At the Beach in Bangkok

In the spirit of adventure, I decided to kick off the new month by going somewhere that not many people have gone before. I went to the beach in Bangkok! Yes, you heard right. Bangkok actually has a beachside resort. Not many people know that. It is not even in the Lonely Planet. I first heard about it last year and then I saw a brief mention on tv the other day which reminded me. So, I decided to go and do some exploring.

Bangkok Beach is at Bang Khunthian. It is only about 5 kms wide and is squeezed between Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon. You saw on my map the other day that this whole area is just shrimp farms and canals. Hardly any roads at all. On my map, there is a road that goes that direction from Samut Prakan but then suddenly stops. So, Bang Khunthian isn’t the kind of place you would pass on the way to somewhere else.

Like before, I had to take the expressway into Bangkok and then cross the river on the King Rama IX bridge. (Incidentally, there are some great views from the top of this bridge and it is a shame you cannot stop to take pictures!) I then drove along Rama II road towards Samut Sakhon. I have driven down this highway before. I have done several weekend trips to Cha-am and Hua Hin as well as a massive drive down to Phuket a number of years ago. After a while I started seeing road signs that said “Talay Bang Khunthian”. Some of them were really big. But, as usual in Thailand, they are good with signs that say straight on but they are not so good at telling you when to turn off! So, I missed the turning and had to do a u-turn. Twice!

I didn’t really have many clues about where to go or what to expect. I knew I could join a boat tour. But I didn’t really know where. Also, the road marked on my map suddenly stopped a long way from the sea! But, it turned out a little easier than expected. I eventually found the correct turning from Rama II road onto Bang Khunthian Road. After about 8 kms or so I saw a small sign on the left that said “ta reua” which means jetty. I wasn’t sure if it was what I was looking for, but there was a big parking lot and a number of factory outlets. I went in and eventually found the jetty. I was just in time, a tour was about to leave. For the record, the boat leaves at 11.30 a.m., 12.30 p.m., 2.30 p.m. 4.30 p.m. on weekends only. It then returns 90 minutes later. It only costs 100 baht for adults and 50 baht for children.

There were about a ten of us that climbed into the very long long-tailed boat. They gave us life jackets and took our photos. That reminded me of a newspaper report after the speedboat tragedy near Koh Samui. The government said that they would now make it compulsory for people to wear lifejackets and that everyone would be photographed. Of course, that made me a bit nervous. How far out to sea would we go in this flimsy boat? But, on my return, I soon discovered that they were taking pictures for a souvenir plate!

I enjoyed the boat trip very much. We went down some small canals passing houses on stilts and many many people fishing. In the photo above, the lady is using this contraption to catch fish. She lowered it into the water for a while and then quickly lifted it up hoping to catch some fish! The mangrove forest was lush and green. The wildlife was plentiful, we even saw some monkeys! On either side were fields of water! These are shrimp farms. You can probably guess that the main occupation for these people is fishing. And the main means of transportation is boat. Just about every house we passed had a boat moored underneath it. Some had two!

After about an hour we finally reached the sea. The concrete marker you can see above is the boundary between Bangkok and Samut Sakhon. It is a famous landmark which I have seen on tv. I guess this is what we all came for. We circled around it for a while. Our guide pointed east and said over there is Chulalongkorn Fort. Too far to see but it made me wonder how long it would take to get there by boat. Maybe quicker than the roundabout route I had to take to get here. If only I had my own boat! Actually, that is one of my dreams. Anyway, back to reality. In the photo on the right, you can clearly see a line of electricity poles. Apparently fishermen used to have huts here but the sea has long since eroded the land. From what I can tell, a lot of this shoreline has disappeared over the last number of years. Our guide said that you can sometimes see dolphins. But, we weren’t lucky today.

It is funny about the electricity poles. You are in the middle of no-where, but they have tv and electricty. Even the small wooden huts made from bamboo had a telelvision set. But, it looked like they didn’t have running water. Outside every house were about six or so large klong jars to catch rain water. This would be their only source of clean water. The houses also had numbers, so I wonder if the postman came down here in his boat to deliver the mail? Some canals in Bangkok even had mobile banks!

Near the stone marker, we stopped at a restaurant built on stilts high above the water. There were quite a few people here eating lunch. Our guide only gave us 15 minutes to get out and stretch our legs. While I was walking around, I noticed several more boats arrive with tourists. It was too soon for another boat to come so I deduced that there must be another company operating boat tours. I decided that when I got back to the car I would drive further down the road as far as I could and see what else was on offer. I also wanted to see if the road between here and Samut Prakan had been built yet. If it had, then that would be a quicker way of getting back.

