Category Archives: Bangkok Day Trips

Sunset at Bang Pu Seaside Resort

The nearest stretch of seaside to Bangkok is probably Bang Pu Seaside Resort (สถานตากอากาศบางปู) in Samut Prakan. Don’t go there expecting beaches as it is only mudflats and mangroves. However, in Bang Pu they have a pier where hundreds of local people go to enjoy the cool evening breeze.

During the relatively cooler winter months between November and March, thousands of seagulls migrate here from Siberia. Local people like to go to Bang Pu Seaside Resort to feed the birds. The best time of day is during the late afternoon just as the sun is about to set.

This is where I went this afternoon to take some pictures of people feeding the birds and also of the setting sun. Next to the pier there is wildlife sanctuary which has bird watching towers. There is also a footpath along the coastline which you can explore [MAP]. I have done it a couple of times and it takes about four hours.

There are several places at the pier where you can enjoy a meal while watching the sunset. If you are ever planning on going to Ancient Siam (formerly known as Ancient City) then it is worth going a further ten minutes down Sukhumwit Road to this resort. There are no direct buses from Bangkok. However, metered taxis do come out this far. Or catch a bus to Samut Prakan and then change to a songtaew or bus heading towards Klong Dan.

The following is a map showing the location of the pier and other attractions nearby.

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The Thai House Homestay

These days Thailand is seeing many more repeat visitors. People who originally fell in love with Thailand in their younger days when they were backpackers are returning as married couples. There are also more retired couples exploring Thailand. For these people they want a bit more than beaches, temples and elephant rides. What they are looking for is more of an immersion into Thai culture. A great way to do this is to spend a few days at one of the many homestays around Thailand.

The place where I visited today is called The Thai House which is in Bang Yai in Nonthaburi Province [MAP]. The location is only a short 45 minute journey West of Central Bangkok. They have a charming teak wood house built in the traditional style. On our arrival we were met by the matriarch, Khun Prasan Fargrajang and one of her daughters Ms. Prapaipat. They told us that the house was purpose built as a homestay about 20 years ago on a plot of land owned by their family for generations. The original intention was to earn extra money to supplement the income from their orchards.

There are three Thai style houses linked together by a raised platform. This is the typical way of living in the countryside in Thailand. When the children have grown up and get married, another house is built in the same compound. All of them are linked making one big house. Each house has two rooms on the second floor with another on the ground floor. The house can take a maximum of 16 guests. To keep with tradition, none of the rooms have air-conditioning but are kept cool with the many open windows and also the fans. Prices range from 1,500 baht to 2,400 baht for a triple room. Prices include breakfast. A modern Western bathroom can be found in a separate section.

People can come to The Thai House to experience the warm hospitality of a genuine Thai family. They can also come here to learn how to cook Thai food using traditional family recipes. A one day course includes five recipes and costs 3,800 baht per person. But, to fully learn about the Thai way of life it is worth staying overnight and doing a two day one night course or even a three day three night course. The prices for these courses include accommodation and food and cost 8,950 baht and 16,650 baht per person. These courses have a minimum of two persons and a maximum of ten.

As we were visiting for only a short time, and we were also a large group, Khun Prasan gave us a cooking demonstration. She explained that the first thing that she did was to explain to her guests the different ingredients. The first recipe she demonstrated was Tom Yum Kung. I liked it how she showed us the difference between similar ingredients such as galangal and ginger, Chinese chives and spring onion, and kaffir lime and lime. With the lemon grass she showed us how to cut it depending on what we were making. For tom yum she sliced it thinly diagonally. For salads where it is eaten raw, she first peeled the outer skin and then sliced it thinly to make rounded shapes.

The second dish that she demonstrated for us was Pad Thai. This is probably the most favourite Thai food for a lot of tourists in Thailand. I know that I like it a lot. However, I haven’t yet mastered the art of cooking it. There are quite a few ingredients and preparation will take quite a while. As much as I like cooking, it is quicker to pop outside and buy from the roadside vendor around the corner from my house for less than a $1. But, I would like to give it a try. It was interesting how she demonstrated how the various ingredients are brought together to create a sweet, sour and salty taste. She also showed us how to make tamarind sauce.

We were only visiting The Thai House for three hours but I could see how relaxing a longer stay would be here in a traditional Thai style house surrounded by trees and plants. Around the back there is a small canal. You can hire boats here to go off exploring. A local temple is only a short ten minute walk away. If you are looking for an experience of the traditional Thai way of life then you wouldn’t find an easier introduction than at The Thai House. The owners speak perfect English and they are very friendly and helpful to their guests. For more information, click here to visit their website.

I wish to thank the Fargrajang family for being such kind hosts during our trip. Lunch was very delicious. I would like to also thank the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for arranging this trip for the media.

The following is a map showing the location of the homestay and other attractions nearby.

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Ban Rak Amphawa Homestay

Ban Rak Amphawa Homestay - Amphawa Home of Love

Most people go to Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkhram as an easy day trip from Bangkok. It is only about 90 minutes away. I have done it several times myself. However, the popularity of homestays in recent years has seen a boom in business in this once sleepy town. Now it seems that almost every other house is offering homestay. As tourists we are really spoiled for choice. Or you would think so. Four days before my trip I called half a dozen different homestays only to be told that they were already full.

The majority of homestays have websites though most of these are in Thai language only. They are catering for the Thai market. Foreigners do go, but for them it is mainly walk-in. However, if you want the best rooms and locations, you need to book at least a week in advance. Sometimes two. The problem is that Amphawa is a weekend market so the majority of people come to stay only Friday or Saturday nights. If you are a tourist, who doesn’t need to work on Mondays, then arriving Sunday is your best bet.

