Bangkok is so big, we’ve split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Bangkok as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don’t know where to start? Read an overview of Bangkok’s different areas.Go back to Bangkok main page »
Isolated from the noise, crowds and concrete of Bangkok by a huge oxbow in the Chao Phraya River, Phra Phradaeng peninsula (aka Khung Bang Kachao) is an unlikely pocket of countryside surrounded by city. After crossing the river to Phra Phradaeng from Bangkok, one gets the sense of having discovered a secret place, a green anomaly that has somehow eluded the city's frenzy for development.
In stark contrast to the bright lights and traffic of Sukhumvit Road, and the grit of countless factories -- all of which are just a stone's throw across the river -- Phra Phradaeng is home to lush forests, parks, streams, overgrown mango plantations, sleepy temples and country homes that blend seamlessly into flower gardens and banana groves. The peninsula has been nicknamed Bangkok's "green lung", and when viewed on a satellite map it appears as an island of forest amid a sea of concrete.
A network of narrow country roads and raised bicycle paths make Phra Phradaeng a cyclist's paradise, and it's the only place in greater Bangkok where human powered rickshaws are still widely used for getting around. A diverse array of wildlife -- including plenty of bird species -- thrives in the trees and canals. An abundance of local produce is grown at small-scale farms and gardens, much of it sold at Bang Nam Phueng weekend market (one of the Bangkok area's best). With a conscious local community committed to preserving the area's environment, Phra Phradaeng is a needed breath of fresh air in a country that's seen some 85 percent of its forests destroyed over the last 60 years.
During the reign of Rama I in the late 1700s, Phra Phradaeng town hosted a military base due to its strategic location at a 90-degree curve in the Chao Phraya River. With an almost 360-degree oxbow behind it, the intimidating white walls of Phlaeng Faifa Fort on the banks of the river successfully kept any southern naval invaders from reaching the Thai capital at Bangkok. Although much of the fort's original structures have been lost over the centuries, the riverside ruins of Phlaeng Faifa can still be visited today in a park just south of Phra Phradaeng town.
Initially settled by Mon people many centuries ago, Phra Phradaeng remains one of the few places in Thailand where distinctly Mon traditions can still be distinguished from greater Thai culture, evidenced by the traditional skirts worn by many elder women of the area. A world away from the sleaze and scams found in some parts of Bangkok, friendly, laidback, warm-hearted people are the norm in Phra Phradaeng.
By David Luekens.