Bangkok is a fast paced city so sometimes it’s nice to get away and relax in the countryside. Why not take a trip to Samut Songkhram? This province is roughly a 1.5-hour drive southwest of Bangkok and is a good choice if you’re looking for an easygoing weekend. While you’re there, consider going biking, clamming, and train spotting. There’s also Thai flower garlands to be made and a one-of-a-kind temple to discover.
Biking through Bang Plub Orchard (บางพลับ)
It’s been awhile since we’ve been on a pedal bike (how about you?), so taking a leisurely ride through a shady tropical orchard was quite nice. Paved trails make it easy for even beginner bikers to enjoy time in nature.
We biked through Bang Plub Orchard, home to trees bearing coconuts, mangos, mangosteens, jackfruits, lychees, bananas, pomelos, and yellow plums.
It was interesting seeing the orchard systematically crisscrossed with ravines that supplied water to its trees. The lime green paths you see below are not walkways but aquatic microplants floating on the waterway’s surface. Quite different from the setup for the apple and orange orchards growing back in the USA.
This orchard also practices organic farming and educates visitors on their chemical-free agriculture style. Part of a sustainable organic harvest is to plant a variety of fruit trees to ensure an ample produce supply, even if one type of fruit has a poor harvest.
In addition to harvesting coconuts, the coconut trees are used for producing coconut sugar. Also known as palm sugar, this brown sweetener is preferred over cane sugar for Thai cooking. It’s also great for making a refreshing iced drink.
What is Provided: Rental bikes, English-speaking guide
What to Bring: Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, and bottled water
POC: Thiratee Chaijaree at [email protected] or (053) 948-2867
Clamming at Baan Mai Chai Lane Resort (บ้านไม้ชายเลนรีสอร์ท)
For those not afraid of getting dirty – and we mean head to toe dirty – take a longtail boat down one of the Gulf of Thailand’s estuaries and go clam digging. This place has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservation” series, although we definitely got better weather.
What we thought was so interesting about this place was the clam “fields” sectioned off with wooden posts. For a full kilometer, these posts mark the boundaries of each fisherman’s clamming property while leaving a narrow path in which the longtail boats can navigate through.
Among these fields are houses on stilts. These spartan houses are meant to be places for the men to rest or even sleep in overnight while they watch over their fields.
The shallow waters are home to small cockles. We practiced harvesting them by using a long board and skimming over the mud’s surface when the tide was out. It’s a lot harder than it looks, but it was a lot of fun. And the mud was so smooth it felt like something used in a high-end spa!
What is Provided: Bottled water, fresh fruit snacks, boat ride, life jackets
What to Bring: Sunglasses, sunscreen, bathing suit, change of clothes
Phone: (080) 021-1166 or (034) 731-042
Email: [email protected]
Website: BaanMaiChaiLane.com (Needs Google translation)
Train Spotting at Maeklong Railway Market (ตลาดร่มหุบ)
This outdoor market is famous because a train runs straight through it six times a day. Known locally as Talat Rom Hoop, the market is literally set up along train tracks and right before the train rolls through the overhead awnings and produce are quickly pulled back. It’s a great place to shop for fresh produce and seafood, eat at street stalls, and even buy clothes and trinkets with a little added entertainment.
Assuming the train is running on time, here’s a timetable of when the locomotive passes through the market and arrives at the Maeklong Railway Station, which is located just a few hundred meters away.
|Departing from Maeklong Station||6:20am||10:20am||2:30pm|
|Arriving at Maeklong Station||9:45am||1:45pm||6:22pm|
We’ve already shared our experience at the Maeklong Railway Market and included a few more snapshots, two maps, and information if you want to ride the train from Bangkok.
Visiting the Banyan Tree Covered Wat Bang Kung (วัดบางกุ้ง)
Wat Bang Kung still has an ancient beauty about it that draws in visitors. Completely overgrown with Banyan trees, this small temple is home to a beautiful towering Buddha statue.
Inside the tiny temple is a Buddha shrine that takes up an entire wall. This Buddha has been covered in countless gold leaf offerings gently pressed to its surface. It was one of the most beautiful shrines we’ve seen during our travels in Thailand.
Making Flower Garlands at Baan Din Hom (บ้านดินหอม)
It’s been a while since we’ve done anything crafty, but we learned how to make a special flower garland that’s important in Thai ceremonial culture.
An art store called Baan Din Hom has found a way to make these garlands everlasting. Rather than use real flowers, they create garlands out of clay. Each flower has been crafted individually by hand, allowed to dry, and then strung together to make an ornamental flower garland.
For this particular flower garland, our instructor taught us how to make the love flower (white bell-shaped fragrant flower) and the everlasting flower (purple starburst flower) using special colored clay and a few tools.
We practiced a bit and realized just how rusty our crafting skills were. Luckily, we were given a bag of dried clay flowers that we strung together to make a garland of our own in no time.
Favorite Restaurant: Baan Kor Pai (บ้านกอไผ่)
This restaurant sits on the banks of the Maeklong River and is surrounded by bamboo and mangroves. We had to walk along wooden pathways that snaked above the greenery below and connected each open-aired dining areas overlooking the river. It felt like being in a tree house!
The dining gazebos have Thai seating (we sat on floor mats and had to take our shoes off), although there are regular tables to sit at, too.
We highly recommend trying miang khum (เมี่่ยงคำ). It’s a finger food made of fresh raw slices of ginger, shallots, bird’s-eye chilies, toasted coconut, peanuts, and a tamarind dipping sauce. This particular plate came with of grilled snakehead fish. Using the leaves like a mini soft tortilla, we placed small amounts of each ingredient in the pocket, finished it with a squirt of lime, and then consumed the snack in one bite.
Recommended Guesthouse: Baan Suan Krua (บ้านสวนครัว)
A weekend trip to Samut Songkhram isn’t complete without having a place to sleep at night. The Baan Suan Krua homestay left a great impression on us, complete with a clean bright room, an outdoor dining area, and the unique opportunity to give alms to monks in the morning.
It is worth mentioning that the aforementioned Baan Bang Plub, Baan Chai Lane Resort, and Baan Kor Pai are all homestays as well.
|TIP: This guesthouse is best for larger groups.|
Map of a Weekend Getaway Trip to Samut Songkhram
Since Samut Songkhram is about 1.5 hours away from Bangkok, we recommend renting a car in the city and then driving yourself out to the countryside.
Although there are plenty of things to do in Bangkok, it’s nice to be able to take a short drive to the countryside and know that there are many places to explore.
DISCLOSURE: We received a similar tour compliments of Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) Asia 2015. We had a wonderful trip to Samut Songkhram and wanted to share our countryside exploration with our readers.