perfect weekend getaway on Bangkok’s Phra Phradaeng peninsula.
Get to San Phawut pier in Bang Na by late afternoon, but before you board a cross-river skiff or longtail taxi, notice your surroundings in Bangkok’s not so charming industrial ring. Watch as taxis and trucks vie for every inch in the congested traffic that crawls past ugly gas refineries, gritty ports and mega-highway overpasses. Notice how the only green around -- shrub-like foliage -- struggles to lay roots within cracks in the concrete.
A little bit of green.
Once on the Phra Phradaeng side of the river, be mesmerised by the contrast in your surroundings. Over here, you’ll see locals unhurriedly pedal bicycles along leafy lanes that meander past teak wood stilted homes set amid lush gardens and forests teeming with wildlife. Thanks to an almost 360-degree oxbow in the Chao Phraya, this “peninsula” is more like an island of green surrounded by -- but disconnected from -- a sea of concrete.
Whether seeking a cheap but comfortable homestay or an eco-friendly resort with plenty of style, Bang Nam Phueng village’s small but interesting accommodation choices will satisfy most tastes. Settle in, breathe the fresh air and let the relaxation begin.
Lunch time peak hour.
No matter which you choose, your accommodation might be so pleasant that you’ll want to do nothing more than kick up your heels on a porch after arriving. Other options include a riverside stroll or bicycle ride at dusk, but don’t go too crazy just yet. Personally, we’d enjoy a slow-paced dinner at our guesthouse of choice, play a few leisurely games of cards or jot down some lines in a journal, and check out the stars before curling up for a quiet night's sleep.
Wake up early -- but not too early -- and walk or bike to Phra Phradaeng’s star attraction: Bang Nam Phueng weekend market, which stands out among Bangkok’s plethora of markets as something truly special. Set amid coconut groves and canals, an expansive yet intimate series of footpaths are lined with friendly vendors offering fresh local products that vibrate with colour.
Snack on finger foods like homemade sai krog (Thai sausage, both the northern and northeastern varieties), grilled mushroom skewers dipped in spicy sauce, or khao-niew bing (grilled coconut sticky rice with banana and taro wrapped in banana husks). Or nestle into a kids’ size canalside table for a more proper meal of nam tok muu (spicy and sour grilled pork salad) with sticky rice or ba-mee ped (roast duck noodle soup).
Save a little room for homemade coconut ice cream, and then lie back for a 200 baht, hour-long Thai massage. After sufficiently loosened up, pay 40 baht for a half-hour of rowing a private paddleboat through the canal -- very romantic indeed if you happen to be with a sweetie.
With plenty of afternoon daylight left, hop on a bicycle and pedal along the area’s elaborate network of country roads and raised bike paths that snake through the trees. Make your way to the peninsula’s northeastern corner for two of its most idyllic green spaces: Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery and Sri Nakhon Khuen Khan Park. Feed the fish, freak out the swans, climb a bird watching observation tower and completely forget that one of Asia’s largest cities is just a couple of kilometres away.
Who needs walls?
On the way back to your accommodation, you might stop for a seafood dinner on the tree-lined veranda at Krua Ban Nayok restaurant near Phethahung Soi 28. Don’t forget a torch if returning after dark -- those raised bike paths are narrow and going for a late night dive into a shallow canal is probably not the nightcap you’ll be looking for. A beer on your bungalow porch after successfully returning, on the other hand, sounds just about right.
Go ahead -- sleep in -- and then hop back on the bicycle and stop again at Bang Nam Phueng market for a Thai-style Sunday brunch, or skip it and head straight to the west side of the peninsula along Petchahung Road. The terrain will gradually become more developed as the stunning Bhumibol Bridge (Thailand’s longest and tallest) comes into view. With a solid 50 hours of nature already behind you, it will be time for a little culture in Phra Phradaeng town.
