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Category: Trips 2013

Trip to Nakhon Ratchasima: Day 03

Trip to Nakhon Ratchasima: Day 03

This was the last day of my three day trip to Nakhon Ratchasima. The final day was spent in Pak Chong District. I spent last night at Prairie Hills Resort. Today I visited Primo Piazza,  Life Park,  Palio Khao Yai and Secret Art Garden.

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Trip to Nakhon Ratchasima: Day 02

Trip to Nakhon Ratchasima: Day 02

This is now our second day exploring the sites of Nakhon Ratchasima. Yesterday we explored and stayed in Wang Nam Khiao district but today we visited three more districts. Tonight we are staying in Pak Chong. We spent the morning at the agro-tourism site at Jim Thompson Farm. Then after lunch we visited the giant Erawan Elephant at Wat Ban Rai. Then we had a quick visit to Khao Yai Floating Market. This won’t be opening fully until February next year. These are some of the pictures that I tweeted today:

Google map of all the places that I have visited so far in Nakhon Ratchasima.

Trip to Nakhon Ratchasima: Day 01

Trip to Nakhon Ratchasima: Day 01

I’m on a three day trip visiting Nakhon Ratchasima province in the Northeast of Thailand. This is a popular destination at the end of the year for Thai people as it is cooler than Bangkok. If you come here in December you might want to bring a sweater as it gets chilly overnight. During our first day we explored Wang Nam Khiao district. These are the highlights of the pictures that I tweeted during the day:

Google map of all the places that I have visited so far in Wang Nam Khiao in Nakhon Ratchasima.

Highlights of Pictures Tweeted on Ratchaburi Trip on Day 2

Highlights of Pictures Tweeted on Ratchaburi Trip on Day 2

I’m on a two day trip to Ratchaburi Province. Most of my time will be spent in Suan Pheung. These are the highlights of the pictures that I tweeted on the second day. Click here to see pictures from yesterday.

Highlights of Pictures Tweeted on Ratchaburi Trip on Day 1

Highlights of Pictures Tweeted on Ratchaburi Trip on Day 1

I’m on a two day trip to Ratchaburi Province. Most of my time will be spent in Suan Pheung. These are the highlights of the pictures that I tweeted on the first day.

Weekend Trip to Amphawa Floating Market

Weekend Trip to Amphawa Floating Market

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This weekend I went on a two-day trip to Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkhram. This is less than 90 minutes from Bangkok. People go there as a day trip at the weekend, but I think its better to spend a night in one of the many homestays. My starting point was the British Embassy on Ploenchit Road as the ambassador and his wife also came on the trip. This is a Google Map of all the places that we visited on the trip plus some more. These are some of the pictures that I tweeted on @RichardBarrow during the trip. The ambassador also tweeted on @KentBKK.

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Our first stop was to see the swimming monkeys in Khlong Khon (see map). You can catch a songteaw to Wat Khlong Khon from the market in Samut Songkhram. There is a pier in the temple car park where you can rent boats for about 700 Baht. You can buy some food for the monkeys here. Some peanuts are a good idea as they float on the water unlike the bananas. We headed out towards the sea with mangroves on either side. At several points we stopped so that monkeys could come swimming out to our boat. All great fun.

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Our second stop was the Market on the Railway Tracks in Samut Songkhram (see map). These trains never seem to keep to the schedule any more. So it is best when you arrive to go to the station first to see what the time of the next train is or ask a market vendor. We had 45 minutes to wait and so went and had lunch first. A few minutes before the train is due to arrive there is an announcement on the tannoy and all the market vendors pull back the awnings. The tables are on rollers and just push back. Trains come through here eight times per day.

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Our next stop was at Wat Bang Kaphom (see map) which is on the way to Amphawa. This old temple dates back to the late Ayutthaya period. The entrance to the old wihan is guarded but what looks like two soldiers. The gable above the door depics the images of two Europeans with one of them sitting on a chair. Inside it is just as interesting. In the center there is a replica of four superimposing Buddha’s footprints. Around the walls there are stucco reliefs depicting the Lord Buddha’s life.

