Samut Songkhram, ThailandKirsty Turner
Samut Songkhram is commonly known as Mae Klong and is a large market town on the outskirts of Bangkok. Although geographically the smallest of all the Thai provinces, Samut Songkhram has a lot to offer the independent traveler who has a strong sense of adventure and curiosity.
The area was turned into a province during the reign of King Taksin and was the birth place of Queen Amarindra, wife of King Rama I. The area is also famous for a more unusual reason; Chang and Eng Bunker, the first ever recorded Siamese twins were born in the province.
Within easy travelling distance of the mighty metropolis of Bangkok, Samut Songkhram is a good place to get a real feel for the Thai way of life and the people. This is where you will find genuine smiles, warm welcomes as well as sights, sounds and smells that you can’t quite find on the usual tourist trail.
The area’s markets are extremely lively and good places to meet people and find out the local gossip. Most markets work under a bartering system, so don’t forget to try to negotiate a price on the latest counterfeit Levis or watches. The markets are also good places to get a cheap, tasty meal.
Samut Songkhram is situated at the mouth of the Mae Klong River. There is a widespread network of canals, which can easily be explored by boat or by hiring a bicycle and following the footpaths along the canal banks.
There are many interesting attractions in the area. Many people visit on a day trip from Bangkok in order to see Doi Hot Lot, which is a bank of fossilized shells.
Another point of interest is the huge Wat Phet Samut Worawihan, which contains a large Buddha image know as Luang Wat Ban Laem.
Not to be missed is Wat Satthatham. This beautiful golden teak temple is decorated with mother-of-pearly inlay costing an incredible 60 million baht.
A great place to relax and find some shade in the heat of the day, the King Buddhalertla Napalai Memorial Park is dedicated to the memory of King Rama II.