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The Riverside Retreat Inside Bangkok’s Hidden Oasis

Written by World Events

Seeking refuge from the sweltering heat of Bangkok? Discover a tranquil oasis just a stone’s throw away from the urban sprawl in the Bang Ko Bua riverside community along the Chao Phraya River. This idyllic escape offers enchanting waterways, lush gardens, and delightful home-cooked cuisine, providing a serene reprieve from the chaotic city.

Perched on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, Bang Ko Bua is a gem within Bang Krachao, often hailed as Bangkok’s oasis. Spanning 16 square kilometres, this area features mangrove forests, quaint homes, and elevated pathways along the canals.

Initially serving as a passage for tourists exploring the Khlong Toey and Bang Na areas, visiting the Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market, and cycling in Bang Krachao, Bang Ko Bua has evolved into a haven for those seeking a peaceful retreat, establishing itself as a destination in its own right.

On the east side of the community, Wat Bang Ko Bua invites visitors to delve into the local traditions and beliefs of the Buddhist community. Rooted in the late Ayutthaya period, this temple stands as a spiritual anchor.

Originally known as Wat Bang Ka Bua, it later embraced the name Wat Bang Ko Bua, aligning with the sub-district’s nomenclature.

Visitors experience the canal-side way of life that once thrived on both sides of the Chao Phraya.//Photo: Bang Ko Bua Tourism

To step back in time, explore the Ban Klong Bon Museum, curated by 67-year-old resident Daeng Kraisomphol. This unique museum showcases a collection of rare and antique items, including silverware, traditional patterns, kitchen utensils, agricultural tools, and currency.

Serving as a valuable learning resource for future generations, the museum provides insights into the rich history and cultural heritage of the Bang Ko Bua community.

Discover Bang Ko Bua’s hidden gem by strolling to the Phae Canal, just a short walk south of the temple. Once a vital canal route connecting Bang Ko Bua residents with Klong Toey Port for trade and transportation, the Phae Canal’s significance waned with the introduction of roads.

In an effort to preserve its cultural heritage, the community collaborated on dredging and restoring a 1-kilometer stretch of the canal, transforming Klong Phae into a significant eco-tourism destination. Visitors can now take a boat ride through its waters, experiencing the canal-side way of life that once thrived.

For those seeking rejuvenation, a visit to the Bang Ko Bua Health Centre is a must. Here, a community group has passionately crafted a unique herbal foot spa using locally grown herbs. With over seven types of herbs, including kaffir lime and its leaves, lemongrass and turmeric, this soothing blend aims to alleviate foot and hand fatigue, providing a refreshing escape.

Enhance your local wellness experience by delving into the art of crafting fresh herbal compress balls with Grandma Kanda, the esteemed herbalist of Bang Ko Bua. Utilizing locally grown herbs like lemongrass, turmeric, tamarind leaves, kaffir lime leaves, and Phim Sen (borneol), participants create personalized herbal compress balls.

Visitors can learn to craft fresh herbal compress balls with Grandma Kanda, the local healer and herbalist of Bang Ko Bua.//Photo: Bang Ko Bua Tourism

The freshness of these herbal compresses is believed to enhance the benefits, allowing active ingredients to better penetrate the skin.

Conclude your immersive experience with a treat for the senses – a soothing massage using the handmade herbal balls. This not only refreshes your body but also offers a glimpse into the local traditions of Bang Ko Bua.

After this rejuvenating journey, it’s time to indulge in a more creative, and fun experience with a tie-dyeing fabric workshop. Local artisans will guide you through hands-on activities using natural colours such as turmeric, hibiscus leaves, marigold flowers, logwood trees, and coconut husks.

Enjoy a creative break with a tie-dyeing fabric workshop at Bang Ko Bua.//Photo: Bang Ko Bua Tourism

Create vibrant tie-dye fabrics, crafting unique and meaningful souvenirs that encapsulate the cultural richness of Bang Ko Bua.

And when it comes to unique experiences, don’t miss out on savouring the local cuisine in the Bang Ka Chao area, renowned for its coconut-themed dishes. Indulge in the rare “Gang Krup Coconut with Fresh Shrimp,” a curry that uses the tender part of the coconut shoot and requires advance reservation.

“Gang Krup Coconut with Fresh Shrimp,” a coconut shoot curry with shrimp, will tempt visitors to Bang Ko Bua to eat more than they intended.//Photo: Bang Ko Bua Tourism

Seasonal menus feature dishes like “Hormok Pla Kapong Bai Yor” (Steamed Sea Bass with Indian Mulberry Leaves) and “Nam Prik Pad Ma Kham” (Spicy Tamarind Chili Dip).

A culinary masterpiece, “Miang Kleep Bua Phrik Klua” is an essential delight of Bang Ko Bua sub-district. Its visual charm echoes the famed Miang Kleep Bua, but its distinction lies in the perfect fusion with phrik klua or salted chili.

Roasted mature coconut meat, finely ground and blended with coconut sugar, forms the base of this unique chilli, offering a nuanced medley of sweetness, richness, and saltiness. Beyond the salted chili, Miang features lime, ginger, dried shrimp, shallots, peanuts, bird’s eye chili, and lotus petals – a flavourful ensemble that defines this specialty.

Planning your trip to Bang Ko Bua

If you are using public transportation, take the BTS to Bang Na station, walk to Wat Bang Na Nok, and board a ferry to Bang Krachao. If driving, follow Sukhumvit and Pu Chao Saming Phrai roads to Prapadaeng Pier, take a ferry across the Chao Phraya River, and you’ll reach Bang Ko Bua in 10 minutes via Phetchahung Road.

Visitors enjoy the beauty and serenity of kayaking along the tranquil canal in Bang Ko Bua.//Photo: Bang Ko Bua Tourism

You can explore Bang Ko Bua with a travel package by Bang Ko Bua Travel, offering boat rides, kayaking, tie-dyeing fabric, herbal compress ball-making, and a herbal foot spa with a massage. Book three days in advance with Sitthipong Puthawat, the community tourism coordinator, at 090-986-7987.

By Thai PBS World Feature Desk

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