If you prefer to see the real Thailand, and not one of thousands of tourist traps, then why not visit Samut Prakan, one of Thailand’s 76 provinces, and also its second largest city? Just an hour drive from Bangkok, Samut Prakan was founded during the Ayutthaya period, so is also one of the country’s oldest cities. Full of temples, museums, cultural centers, and home to several famous festivals, Samut Prakan has so many fun things to see and do, you really should start with the best.
Muang Boran (Ancient City) – The most spectacular attraction in Samut Prakan, Muang Boran or as it’s known in English ‘Ancient City’ is famous for being one of the world’s biggest outdoor museums. At Muang Boran you’ll find more than 100 scaled-down identical copies of famous buildings from all over Thailand, as well as completely newly designed buildings and monuments. But, when I say ‘scaled-down’ don’t expect these places to be small. Many of them are so large you can actually go inside them. The buildings are spread out on more than 200-acres of land so, as you can imagine, you need a full day or more to see everything.
Ancient City isn’t just an amazing place to learn about Thai history and architecture, it’s also a fun place to go with friends. IFor only 50 baht ($1.75) you can rent a bicycle, which you get to use to pedal around the park the whole time you’re there. Or, if you like, you can rent a golf cart for just a few hundred baht, or take the free train.
Ancient Siam also has shops, some excellent Thai restaurants (eat at the ones in the model floating market – an extremely cool experience), and lots of different monthly activities. Get there either by taxi or by bus. See their website (link below) for travel details.
The Erawan Museum (see photo) – One of the coolest museums in Thailand, The Erawan Museum is another must see place in Samut Prakan. Built as an enormous three-headed elephant statue, with museum rooms below it in the base of the statue and actually inside the elephant itself, the museum was the brainchild of a wealthy Thai businessman who wanted somewhere to show off his huge collection of religious artifacts. And so The Erawan Museum was born.
You start off your tour in the base of the elephant statue, where you’ll see the oldest pieces, then move upstairs either by stairs or elevator. Don’t miss the views out over the gorgeous gardens, which you should see once you’re finished at the museum, and visit the small chapel on the top floor with its collection of Buddhas. There’s also a cute gift shop, and the restaurant is excellent.
Sriracha Tiger Zoo – If you’re traveling with kids, don’t miss taking them to Samut Prakan’s Sriracha Tiger Zoo, a zoo set up to house more than 200 Bengal tigers.
At Sriracha Tiger Zoo, you’ll also see some wonderful shows like “The Amazing Circus”, which is a circus-style tiger show, the “Elephant Show”, where you can watch elephants playing basketball, the “Crocodile Show” and the “Pig Races”. Kids will love the shows as you get to sit very close to the animals and they’re all incredibly well-trained to do a variety of human-style activities.
There’s also a Tiger Tunnel, where you can get extremely close to the tigers, and take some great photos, and don’t miss the nursery where you’ll see the cutest tiger cups drinking milk from their surrogate mother — a large pig
Before you leave, make sure you let the kids have their photos taken with one of a number of animals — tiger cubs, snakes, a kangaroo, and baby crocodiles and, for the $5 per photo price, it’s well worth it.