Anyone dreaming of a rural escape from the concrete jungle will be pleased to learn that Koh Kret is less than hour away from downtown Bangkok and yet feels like another world. Koh Kret is a small manmade island on the outskirts of Bangkok that is famous for Mon tribe pottery, and makes an excellent day trip, especially when explored by bicycle.
The full-day cycle tour takes you through small farming communities, down a few muddy tracks and across the canals that crisscross the area. A tour of Koh Kret, near Bangkok, includes a 35 kilometre bike ride, English speaking guide and a delicious Thai lunch before you head back to the city, as well as your bike, helmet and a lot of water. Bike Tours near Bangkok are great fun and not only can you enjoy the countryside, but you also get the chance to try your hand at creating your own pottery piece. If you are looking to escape the city, then a tour of Koh Kret comes highly recommended.
After an early pick up it's almost an hour's drive outside Bangkok before we reach the start of our ride. The guide speaks excellent English, pointing out interesting sights as we zoom out of the city. Skyscrapers are soon replaced by fields and villages. The first stop is a small temple complex. Less ornate than the more famous temples, it is still a beautiful place to visit, with decorative bells that tinkle in the wind.
Bikes are set up and ready to go. I am a little worried, being the kind of girl who doesn't enjoy physical exertion. Thankfully, I don’t need to worry as, although the plan is to cycle 35 km to Ko Kret and then another few kilometres around the island, the area surrounding it is as flat as a pancake. Look carefully as you bike around and you can still see the tide line on telegraph poles from the devastating 2010 flooding.
Cyclists are also provided with a helmet and water bottle which is filled up at several snack stops. The first part of the bike tour of Koh Kret takes you along the waterways and if you don't feel confident on a bike this may make you a little nervous. At some points the path is only a metre wide, with nothing between you and some murky water. Take it slow and keep your hands on the breaks!
There is plenty of village life to observe along the bike tour as well: ladies in colourful clothing with straw hats tending to the fields of vegetables, fellow cyclists that seem to have balanced far more on their bike rack, and even the local rat catcher, catching the field rats for barbequing.
After this it’s a nice quiet ride along some muddy tracks with Ant, our guide, shouting out the names of flora and fauna “Banana! Baby turtle! Lemongrass! Rooster! Chinese vegetable!” It is great to have someone who can give you the bigger picture of rural life outside the city, which at times feels almost frozen in another era. There may be motorbikes and television aerials, but the pace of life here is according to the weather and the seasons and although the rickety wooden houses on stilts may be recent builds, you can easily see the remnants of 19th century farming traditions. We bike down small lanes where people are stringing up their washing, repairing holes in the hull of their boats while dogs doze in the shade.
Travelling through this area on a bike tour feels less intrusive and more respectful, and despite my sore legs I am really enjoying the chance to visit these communities. We arrive at the pier for our short boat journey across to Koh Kret, after four hours of what most people would call leisurely biking. The tiny alleyways and bridges that connect communities on the island, with sharp turns and small children make for a more challenging ride. After a brief quiet moment at one of the island’s temples we head to the famous pottery village, where I try my hand at making a clay bowl that looks very much like the handiwork of a small child, but was still a lot of fun. We then enjoy a delicious Thai lunch before heading back to Bangkok by minivan. I may be a little tired, but I really enjoyed my full day tour of Koh Kret.