No it does not have sandy beaches and no you don’t have to fly to get there. Koh Kret is but a stone’s throw from Nichada and you can cycle or drive to the foot ferry on the nearby Chao Phraya River at Wat Klangkret. The island is car and golf cart free, and if Nichada feels like a quiet oasis away from the city, then this place even more so.
Despite having lived in Nichada for three years, though we knew of it, had seen it from the air, as well as from across the other side of the river, where my wife and I regularly bike on weekends, my family had never visited Koh Kret until this past August when friends visited from Washington D.C.
Koh Kret sits in one of the many natural ox bow bends of the Chao Phraya and is humanmade, created when a canal was dug some 300 years ago to form an island. To this day a long established community of Mon people, a tribe that flourished in the 6th-10th century AD in Central Thailand, live here. While I am sure many of them and others on the island work on the “mainland”, the economy of the island is also driven by a traditional pottery industry, local cultural sites, family run orchards and ower farms, small educational centers, several wats, a busy weekend market, and a micro brewery.
Driving barely 15 minutes on a weekend morning to the Wat Klangkret pier, we parked on the road at the junction of Phumvej and Sukhaprachasan roads. There is plenty of space as Phumvej is a dual carriageway that dead ends at the pier. Then ambling over to the river to pay our ferry fee at a tiny shop, we waited a few minutes for the next boat. Crossing over we followed the locals and found a bike rental place within 100 metres of the ferry. From there we pedaled off and began our self-guided exploration, heading west and then north (to the left with the river behind you then right). The island is only 1×2 km so it’s hard to get lost as there is only one main route, but the local residents will happily point you along if you do go off course.
Koh Kret is supported by various tourist organizations and there are maps and official boards in Thai and English that identify places of interest, including signs on people’s gates indicating their name and what cottage activity they are engaged in or what crops they grow. The pottery industry on the island is historic and well known, many residents produce and sell pottery from their homes – we did stop and visit a local potter in his house. Riding around the island was a quiet and easy way to get another glimpse into local life here in Nonthaburi, though the area around the main Wat Poramai Yikawat was very busy on the weekend. But it is worth pushing on through this area, not just if you want to visit the Wat and the Inclining Pagoda of Koh Kret situated beautifully at the eastern corner of the island, but also to take in the local market where food, pottery and other familiar Thai handicrafts are available.
Another key reason is to complete the circle back to the ferry and bike rental is that Koh Kret is home to a micro brewery, Chit Beer – which conveniently sits between Wat Poramai and the ferry. Chit brews his own IPAs, wheat beers, lagers, ales etc., and also sells a range of other Thai and imported micro beers. We did not eat at Chit’s but they did seem to have some interesting bar food available: buffalo wings, salty chicken, sausages, fries etc.. He also offers wifi . While the island will be quieter on a weekday, Chit is only open on weekends.
The riding and rental bikes (no helmets available) are suitable for kids about 12 and up who are stable on a bike; or you could even walk the island or bring your own bikes on the ferry. The whole trip is especially suitable of course for the “big kids” with Chit Beer as a rewarding way to end your tour. So plan a visit, I recommend driving to the Klangkret Pier so you can enjoy some extra good Chit, except of course your designated driver.
Lakhdeep S. Babra, Thani Talk November 2017, page 38
Updated and added February 2018