Samut Sakhon, known by the locals as "Maha Chai", is a small province located on the mouth of the Tha Chin River, only 2 kilometres from the sea and 36 kilometres from Bangkok. It is a historic city recorded in the Ayutthaya Chronicle. This was during the period that Phrachao Suea travelled by the royal barge procession creating the story of the loyal Phanthai Norasing.
This province was originally called as "Tha Chin" because it was a large district on the Gulf of Thailand, where there were a lot of foreigners, especially the Chinese -(Chin,actually pronounced Jean (จีน) in Thai) - who travelled by ship and stopped at the port –Tha (ท่า) means "port" in Thai- for trading. Therefore, it was verbally well known as Tambon "Tha Chin" (Chinese Port District). In 1548, during the reign of Phra Maha Chakkraphat, many new cities were established with the royal aims to gather power to fight against the Burmese. Ban Tha Chin (Chinese Port Town) was then upgraded to Mueang(City) "Sakhon Buri"to be an outpost city preventing the invasion of enemies arriving by sea. During the reign of King Rama IV, the city's name was changed into Mueang Samut Sakhon.
During the reign of King Rama V, he conducted governance reform by organizing the regional bureaucratic system in the form of a circle called "Monthon Thesaphiban" and announced the establishment of Thailand’s first sanitary district in Tambon Tha Chalom in 1906.
Then, in 1913, King Rama VI announced a royal command for the government to transform the word "Mueang" (city) to "Changwat" (province) throughout the country. Mueang Samut Sakhon was changed to "Changwat Samut Sakhon" as it is still known at the present time. The word "Maha Chai" that people usually used is the name of a canal dug across the crooked Khlong Khok Kham which is the symbol of the loyalty of Phanthai Norasing.
Travelling from Bangkok can be done by many routes as follows:
The Transport Company Limited. provides buses to Samut Sakhon everyday from 4.20 a.m. to 9.00 p.m. For more details, please contact the Southern Bus Terminal, Borommaratchachonnani Road at Tel. 0 2435 1199, 0 2435 5605 (air-conditioned bus) or www.transport.co.th
There are any number of buses and minibuses heading south, on the main road in that direction (Rama 2 Road)), which can drop you off at the Settakit Road intersection ( road 3091), which leads to the main part of town.
A minibus from Samut Songkhram, an adjacent Province can be taken from the in town bus terminal for B30. It comes along Settakit Road and terminates at the end of the road, where is the river(and the pier to cross it).
A minibus from Rangsit will cost B80 and stops at the intown minibus station.
The State Railway of Thailand provides trains leaving Wongwian Yai Station many times a day from 5.30 a.m. to 8.10 p.m. to Maha Chai Station. For more details, please contact Wongwian Yai Railway Station at Tel. 0 2465 2017, 0 2890 6260 and Maha Chai Railway Station at Tel. 0 3441 1003 or www.railway.co.th
An actual check at the railway station shows the same times - 17 trains per day each way according to the timetable on the station wall, but from observation these times are not accurate.
To orient yourself:
a) On the City side of the river.
If you are at the pier looking back up Settakit Road. You will come to a set of traffic lights after about 400 metres. To the left of these is the bus station some distance along. To the right some 200 metres is the P A Serviced Apartments Hotel. Another few hundred metres along Settakit Road is Rama 2 Road, the main north-south coastal road from Bangkok.
Also from the pier, the first road to the right goes through a street market, and after a couple of hundred metres, up a road to your left, you will find the railway station. If you arrive at the railway station coming from Bangkok, leave the station towards your left and go ahead a couple of hundred metres and you are in the main road (Settakit Road). A couple of hundred metres along Settakit Road to the left is the pier, and if you are going to Maekhlong, you will need to take the ferry across the river.
To get across the river, at the pier in Settakit Road there are ferries which leave every few minutes. There are pedestrians and motorcycles boarding. Cost is 3 Baht, and the ferries operate 24 hours every day.
In the centre of the city, there are tuktuks, motorcycle taxis, the occasional Samlor (pedal tricycle), and metered taxis.
The City bus station is in Ekkachai road, to the left as you come along Settakit Road from the pier, and the main minibus stop is one street before this also on the left. This is Sarasug Road (pronounced Sarasak). There is a 711 on the corner. Minibuses go from here to various destinations, but all written in Thai, but ask, and you will be directed.
b) On the other side of the river.
As you leave the ferry, go directly ahead. When you see a road off to your right some 50 metres along,head about 300 metres along the road and there is a Temple complex. Over the back, and to the right a little is the Ban Laem railway station for trains to Maekhlong (Samut Songkhram). If you continue directly ahead from the ferry a few hundred metres further, you will come to a clocktower and roundabout. Another 1.5 Km further ahead, to the right, is the next railway station, and if you cross over the railway line here then continue a short distance further, you are at the Boddhisatva Kuan statue.
No tuktuks were noticed here at all, just the occasional samlor (pedal tricycle), and a few motorcycle taxis. A very occasional meter taxi was also noticed. A samlor between the two railway stations for two persons was B40.
Samut Sakhon is a province in the center part of Thailand. Samut Sakhon has many people who are Chinese lineage, it also has many Chinese culture which are different from Thai cultures. From this reason, the traditions of Thai people are mixed Chinese cultures, so it makes many old traditions in the province. There are two main traditions which are a parade of guardian spirits or gods of a city and vegetarian festival.
First tradition is a parade of guardian spirits or gods of a city. It is made for prosperity of people in the city. This tradition has made on 13 April every year. In ceremony, people will invoke the guardian spirits of this city from paradise, then people will make a beautiful parade for moving the gods around the city. The last step of this ceremony is moving the parade to boats, then boats are moving from Mahachai harbor to Tha-Charom harbor.
Last tradition is a vegetarian festival. It is about refraining from meats and spices, and this festival is focused on vegetables, fruits, and cereals. Therefore, it will make good health. The vegetarian festival is prepared in many province in Thailand, but this tradition is different from other provinces. In Samut Sakhon, the vegetarian festival will give a passport festival for each person, which is map of nine shrines of nine gods or guardian spirits of the city. If you walk to all nine shrines for worship, you will get a Juibuaynia goddess’ coin for fortune.
By road you can take a minibus from the City centre for B30 and it stops in the city centre close to the market.
By rail you take the ferry across the river (see above)and then go to the Ban Laem railway station on the other side of the river. (see in "Get Around") Trains go 4 times daily at 0730, 1010, 1330 and 1640. The train is free.