TOUR 2: Bang Nampheung Floating Market, The Erawan Museum, Reclining Buddha at Bang Phli and finishing with a meal at sunset at the Bang Pu Seaside Resort.
Samut Prakan Province is sandwiched between Bangkok and the Gulf of Thailand. As it is so close to the capital of Thailand it doesn’t receive many independent travellers. Most people see it as just the suburbs. Even the mighty Lonely Planet Guidebook for Thailand has now dropped the chapter on Samut Prakan. However, despite this, the province has a lot to offer for people who want something different. In Samut Prakan Tour 01 I told you about a day trip to see all the highlights such as The Erawan Museum, Ancient Siam and the Crocodile Farm. What I am going to do today is take you to a floating market, the largest three headed elephant in the world, the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand and the most expensive toilets in Thailand.
The first stop on this tour is the Bang Nampheung Floating Market. Probably the easiest way to get there from Bangkok is to go by Sky Train to Krung Thonburi BTS Station and from there take a taxi which will take about 20 minutes to reach the market. Don’t go there expecting a picture postcard Damnoen Saduak kind of floating market. This was mainly set up for local Thai tourists. So, plenty of shade and stalls selling food and local handicraft and OTOP products. However, you can rent a boat if you are crazy enough to go out in the blazing sun. It is best to go here early as it can get crowded. I usually aim for 8.30 a.m. at the latest and spend at least two hours here. A great place to have breakfast. Don’t forget, it is only a weekend market and usually wraps up by about 2 p.m. With luck you should be able to find a taxi that has just dropped someone off. If not, take a motorcycle taxi to the river ferry at a local temple to catch a boat to the other side. Here you will find a taxi for your next destination.
Your next stop is giant three-headed elephant at The Erawan Museum. If you go there by taxi then make sure he takes the Kanchanapisek Outer Ring road as there is an exit right by the museum. If you cross the river by boat, a taxi from the other side would take only about 15 minutes or so. To join a tour costs 150 baht each for adults and 50 baht for children. There is a museum in the basement and then you are taken up into the belly of the elephant (see picture). You really need a wide angle lens to get some good pictures of this giant elephant. It really is massive and worth every penny. It is a unique tourist attraction in Thailand. You will be spending at least an hour here if not longer. To get to your next destination, you will need to go by taxi again. Don’t worry, you won’t have any trouble in finding one. The trip shouldn’t take much longer than about 25 minutes.
From The Erawan Museum, you need to get back on the Kanchanapisek Outer Ring Road and head east to Bang Phli. It will be the third exit. Your first stop will be the Reclining Buddha at Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang. It is 53 meters long and much bigger than the famous one in Bangkok. In addition, you can go inside this one and see the Buddha’s heart! After you finish here, take a motorcycle taxi to the nearby Wat Bang Phli Yai Nai. It shouldn’t cost more than 20 baht. This temple is popular for Thai people because of the revered Luangpho To image. You might find the nearby 100 year market more of interest which runs alongside the canal. The temple also has a 5 million baht toilet. At the weekends, you can join boat tours in front of the temple. If you want to do this, then come straight to this temple as the Reclining Buddha is on the boat tour.
From Bang Phli, there is a road that heads straight south to the Gulf of Thailand at Tam Ru. You shouldn’t find it difficult to take a taxi from Bang Phli to your next destination at Bang Pu Seaside Resort. I would think it would take no more than 30 minutes to get here. The best time to come is late afternoon. In addition, if you come between October and March then you should have the added attraction of being able to some of the thousands of migratory seagulls here. This is a very popular place for Thais to come at the weekend to enjoy the fresh sea breeze. You can also do bird watching here and eat at the restaurant at the end of the pier. If you are here at the end of the day then you might be lucky to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the gulf.