After cruising beneath the enormous bridge (feel free to stop at the riverside park beneath it for a photo-op), make a stop at Wat Song Thum. This 300 year-old Ayuttthaya-era temple houses a striking wooden standing Buddha image from the Sukhothai dynasty along with a soaring Mon-style chedi. Sunday late morning and early afternoon are great times to be swept up in a gathering of cheerful locals who come together each week to prepare food for the monks. If you dress appropriately and crack the old ladies a smile, they’ll perhaps invite you in for lunch.
Leave your bicycle at Wat Song Thum and instead let one of the old fashioned human-powered rickshaws take you just south to Phra Phradaeng town. Here, you’ll find some exceptionally lighthearted locals chatting and joking amid the tightly packed old streets where more memorable eats can be scored. After enjoying the town’s inviting air, stroll just north along the river and stop at a picturesque park set around the 200-year-old ruins of Phlaeng Faifa Fort, once a strategic military outpost that was instrumental in protecting the capital.
If you can time your return trip just right, stop by the Firefly Village towards the end of Petchahung Soi 20 at dusk and marvel at the hundreds of fireflies twinkling amid thickly forested paths. Further down Petchahung Road, you might make a detour at Raan Yai Ban just past Petchahung Soi 30 to snatch up some homemade Thai-Mon style sweets that are beloved in the area, you know, for a late night snack.
As the waning hours of your weekend getaway in Phra Phradaeng slip away, a romantic dinner on Bangkok Tree House’s stylish open-air veranda could be just the way to savour one more night “away” from the city. Enjoy locally grown organic produce in simple yet exquisite dishes paired with carefully chosen wines served under the stars.
Blue skies in Bangkok!
Rest easy amid the peace and quiet, and return to the grind of Bangkok on Monday morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. And, the best part is: this magical pocket of countryside is always waiting nearby for your next trip, be it an hour or a week, just across the river.
Related readingBangkok's Thonburi: exploring the west side
Exploring the Lungs of Bangkok
Thailand's Mae Khlong market
Add your comment
Feature story quicklinks
- Giving back in Southeast Asia (10)
- All stories
- COPE: Helping people move on
- Helping Phuket's children in need
- Helping Siem Reap's rubbish dump families
- Helping Singapore's transient workers
- Helping the Karen of Burma
- Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam
- Lifestart Foundation, Hoi An
- Thai Freedom House, Chiang Mai
- The Samui Prison Project
- The SET Foundation
- Burma (6)
- Cambodia (21)
- All stories
- A Cambodian Eco-lodge
- A honeymoon in Cambodia
- Angkorian traffic woes
- Battambang weekend
- Elephant riding in Cambodia: Should you?
- Great places to stay in Siem Reap
- Is Preah Vihear safe to visit?
- Koh Rong: Trouble in paradise?
- Kompong Cham escape
- Northeast Cambodia in photos
- Oh Poipet!
- PEPY:Sustainable Cambodian tourism
- Phnom Tamao Wildlife Refuge
- Sihanoukville beaches lure expats
- Spas, shopping & seers in Siem Reap
- The best islands in Cambodia
- The best places to stay on Cambodia's islands
- The Death Highway
- Trekking the Cardamoms in Cambodia
- Which Cambodian island is right for you?
- Why you should go to Cambodia
- Indonesia (13)
- All stories
- A funeral in Toraja, Sulawesi
- Climbing Rinjani
- How to hire a boat in Indonesia: Without drowning
- Learn to surf in Bali
- Medewi: A great Bali getaway
- Mountain biking in Bali: A ride in the woods
- The Gili islands: Which is the right one for you?
- Ubud bird watching: From waterhens to witchcraft
- Ubud shopping guide
- Village trekking in Tana Toraja
- Weekend in Nusa Penida
- Yogya's student scene
- Laos (15)
- All stories
- Best budget rooms in Luang Prabang 2013
- Elephant trekking in Laos
- Exploring Laos' Bolaven Plateau
- Huay Xai to Pak Tha by slowboat
- Is Lao Airlines safe to fly?
