Koh Kred is a small man-made island in the Chao Praya river, officially located in Nonthaburi Province, easily accessible by about one hour public boat ride from Bangkok. Its history dates back to almost 300 years ago when Tai Sa, the King of Ayutthaya, ordered the construction of a channel to cut through a sharp bend in the Chao Phraya River to shorten the trip up and down river from his capital, Ayuthaya. The canal was widened many times and the cut off sections resulted in the formation of the present day Koh Kred.
The first thing that comes into view when approaching this island on a boat is Chedi Mu Tao, a Mon style prominent feature leaning out towards the river due to the sinking of the land. Wat Paramai Yikawas is the main temple on the island, right next to the Koh Kred ferry landing. The temple was built in Mon style about 200 years ago and was later abandoned for a long period of time, before being resurrected during the reign of King Rama V. The highlight of this temple is the large statue of holy Pha Non Tha Munin, who is worshiped by the local Mon tribes.
Koh Kred continues to serve as a refuge for the Mon tribes, who dominated central Thailand between the 6th and 10th centuries. They have retained a distinct identity as skillful pottery-makers, producing earthenware pots in a variety of styles. You can visit some of these shops, and you will find the potters working with kilns that date back to 200 years. You can actually watch the earthenware pots materializing from the potters wheels, and marvel at the craftsmen’s mastery that have been passed on for generations. There are numerous shops where you can pick some great souvenirs. If in a mood for some detailed insight into pottery, you can visit one of the demonstrations that are regularly held at the Mon’s earthenware museum.
If you want a break from souvenir hunting, make a lunch stopover at the Khao Chae riverside restaurant, to taste the local specialty Nor Ka La, a vegetable deep-fried pastry – simply delicious.
Koh Kred is not a big island – it is ringed by a narrow concrete walkway, about 5 km long, which you can cover on foot in 2 hours. Along the way there are several tea and coffee stalls offering drinks in clay mugs. A visit to Koh Kred is not complete without a visit to Khao Boy coffee shop, long standing symbol of Koh Kred, where you can savor a traditional dessert, the Kanom Taoy Boran, washed down with a mug of good coffee.
Koh Kred other claim to fame is the delicious Thai desserts – people come from near and far to partake in these delicacies. A boat trip around the island is a pleasant way to approach the aptly named Klong Kanom Wan, the dessert canal, where you can watch live demonstrations on the production of these delectable treats.
Koh Kred is so close to Bangkok, yet will give you a feel of Thai rural life and a chance to experience the charm of the countryside.
Koh Kred should be visited on weekends when all the shops are open and the place is livelier. There are several ways to reach the island:
– By car: travel to Pak Kred, park the car at Sanam Nua and take the crossing ferry at the pier (10 baht).
– By taxi: same route, pay 200 baht for a round trip plus 60 baht expressway fees.
– By bus: routes 6 and 32 will take you to Pak Kred pier.
– By boat: perhaps the simplest way is to catch the Chao Phraya Express Boat which goes directly to the island on Saturdays and Sundays.
– Take a healthy walk.
– Rent a bicycle for 40 baht a day.
– Rent a motorbike for 50 baht an hour.
– Hop on a tourist boat at Wat Paramai Yikawas for a trip to Klong Kanom Wan or around the island, 50 baht per person.