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We arrived at our fourth step by mid afternoon. Amphawa is a weekend market only from Friday to Sunday (see map). It kicks off at about 3pm or so and starts to shut down by about 9pm. You could go there just for the food, but there are also plenty of shops selling quality handicrafts. Most shops are unique and you won’t see elsewhere. From the market you can join a five temple boat tour which is mainly of interest to Thais wanting to make merit. During the week this place is very quiet.

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We stayed the night at Ban Mae Arom Homestay (see map). There are quite a few homestays in Amphawa and they are all as good as each other. However, I prefer the ones at the far end of the market as they are a little quieter and they have their own exclusive veranda on the riverfront. Most homestays these days seem to be at least 1,000 Baht per night. The room we stayed in was 1,200 Baht and was pretty basic with a shared bathroom. During the week it is nearly half price.

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During the evening we booked ourselves to go on a firefly tour. This cost only 60 Baht per person and they came and picked us up at our homestay. The first few groups that we passed seemed more like cheap Christmas trees flashing in synch. To be honest, I thought that they were fake lights. However, later on we were able to get close to some trees where we could actually see them flying around. They are not easy to photograph but I did manage to get this one.

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A highlight for people staying at a homestay are the monks that row pass early in the morning to collect alms. You have to get up at 6am but as they rowed right pass the homestay we didn’t have to go far. And anyway, there was always the option of going back to bed. Once other guests had finished making merit they then called to passing food vendors so that they could have some freshly cooked breakfast. The first one that came had red pork on rice. Another had pad thai.

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We decided not to have breakfast at the homestay, but drive the short distance to Tha Kha Floating Market (see map). This is an authentic floating market and you will see them selling both fruit and vegetables as well as cooking some delicious meals. I love it here as it is much quieter than Amphawa and more laid back. The majority of tourists here are Thais but you do see foreigners arrive now on tours. You can join boat tours by paying 200 Baht per boat. A nice quiet paddle around the orchards.

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Our next stop was Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (see map). We only went here out of interest to compare an authentic market with one that was created for foreign tourists. The first difference was obvious. The main canal through the market was one big traffic jam of boats. And not just paddle boats. There were many boats with massive engines. Then there were the souvenir stalls. All of them selling virtually the same things as other locations around Thailand. Boat hire here is also very expensive. No, thank you. We didn’t stay long.

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Our next stop was back at the Mae Klong river that runs out into the Gulf of Thailand. Here we visited the Church of the Virgin May (see map). This church was built by a French missionary back in 1890. They had a big event going on when we arrived and so we were lucky to be able to observe the Thai people worshiping in a Christian church. The interior design of the church is also very beautiful. It’s always strange to see a building and setting that is so European here in Thailand.

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Our next stop in the afternoon was to see what was once listed as “Unseen Thailand”. This is the ordination hall at Wat Bang Kung (see map). Following the defeat of Ayutthaya in 1767, King Taksin moved his naval forces to the district of Bang Kung. The highlight here is the chapel that has now been completely taken over by four different species of ficus plants. It certainly makes for some great photos. Though due to its popularity these days, it is not easy to get a clear shot.

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Our final stop was to pay homage to the memorial set up for the Siamese Twins (see map). This is literally in the middle of nowhere and is maybe not really worth the detour. The statue was built in the memory of Chang-Eng the Siamese twins who made Thailand famous around the world. They were born here in Samut Songkhram in 1811. They were later spotted by some foreigners who took them to the UK and America. They later married and had children. They died at the age of 63. There is a museum here but it looks like all exhibit have been removed and the place is now very neglected.

Trip to Chachoengsao

Trip to Chachoengsao

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The highlight of any trip to Chachoengsao, particularly for Thai people, is Wat Sothon Wararam Woraviharn [PHOTOS] in the city. The chapel is the largest of its kind in Thailand and it houses the sacred Phra Buddha Sothorn statue. Nearby you can watch traditional dancing for free at a shrine. Whenever Thai people want some good luck, they pay for these dancers to perform for the deities. On a previous trip to this temple, I went on a boat tour that started at the pier behind the main building. This went to an old riverside market. There is no admission fee.

