Asia : Southeast Asia : Thailand : Central Thailand : West of Bangkok : Samut Songkhram
Samut Songkhram is a province in the middle of Thailand. It is a small area of the country (about 416.7 square kilometres). Furthermore, this city has the second smallest population of the country. Otherwise, this province has an abundance of natural resources, and the coastal Gulf of Thailand about 23 kilometres long. Moreover, it has a mountain (Kao Yeesan) and does not have any islands.
There are three Amphoes (districts) only.
1) Amphoe Baangkontee, which is quite a small district in the north.
2) Amphoe Amphawa, which takes up most of the western half of the province, and is where the well known floating market is situated.
3) Amphoe Mueang, which takes up most of the eastern half of the province and is where Samut Songkhram City is (also known as Maekhlong).
Samut Songkhram or Mae Klong or Suan Nok(outside garden) was a part of Mueang Ratchaburi in the past. The old name of Mae Klong is Bang Chang which was centered at Tambon Amphawa, Samut Songkhram (from the district at present). During the transition from the Ayutthaya to the Thon Buri periods, it was separated from Ratchaburi and named Mueang Mae Klong. Samut Songkhram was historically important during the establishment of Thon Buri as the kingdom’s capital by King Taksin the Great. When the Burmese led an army to Tambon Bang Kung, the king gathered the people to build a fort and prevent the city from capture by the Burmese troops. This was an important act against the Burmese invaders at that time.
Mueang Mae Klong (actually pronounced "Mae Glawng", changed its name into Samut Songkhram but the actual year is not known. It is assumed it occurred in 1752 to 1756 because the name of the province first appeared in the evidence from the first Thai enacted law: Later, a decree was found,issued from the reign of King Borom Urn Baromgoate in 1756 and was identified as ordered to The Lord Rattanathibet, the Grand marshal of the Court. Apparently Kun Wisetvanish(Chean Ar Pan Teck), Kun Thip, and Meun Rukka Auksorn were daring ask to establish casinos in Samut Songkhram, Ratchaburi and Samut Prakan.
Take Highway 35 (Thon Buri – Pak Tho or Rama II Road), past the Na Kluea – Maha Chai Intersection. At around Km 63, take the elevated way into the town of Samut Songkhram.
The Transport Company Limited offers a daily bus service between Bangkok and Samut Songkhram, leaving the Southern Bus Terminal on Borommaratchachonnani Road from 05:40. – 21:00. For an air-conditioned bus (Damnoen Tour), call Tel. 0 2435 5031, or visit http://www.transport.co.th.
Minibuses can be taken from out the back of the Southern Bus terminal for B60, and terminate inside the City. A minibus from Rangsit to here will cost B120, and drop you off on the highway outside of the City, from where you will need to take a tuktuk or motorcycle taxi into town.
You will probably find that your destination is referred to as Maekhlong, and the (Southern Bus Termnal) minibuses drop you off about 200 metres from the in town bus station (to your left as you come in), and next to a police post. This doubles as a tourist enquiry centre, and will provide a map if you ask. However the map is totally in the Thai language.
Minibuses may be taken from Nakhon Pathom, the Province to the immediate north. You will need to ask there where the minibus leaves from, as it is not within the city centre. Another minibus will get you to this point for B20.
It travels along road 325 past the roads to Amphawa Floating market, and Bang Kung Camp before arriving in the city centre.
From the Wongwian Yai Railway Station in Bangkok, there are several daily trains to Maha Chai (Samut Sakhon). Once you arrive here, leave the station to the left, and walk about 200 metres to the main road. Turn left into the main road, and walk 200 metres to the City pier. Take a boat from this Maha Chai Pier (for 3 baht - they operate 24/7) to the Tha Chalom Pier and then the Ban Laem Railway Station is a few hundred metres to your right. From here go the trains to the city of Samut Songkhram (also known as Maekhlong).
Or take a bus from the Maha Chai Railway Station straight to the town. You may need to walk out to the main road for a minibus.
For a train schedule, contact the Wongwian Yai Railway Station, Tel. 0 2465 2017, 0 2890 6260, or visit http://www.railway.co.th.
There are plenty of tuktuks and motorcycle taxis in the town. Also there are a few samlors (pedal tricycles). Organise the fare before you board.
