Category Archives: Suphanburi

Sam Chuk Old Market in Suphan Buri

One of the better preserved traditional markets in Thailand can be found in Suphanburi Province. It is called Sam Chuk 100 Year Market and it still has its original wooden shophouses that date back to the reign of King Rama V. In those days it was a bustling market alongside the Tha Chin River. This was a main thoroughfare between the north and Bangkok. However, with the building of roads both the importance of the market and the number of customers dwindled. It got to the point that the local authority were contemplating on pulling down the old houses to build condominiums.

Fortunately, the local people decided to work together to revive the market. They have done such an outstanding job that this year UNESCO gave them an Award of Merit in recognition of their achievement. It is certainly one of the better old market that I have visited. These days, markets in Thailand seemed to all sell the same thing with clothes and tacky objects for the home and kitchen. Markets open for tourists also tend to have the same cheap souvenirs. However, Sam Chuk Market is more of a living museum where they have carefully blended the past and present.

The highlight of any market for me is of course the food. Sam Chuk certainly doesn’t disappoint you in this department. In fact, some people drive up all the way from Bangkok just to eat at the market and to enjoy the authentic surroundings. As well as noodles and roast duck, there are also many famous Thai desserts. Some of the more popular restaurants are very crowded at the weekend and you might need to wait for a seat. After a meal, you could visit a coffee shop to try a drink made the traditional way.

One of the things that I liked about the market is that it is spread out. There are about 300 houses in the market on the four main lanes. This gives you a chance to get away from the crowds and do a bit of exploring. Some of the smaller shops out of the way are just as interesting. As well as the food shops and coffee houses, there are kitchenware shops, photo studios, clothing shops, beauty parlours, traditional medicine shops, antique shops, blacksmiths and a lot more. There are also some shops selling good quality souvenirs.

This old photo studio is a good example of a shop from days gone by still being used successfully today. In one of the three storey wooden shophouses they have put together an interesting community museum. There is a scale model of the market as well as pictures of days gone by. Sam Chuk is a good example of how the local people can work together to produce a successful tourist attraction and thriving market even in the middle of a recession. I have only been there once but I will certainly go again to explore more.

Sam Chuk community market is accessible through Highway 340, from Bangkok via Bang Bua Thong district in Nonthaburi to Suphan Buri. It is located on the riverside and adjacent to the Sam Chuk District Office. You can catch a bus heading north from Suphanburi. Many thanks to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for taking us to this market and for looking after us so well. You can view more of our pictures as well as a video over at the Paknam Web Forums.

Biking to Krasieo Dam, Suphanburi

(Hardly a local insight… let alone a foreigner)

Last Saturday, I had a strong desire to mount my Tiger Girl again; I think I’m starting to become addicted to her. Krasieo Dam is about 85 km away from Suphanburi town in Dan Chang district the northern most point of Suphanburi province .

After doing a bit of research, I found out that Krasieo Dam is the largest earthen dam in Thailand. It is a storage dam holding a massive basin under her control, which contains about 393 million cubic meter of water. The water in the reservoir is mainly used for agriculture and water supply during the dry season – kind of a vast reserve tank.
I reached the park after a one hour ride only from Suphan town. It is not allowed to ride any vehicle on the dam but I was able to witness breathtaking surroundings. The clouds put a bit of a dampener on the day, because there wasn’t a blue sky. On the other hand, the skyline was filled with a nice range of mountains.

Fish farms are scattered all over the lake. The farms are all small scale fish farms, probably to maintain and respect nature’s prettiness. Only two species of fish are farmed here .The well known ‘pla nin’ (tilapia) and Plat thap thim’ (ruby fish. I had a short conversation with an ever friendly local farmer who told me he had to pay 100 baht tax, which allows him to farm fish for one year – ridiculously low.

(Time for lunch…… then take your pick)

At lunchtime I left the dam to search for a local restaurant near the lake. After only five minutes I was successful enough to find a nice fish one right next to the lake. I went for a grilled ruby fish. It took about 30 minutes to grill the fish. It had thought that everything was done here instantly with a fresh ruby fish from the lake. And I was right, nothing was prepared beforehand – my way of thinking was confirmed. When the dish was served there was a 1,2kg fish which filled the tray. This was one of the best fish dishes I have ever eaten in my entire life. Total damage for lunch was the ridiculous amount of 370 baht all in.

With my belly full, I went back into action with my Tiger Girl. The lovely restaurant holder told me there was a dirt road around the lake. I was eager to know just how long the reservoir was, as there was hardly any information available on the Net about this place. The scenic dirt road is covered with pebbles and holes some of them quite deep, a bit of caution is advised here. A 4x 4 car or a large tired motorbike as mine is well in place here. Riding along the dirt road, you can witness dazzling views and experience total silence, which is hard to find in this era of machines and technology, even in the countryside. The average speed on this dirt road was only 25 km/h. I had to decide against my previous idea to go around the lake, as it wouldn’t have been possible anymore to be back home on the same day. I noticed that the total length of the reservoir is about 15 km long.

