Day Tripper: A chill day on Koh Kret, the pottery island

DAY TRIPPER — Looking for a fun-filled day of Thai crafts, culture, exercise, and food? It would be hard to do better than Koh Kret.

Koh Kret is a small man-made island that sits at a pretty bend of the Chaophraya River. Located in Nonthaburi, about 30 kilometers from central Bangkok, Koh Kret makes a convenient day trip for anyone looking to get out of the city and get an authentic, old-school Thai experience.  

Back in the Ayutthaya period, a large canal was dug along the Eastern side of the area to form a shortcut. The canal shaved 4 kilometers of boat travel off of trips up the river and effectively turned the area left in the middle into a koh, or island.

How to get there

There are many ways to get to Koh Kret. The most convenient is driving or taking a taxi. However, if you’re on a tight budget, you can take the river boat service to the Nonthaburi Pier and make your way from there.

The ferry to the island (which will run you a rather reasonable THB2) leaves every 5 minutes from Wat Sanam Nuea. The temple boasts an array of vendors selling hats for THB20. If it’s hot out, it’s definitely worth picking one up.

Getting around

A main trail runs around the perimeter of the island. It starts off narrowly, winding its way through the houses and shops by the pier. Soon enough, however, it opens up into a generous, 3-meter-wide path that runs by some beautiful farms and local restaurants. You can either walk the trail or rent a bicycle for THB40 for the day.

Another way to get around is by local motorcycle taxis. There are no cars on the island and the trail is well-maintained which makes for some relatively safe cycling or motorcycling.

What to see

Koh Kret is famous for its pottery and boasts many shops that have been in operation for over a century. These pottery shops are well worth a visit to see the masters at their craft, shaping elaborate cups, pots and bowls on the pottery wheel.

For THB50, the Soon Hatakam Kreung Pan Din Pao Center will let you try creating a pot yourself. The nice gentleman who runs the center is usually happy to fire up the kiln and let you return to pick up your masterpiece at a later date as the process takes a few days.

Needless to say, if you are looking to purchase some beautiful pottery, you’ll find many very reasonably-priced pieces at their stores.

Evidence of the island’s history lines both sides of the main trail, as well as along the smaller branching pathways. Abandoned kilns, antique pots, and ancient sculptures are strewn about amongst the undergrowth, making for some interesting archeological opportunities for anyone in an exploratory mood. Many of the houses are built in the traditional method, sitting on stilts and boasting thatched roofs.

There are also a number of local temples to visit in the area including: Wat Salakun, Wat Phat Lorn and Wat Paramaiyikawat, featuring a leaning Pagoda. These are all very old and feature some beautiful clay and glass work.

If you happen to visit the island on weekends, there is a popular local market that extends about 500 meters along the northeastern end of the main trail. The market features delicious food, clothes, arts, and of course, pottery. This is a traditional Thai market which means everything you find will be incredibly cheap.

One of the highlights is a coffee shop called Ran Lek that offers coffee for THB25 in a clay cup, which you can take home as a souvenir.

A tip to Koh Kret on the weekend means dealing with crowds as the locals flock to visit the market, but the hassle is well worth it. If you’re looking to simply enjoy nature and are free during the week, that might be a better bet.

Happy travels!

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