You can walk round if you feel so inclined, and there are very many tourists who come here, mainly on guided tours. They come for the street market in particular, which runs along the railway line for a few hundred metres,and is literally on the line. When the daily trains come through, the tourists line up to photograph them, as the stalls pack up and move back to allow the train through. There are four trains daily and the station is named Maekhlong.
If you want to go to Amphawa Floating Market, there are many songteows (2 bench pickup trucks) which go to and from regularly. They leave from near the market and are blue in colour. Ask and you will be directed. Just make sure you take the correct one, as the blue ones go to several destinations. Cost is B8, and they run until 6pm. After this there are minibuses.
The in town Market-try and get there before mid afternoon after which it gets very crowded.
Amphawa Floating market - this is some 15 Km distant and is covered in a separate article under this name.
Wat Bang Khae Noi is located along the Mae Klong River. Countess Shui (Noi) Wongsaroj built this temple in 1898. First, the temple was built on a bamboo raft and tied to a Bodhi tree. After that, Pra Atikarn Rod, the second abbot, built the temple on the ground in 1905. Afterward, the original temple had disintegrated. Pra Atikarn Keaw(Green), the sixth abbot newly built the temple in 1949. Until 1997, the original temple was damaged again because it was lacking in material and quality and it was built again. Pra Kru Samut Nanthakun (Pear) had taken up the construction of the new temple again. In the temple there is much wood carving that is very noticeable and rare, because it took money, time and skill to carve it delicately by technicians who have the expertise. - Makae Mong Wood used as a cradle for the principal Buddha image in the temple is very large( 2.5 m wide, 3 m long and 10 cm thick). - Plaster base of the Buddha image or “Chukkachee” was carved in “Song Jom Hae(Similar mesh was raised)” - The floor’s temple is covered by Takein Tong wood which is 5 cm thick and 100 cm wide. - The wall is a 7.5 cm thick wood carving. It is of carved animals, trees and other. - On the opposite wall of the principal Buddha image is a wooden carved Buddha Pand Chana Marn. - On the left and the right walls of the principal Buddha image are the ten incarnations of Buddha. - On the back wall of the principal Buddha image is carved the Nativity, Enlightenment, and Attainment of Buddha.
Bang Kung Camp
Bang Kung Camp (Kai Bang Kung) is a navy camp site with historical significance, particularly during the reign of King Taksin the Great. After the second loss of Ayutthaya in 1767 to the invading Burmese army, the King relocated his navy here. A wall was built, and made into a temple (Wat Bang Kung) and this temple in addition to being the actual centre of the camp, was also the spiritual centre.
The King later ordered Chinese soldiers (who were fighting with him), to guard the camp.
About a year later, Ayuttaya was successfully reclaimed, and the camp was then abandoned for the next 200 years until the government built a shrine in memory of Taksin the Great.
Within the camp is an ordination hall built in the Ayuttaya period. There is also a replica wall and this was built to celebrate King Taksin's battle with the invaders.
To get to the camp, it is 6 kilometres north on the main road 325. You will see a sign on the left just before you come to the Amphawa sign (also on the left). The road to there is winding, so check the signs when you come to a turn or you will get lost!! It is about 5Km along the road from the turnoff. At the site itself, there is little to see. The main attraction is the Temple which is surrounded by a large tree (literally!!). There is also a military memorial. Many people go there however, and there is food and souvenirs etc.
Wat Charoen Sukharam Worawiharn
Wat Charoen Sukharam Worawiharn is located along Bang Nok Khwaek canal (Damnoen Saduak canal). The original temple as built has since been abandoned, but there is no record as to the date. It was newly renovated in 1883,and called “Wat Klang Klong” or “Wat Ton Chom Poo”. Then, local people created “Bang Nok Khwaek Sluice” in 1908, people called the temple “Wat Pratoo Nam Bang Nok Khwaek” before it was changed into “Wat Charoen Sukharam” and it was promoted to be a major temple in 1957 and called “Wat Charoen Sukharam Worawiharn”.
In the temple, there is Luang Pho To its principal Buddha image. It is made of laterite, 1.8 m base width, 2 m high from base to top. Luang Pho To was enshrined at the temple that had been abandoned in Ratchaburi before being respectfully engaged to this temple.
The front of this temple is adjacent to Damnoen Saduak canal. There are many fish here,and most are silver carp. This area also offers pedal boats for visitors to ride along the canal. The local people call this area Macha park.
The temple is located in the far north of the province, just before the Ratchaburi border, in the northern Amphoe just off the main road coming from the Cathedral.
