We went to Thailand in June, planning to go to just Bangkok and Krabi. But since we had 11 days, we decided to add in one more destination to our itinerary just three days before we left – Samut Songkhram. It turned out to be one of the best decisions for our trip. I had the kids in mind when I chose to go there, but as it turned out, we adults enjoyed ourselves too.
Samut Songkhram is 1.5 hours away from Bangkok by taxi. It is near the supposedly more authentic Damnoen Saduak Floating Market where many tourists take a day trip to. I say “supposedly” because I found it too touristy when we went there several years ago. With a 1.5-year-old in tow, I didn’t feel up to doing a day trip outside Bangkok, so we decided to spend two nights at Asita Eco Resort.
There are several resorts in the area but I chose Asita even though it was a tad pricier because it had a waterway meandering through the resort.
The rooms overlooked a somewhat murky-looking canal filled with “rich wildlife” – think colourful birds, big, red ants, several large, croc-looking monitor lizards (below).
“Are you sure they are not crocodiles?!” I asked the very friendly and hospitable resort staff.
“No, they are just very big lizards,” she answered with a reassuring smile.
It was a refreshing experience for my city-bred kids. They would keep a lookout and report all the sightings. We managed to steal a shot of the lizards crawling up the slope towards our room before they saw us and ducked out of sight. (Thank goodness!)
As with our previous trip to Penang, I wanted to kids to try something they had never experienced before. Then, it was high-element challenges. This time, rowing a boat.
Not a modern canoe or small kayak, but a traditional, heavy, old, rickety boat that required balancing, sitting with the said “wildlife”(big ants) and dealing with splashes from murky canal water.
It all looked quite idyllic, as their papa brought them out on the boat one at a time.
Jason even gained enough confidence to row one on his own.
Sarah and I cheered them on happily from the sidelines. I thought it didn’t look like much of a challenge. So I decided to have a go at it – and nearly capsized the boat (that their papa was rowing).
I came back on land with a newfound admiration for my son, and decided never again to get on the boat. Shot taken by Jason from our room, while Sarah was having her afternoon nap.
There were also bicycles to use, which were useful when we wanted to get dinner from the shop down the road. (Free usage for both bikes and boat)
Since we had already visited the floating market during our last trip, we decided to go to the Train Market instead – the one where the hawkers shift aside their stalls from the train track so that the train can run through it during scheduled times.
Several times a day, the tourists stand by to wait for the trains.
If rowing the boat was the best part of the trip for them (they said), then the visit to the train market must be the most unforgettable, because of what they saw, smelled and heard as we walked along the train track after the train left.
Smells permeating from salted fish, salted vegetables and the swarms of houseflies.
And the sinister sounds from the cracking of the catfish skulls as the hawkers repeatedly hammered them, to the horror of the kids.
Some of the stalls were on wheels, presumably to make for ease of movement when the train passed.
The experience was good fodder for journal writing, as we later realised when he had to do his holiday homework.
We took a tuktuk to and from the resort.
And we were happy to just chill out in the room and resort the rest of the time.
One of the activities offered by the resort was to offer alms to the monks when they came by on boats early in the morning. We didn’t wake up early enough but chanced upon one who came by later because of an early morning downpour. Below: Thai employees on a company retreat at the resort offering alms to the monk.
There are several ways to reach Samut Songkhram from Bangkok:
- Hotel transfer
This was the most expensive option. Several Samut Songkhram hotels I checked with quoted 2,000-2,500baht one way if they were to call a taxi/limousine to pick us up in Bangkok.
A kind employee from one of the hotels in Samut Songkhram suggested we get a taxi ourselves from Bangkok and estimated that it would cost between 1,000 and 1,500 baht one way. This was the option we chose because it was the most convenient with three kids and big luggage bags. The comfortable ride also meant all three took a 1.5-hour nap and woke up refreshed when we reached. We got the hotel concierge in Bangkok to help us call for a taxi and negotiate the ride (1,100 baht), which made it easy for us.
3. Public van
This was the cheapest but slightly more inconvenient way of getting to and from Samut Songkhram. A helpful hotel staff from Asita Resort suggested this and we chose this method for getting back to Bangkok because we did not want to pay for the 2,500baht limousine from the resort. We took a tuktuk from the resort to the van station in Samut Songkhram. (300baht) There, we bought tickets for the trip. A van dropped us off at Mochit BTS Station in Bangkok after 1.5 hours. I think we paid 100baht per person plus an extra 100baht because we had a big luggage that took up one seat. The time it took to get back to Bangkok was the same as our taxi ride, if not shorter. The van was comfortable and air-conditioned, but because we were not able to get seats together, Shannon did not take a nap. Once we reached Mochit BTS, we had the option of taking the sky train or taxi back to our hotel.
Below: Waiting at the station for the van. The vans are the ones pictured below.
We missed going to the weekend evening floating market in Samut Songkhram because we left on a Friday. So if we were to go back there again, that would be a must-do.
Surprisingly, despite the modern malls of Bangkok and beautiful beaches and pools of Krabi, the older two said Samut Songkhram was the best part of the trip.