With its ulcer-inducing traffic, smoggy air and preponderance of concrete, Bangkok doesn’t often come to mind as a green destination. But one innovative innkeeper is hoping to boost its eco-credentials with the Bangkok Tree House. The 12-room boutique inn is nestled amid a wilderness of mangroves and palm trees on Bang Krachao, a small island known as Bangkok’s ‘green lung’ in the Chao Phraya River. Automobile-free Bang Krachao is home to six small communities, fruit orchards, 200-year-old Buddhist temples and is only accessible by boat, although connecting to the city’s Skytrain is a snap. The island’s lush trails are a favorite of Bangkok cyclists and weekend picnickers.
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Tree House is the creative fruit of Joey Tulyanond, whose family also owns the Old Bangkok Inn in the capital’s historic old quarter. “This is Bangkok as it was 200 years ago,’’ Tulyanond says of Tree House’s neighborhood. Well, not including the roar of river skiffs, or the plastic refuse from the villagers, but those too are authentic Bangkok. Built from bamboo reinforced with recycled metal, Tree House blends artfully into its surroundings without requiring guests to rough it. Many mod-cons are available. The sun-splashed rooms, called “nests,” are airy but airconditioned. All dishes on the hotel’s sumptuous menu, and all personal care and cleaning products are organic. Vegan dining options are available.
Although Bangkok-born Joey never visited the island until he read about it in, well, Time magazine, Tree House is rapidly laying down roots in the community: Most staff and many of the hotel’s provisions are sourced from the island, and a percentage of profits goes to preserving and cleaning up the immediate environment.
Joey admits that Tree House, which opened in January, isn’t for everyone. For starters, smoking is out of bounds everywhere on the premises. Concern for the environment precludes fumigating, and so count on a pesky mosquito or two. But that’s more than a fair trade off for nights ablaze with fireflies, mornings scored by bird song, and a village-style warmth and hospitality that have become increasingly rare amid the bustle of Bangkok.