Many of the homestays are quite expensive. Average prices are about 1,500 baht. The problem is the rooms are usually empty for the majority of the week  and owners only make money at the weekend. I was lucky to be able to book the last room at Ban Rak Amphawa Homestay.The price wasn’t bad at 700 baht, however I didn’t have a private bathroom. On the plus side, I had a comfortable bed, air-conditioning and a television. The most expensive rooms were these two on the verandah by the river. These two are 1,400 baht each. As you can see, you only have a thin mattress on the floor. Other rooms with normal beds and bathrooms are 1,200 baht.

Ban Rak Amphawa is at the far eastern end of the market [MAP]. It is alongside the river which is important when looking for a good homestay. Although there isn’t a footpath along the river here, that was actually to our advantage as it gave us a little bit of privacy. Anyway, food vendors were going up and down the river all day and you just called out to one when you were hungry. The market itself is only a ten minute walk away. I had lunch here after I had arrived and had unpacked. And then I went to explore the market in the afternoon.

The owners of the homestay don’t really speak any English. So, you will need to get a friend to call them to book a room. You will then need to use an ATM to transfer about 500 baht as a deposit to their bank account. Keep the slip as you need to fax it to them. The homestay is down a very narrow Soi so you cannot park your car there. However, there was no problem in parking at Rong Jay (the Chinese Shrine) which is only a few minutes walk away. Another homestay here is called Ban Mae Arom Homestay [MAP]. The owner did say that she speaks English so you might find this one easier.

I enjoyed the peace and tranquillity at Ban Rak Amphawa. The owners were very kind and always did their best to please you. They have bicycles that you can use for free. Also, in the morning they will wake you up shortly after 6 a.m. if you want to make merit by giving alms to the monks. I only stayed here for one night but would have liked to have stayed longer. There is a lot to see in the area and I did enjoy the short bicycle trips that I went on around Amphawa. I also enjoyed walking through Amphawa Floating Market during the early morning when there were hardly any tourists. Most people don’t arrive until mid-afternoon.

This last photo shows Ban Rak Amphawa from the other side of the river. It was taken about an hour after the monks had finished their alms round. For more information you can visit their website www.baanrak-amphawa.com. The website for the homestay next door where they speak some English is www.banmaearom.com. I am going to be working on my own website as I think that you will find most sites about Amphawa are only in Thai. I would suggest that you bookmark www.AmphawaFloatingMarket.com as I will soon be updating it with new information and pictures from my recent trip there. I will also be working on a Map of Amphawa.

Monkeys at Bangsaen

One of the nearest places to Bangkok to go and see monkeys in the wild is probably at Sam Muk Hill [MAP]. This is very near to Bangsaen Beach which is in Chonburi Province. It should take just over an hour to reach there from Bangkok. There are a number of attractions in this area which you will see from my map. One of the most popular stops here is to go and see the very naughty monkeys on this hill. There are also some good views of the sea from the top.

I say that they are naughty because you really have to be careful with your personal belongings. If you are carrying a bag, or even just wearing a cap, be careful as they might try and snatch your things. I started to take pictures of the monkeys with my iPhone then changed my mind. I was worried one of them might take a fancy to it. Near the top of the hill there is a car park, where there are some vendors selling food for the monkeys.

As well as naughty monkeys grabbing your belongings, you also need to be careful of stowaways on your car or pick-up truck. I stopped briefly at one point to take some pictures and then drove off. A few minutes later I heard something jumping around on my car roof. One of them had decided to come along for the ride. Although it might be fun to see wild monkeys, we do need to act responsibly and only feed them food which is appropriate for them. It is not a good idea to feed them candy or fizzy drinks.

Have you seen monkeys in the wild in Thailand? Can you recommend any places to see them which is within easy reach from Bangkok?

Ayothaya Floating Market

There are now two floating markets in the old city of Ayutthaya which make a nice change from just visiting old temple ruins all day. Now you can break up your time to make a more balanced day trip from Bangkok. Earlier I visited Ayutthaya Klong Sa Bua Floating Market which is to the north of the old city. The next one that I visited is to the East [MAP] and goes by a similar name, though they use different spelling. This one is Ayothaya Floating Market. It is conveniently next door to the Elephant Camp so you can do an elephant ride for 600 baht if you like before visiting the market.

The two floating markets in Ayutthaya are very different. This one is more traditional and what you would expect to see at a floating market. Like the Pattaya Floating Market, it is purpose built. It is free to enter and wander around. There are shops with handicraft and souvenirs. Nothing tacky like the ones you can find at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. If you want to eat then there are plenty of stalls selling delicious food. You can also take a boat ride around the canal for only 20 baht.

You can easily spend a couple of hours at this floating market. As well as shopping and eating, there are also regular shows during the day. These include boat parades as well as traditional dancing at various arenas around the market. We were there at the weekend and it was very crowded with coach tours and Thai tourists. If you want to escape the crowds then come during the week though the shows are not so regular. Parking is also a problem at the weekend.

If you are visiting Ayutthaya for the day from Bangkok then there is really only time to visit one of these floating markets, do an elephant ride and visit 3 or 4 temple ruins. If you want to visit both floating markets then I would suggest that you stay over night. I enjoyed myself at this market and would certainly bring friends here on my next trip. The market is open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Weekday shows are 12 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. At the weekend it is 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.