I finished my visit to this great lake with a great feeling; another beautiful day well of the beaten track in Thailand. I’m a bit disappointed though, that there is hardly anything to find on the Internet about unspoiled nature like this in Thailand. Nearly everything is geared towards the well known tourist attractions. Thailand has a lot more to offer than that..
Hope you enjoyed the read and hope to bump into you again on my next exploration.

If you don’t have your own transportation, you can simply ask a tuk-tuk driver in Dan Chang to take you there. To get to Dan Chang there are direct buses from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal and Suphanburi Town.

Buffalo Village in Suphanburi

One way to experience the traditional lifestyle of Thai farmers is at the Buffalo Village in Suphanburi. In Thai it is called “baan kwai”. Thai farmers, and their trusty companions, the buffalo, are considered the backbone of the country. Although buffaloes have been the butt of many jokes in classrooms across the country (to be called “buffalo” is the same as being called “stupid”) the buffaloes have in fact been hardworking animals that all farmers can rely on. The use of buffaloes was starting to die out on farms as farmers turned to other means of ploughing such as using tractors. However, when fuel prices started to rise then some farmers decided to go back to the trusty buffalo.

Thais have made use of buffaloes since before the time of the Kingdom of Sukhothai. They were not only used in farming as was seen during the famous siege of Bangrachan just before the fall of Ayutthaya. Thai farmers are as fond of their buffaloes as most people are of their dogs or cats. In the past it was unthinkable to slaughter buffalo for meat. Farmers would look after the animal until it died. Only then would they use the meat as food. They would also keep the horns of the buffalo as a kind of memento. After the farming season finishes, there would be ceremonies to bless the buffalo. Farmers would sing its praise and treat it with a big feast and fresh water. Some farmers even referred to the buffaloes as their children, which shows how much respect they had for them.

It is not always easy or convenient to go and learn about the role of buffaloes on a farm so that is why they created the Buffalo Village in Suphanburi Province. So instead of visiting a farm, you can now learn about traditional farming at this theme village. They aim not only to raise awareness of the important role the buffaloes have played but also to help conserve the dwindling breeding stock. The main attraction here are the daily buffalo shows which last about 30 minutes. To be honest, as I grew up on a farm, I didn’t find the show that interesting but the audience that day did enjoy it. Apparently not many independent foreign tourists come this way which probably explains why the show was only in Thai. However, the management told me that they get lot of tour buses passing through with foreigners and they put on special shows for them including demonstrations of rice planting. Other highlights of the Buffalo Village is the group of traditional Thai style houses.

The shows are at 11 a.m and 3 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m., 2.30 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the weekend. Although the show was only in Thai language, they have decided, for some reason, to charge foreign tourists a higher price. Full price, including entrance, show and buffalo cart ride is 300 baht for foreigners and 60 baht for Thais. Foreign children are 210 baht and Thai children only 10 baht. I personally found the entrance fee to be too high and I don’t believe it would be good vlaue for money. Luckily I didn’t have to pay! I would like to thank the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for inviting me on this trip and being such kind hosts. Click here to see the Buffalo Village marked on google maps. More information about Suphanburi Province at our website.

Wat No Phuttangkul in Suphanburi

In my hometown, I am familiar with one temple in particular. Not only is this temple a destination for those studying Thai traditional paintings from educational institutes such as the Suphanburi College of Fine Arts where I teach, it is, in my opinion, the finest place for those studying traditional Thai wall murals in the entire province.

These murals are the works of royalist compositionist experts from by-gone days. Since each one has been meticulously painted, they are a fine source for research and analysis for students of traditional Thai art. Moreover, every piece stretches from the artist’s imagination in a unique and personal way.

Wat No Phuttangkul is located in Tambon Phiharn Daeng, Suphanburi Town on the western banks of the Tha Cheen River. No-one knows, however, the exact year the temple was built and by whom.

According to local legend, Laotians from Vientiane who had fled their homeland due to revolt there, settled down in the vicinity of Tambon Phiharn Daeng. And it was here that they established a house of priests chapel. Again, the actual year is unknown.

After, a royal Phraya founded a temple named Wat Makham Nor. The temple kept this name till a new abbot called Phra Suvarnvernkhun arrived and took charge – he renamed the temple, as it is known to this day, Wat No Phuttangkul.

Legend goes that an old abbot of the temple had the murals crafted in the late Ayutthaya era as the style is similar to that time. The imaginative murals can be found on the interior and exterior walls of the chapel. It is said that the murals are chiefly the workmanship of royalist mural compositionist Nai Kham who had been one of the original Laotians who fled Vientiane for Suphanburi.

Supposedly Nai Kham had 3 siblings but was parted from them during their hazardous trip to Siam’s new capital Krungthep. When it became known to local civil servants that Nai Kham had been a former muralist in Vientiane he was ordered to start painting at Wat Suthat.

On completion of the murals at Wat Suthat, Nai Kham intended to trace his 3 brothers. It was then that he found out that they had settled in the north-western province of Suphanburi just a 2 days boat ride from the capital. He finally managed to locate them in Tambon Phiharn Daeng.

