Prapadaeng – Bangkok’s Green Lung
A green oasis amidst a concrete jungle
“Enjoying nature” isn’t an activity one would usually expect to be doing while visiting Bangkok. In fact, it’s probably the furthest thing from a jungle that comes to mind, unless of course it’s a concrete jungle you’re referring to.
Little known to many visitors (and perhaps even to some locals too), there is a massive part of the city which is completely covered in lush, green jungle! In fact, navigating the circumference of this area will take you approximately 20 kilometres around! With only a few roads, and a number of elevated sidewalks, there is very little traffic here, and it makes for an ideal terrain to cycle around over the course of a day. It is probably a bit too big to go only by foot, however, unless you are only planning on visiting a smaller portion of the protected lands.
My first impression on learning of this place was nearly one of disbelief. Although Bangkok has a lot of greenery – this tends to happen in most places in the tropics, nature finds a way – I would not have guessed there was a full on jungle in this mega-city. Upon arriving there, my feelings quickly changed to one of being at peace. The same as you would get from escaping city life to go to a cottage for a weekend. The best part is that it’s a lot closer than most people’s cottages are from a major city. This one’s actually IN the city.
The pier found at Wat Klong Toey (Klong Toey Temple) connects the ferries to the main part of the city. The ride is quite quick and only costs about 20 THB ($0.65 USD) to take the shuttle boat.
There’s a number of things to do while visiting Prapadaeng. Upon arriving via the Klong Toey ferry, there is a bike stand with dozens of bikes for rent. This is a great starting point for a biking adventure around Bangkok’s Green Lung. Bikes are available here for about 100 THB (roughly $3.50) for the day. Don’t expect much, however. These are really granny bikes with no gears and failing breaks. Try yours out first to make sure all the bells and whistles work prior to taking it on the road.
Upon arriving in Prapadaeng, only a short distance away from the pier, you will find a very odd place which is certainly worth a stop. There is a venue which can be used for hosting some neat events and has some camping and catering facilities, though the really unique part about it is that it’s main attraction is a Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery. There are hundreds of little round fishbowls housing the same number of fighting fish. A few other tanks with a variety of other aquatic creatures are scattered around the pagodas as well. All around the exterior of the grounds is a history on Prapadaeng as well as some info about the significance of the Siamese Fighting Fish.
Not far from here, there is a giant park, named Bang Krachao Park. The park is beautiful and full of trails to take your bike on, as well as having a very large pond. If this was the extent of your day, it would still be worthwhile for a relaxing day in a beautiful park, which ISN’T surrounded by busy city streets for a change. You’ll probably see a number of people picnicking, paddling around the mini-lake, and you might even spot a few giant monitor lizards sunning themselves.
If you choose to continue on, one of Prapadaeng’s key attractions is a short ride from here. The elevated sidewalks which bring you over a vast swamp land in the jungle. The paths are quite narrow, so please exercise caution if doing this leg of the ride. It would be more than a meter drop into the muck if you went over.
As you’re cycling through the actual Green Lung part of Prapadaeng, you will see a number of houses on stilts over the swamplands. The elevated sidewalk is essentially their lifeline to the world. Every now and then you’ll need to ‘carefully’ pull over and let a speeding scooter past you as they whip down the narrow winding sidewalks. This isn’t much different than trying to ride a bike in the city itself, except for the muddy crash landing spot were you to fall over.
Riding through the Green Lung can be a bit confusing as the sidewalks bend and turn in different directions. You can rest assured, however, that if you continue following a sidewalk through all it’s twists and turns, it will eventually dump you back out onto the same road you entered it from, just perhaps in a different location further down the road (or even where you had already come from, as was the case for us once or twice). This is really one of the most exciting and fun adventures I’ve been on in Bangkok. I love bicycles, I love exploring (and sometimes getting lost) and I love the jungle – this is truly the best of all 3 of those worlds!
A little further up the main road you’ve been riding down, there is a small temple. It’s not too different from most temples you find in Thailand, and is quite small by comparison to many you’ll see around Bangkok. The nice part about Prapadaeng’s temple is that it is about half way through your journey – a good resting point, a place to get some water or snacks from the nearby vendors – a place to relieve yourself, if necessary, too!
