The Temple Surrounded by the Sea

This is a day trip from Bangkok that explores Amphoe Phra Samut Chedi which is a relatively unknown district in Samut Prakan province. You can reach all of the destinations in this day trip by public transportation, though for one side trip, you need to rent a taxi boat. Highlights include a temple surrounded by the sea, a reclining pagoda, a 120 year old fortress, a mangrove forest walk with monkeys, a royal navy ship, and an island in the Chao Phraya River populated with hundreds of fruit bats.

The starting point for this day trip is from the pier in Paknam Market. BTS Pak Nam skytrain station will open in November 2018. If you have your own transport, then start from Pali Pier on the other side of the river. Scroll down for the map. The times are approximate:

8:00am: Paknam Market Pier (map) – boat to the other side and then a songtaew to Pali Pier
9:00am: Pali Pier (map) – taxi boat to Wat Khun Samut Chin Pier and then walk to the temple
9:40am: STOP ONEBan Khun Samut Chin (map) – explore for one hour
11:00am: Wat Khun Samut Chin Pier (map) – boat back to Pali Pier and then songtaew to Ban Sakhla
11:45am: STOP TWOBan Sakhla (map) – explore for one hour
12:45pm: Lunch at Ban Sakhla
1:15pm: Leave Ban Sakhla for Chulachomklao fortress – two songtaews or taxi
1:45pm: STOP THREEPhra Chulachomklao Fortress (map) – explore for one hour
2:45pm: Leave Chulachomklao fortress for Phra Samut Chedi – go by songtaew and then walk for ten minutes
3:15pm: STOP FOURPhra Samut Chedi (map) – explore for 20 minutes and then walk to bridge to cross to Phi Suea Samut Island
3:45pm: STOP FIVE Phi Suea Samut Island (map) – explore for one hour
4:45pm: Leave the island and walk to the pier (map)
5:00pm: Catch the ferry back to Paknam market (map)

Ban Khun Samut Chin

STOP 1: Ban Khun Samut Chin – in this community there is a temple that has now become surrounded by the sea due to land erosion. Many of the families have moved their houses inland four or five times during the last two generations. In total, over one kilometre of land has been lost and a further four kilometres has been affected. The temple is the only building that hasn’t been moved yet in this community. They raised the floor of their chapel and built a brick wall around the temple grounds. The only way to reach this temple is by boat and then on foot along raised concrete walkways.

KHUN SAMUT CHIN PHOTO ALBUM:

HOW TO GET THERE: From Paknam Market, take a ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Phra Samut Chedi. The cost is 3 Baht. At Phra Samut Chedi Pier, take a blue songtaew that is heading towards Ban Sakhla. Journey time is about twenty minutes. On Suksawat-Sakhla Road, look out for an archway across the road and then a short distance later you will see Pali Pier (map) just before a bridge. You can rent a taxi boat from here to Khun Samut Chin. The cost is about 100 Baht for a boat for four. Journey time is about ten minutes. He doesn’t wait for you and so make sure you take his cellphone number. You will get off at Wat Khun Samut Chin Pier. From here it is about a twenty minute walk to Wat Khun Samut Chin. Just follow the raised concrete walkway. If you are lucky, there might be a golf cart to take you there for a small fee.

Ban Sakhla

STOP 2: Ban Sakhla – this is an isolated community surrounded by shrimp and crab farms. There is only one road in and out. Most local people still get around by boat though new roads are being built. Due to its proximity to the sea, Sakhla is abundant in seafood including various types of crabs, shells and fishes, especially “Kung Yiat” or stretched shrimps. Many of the houses are built on stilts and connected to each other by concrete walkways. The center of the community is Wat Sakhla. Of interest here is a leaning pagoda and a museum with local artifacts. At the weekend, you can join boat trips from here to Khun Samut Chin and Bang Khun Thian.

BAN SAKHLA PHOTO ALBUM:

HOW TO GET THERE: The community is literally in the middle of nowhere. There is only one road which is served by a large blue songtaew. This comes from the pier at Phra Samut Chedi. There is another blue songtaew that goes to Phra Chulachomklao Fortress, so make sure you tell them you want to go to “Sakhla”. This same songtaew is also for Pali Pier, for boats to Ban Khun Samut Chin. The journey time is about 30 minutes from the pier at Phra Samut Chedi and 10 minutes from Pali Pier. I have seen some meter taxis coming and going. But, you may need to negotiate a fare. The route from Phra Samut Chedi is popular with weekend cyclists.

Phra Chulachomklao Fortress

STOP 3: Phra Chulachomklao Fortress – hundreds of years ago, there used to be a dozen forts along the Chao Phraya River in Samut Prakan protecting the approach to Bangkok and Thonburi and Ayutthaya before that. These days there are not many forts left, but Phra Chulachomklao Fortress at the river mouth is still in good condition. It was built in 1893 at the time when the French and British were colonizing neighboring countries. The only time the seven Armstrong guns were fired in anger were against French ships on 13 July 1893. Today, the park is open for free to the public. As well as exploring the gun pits, there is also a retired navy ship, an outdoor gun museum and a mangrove forest walk where you can sometimes see monkeys.

PHRA CHULACHOMKLAO FORTRESS PHOTO ALBUM:

HOW TO GET THERE: The fort is located at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River in Tambon Laemfarpha, Phra Samut Chedi District, seven kilometres from Phra Samut Chedi on Suksawat Road. Bus No. 20 goes to the fort or you can take a large songtaew from the pier at Phra Samut Chedi. Coming from Ban Sankhla, you will need to change songtaews when you reach the intersection with Suksawat road. Alternatively, you might see some taxis on this route. He may even wait for you while you explore the fort.

Phra Samut Chedi

STOP 4: Phra Samut Chedi – one of the first sights that greeted foreigners arriving in Thailand 150 years ago was a brilliant white pagoda on an island in the middle of the Chao Phraya River. The locals called it ‘Phra Chedi Klang Nam’, or pagoda in the river. Over the years the river has silted up causing the island to become part of the west bank. The temple, which doesn’t have any resident monks, is the symbol of Samut Prakan province. There is a big temple fair here during October every year.

PHRA SAMUT CHEDI PHOTO ALBUM:

HOW TO GET THERE: From Paknam Market, just catch a ferry across the river for about 4 Baht. There will be a second pier next to BTS Pak Nam when the skytrain opens in November 2018. If your’re coming from Phra Chulachomklao Fortress, you can either take a large songtaew or a No. 20 bus. Phra Samut Chedi is about a 4 minute walk from the pier.

Phi Sua Samut Island

STOP 5: Phi Sua Samut Island – in 1819, King Rama II ordered the building of a fortress on an islet in the Chao Phraya River near Phra Samut Chedi. It was named Phi Sua in Thai as it was shaped like a butterfly. The fort was renovated in 1892 and three rear loading Armstrong guns were installed. At the northern end of the island there is a pedestrian bridge which you can use to cross from the mainland. You can explore the fortress for free and also go on a mangrove forest walk. Here you will see hundreds of fruit bats.

PHI SUA SAMUT ISLAND PHOTO ALBUM:

HOW TO GET THERE: The island is between Phra Samut Chedi and the pier. If you are coming from Paknam, just catch a ferry across the river. Then it is a five minute walk. At the northern end of the island there is a pedestrian bridge. It hasn’t officially opened yet, and so you may see the door closed. But you should be able to find a way across.

Please note, I designed this Bangkok day trip myself after exploring this area for many years and then bringing friends with me to test out different combination of trips. I am not a tour guide and so don’t ask to hire my services. And as far as I know, there is no commercial tour guide doing this route. Not yet, anyway. 

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