- Laos' vanishing elephants
- Luang Prabang escape
- Muang Ngoi Escape
- Photos of Luang Prabang, Laos
- Pi Mai Lao in Luang Prabang: In 1999
- Southern Laos by scooter
- Temples in Luang Prabang
- The Gibbon Experience
- The Phonsavan adventure
- Vientiane's Chinatown
- Malaysia (6)
- Singapore (9)
- Thailand (70)
- All stories
- 10 Bangkok galleries worth a look-see
- 10 Thai treks aside from Chiang Mai
- 24 Hours in Bangkok: Sukhumvit to Siam Square
- 5 Southern Thai towns to lose time in
- A Thai homestay in Ayutthaya
- A weekend in Phra Phradaeng
- A weekend on Ko Samet, Thailand
- An extra day in Krabi
- Andaman Sea island hopper
- Ayutthaya temple tour
- Bangkok for art lovers
- Bangkok's Charoen Krung Road
- Bangkok's Thonburi: exploring the west side
- Brilliant Bangkok
- Chiang Dao getaway
- Chiang Mai's temples
- Corruption in Thailand
- Eating on the edge
- Elephant's World Kanchanaburi
- Exploring Lamphun
- Exploring the Lungs of Bangkok
- Far southern Thailand: Go or not?
- Floating markets around Bangkok
- Highlights of Chanthaburi province
- How to do Khao Yai National Park
- Khao San Road safety and scams
- Ko Mun Nork: a nearby paradise
- Ko Pha Ngan 7-day detox:Colonic fast
- Ko Pha Ngan's best beaches in 2013
- Ko Phi Phi on a budget
- Ko Tao for non-divers guide
- Ko Yao: the islands you're looking for
- Learning Muay Thai in Bangkok
- Motorcycling the Chiang Rai loop
- Narathiwat: residence of good people
- Navigating Bangkok: The BTS Skytrain
- Phuket by night
- Phuket for Kids
- Phuket heritage walk: Car parts to saris
- Phuket's secret beaches
- Planning around Thailand's civil unrest
- Roll your own Kanchanaburi
- Should I book for the full moon party?
- Should I cancel my Thai holiday? No.
- Soi Thong Lo, Bangkok
- Sorting out Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Staying at a Thai monastery
- Thai islands for nature lovers
- Thai islands to lose yourself on
- Thai visa FAQ
- Thailand tsunami wrap
- Thailand's Mae Khlong market
- Thailand: Where to from here?
- The best beach on Ko Samui
- The best places to stay on Ko Kut, Thailand
- The bridge over the River Kwai festival
- The road to Sangkhlaburi
- Travelling through north-east Thailand
- Trekking in Thailand
- Trisara -- decadent luxury at its best
- Two days in Kamphaeng Phet
- What is the best beach on Ko Tao?
- What is the best island in Thailand?
- What's a good beach on Ko Pha Ngan?
- What's a good beach on Ko Samui?
- Where to stay at Railay Bay, Thailand
- Where to stay in Sukhothai?
- Where to stay on Ko Samet, Thailand
- Which beach on Ko Samui?
- Which island in Trang?
- Vietnam (31)
- All stories
- A short break in Nha Trang
- A Weekend in Can Tho
- Being fed Fido: Eating dog in Vietnam
- Buying a touring motorbike in Vietnam
- Con Dao escape
- Do nothing and see the best of Hanoi
- Doing the DMZ from Hue
- Exploring Kon Tum
- Exploring Vietnam's Mekong Delta
- Ha Long Bay conclusions
- Ha Long Bay for backpackers
- Ha Long Bay for budget-busters
- Ha Long Bay for flashpackers
- Hanoi escape
- Hanoi or Saigon?
- Hoi An -- Walking over the dragon
- How to do the Dien Bien Phu loop
- How to enjoy your time in Vietnam
- How to pick a good Ha Long Bay cruise
- Is the Hoi An culture tour worth it?
