A home-stay is a small hotel run by a family. In central Bangkok there is an island formed by a flood canal that was added to cut a shortcut to the sea, so that flood water could be quickly drained out to sea without flooding central Bangkok. You can cross in and out of the island by car, it isn't totally cut off, there is a bridge onto it, but the isolation makes it free from a lot of Bangkok traffic and a quiet calm place to stay.
It's a rural retreat right in the center of bustling Bangkok!
That island is kept low rise, natural and lush green, at the weekend it has a floating market and at night, a boat tour to see the fireflies. A riverside walk is not far, with restaurants and bars, so if you want a rural relax right in the center of Bangkok, this is an off-beat place to stay.
I found two very good home stays. The first is Phuengnang Homestay, this has lines of old traditional style wooden huts. They may be old on the outside, but inside they have fridges and flat screen TV's, so you really don't need to sacrifice too much to stay here.
The price is 1000 baht for a smaller room per night, 1200 baht for a bigger one. The smaller room is more than good enough for 2 people. An extra bed can be added for 350 baht.
Once I got talking to the owner Chawee Siripravatkul, it became clear he's a collector of antique Thai things. He has a huge collection of shells, old irons, the type that you filled with hot coals and then ironed your clothes with. All kinds of old toys and memorabilia.
Oh and he has a bar and Thai food available if you're hungry or want a drink.
He has English speaking nieces and nephews too, so they can get by in English. Phuengnang Homestay: Tel 0-2461-3810-1, or mobile 08-1820-0219, or 08-1400-3097. firstname.lastname@example.org , Website http://www.phuengnanghome.com/
Pyaoy Long Stay
Don't be fooled by the 'long-stay' name, this is a typical homestay and offers per-night accommodation. This one isn't as well furnished as the previous home-stay, you don't get the flat screen TV, but they do have discount rates for long stays.
The accommodation consists of several small houses on stilts in a very quiet rural setting. The rooms are clean and traditional. You can see from the photograph below.
Homestay Pyaoy Long Stay, Tel 0-2815-0377 (from abroad +66 0 2815-0377) or mobile 086-882-4753 (from abroad +66 868824753). The price was 700-800 baht per night depending on room size. They also had some English speakers available for basic communications. Website: http://www.pyaoylongstay.com/
Well since a major bridge cross the river at the flood control gate, the easiest way is by Taxi from central Bangkok. It's a good idea to print out a Google map before you go so the taxi driver knows where it is, this is off the beaten track and he won't know it.
For the more adventurous, why not take a boat across the river. I chose Bang Na pier, crossed the river and discovered temples and fish feeding places, and all kinds of bicycle tours and things to do. The boat man was kind enough to give me a lift in his modified transport for a small fee, but there are also motorcycles there too. You could always hire one to carry your bag and one to carry you!
See the map below showing the locations, you might have to zoom out, Google is not so good at choosing scale on these embedded maps:
View Bangkok Island in a larger map