A small province in the central region. Samut Songkhram boasts many places of interest, such as the Tha Kha Floating, the king Market’s folk museum.
Superficiaily, Samut Songkhram is just a small province which is always overlooked by tourists who are on their way to the beaches at Prachuap Khirikhan or to the province of Phetchaburi with its sweets and desserts. When talking about a floating market, a majority of people, always think of Damnoensaduak. Very few think of the one of Samut Songkhram.
If a person takes the time to get to know Samut Songkhram, he will find that it has a lot of interesting things to offer equal in interest to other provinces.
Samut Songkhram is an ancient city with no evidence of when it was founded. Earlier it was understood that it was a district in Ratchaburi called Suan Nok. At the end of the Ayutthaya period and the beginning of the Thonburi period, it separated itself from Ratchaburi and was renamed Mae Klong after the river that ran through it.
Samut Songkhram has three districts (Amphoes). They are Amphoe Muang, Amphoe Amphawa, and Amphoe Bangkhonthi. The tour of the province can be done in a day if a visitor starts fairly early in the morning.
The floating market of Samut Songkhram called Thakha in Amphoe Amphawa is an ideal spot to start the tour since the market starts quite early and runs only until noon. But before going, a visitor should consult a calendar because this floating market has its business on the second day, the seventh day, and the twelfth day of the waxing moon or the waning moon only.
The Thakha floating market may not be so busy as Damnoensaduak and there are no pleasure boats to rent, but the atmosphere is quite peaceful and charming. The female vendors are friendly and have smiling faces. There are chairs for visitors to rest and watch what is going on around them. They can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the full service breakfast.
“Along the banks of the Mae Klong River one can enjoy such sights as coconut and lytchee plantations, old-style Thai houses, the life-style of the nativers, and cool breezy clean air.”
If a visitor is already in Amphoe Amphawa, the grand royal memorial park of Phra Bat Somdej Phra Putthalertla Napalai (King Rama II) is recommended. It is a group of tour Thai style architecture buildings. The art objects of the early Rattanakosin period and an exhibition of life style of people during that time are displayed. There is an outdoor theater and a botanical garden which is filled with various kinds of plants and flowers mentioned in Thai literature.
Next to the garden is Wat Amphawan Chetiyaram. It belongs to the Bang Chang family whose members are royal descendants. The location behind the temple was the residence of Luang Yokkrabat (later became King Rama I) and Khun Nak (later Queen Amarindhra of King Rama I). It was believed that the ground around the stupa was a residence where Khun Nak gave birth to a boy named Chim who later on became King Rama II.
Take the national highway number 825 to Samut Songkhram. From there follow the ring for six more kilometers to reach the garden and Wat Amphawan. The garden is open everyday from 09:00 to 18:00 Hours. The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 09:00 to 16:00 Hours also. The entrance fee is 5 baht for children and 10 baht for adults.
If a person finishes visiting the garden before noon, he may want to visit a cottage industry site which produces coconut Sugar on Samut Songkhram at Bangkhonthi road. There are billboards advertising the names of those houses including Tao Wan, Tao Tand, Tao kalong, Tao Tan and many more. The natives decoct coconut sugar from 08:30 to 12:00 Hours. Early in the morning the sap from coconut trees is collected, then it is decocted in a big pan. After that the better is poured into a mold that has white thin cloth laid on the bottom to prevent the sugar from sticking to the mold. Next it is set aside to dry. At the end it is pried from the mold, put in a bag, and weighted to mark the price for sale.
Besides offering sugar cakes with a nice aroma and native souvenirs, these houses still maintain souvenirs. These houses still maintain a certain atmosphere of rustic rustic charm a visitor might enjoy.
After lunch a visit to pay homage to Banlaem Bhuddha Image or Luangpho Banlaem at Wat Banlaem (also known as Wat Phetsamutworawihan) in Amphoe Muang is recommended as it is the most important temple of Samut Songkhram. Luangpho Banlaem is the site of a sacred Buddha image with no evidence of when it was built. The historical record from the royal script or Phrarachahatthalekha issue says that in 1764 AD when the Burmese attacked Phetchaburi, the troop from Ayutthaya manage to protect the city successfully. The natives of Banlaem village in Phetchaburi fled the Burmese to settle down in Mae Klong subdisdrict to the north of Wat Srichampa and called the new settlement Banlaem after the name of their previous village in Phetchaburi. The settlers restored Wat Srichampa and renamed it Wat Banlaem.
The Banlaem villagers were fishermen. One day while they were trawling for fish in the Maeklong bay, they found two Buddha statues caught in the net, One was in a seated position and the other standing. The seated Buddha was enshrined at Wat Khaotakhrao, Phetchaburi and as a result was called Luangpho Wat Khaotakhrao. The standing on was enshrined at Wat Banlaem and was called Luangpho Banlaem. This image was believed to be holding an alms-bowl which was lost in the sea before it was found.
The reputation of Luangpho Banlaem as a site which had a sacred Buddha image possessed of great power and highly revered by the natives made Wat Banlaem, originally was just a small temple, became prosperous and it was upgraded to be a royal temple of Worawihan in rank. It was granted the name of wat Petsamutworawihan by royal command. The lost alms-bowl was replaced by the blue one donated by Somdet Chaopha Krom Phraya Phanuphan Wongworadet. It still exists until today.
For the visitor who enjoys a pleasure boat ride, Samut Songkhram offers a peaceful, rustic, charming blend of scenery and atmosphere on the banks of the Mae klong river. A visitor can start the boat tour at the pier in front of the town. Along the banks one can enjoy such sights as coconut and Lytchee plantations, old-style Thai houses, the lifestyle of the natives, and cool breezy clean air.
Before leaving Samut Songkhram a visitor may want to buy various fruits which are abundant including tangerines, Litchis, Khaowyai pomelos, grapes as well as dried seafood products and the well know shrimp paste of Klongkon.
Photo Credit : https://thai.tourismthailand.org