Discover why the Chao Phraya River between Bang Pa-in and Pathum Thani is well-loved by culture enthusiasts
The other day when I learned that the Tourism Society, an academic network of communities that run tourism operations, was planning an outing to Ban Sala Daeng Nuea and nearby sites of interest, my heart leapt with joy. This Mon community by the Chao Phraya River is one where the residents still cherish their cultural heritage. Located in Pathum Thani’s Sam Khok district, which is only 37km or so from Pak Kret, Nonthaburi, where I live, Ban Sala Daeng Nuea and its namesake temple are among those places in adjacent provinces that I’ve long wanted to visit but somehow never got the chance to.
The day trip began from Wat Saladaeng Nuea where we listened to local leaders brief us about their community and their plans to create a museum. Later they led us to old buildings on the temple ground before one of them guided us through the beautiful neighbourhood to his home so we could get a close look at a traditional wooden house and learn about some of the old items he collects that reflect the old ways of life of the people in the area. I never knew until then that to navigate a man-powered barge, you need to have different kinds of oars in the boat. Some were designed for pushing the vessel forward, others are for other purposes such as adjusting the boat’s position when approaching the river bank.
Afterward, we visited a family that was making krayasat, one of the two traditional sweet snacks that the community is famous for. The other is mi krop. We got to try both, and I must say the krayasat and mi krop of Ban Sala Daeng were among the best I’ve had.
Later, we travelled further north to Ayutthaya’s Bang Pa-in, bypassing the well-known palace that shared the same name with the district because our time was tight and the palace alone would take a whole day to visit. Our destination was Kong Khong market, which was full of visitors who came for a good lunch.
In the afternoon we went to Ko Koet Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre and a number of temples on the west side of the river. Still, there are many more old temples and communities along the way that we did not have enough time to drop by, not to mention riverside cafés and restaurants.
The trip was my first to Ban Sala Daeng Nuea but not my first to these parts. I know I need to go back several times more to really get a good picture of this fascinating part of the Chao Phraya River.
The places featured in this article are just examples of the many sites of interest scattered along both sides of the Chao Phraya River in Ayutthaya’s Bang Pa-in and Bang Sai districts and Pathum Thani’s Sam Khok and Muang districts further downstream. You can design an itinerary that suits you best.
Unless you choose to visit just a single place, it’s best to have a private vehicle. In case you don’t own one, hire one. A rental car, a taxi (many drivers are happy to do day trip if you let them know in advance) or a van with a driver makes it easy to explore these parts. Local taxis in Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya can be another option. Their contact numbers are easy to find on the internet.
For more information about Wat Saladaeng Nuea and its namesake Mon community, visit shorturl.at/lmEQ3.
Occasionally, the Tourism Society holds day trips in Bangkok and nearby provinces for culture lovers. Check out their Facebook page thaitourismsociety to learn more about the group’s activities.