Off the Beaten Track in Thailand

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Today we are joined by one of our local Thai guides, Swai, who has a great off-the-beaten-path travel suggestion for us. Swai was born, raised and works today in Bangkok. He knows that Thailand is an incredible nation to visit – stunning beaches, riveting cultural traditions, incredible food – but there’s no denying that the tourist path is worn smooth by the passing of so many feet! Almost every traveler enters Thailand through its capital city, so it’s a good idea to prepare yourself with a few fun day trip ideas like this one from Swai.

From Bangkok, it is really convenient to visit Amphawa, a sub district area of Samut Songkhram Province. It’s only 65 kilometers from Bangkok, just an hour drive heading on the main road to the southwestern direction. Even by public transportation, it is also practical and convenient. There are a lot of modern public minivans starting from the commercial districts in Bangkok such as Victory Monument, Mo Chit Bus Terminal, and Ratchadamnern Road, with cheap fare of about 70 Baht to reach the center of Amphawa.

It is also possible to travel by local train at Thonburi Railway Station and connect to another rail route of Mae Klong Railway Station which is located in the heart of Samut Songkhram Province area. This route is also quite extraordinary, as when the train has almost reached the destination, all large umbrellas or movable roof shelters of local vendors who spread out their stalls right exactly on the railway tracks will immediately be pulled down by the owners and moved to the sides hastily, before the running train passes through to the terminal. (This is known as the “Crazy Market” of Mae Klong Railway Station.) The train’s destination is one of Samut Songkhram Province and it’s not far from here to Amphawa.

When first coming to the township of Amphawa, you will feel relaxed, as this is an enjoyable place. You will see here the well preserved community along the canalside. There are some floating merchant lifestyles and some local Thai homestays for visitors to experience daily activities of Thai traditional practices, such as donating food to the Buddhist monks in the early dawn, boating in the evening to see some fireflies, tasting local Thai meals, boating to an old temple of the area and more. People’s unique lifestyle here has been continuing for generations, outside of modernization, since 1707. The community was formed after the Mahachai Canal was dug out to join the main stream of Thachin River in the early 18th century.

There are also plentiful attractions surrounding the area, reachable by cars while some of which can be done by boat. The monument of King Rama II, the monument of the Siamese Twins, Razor Clam Fishery (Doi Hoi Lord), old local Buddhist temples and more. Actually, the covering area is a part of the Gulf of Thailand which is positioned in the very center on the map beneath Bangkok. This area is also the final exit of some major rivers: not only the main river of the country “Chaophaya River” but also Thachin River and Mae Klong River as well. The outer part of the rivers before flowing out to the sea is also covered with the huge wild mangroves which are growing up along the fresh and salt water estuary. Part of the beauty of the Amphawa area is experiencing its natural environment, like the Gulf of Thailand, which you can visit by hiring a local boat and wandering along the canals or the inner gulf. It is a real contrast to other destinations in Thailand. Amphawa is quite charming and unique; I encourage you to visit!

Thank you Swai! Travelers planning a trip to Thailand in 2012 should consider getting in touch with Swai for more valuable local insight into Bangkok and beyond!
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