From here, there’s a pretty long stretch to get to the next destination. You’ll be heading from one side of Prapadaeng, out of the green lung temporarily, all the way to the other side. You’ll be travelling down the main road that cuts through the green oasis, which is busier than most of the others and passes through a larger town, and then back into the quiet forested region. At the end of this segment, you’ll come to one of the least touristy floating villages to still exist in Bangkok, Talad Bang Nampung. This is a great place to reenergize and relax as you wander around. My favourite section is the man-powered children’s rides, usually with someone walking around pushing the rides in circles. *PLEASE NOTE* This market only happens on weekends!! If you decide to go during the week, very few (if any) shops will be open.
The next, and final stop in this epic bicycle journey through the Green Lung is actually to visit an eco-hotel, accurately named “Bangkok Tree House“. This is one of Bangkok’s most green-conscious hotels, with many initiatives including taking a kilogram of waste out of the Chao Phraya River for every booking that is made with them. Their restaurant Menu follows the seasons with daily changes as fresh produce becomes available in Thailand’s fields and from sustainable fisheries, local fruit orchards and artisan dessert makers. A vegan menu is also always available. With the unique layout of the rooms, it’s a neat place to explore, if not stop for a nice cold beverage. The owner, Joey, is one of the friendliest guys around.
From here, you take the last leg of the loop around. It’s a nice section of road. No narrow pathways to worry about. This is just a leisurely ride back to the pier. It’s still a few kilometres to go, but through quiet roads, past some pretty small villages, which are of the Mon tribes who settled in this area more back in the early 1800’s. Enjoy this last leg’s serenity before getting back to the pier to return your bike, and then board the boat to return to the concrete jungle that faces Prapadaeng. You will definitely feel refreshed after breathing in the green lung’s fresh air, while working your own lungs on the old rusty 2 wheelers.
Remember to use caution on those narrow pathways. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t do it… or at least take it really slow! Enjoy!
SEE – Photos & Videos
Please check out a video our friend Adam, blogger from the Tropical Nomad, made from our adventure cycling Prapadaeng together!
GO – Getting There
Getting to Prapadaeng is a little tricky. There are several ways to get there. The longest of which is by road, over a bridge several kilometres away, then having a cabby try to navigate the rural roads to find your starting point at the pier. This is probably the longest and least ideal way to cross, though it is certainly a possibility, as our friend Jonas found out when attempting to join us for the day.
It is possible to take a ferry over near the floating market, coming from Bang Na BTS (skytrain) station – though this too will not enable you to rent bicycles easily. This route is most ideal if planning a day trip solely to the floating market or to the Bangkok Tree House hotel.
The most direct and cost effective route would be to make your way to the Klong Toey Temple (Wat Klong Toey). To get here via public transit is a little tricky as the nearest MRT (subway) stop is still a couple kilometers away. The nearest MRT station is Queen Sirikit Station. This can also be a little confusing to some taxi drivers, mind you, as Klong Toey is the name of the district in Bangkok, and there are many temples within that district. Simply try to stress you want to go to the Klong Toey Pier (Tapahn Klong Toey) to take a boat to Prapadaeng. It may take a few tries, and hopefully they understand you wish to go to the pier and not to drive you all the way to Prapadaeng (poor Jonas), but you should be able to do it. May as well start the adventure with an adventure, right?
Once at the Pier next to the temple, it’s quite easy. The boats running across the Chao Phraya to Prapadeang are only 20 baht ($0.65 USD) – and will likely give you a phone number to help arrange a return when you’re done for the day. Once you get off the ferry, you will be right at the beginning of your route, with bike rentals at your disposal.
The beginning of the route is indicated on the map below 🙂
View Where Sidewalks End in a larger map
Do – Activities & Attractions
There’s loads to see and do once you’re in Prapadaeng. The attractions as listed in the post are as follows:
- Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery
- Biking through the stilted jungle Mon village pathways
- Having a picnic in Bang Krachao Park
- Visiting Prapadeang’s temple (good place to refuel on water/snacks)
- Exploring Talad Bang Nampung – Bangkok’s secret weekend floating market
- Have a drink while taking a peak at Bangkok Tree House eco-resort
- Just enjoying the Green Lung of Bangkok – one of the lushest green havens left in the city.
