“I mean our people today, this new generation, they don’t care much about our culture, because they feel like it’s not very important. What they are looking for is like they are running after westerners. This is the reason why, our dance, our traditional dance is dying, the new generation doesn’t want to do that because it is difficult for them to practice. Once this generation passes away, this will disappear from our culture too. The best way to preserve is to introduce the culture and rituals to the new generation and another thing we can do is introduce to the tourists because the tourists can speak out to the world how beautiful beautiful Thai culture is.” – Pum Khentong of Hivesters.com
Two weeks ago, I was invited by Thai Airways and Tourism Authority of Thailand to take another trip to Thailand. Being as in love as I am with traveling, I did not hesitate to say yes. I was thrilled to explore areas of Thailand that I had never been to. Samut Songkhram, Hua Hin, and Nang Loeng. I’ll be very honest, apart from Hua Hin, I’ve never really heard of the other two places. This made me feel even more excited about the adventure.
I shared the quote from one of our tour guides in Nang Loeng above, because if there’s one thing that I can say about this trip, it is that we were truly shown how beautiful Thailand’s culture is. Deeply immersed through our various activities, it has further opened my eyes to how infinitely beautiful and vibrant this country is.
We flew business class with Thai Airways. I’ve never really enjoyed long flights, but flying with Thai Airways made me wish for a longer flight. Smooth. Comfortable. Fun. Loved the beds, er-seats, and I even managed to squeeze in a bit of nap time before our adventure started. Food was amazing. We had a scrumptious four course meal and a great array of drinks to match. Someone may, or may not have, had a few glasses of champagne to kick-start her holiday. After enjoying the food, drinks, a great movie, and a nap, I woke up to the sweet sound of “Sawadee Ka (Hello in Thai)! Welcome to Thailand!”
From Bangkok to Samut Songkhram
After three relaxed hours on Thai Airways, we arrived in Bangkok. From Bangkok, we drove to Samut Songkhram which only took about two hours.
Facts about Samut Songkhram
- It is one of the central provinces of Thailand. Locals often refer to Samut Songkhram as Mae Klong (its old name).
- It is the smallest of all Thai provinces.
- Chang and Eng Bunker, Thai-American conjoined twin brothers were born in Samut Songkhram. Their condition and birthplace became the basis of the term “Siamese Twins.”
- Samut Songkhram is the leader in Thai salt production.
My Day in Samut Songkhram
Quiet, relaxing, serene. These three words will aptly summarize my lovely day in the smallest Thai province. Our first stop was at Namthip restaurant, which I would have to say, had the spiciest Tom Yam I’ve ever had. And I mean that as a compliment. Their food was so good. The service, quick as well! I especially loved that it was right by the Amphawa river. After a filling and healthy dinner, we enjoyed a boat ride in search of fireflies as we went to our hotel for the night, Thanicha Healthy Resort. It was magical to be out there where everything was still and dark and the trees were lit by fireflies.
After a good night’s sleep at Thanicha Healthy Resort, we woke up at 5 am to observe what mornings are like by the Amphawa Canal. Monks go by boats or walk around the houses as early as 5 am and locals give food and donations to them. After which, the monks pray for them. I found this experience enlightening. To sit still, stay quiet, and see how immersed both the locals and monks were in this practice, somehow made me realize the importance of their beliefs in their every day lives.
Catching Razor Clams in Don Hoi Lot
After a serene morning by the Amphawa Floating Market, we headed to Don Hoi Lot to catch razor clams. It was interesting to see one of their means of making a living and to take part of it as well. The locals stay out there in the sea for so long, catching clams.
Facts about Don Hoi Lot
- It is a sandbar off the coast of Samut Songkhram province.
- The sediments of the Mae Klong River along with the sediments of the sea form mudflats, which are populated by razor clams.
- Seafood restaurants around the area offer these local clams. In fact after our razor clam catching activity, we had clams for lunch.
From Don Hoi Lot to Ban Bang Plub
After lunch at Don Hoi Lot, we headed to Ban Bang Plub. Here we learned more about how to make coconut sugar, biked to the pomelo plantation, and we quickly made a stop over to practice benjarong (porcelain) painting as well.
From Samut Songkhram to Hua Hin
After all our adventures in Samut Songkhram, we headed to Hua Hin. Hua Hin is about 1 hour and 35 minutes away from Samut Songkhram. We stayed at the beautiful Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas Hua Hin, which is one of the grandest hotels of the east. Set on a beachfront, you can enjoy beautiful views of the sea, vast and lush gardens, two pools, great rooms, spectacular service, and delicious food. What’s great about this hotel, too, is that its location is perfect. It’s ideal for exploring and shopping.