When Nai Kham himself decided to settle down in the district he became aware that the local temple needed some work done on it, and it was then that Nai Kham took charge of the abbot’s wishes. Unable to complete this stupendous task alone, Nai Kham invited other mural compositionist relatives of his from Krungthep to assist on the project. When the murals were finally finished Nai Kham ventured to work on other craftsmanship at near-by Wat Pratusarn.

These exquisite murals include mainly the legendary Buddhist era which depicts the 10 lives (10 Jakatas) of the Lord Buddha before he was born into human form. They are:

1. Temiya Jataka – Temiya, the mute Prince
2. Mahajanaka Jataka – Mahajanaka, the lost Prince
3. Sama Jataka – Sama, the devoted Son
4. Nimi Jataka – Nimi, the noble King
5. Mahosadha Jataka – Mahosadha, the clever Sage
6. Bhuridatta Jataka – Bhuridatta, the Naga Prince
7. Canda-Kumara Jataka – Canda-Kumara, the honorable Prince
8. Narada Jataka – Narada, the great Brahma
9. Vidhura-Pandita Jataka – Vidhura-Pandita, the eloquent Sage
10. Vessantara Jataka – Vessantara, the charitable Prince

Over recent years the temple and murals have twice come under repair, the last time being 2007. And so, murals which had once been rather dilapidated have now been returned to their original form. Wat No Phuttangkul is under the protection and preservation of the National Commission of Fine Arts.

I would care to invite everyone with an interest in traditional Thai art to visit Wat No Phuttangkul in Tambon Phiharn Daeng in Suphanburi Town. Situated just a few kilometers from the main market area, it can easily be reached by samlor or tuk-tuk. For further information on visiting this beautiful temple contact Click here to see the location marked on a map.

Ajarn Phaen Ekchit teaches at the Suphanburi College of Fine Arts.

Translation by Stephen Cleary.

Bueng Chawak Aquarium & Zoo

One of the hidden gems of Suphan Buri is Chawak Lake at the northern end of the province. The Bueng Chawak Chalermphrakiat project was initiated back in 1994 to celebrate H.M. The King’s 50th year accession to the throne. The three main projects surrounding the lake are “The Wildlife Extension Center”, “The Garden of Indigenous Vegetables” and “The Exhibition Center for Aquatic Animals”. As I mentioned before, Suphanburi is not featured at all in the Lonely Planet guidebooks, so if you do manage to get out to this excellent park, you will probably be the only foreigner there.

At the weekend, it is a popular destination for local Thai people despite the fact that you won’t find any public transport to get here. One of the best things I liked about this place was that it was so cheap. The above picture was taken at “The Garden of Indigenous Vegetables” which had free entry. If you are interested in herbs and plants for eating and medical benefits then you will be fascinated by these gardens. You can walk around freely or rent a bicycle.

The highlight for me was the aquarium. There are over 110 aquatic animals, both native and foreign and also some exotic fish. We were there on a weekday so it wasn’t that crowded. This made it easy to take your time in wandering around and studying the fish in each of the display cases. It was also light enough to take pictures quite easily. I loved the tunnels where you walked underneath the fish. I actually prefer this aquarium to that small one in the basement of Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok. Of course, the best thing is that Siam Ocean World is a very expensive 850 baht whereas this aquarium is only 30 baht!

At Bueng Chawak your money does go a bit further as there is also a crocodile pool outside. Here they have about 80 crocodiles. If you come at the weekend, you will be able to watch a crocodile show here. They have four rounds starting at 11 a.m. It was a shame we missed this and also the show in the big fish tank which again they only have at the weekends starting at 10.30 a.m. However, we couldn’t complain as the admission price was less than US$1. And anyway, we didn’t actually have to pay as we went there as guests of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

After the aquarium, we drove over to the Wildlife Extension Center. The animal center is ideal for families. Here you will find animals such as tigers, lions, camels, zebras and ostriches. They also have a 25 meter high aviary which has about 50 species of birds. We didn’t have much time to spend here but I will certainly go back again at a later date. The admission was only 20 baht which is so cheap compared to the 700 baht you have to pay to go to Safari World. The best thing is, it only costs an additional 20 baht to take pictures of your kids sitting with a baby tiger or an orangutan. Other zoos will charge you something like 250 baht, though they give you a framed picture for that price.

Also at the lake is this beautiful resort. These treehouses cost 1,300 baht during the week and 1,600 baht at the weekend. Pretty good value for money. If you want to stay here at the weekend or during holidays, be sure to call ahead to book. Their number is 035-430099. I will certainly come back here again and spend more time exploring the area. During the week it is very peaceful and a great place to ride a bicycle or just walk. Visit our free Thailand Guidebook for more information for this tourist attraction and others in Suphan Buri.

I wish to thank the TAT for arranging our trip to Suphanburi and also for paying for all food and accommodation during the trip. If anyone has a tourist attraction or resort and would like us to do a site inspection then please contact us through our website at