- Motorbike Vietnam's Central Highlands
- One day in Hanoi
- Responsible shopping and eating in Hoi An
- Saigon's top 10 cafés
- Sapa or Bac Ha?
- Saving Vietnam's bears
- Street food safety
- The DMZ: Traveller tactical briefing
- Travel tips for Tet in Vietnam 2013
- Two Wheels & Ricefields: A review
- Which is the best street food tour in Hanoi?
- Accommodation guides (19)
- All stories
- 2005 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
- 2005 Top guesthouses in Chiang Mai
- 2006 Top guesthouses in Hanoi
- 2006 Top guesthouses in Phnom Penh
- 2006 Top guesthouses on Ko Phi Phi
- 2006 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
- 2008 Top Bangkok airport guesthouses
- 2008 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
- 2008 Top spots on Phu Quoc Island
- 2009 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
- 2009 Top Phnom Penh guesthouses
- 2011 Best places to stay in Kuala Lumpur
- 2011 Best places to stay on Ko Phi Phi
- Best places to stay in Hanoi 2012
- Cheap Phuket guesthouses & hotels
- Five special hotels in Cambodia
- Ko Lipe's best budget guesthouses 2012
- The changing face of Khao San Road
- Where to stay on Koh Rong Samloem
- Travel with kids (7)
- Opinion & advice (14)
- All stories
- 10 reasons to do an adventure tour
- 10 reasons to travel independently
- A year's worth of travel for 2013
- Beach hideaways in Asia
- Do I need reservations for my holiday?
- Evil man of Krabi
- Fifteen tips for a great holiday in Asia
- Getting a cheap airfare to Asia
- Hotels should never charge extra for WiFi
- Long distance buses in Southeast Asia
- Mass tourism in Southeast Asia
- Nine Asian upcountry hideaways
- Planning a Gap Year? Some advice.
- Ten Southeast Asian trips for 2008
- How do I? (11)
- All stories
- Bangkok to Ko Samui, Pha Ngan & Tao
- Bangkok to Siem Reap
- Catching a train in Thailand
- Catching a train in Vietnam
- Cheap flights with Discovery Airpass
- Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- Crossing the Cambodia Laos border
- Ko Chang to Phu Quoc Island
- Siem Reap to Ko Chang
- Stops between Bangkok & Chiang Mai
- Visa run from Thailand to Burma
- Cycling Asia (13)
- All stories
- 24 hours in Bangkok
- An Angkor cycling guide
- An introduction
- Battambang, bamboo trains & guides
- Confessions of a "cheating cyclist"
- Cycles of all sorts
- Ha Long Bay independently
- Ko Samet Vs Pattaya
- Muay Thai night
- Phonsavan and Luang Prabang
- The hills of Vietnam
- The road less travelled
- Tubing in Vang Vieng
- Health and safety (6)
- Money and finance (4)
- Diving guides (6)
- Photo essay (3)
- Guest blog (2)
- General (15)
- All stories
- 10 Christmas days in Asia we're yet to have
- 10 dumb things I've done while travelling
- 34 ways to travel greener
- Asian animal experiences
- Call me Mr Massage Magic
- Chefs Without Borders
- Flying is fun!
- Mr Golden
- On being a travel writer
- Teaching ESL in Asia
- The 211 country honeymoon
- The Boxing Day Tsunami: 5 years on.
- To Teach or Not to Teach
- Travel writing scholarship 2012
- Tuk to the Road Charity ride
- Book reviews (5)
- Interviews (8)
- Explore Bangkok by BTS (16)
- All stories
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ari
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chid Lom
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chong Nonsi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Mo Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: National Stadium
- Bangkok by skytrain: On Nut
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phaya Thai
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phloen Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phrom Phong
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchadamri
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchathewi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sala Daeng (S2)
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sanam Pao
- Bangkok by skytrain: Saphan Taksin
- Bangkok by skytrain: Surasak
- Bangkok by skytrain: Thong Lor
Sign up for Travelfish Burp!
Our weekly wrap on Southeast Asian travel.
Click here to see a recent newsletter.