Stay – Accommodation
There’s not many places to stay in Prapadaeng, and it can quite casually be seen in just a day. That being said, some people certainly do fall in love with the beauty of it. So if you’re thinking of making a weekend out of it, it is certainly possible to stay in the Bangkok Tree House listed in the itinerary. For those on a slightly tighter budget, it may be possible to arrange camping at the Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery as well, though tents are not provided.
Eat – Restaurants
The spots to buy food are a bit far and few in between. Going over the list again, these places are going to be your best bets for finding anythign substantial to munch on. It’s probably best you bring a backpack with some snacks and extra water for your journey.
- Bangkok Tree House eco-resort – large menu and drink list. Your best bet!
- Talad Bang Nampung – Green Lung’s floating market has lots of food options
- Having a picnic in Bang Krachao Park – this is BYOF: “Bring Your Own Food”
- Prapadeang’s temple – has a little snack stand. It’s simple and limited
Time – Seasonality & Schedules
The best time of Day to start your journey would be first thing in the morning. Though this is not overly busy, it has gained a bit of recent attention and the number of bikes available is limited. First come first serve, and if you arrive too late, you may be waiting the best part of the day for another bike to arrive. Also, because you’ll be biking quite a bit, you probably want to beat the heat of the day, which is at it’s hottest between 11am-2pm. This is consistent at almost any time of year. We suggest trying to get there by 8 am at the latest (ugh… early, right?).
The best day(s) of the week to go is on Saturday and Sunday since the floating market is only open on these days. You can visit Prapadaeng any other day, of course, though you’ll miss out on this unique element the Green Lung has to offer.
Seasonally, this is a cycling trip, so you’ll be best to go outside of the rainy season. The worst of the rainy season happens during September & October. I’d probably try to avoid biking anywhere during those months, personally.
Safety – Possible risks
Because this is a self guided bicycle adventure, the biggest risks to be cautious of are of course injuries related to riding your bike. It is very important you feel comfortable and in control during all parts of your journey. If you don’t feel comfortable riding a certain route, consider dismounting and turing around. It’s not worth an injury ruining part of your vacation, especially if it can be avoided!
Please Note: Travel inherently comes with an element of risk (just like crossing the road does). You are putting yourself in elements that are unfamiliar and foreign to your usual lifestyle and with that, become more susceptible to fall victim those who try to play off those unfamiliar to their local scams. There are also potential dangers in the environments to which you may not be accustomed to.
Please take extra care in travelling, ensure that you have adequate medical insurance (accidents seem to happen when you least expect them), and have let a trusted colleague, family member or friend know your whereabouts and activities.
Where Sidewalks End travel advises you to travel at your own risk, and to be extra aware of your surroundings (without letting it spoiling your time).
Pay – How much does it cost?
The only costs we can anticipate are as follows:
- transportation to the Klong Toey Pier (a taxi from Queen Sirikit MRT station should be roughly 50 baht, if they don’t get lost).
- Ferry to and from Prapadaeng – 20 THB each way
- Bicycle rental – 100 THB for the day
- Any food and beverages you purchase throughout the day (variable).
Responsible Travel – Best Practices
Reality Check – Be Aware
This is one of the coolest experiences a nature lover can have inside the city of Bangkok. It is certainly not for everyone, however. You should be in reasonable shape, as it’s a long circuit to ride on, and it will likely be a hot day. There is a chance of getting a little lost – though the locals of Prapadaeng are very friendly and will do their best to help you find your way. BRING WATER! You will need it. No need to try and tough it out… the shops are far and few in between. Exercise lots of caution while navigating the elevated sidewalks! They are narrow and you can go over quickly if you’re not watching where you’re going. If you want to take a photo… stop your bike and put your feet down! If you do lose your nerve, simply head back to the next ‘main road’ and point yourself in the direction of the next attraction. Your bum will probably be a bit sore for a few days after – those granny bikes don’t have the latest state of the art seats.
These are simply some cautionary reality checks. Don’t let it discourage you if you are willing and able. Biking around Prapadaeng a great way to spend a free day, and lots of fun to do with a small group! Have fun and happy cycling!!
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This sounds like quite the adventure, right? We thought so too! Though we realize it can be pretty intimidating to get out there into the world on your own, especially when travelling to some of these off the beaten path locations. We love it when our readers give it a shot and try it for themselves! In fact, please leave us feedback if you do!! If trying something ‘this’ adventurous on your own is just a bit outside of your comfort zone, WSE Travel is here to help!