Aside from the wonderful hotel, we explored the Hua Hin Night Market, Khao Tao temple, Khao Tao Fabrics Centre, and Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Park.
I would say that Hua Hin is ideal for families and couples. Such a relaxing retreat for us!
Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas Hua Hin
Hua Hin Night Market
Hua Hin Market starts coming to life at about 6:30 pm. It is situated in the Hua Hin Centre, between the Petchkasem road and the railway line. You’ll find stalls selling various products such as clothes, accessories, crafts, art, and lots of tasty food. It’s popular for the seafood restaurants found by the streets of the market. I scored a beautiful off-shoulder top for only 250 Baht, a leather bracelet for my guy, and Thai pants and shorts for only about 200 Baht and 100 Baht respectively. Although this isn’t the best place to shop in Thailand, it’s still worth visiting if you’re in Hua Hin.
Khao Tao Temple
Khao Tao is a quaint village known for its beach. One of our stops in Khao Tao was at the temple. Within caves are buddha statues and shrines. As its backdrop, you’ll get treated to the beautiful view of the beach and the sea as well.
If you are ever in Hua Hin, make sure to stop by at Asia’s first water jungle, Vana Nava. I was told you pronounce this as “wha-nah-nah-wha,” by the way. This water jungle that spans 3.2 hectares houses 19 exciting rides and slides. Vana Nava is open from 10 am to 6 pm from Mondays through Fridays. Water Park Kid and Senior Tickets are worth 600 Baht and Water Park Adult Tickets are worth 1,000 Baht.
After our stop at Vana Nava Water Jungle, we headed to Hua Hin Hills Vineyard. This has got to be one of my favourite stops during this entire trip. I know what you’re thinking: “A vineyard in Thailand?” The owner (who apparently also owns Red Bull), wanted to bring the wine culture to Thailand. With that goal in mind, he had this vineyard built in 2004. Beautiful mountains serve as Hua Hin Hills Vineyard’s backdrop. Not all grapes can be grown there though. You’ll find that they have Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Colombard, Shiraz, Merlot, and Cabernet. Aside from the great wines they have, you’ll also enjoy delectable food there.
From Hua Hin to Bangkok then to Nang Loeng
After two memorable days in Samut Songkhram and Hua Hin, it was time for us to head back to Bangkok. We were scheduled to explore Nang Loeng with the tour group, Hivesters.
I absolutely loved the tour we had as we were immersed in the locals’ way of life. I got to see and eat at the famous 116-year old Nang Loeng Market. We also visited Aung Hong Thai Dessert Shop. Here Aunt Hong makes egg custard pudding, steamed custard, sweet sticky rice with with coconut cream and black beans. She’s been doing this since she was 7 years during World War II. We also cooked Pad Thai in the streets of Nang Loeng. Although we didn’t the bag the prize of best pad thai within the group, it was still very enjoyable. I think what I really enjoyed doing there, though, was learning to dance a traditional Thai dance with Auntie Kanya. It was nice to know and practice a different aspect of Thai’s culture.
Overall, I truly think Hivesters did an amazing job in showing us what Nang Loeng is all about and what we should continue to share with others so that its culture and practices could live on.
The Arts of The Kingdom in Bangkok
After such a fun and informative day in Nang Loeng, we went back to Bangkok to explore the Arts of The Kingdom. Majestic. Each piece with a beautiful story to tell. It’s amazing as it’s quite easy to learn more about the gallery and its pieces. You’re given a device which explains the history and story of each piece in the language that you choose.
Just a few tips and reminders for those who plan to go:
- The entrance fee is 150 Baht.
- The dress code is strictly followed. Knees covered. No sleeveless tops.
- Cameras and phones are not allowed inside the gallery.
- There are thousands of tourists and locals who visit every single day. Be prepared and patient and know that it’s all worth it.
“The best way to preserve is to introduce the culture and rituals to the new generation and another thing we can do is introduce to the tourists because the tourists can speak out to the world how beautiful beautiful Thai culture is.” – Pum Khentong of Hivesters.com
I’ll go back to the quote I started with. The best way to preserve Thailand’s rich and vibrant culture is to continue to share its beauty, its stories, and its practices. And that is exactly what Thai Airways and the Tourism Authority of Thailand did. They shared Thai’s culture and beauty in its magnificent glory.
Thailand’s culture: Rich, vibrant, beautiful. And thanks to activities and initiatives such as this, it continues to live on.
Thailand, you are truly amazing!