A Fishing Village in Bangkok 

Yesterday, I told you how I drove down to visit the Beach in Bangkok. It wasn’t really a beach in the traditional sense. There was no sand to play in and you wouldn’t want to swim in the muddy water. However, a boat ride along a canal in the mangrove forest was really refreshing and a good way to beat the summer temperatures.

After I had returned from my boat trip I got chatting with the security guard in the car park. I asked him first if it was possible to drive all the way to Samut Prakan. He assured me that you could. I then asked him if it was possible to drive down to the coast and he said no, “mai teung” meaning the road didn’t reach there. It turned out he was wrong on both counts!

I think I was only driving for about 10 minutes and then I was off the map! The road wasn’t that good. A bit broken up in places and I had to weave in order to find a smooth surface. In the end I just followed the path of the songtaew drivers. They go up and down here all day so I am sure they knew where to go for the smoothest drive.

Judging by the number of large seafood restaurants on both sides of the road, I would say that they would get a lot of people coming down here at the weekend. Though not by coaches yet as the road is pretty rough. Another five minutes or so I reached a t-junction with no road signs saying what was where. In theory, if I turned left I would end up in Samut Prakan. Turn right I would end up in Samut Sakhon. I could see a temple to my left and decided to go and investigate that first. It was marked on my map but there was no roads marked. Just after the temple there was a brand new bridge and a good road, but it only lasted 50 metres before I hit a pile of dirt! That was the end of the road. I guess when the security guard said I could go to Samut Prakan he meant the province! I turned around and headed back the other way.

Five minutes later I reached another parking lot full of cars with a sign saying “ta reua tee neung” which means “the number one jetty”. I pulled in to investigate. Another sign by the river announced that tickets cost only 40 baht for adults and 20 baht for children. However, this wasn’t a tour. The boats left here at 30 minute intervals to that restaurant I had seen earlier on the coastline. Apparently it only took 15 minutes from here. Even though it was cheaper here, I am glad I had gone on my longer tour.

I decided to keep driving. By this time I was back on the map. I could see that the road now went straight to Samut Sakhon. I have never explored that city but I would save it for another time. It was now mid-afternoon. I hadn’t finished exploring this area. I was trying to find a road or track that would take me south towards the sea. Judging by the map, the road was running parallel to the sea by about 4 kms. Eventually I found a turn off. I followed it for a while over a few bridges. After a while, the road suddenly became narrower and then became dirt track. I saw some people up ahead on motorcycles so I guessed it must be going somewhere. I finally parked the car and then just kept walking south along a narrow track. Five minutes later I saw a welcome view. It looked like there was a small estuary here with fishing boats on either side. And straight ahead was the sea! I had made it!

I walked through a small mangrove forest and came out on a muddy beach. There was quite a large number of people here. Some were on the shoreline and others were wading through the knee high mud. I asked one of the guys what he was looking for. He said his friend was looking for crabs under the rocks and that he was looking for shellfish. He showed me that there was two different kinds. You can see his “catch” in the photo below. He said some of his other friends were wading through the mud. Can you see the bamboo polls stuck in the mud? If you go and look closely you can see oyster shells stuck to the side. I took his word for it. I didn’t want to investigate! I asked if he was going to sell what he had caught but he said they would probably eat it themselves. It was the weekend and they had only come here for a bit of fun.

I am glad I had managed to find the sea. It had made the trip more worthwhile. Now I had been here, it wouldn’t be too much of an effort to come again. It was only about 55 kms door to door and had taken just over an hour and a half. I think there is more to explore and see in this area. But, I will save it for the next time I have a guest. This trip was really like sending an advance party. I think later this week I will do some more exploring by boat, but this time closer to home! There are still quite a few unanswered questions about the coastline along Samut Prakan.

2 responses to “At the Beach in Bangkok

  1. Richard,
    I’ve been following your site for several years, it provided an inspiration for a family visit when we came to Bangkok in 2012. Since then I’ve retired and moved here, currently living near the On Nut BTS station. I’d like to do the boat trip and see the monkeys you described in this post. Been down to the area twice and followed Bang Khunthian road to where it t-boned into the coast. Found a nice little restaurant by following signs for a dolphin tour but was unable to find the areas you described. Exploring the area has been productive and I’ve found a lot of interesting stuff but not what you had in your report. Could you provide more explicit directions? I can also use GPS coordinates. Thank you for all the help you’ve already provided. Scott

  2. Interesting. Nice to find your website. I live in Rama2 and my office is halfway between Rama2 and Samut Sakhon. Drop me a line if you do come this way. Where are you from btw?

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