TOUR 1: The Erawan Museum, Ancient Siam, Crocodile Farm and finishing with a seaside meal at Bangsaen 2.
Samut Prakan Province is home to the new international airport at Suvarnabhumi and is literally on the doorstep to Bangkok. It also has some amazing and impressive attractions. However, it doesn’t really receive many independent travellers. People usually come here on package tours from Bangkok that take them either to the Crocodile Farm or the Ancient Siam. The other attractions are often overlooked which is a shame. We are close enough to Bangkok and the airport to make travel quick and easy, but we are far enough away not to have been influenced by Western culture. It is very easy to come here and get lost in jungles or mangrove forests and hardly see anyone for the whole day. In fact, many places you can go here you will hardly ever see any other foreign tourists. What I am going to do here today is give you some suggestions of day trips that you can go on from either the airport if you are in transit or from Bangkok.
(Click on the links below for more information)
This first tour takes in all the main highlights of the province visiting all of the attractions that most foreigners go to. I suggest that you start with the giant three-headed elephant at The Erawan Museum. From the airport, this is only about 35 minutes away if you take the Motorway and then the Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road. The elephant is immediately noticeable at the Sukhumwit Road exit. From Bangkok, it takes about 35 minutes from On Nut Sky Train Station. A taxi from there wouldn’t cost more than 150 baht. The elephant is very impressive and you shouldn’t miss out on this. It is the height of a 14 storey building. Adults cost 150 baht and children are 50 baht. Tours of the elephant set off every half hour. The grounds open at 8 a.m. You will need at least an hour here if not longer.
From here you can catch a taxi to the Crocodile Farm and Zoo which will take about 20 minutes. This is the largest of its kind in Thailand. There are many imitations around the country but I feel that their Crocodile Wrestling Show is the best. This takes place every hour starting from 9 a.m. If you have just missed a show when you arrive, then take a look around the crocodile pens while you are waiting. You can buy chicken carcasses to feed the crocodiles. Once this show has finished you can go straight over to the other side of the park to watch the Elephant Show. This is not as impressive but the kids like it. After this it is up to you what you do next. You could wander around and look at some of the other animals. Don’t forget to check out the largest captive crocodile in the world and also the crocodile nursery. If you have never ridden an elephant then you can do so here for 50 baht. Entrance to the farm is 300 baht for adults and 200 baht for children. If you can speak Thai then you can usually get away with paying the Thai price of 60 baht. There are restaurants here and snack vendors if you are getting hungry. You will need at least two hours here.
You should be able to find a taxi willing to take you to your next destination at the Ancient Siam. This is only about 15 minutes away. This is a big open air museum covering about 200 acres. If you don’t have time to see all of Thailand then you can come here to see many of the more important buildings and monuments. In addition, there are reproductions of old palaces and other buildings that have since been lost to history. If you have hired a taxi for the day you could go around the park by car and just stop whenever you want to get out and explore a particular area. For more freedom you can hire a bicycle or even a golf cart. Admission price is 300 baht for adults and 200 baht for children. If you have a work permit then you can pay the Thai price of 100 baht. There are plenty of places to eat though my favourite is the floating market area where you can order noodles or som tam. The absolute minimum time to spend at the Ancient Siam is two hours. Some people will spend twice that if not all day.
The tour so far has lasted about seven hours and you would probably be exhausted by this point. Obviously, it is up to you whether you see these three main attractions in one day or take your time and spread it over two days. As it is coming to the end of the day you might want to finish off by eating a meal alongside the Gulf of Thailand while watching a beautiful sunset. Most people go to the pier at Bang Pu Seaside Resort which is about fifteen minutes away. Between October and March many people go here to feed the migratory seagulls. There is also a big restaurant at the end of the pier. However, I sometimes prefer to go to Bangsaen 2 which is only about five minutes away from Ancient Siam. You have a choice of restaurants here along the Gulf so it is less crowded. If it isn’t dark yet, you could also go for a stroll along the seafront. From here it will take you about 45 minutes or so to get back to the airport. To the sky train at On Nut it will take about 55 minutes, depending on traffic. You won’t have trouble in finding a taxi on the main road.
Visit the Samut Prakan Forums and www.paknam.com for more pictures and also a map of the route and instructions in Thai for your taxi driver. I will be posting more tour ideas here at www.thai-blogs.com soon.