Nativity of Our Lady Cathedral
In the far north of the province in the northern amphoe close to the Ratchaburi border, there were several Chinese Catholic families which then grew to 200 Catholics in 1847, and they built a Church.
In 1890, Archbishop Paul Salmon (or as the locals called him) "Luang Pho Pao" was funded by his brethren in France, the Board of Foreign Mission Club of Paris and Rome and they financed the building of the Nativity of Our Lady Church.
In 1965 it became a diocese,and was therefore called a Cathedral from this date.
This cathedral was built over a century ago. It is Gothic art of France. Furthermore, it was built from burnt bricks, mortared with low sugar syrup from black cane. The interior is decorated with stained glass from France. It tells about a narrative of the Virgin Mary from the Bible and images of male and female saints, has statues as are described in the Bible. It is a beautiful church and located on Mae Klong River.
To get there, you need to go to the northern amphoe, close to the border with Ratchaburi, and this Cathedral includes in the Diocese the Provinces of Ratchaburi, Samut Songkhram, Kanchanaburi, and Phetchaburi.
King Rama 2 Memorial Park
This park is a project in honour of King Rama II and has been recognised by UNESCO. It was opened by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on 31 March 1979, and the park was opened to the public on 1 June 1987.
It is established on 4.4 acres of land to commemorate the King's patronage of arts and culture (he was actually born here).
King Rama II Memorial park is divided into six sections and these show art objects of the early Rattanakosin period, and show the way of life of people during the period.
Some of these are the main hall, with the king's statue and old artifacts. There is also a mens' and a womens' dormitory, which shows the lifestyle of the genders in that era.
In addition there is an outdoor theatre, a botanical garden, as well as souvenir shops.
Opening hours are 0900 to 1800. For information phone 0 3475 1367.
The park is in Amphawa district, close to the floating market.
In season fruit-preferably with a peel if you wish to eat immediately, otherwise, it is not at all advisable to eat unpeeled fruit without first washing it.
There is also a wide range of street food-helps keep the market going.
At nighttime, there are plenty of street eat stalls out front of the Maekhlong Hotel, and Wat Phetsamut Woriwiharn (across the road from the hotel to the left). Walk along, decide what you want to eat, order, sit out the back and eat! Cutlery etc provided. If you want drinks, get them from the nearby 711 (they will open beer for you). Meals cost about 50 baht.
In the morning, there are some street eats but nowhere to sit and eat. Next to the Maekhlong Hotel, on the corner is a restaurant which does good food cheaply.
Of course, all of the above are in Thai, but you can point and bluff your way through.
This hotel is about 300 metres from where the minibus stops (see above). Ask the locals where it is, and they will direct you, or take a tuktuk. The hotel is very modern and clean. Hot water, multichannel flatscreen TV (including English) and aircon. Plenty of street eats outside and a restaurant to the left as you walk out. Try to get a room facing the road you came in from, as the back rooms face the back of tenements where people can look in on you from there.
. Amphawa This floating market is covered in a separate article, but is only about 6 Km distant from the city centre along road 325. There is a roundabout where it is, and the road goes to the left. It is a short distance further along (about 500 metres). There are regular blue songteows (two bench pickup trucks) which go there regularly from the city centre. Some of these have the name in English on the side. Just make sure you are on the correct one.(see more in "Get Around")
. Ratchaburi This is an adjacent province. There are regular non aircon buses from the bus station near the market which go to here. Cost is 45 Baht and takes 1.5 hours. It terminates in the city centre close to the Tesco Lotus.
. Samut Sakhon This is an adjacent province. There are regular non aircon buses and minibuses from the bus terminal here. The minibuses cost B30, and stop at the pier in the centre of the city. There are four daily trains from the in town railway station, leaving at 0620, 0900, 1130 and 1530. They stop at Ban Laem station on the opposite side of the river from the City, and you will need to get a ferry across the river. The ferry pier is some 350 metres from the railway station. Trains are free for Thai people, and B10 for anyone else.But everyone must get a ticket.
. Bangkok Minibuses from the in town bus station go to Southern Bus Terminal and also Mo Chit.
. Hua Hin, and other places to the south. You will need to take a tuk tuk out to the main road south. Cost should be B60, and you will be dropped at a minibus stop. The minibus driver may ask the Bangkok to Hua Hin fare of B180. (ask first!). If he does, wait for the next one!