3 Unusual Attractions Near Bangkok: a Day in Samut Prakan

Samut Prakan Province is just east of Bangkok. Technically, nearly everyone who visits Thailand spends some time in Samut Prakan - that's where Survarnabhumi BKK Airport is - but other than that, people don't often make it out to this quiet, relatively suburban province just outside of Bangkok. With the upcoming opening of a new BTS Skyrain line stretching all the way out to Samut Prakan, the province is more accessible than ever. Here are three fun things to do for a day outside of Bangkok.

1. Mueang Boran (The Ancient City)

Mueang Boran, also known as The Ancient City or Ancient Siam, is a huge park dreamed up by eccentric Thai millionaire Lek Viriyaphant, who also designed

Pattaya's Sanctuary of Truth

. This 200 acre Thailand-shaped park contains 116 scaled-down replicas of some of the kingdom's most famous and iconic landmarks from many different periods of history.

Additionally, there are several small markets, recreating local shopping experiences in Issan or a floating market. Here, you can buy local souvenirs and get delicious regional cuisine.

a northeastern Thai market

Issan market

Admission is a bit pricey: 500 baht, but the ticket is well-worth the price.

a model of the grand palace

grand palace

There is a fairly frequent tram that drives through the park, stopping at several different places throughout Mueang Boran. Additionally, you can drive your own car from site to site, or rent a golf cart or bicycle to explore the Ancient City at your leisure.

scale model at Bangkok's ancient city

Ancient City Official Website: http://ancientcitygroup.net/ancientsiam//PRKKK/

2. Chang Erawan (The Erawan Museum)

The Chang Erawan (Erawan Museum) is soon to have its very own BTS Skytrain station (the upcoming BTS Chang Erawan)! Also designed by Mr. Lek, the Erawan Museum is a strange mix between a shrine and an elaborate art piece. It's difficult to know exactly how to describe it!

giant statue of Erawan, the three-headed elephant, in Samut Prakan, Thailand

Erawan Museum

A magnificent three-headed elephant, Erawan, mythical vehicle of the god Indra and namesake of one of Thailand's most famous national parks, towers over the park. The interior of the massive statue depicts Mr. Lek's vision of Thai Hindu-Buddhist cosmology.

a buddhist shrine inside the Erawan Museum

a shrine inside the museum

The ground floor represents Earth, with four intricately carved wooden pillars holding up a stained glass ceiling representing the universe. The pillars are carved with scenes from four religious traditions: Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, and Judeo-Christianity. The interior is incredibly symbolic, and a rented audio guide can help a visitor to better understand the meanings behind the designs.

Up inside the elephant itself, a Buddhist shrine represents heaven, while below, a collection of rare treasures and Asian art circle the base of the statue.

a buddhist shrine inside Samut Prakan's erawan museum

While exploring the lush grounds, filled with statues from Thai mythology, visitors can make offerings and light incense at the numerous shrines throughout the gardens, feed the fish in the ponds, and even float a lotus blossom in the pond surrounding the giant Erawan.

statues depicting stories from Thai buddhist mythology

Thai mythology

Open 9:00-19:00 daily.

Admission: 300 baht

Official Website: http://www.ancientcitygroup.net/erawan/en

3. The Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm and Zoo

An unusual destination to be sure, the Crocodile Farm's zoo isn't much to look at, but the crocodile show is the main attraction.

The show runs several times daily, with trainers sticking their hands and even their heads inside the open mouths of crocodiles. It's a bit frightening, actually!

a man prays before the crocodile show

the crocodile show

The zoo itself is not so great, and the animals aren't kept in the best condition. Visiting the Crocodile Farm is worth it, if only to see the crocodile show and to have the opportunity to toss raw chicken meat into the swampy "breeding pool". It's definitely one of Thailand's weirder attractions.

crocodile trainers pose for a photo

after the show

Open 8:00-18:00 daily

Admission: 300 baht

Website: http://www.worldcrocodile.com/home.html