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Our second stop was the World Sand Sculpture [PHOTOS] which was only 800 meters away. This was first opened about 6 years ago and it was the first of its kind at the time. The exhibit contains many sand sculptures of various sizes that were built by both Thai and foreign artisans. Over 15,000 tonnes of sand was used to make the exhibit and it took them over one year to complete it. Unfortunately, they don’t last forever, and so they have to re-do every 3-4 years. They are open daily from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Admission is 100 Baht for adults and 60 Baht for children.

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Our next stop was to Wat Saman Rattanaram [PHOTOS] where you can see a giant Reclining Ganesha. This is said to be the biggest in Thailand if not the world. It is 16 meters high and 22 meters long. Ganesha is a Hindu deity and has an elephant head and four arms. There are thirty two popular iconographic forms of Ganesha and all of them can be seen around the base of this Reclining Ganesha. At the same temple there is also a floating market which has plenty of stalls selling a variety of food. You can also join boat tours. There is no admission fee.

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About 20 kilometers away from the main city in Chachoengsao is the Parrot and Palm Garden [PHOTOS]. In Thai this is called Suan Palm Farm Nok. The center houses many breeds of parrots as well as other animals such as geese, swans, ducks, goats and deers. Another main feature are the many palm trees. The gardens are spread over a large area and so it makes sense to hire a bicycle for 50 Baht per hour or a golf cart for 300 Baht per hour. Admission price is 100 Baht for adults and 50 Baht for children. If you are there at the right time you can help feed the birds and other animals.

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The second Ganesh image we saw today was the Giant Standing Ganesh in Na Muang sub-district. At 39 meters high, this is supposed to be the tallest of its kind in Thailand if not the world. It’s made from bronze and took a year to make. The park surrounding the giant statue isn’t finished yet and they expect it will take another two years to complete. It’s in the middle of nowhere among rice fields and alongside the Bang Pakong River. There is no admission fee.

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Our final stop in Chachoengsao was at Wat Paknam Jolo [PHOTOS]. This is famous for the beautiful golden chapel alongside the river. This is believed to be the only tempe in Thailand that they have painted gold. When you arrive at the temple is advisable to walk around the golden chapel first as there is so much to see and take in. Don’t forget to go inside as it is just as beautiful on the inside. Something else worth seeing at the temple is an old boat that dates back to the Taksin era.

There are many buses that run all day from Bangkok to Chachoengsao from the Northern Bus Terminal. You can also go by train. However, the quickest and most convenient way is by passenger van from Victory Monument. Public transport may be good for the main attractions, but places like the Parrot and Palm Garden and the Standing Ganesh can only be visited by you own transport. You may want to consider hiring a Bangkok taxi for the day. Click here for a Google Map of Chachoengsao.

Going to Koh Yao in Phang Nga

Going to Koh Yao in Phang Nga

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This weekend I’m on a trip to Koh Yai in Phang Nga Province. What I will do on this blog is post some notes and observations. Later I will post more detailed blogs over at www.thaitravelblogs.com. This blog here I usually write on my iPhone.

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The easiest way to get to Koh Yai is from Phuket. It is only about 30 minutes from the airport to the pier at Bang Rong. Taxis from the airport cost 650B. It costs a little less to go back. At the pier you have the choice between a normal boat, which takes about 50 minutes, and speedboats which takes only 30 minutes. Normal boat is 120B and speedboat is 200B. First boat is 7:50am and last boat is 5:30pm.

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The first island you reach is Koh Yao Yai and then five minutes away is Koh Yao Noi. This second island is more popular and is where we went. When we arrived at the pier there were songtaews waiting. These cost from 50B-100B depending on how far your hotel is from the pier. You can also hire a songtaew for the day for about 800 Baht.

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You can rent motorcycles from the villages, beaches and some hotels. These cost about 250B per day for normal bikes and 350B for automatics. Make sure they give you a helmet. Some places ask for your passport. Don’t give it to them as that is illegal. Just give them a photocopy.

If you can add any more travel tips then please let me know in the comments.