BANGKOK — Escape the the sodden violence and stupor of Songkran in downtown Bangkok by heading upriver a few clicks to find a remarkably calm, cultural Songkran sensation.
Now through Sunday, Koh Kret offers a change of holiday pace with the soothing rural atmosphere and friendly local warmth offered by an island community of ethnic Mon over centuries old. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy a mellow Songkran in the capital without the squirm factor of the state-sponsored showcases for “proper tradition.”
One of the most cultural one-day trips to take during the holiday starts by cruising across the mighty Chao Phraya River from Wat Sanam Nuea to the island’s pier. Visitors can’t miss the welcome sign that is in neither English nor Thai above the pier’s entrance.
Stroll through white pagodas, temples, tiny sois and food stalls to get the feeling of rarely seen traditional Mon lifestyle and culture. The locals fold banana leaves and deep-fry coconut-based sweets in plain sights for your snacking pleasure.
Expect to see several types of food and desserts unseen and possibly unknown in Bangkok. Spiced deep-fried shoot fritters or so-called tod mun noh kala and khao chae, rice soaked in cool water, are total musts.
Spirit houses and shrines are decorated with flowers and Buddha images where tourists and locals occasionally stopped by to pour water.
Spread over 5 square kilometers (2,600 rai), it’s only possible to get around on foot, bike or motorbikes. Visitors can rent bikes for 40 baht.
Koh Kret was established more than 300 years ago when a canal was dredged through a bend in the winding Chao Phraya, creating an artificial island. It became a permanent settlement of Mon who migrated from Myanmar in the 18th century.
Koh Kret, located in Nonthaburi’s Pak Kret district, is about 20 minutes by car from BTS Mo Chit. It can be reached from a pier at Wat Sanam Nuea.