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Boat cruise to Koh Kret island, Murli Menon shares his experience

One is writing this from one's city facing room at the Siam City Hotel in downtown Bangkok, conveniently located opposite the BTS Phaya Thai Station, making it accessible to reach almost all of Bangkok's tourist attractions.

 Murli Menon in conversation with Prittle Prattle News

Boat cruise to Koh Kret island, Murli Menon shares his experience. One is writing this from one’s city facing room at the Siam City Hotel in downtown Bangkok, conveniently located opposite the BTS Phaya Thai Station, making it accessible to reach almost all of Bangkok’s tourist attractions. One has just returned from a boat cruise down the Chao Praya River after visiting a village known for its beautiful pottery. The Mon village of Koh Kret is a tiny island on the Chao Phraya River, located in Nonthaburi Province. One can reach Koh Kret from Sathorn pier in approximately 90 minutes by long-tailed boat. 

The island dated only to 1722, when a canal was constructed as a shortcut to bypass a bend in the Chao Phraya river’s Om Kret branch. As the canal was widened several times, the section cut off eventually became a separate island. Here live a community of craftsmen famous for their distinctive pottery style, which dates back many centuries! The potteries are known for their fine, red-black glazed surface and intricate design. They are all hand-made piece-by-piece, and one can see the process if one wants to. People live on Koh Kret, and nearby are the descendants of the Mon people, and they have managed to retain the skills of their forefathers.

Koh Kret is a center for “Kwan Arman,” a Mon pottery style, which is fundamentally just baked unglazed red clay carved with intricate patterns. Prices for the simplest and smallest pots start from as low as 5 baht a piece but can go up to hundreds or even thousands of baht for large ornate pieces. Incredibly popular among visitors are candles and incense holders with ornate patterns of holes to let the smoke or light out, averaging around 200 baht. There are some 20 pottery workshops on the island, and one can see many kilns as you walk around.

The other attraction at Koh Kret is the Wat Poramaiyikawat temple, constructed in Mon style and was built about 200 years ago. In 1873, King Rama V visited the temple, ordered the renovation, and later reconstructed the main temple. There are many villages producing potteries and other decorative items. They are made by hand and follow the old traditional Mon style and are not only extremely attractive to the eyes, but Mon potters also make pottery which can be used in our daily life, like soup bowls, night lamps, and aromatherapy lamps. 

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One starts one’s boat cruise at Sathorn pier (adjacent to Saphan Taksin BTS Station) and makes one’s way to Nonthaburi pier, which is a one hour ride on the fast-flowing waters of the Chao Praya river.

 One alights at Nonthaburi pier to hire a long-tailed boat which will take one to Koh Kret and return after an hour’s halt on the island. This cruise takes almost 90 minutes both ways, and much of the cruise is through the rural outskirts of Bangkok, making it a pleasurable trip. One gets down at Koh Kret pier and makes one’s way through the narrow streets. Both sides of the roads are filled with shops selling pottery of various kinds. Aromatherapy candle holders, night lamps, and large pots in a distinctive style are arranged on top of the other in endless rows. Street vendors selling everything from fried potatoes to papaya salads are found along the way. One walks about two kilometers through sighting several typical Buddhist temples whose spires can be seen from a distance.

The temple entrance is small, but one can sight a golden-colored statue of Quan Yin from the gate’s opening. Behind the temple is a pottery museum, which details Koh Kret village’s history and about the Mon tribesmen who came settled here and continues to make pots for generations! Several attractive large pots and vases from this Mon village are displayed and look gorgeous with dim lighting. They were illuminating the pots in the museum. One returns to one’s boat from the museum stopping at the roadside pottery stalls to buy a few souvenirs, including Thai herbal compress bags for steam massage, Thai herbs, and a few pieces of pottery which can reach home and which look sturdy enough to last the airport conveyor belts and luggage handlers.

Bangkok is connected by direct flights from New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore. The easiest way to reach Koh Kret is to take the once-weekly Chao Phraya Express Koh Kret tour, which leaves the Central Pier (BTS Saphan Taksin) every Sunday at 09:00 a.m. and visits several attractions before returning at 3:30 p.m. The cost of the cruise and a guided tour is 300 baht (no lunch). Many other companies also offer similar tours, often just as a stop on a longer upriver trip to Ayutthaya. The other option is to take the regular ferry by paying 13 Baht on the boat, getting down at Nonthaburi pier, and hiring a long-tailed boat at Nonthaburi. The return trip to Koh Kret with a one hour wait included costs 200 Baht.

Siam City Hotel, located adjacent to the Phaya Thai BTS sky-train station, is a convenient location to stay, as almost all tourist attractions, including Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and Sathorn pier, are easy to reach. The hotel is also located opposite Suan Pakkad Palace, which is a tourist attraction in itself due to the treasures of art housed in this palace. There are no hotels or guesthouses on Koh Kret. Most visitors visit Koh Kret as a day trip from Bangkok.

Many small restaurants serving Thai cuisine are found all over Bangkok. The food at the high profile hotels is only for the gastronomically adventurous who like greasy food. Fresh tropical fruits, including durians, mangosteens, pineapples, tender coconuts, and jack-fruits, are available at the local market. Siam City Hotel’s buffet breakfast has a selection of fresh fruits, raisins, watermelon juice, orange juice, fresh vegetable salads, and sautéed green vegetables for vegans who don’t consume any product of animal origin or products which contain minute traces of any work of animal origin. Koh Kret is known for its rice preparation named “Khao Cher,” which is similar to “pakeha” in Orissa or “kanji” in Kerala. This dish is a Mon specialty of rice served with chilled fragrant water and is eaten with green papaya salad and roasted peanuts. It is a favorite for hot summer days.   

About the Author :

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Murli Menon

Murli Menon, is a travel writer, stress management consultant and author  based at Ahmedabad, India. He is the author of “ZeNLP-Learning through stories” published by The Written Word Publications, “ZeNLP-the power to succeed” published by Sage publications and “ZeNLP-the power to relax” by New Dawn Press. He can be reached at

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