10 Things To Do In Samut Prakan (Pak Nam)

A Thai Province Near Bangkok

As I become a more experienced traveler, I’m realizing that I really like to visit small towns. Granted, a town or city of any size can be a hit-or-miss. For example, my recent trip to a relatively small port city on the coast of Malaysia was pretty underwhelming. However, lesser-known places usually offer some unique experiences that can’t be found in national capitals or sprawling urban areas. I’ve had good luck with small towns in TaiwanBelize, and Uruguay (just to name a few). But what about Thailand?

Since I had already been to Bangkok twice, I wanted to spend my third visit to Thailand doing something else. Flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok are always cheaper than to Phuket or Chiang Mai, so I was able to narrow it down to the provinces near the nation’s capital. I also wanted to stay someplace that wouldn’t require a long bus ride from the airport.

After a few days of consideration, I decided to check out Samut Prakan, the Thai province neighboring Bangkok to the south. Specifically, the small town of Pak Nam seemed like the obvious choice since it’s linked to the city center and the airport by the BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System). It also looked far enough away from downtown to offer its own unique experience.

I definitely took a gamble when I decided to spend a few days in Samut Prakan. But it ended up being exactly what I was hoping for. Despite being only about an hour away from the center of Bangkok via the metro, Samut Prakan felt like a town untouched by tourism. Signs and menus are only in Thai. There are also a ton of temples in the area as well as other interesting monuments to see.

In Town

The center of Pak Nam town is very compact and walkable. The first three activities on the list are all based in this area located on the eastern banks of the Chao Phraya River.

1. Pak Nam Fresh Market
ตลาดสดปากน้ำ

This lively market is a maze of stalls and vendors selling everything from fresh seafood to toys and gifts. It’s split up into a few sections and is surprisingly big.

What I liked about this market is the fact that it’s not a tourist attraction. People actually purchase groceries here. The floors are wet. It smells like fish. It’s not super picturesque, but it is authentic and worth a visit.

2. Samut Prakan Tower

If you spend any time walking around the town center, you’ll definitely notice this massive structure pictured below. It’s lit up very prominently at night, so I assumed it would be the perfect way to get a great view of the surrounding area from the observation deck.

Unfortunately, the tower does not appear to be open to the public. I tried going in and was turned away by security guards. If you make it close enough to see into the big glass windows on the ground floor, you’ll notice that the interior of the building doesn’t really look finished. However, there doesn’t appear to be any construction taking place, so I wouldn’t expect it to be open for visitors any time soon (read more here).

For now, you’ll have to just admire this odd landmark from the ground. If it opens and you’re able to go up, let me know in the comments below!

3. Temples

A number of temples are within walking distance of the town center. Here are two that I checked out.

Wat Phichai Songkhram
วัดพิชัยสงคราม

There are actually a couple of temples clustered together here, and all of them are beautiful. It was amazing that there were no other tourists here on a beautiful Monday morning. I had the place all to myself! In addition, it’s free to visit.

Wat Klangworrawiharn
วัดกลางวรวิหาร

This is also a collection of a few temples located here (near Racha Market mentioned below). I personally liked Wat Phichai Songkhram a bit more, but since they’re only about fifteen minutes away from one another on foot, there’s no reason not to visit both.

It looks like these aren’t the only temples in Pak Nam. If you’re willing to walk a little bit further, you should be able to find more.

Outside of Town

There were also a couple attractions outside the town center that I recommend.

4. Wat Asokaram
วัดอโศการาม

This stunning temple is absolutely worth the short trip from Pak Nam. Take the Skytrain all the way to the last stop, Kheha (เคหะฯ), then hire a taxi for only ฿40 to ฿50 to go the rest of the way. Since Wat Asokaram is so far out from the city center, there won’t be tons of tourists here.

Like the temples in Pak Nam, Wat Asokaram allows visitors to enter for free. I saw quite a few monks and nuns walking around the area, and a couple of people inside were praying. Be respectful by wearing long pants and a shirt that covers your shoulders.

Nearby (to the south of the temple) there is a quiet little neighborhood. I enjoyed a short walk here to see the local houses, but I did encounter a pack of dogs. It wasn’t as bad as my recent close call in Malaysia, but stray dogs appear to be very common in both Thailand and Malaysia. Most seem docile but you never know when one might be aggressive. Just be aware and ready to back away slowly if you are approached.

5. Wat Phra Samut Chedi
วัดพระสมุทรเจดีย์

If you have an hour or two to spare, be sure to take the ferry across the Chao Phraya River to check out this other temple. The ferry leaves frequently all day and only costs ฿6 each way. You’ll depart from this ferry dock and get dropped off here on the other side. The temple is only a few minutes away on foot.

I visited Wat Phra Samut Chedi right at dusk, and I’m so glad I did! The temple has a small path surrounding it, and tons of people were walking and jogging around it. What a beautiful place for an evening stroll, right? There were also people playing soccer, which made it feel like a community gathering place.

Despite the crowds, there were no other tourists here (as far as I could tell). Join the locals and take a few laps around the track before taking the ferry back to Pak Nam!

6. The Erawan Museum
พิพิธภัณฑ์ช้างเอราวัณ

This quirky “museum” is located a few miles north of Pak Nam’s town center (the closest BTS stop is Chang Erawan, ช้างเอราวัณ). The main attraction is a truly massive copper sculpture of an elephant with three heads that can be seen from the street.

I still can’t decide if the ฿400 entrance fee (approx. 13 USD) was worth it, but if you are willing to pay, you can go in and check it out up close. Inside the pink base of the statue is a beautiful, ornate hall with a stunning glass ceiling.

There’s also an elevator and staircase that will take you inside the actual elephant, which houses a somewhat unusual shrine. Unfortunately, there aren’t any windows, so don’t expect a panoramic view from the top.

Authentic Thai Cuisine

The last four items on my list involve eating and drinking. Culinary options in Samut Prakan are both plentiful and cheap. 

7. Street Food

Street food is truly everywhere in Pak Nam, and you should absolutely take advantage of that! To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I ever managed to try street food in Bangkok. I just always ended up eating at fancy-ish places after being indecisive about what I wanted. In Pak Nam, there aren’t a ton of restaurants, but there are street vendors on almost every corner.

In addition to the standard choices like noodles and dumplings pictured above, adventurous foodies should get some street snacks as well. I tried a few different ones and couldn’t tell you what they were, but everything was delicious! If you recognize either of the two snacks below, leave a comment and let me know what I ate!

8. Coffee

If you’re like me and need a cup of the good stuff to start your day, there are a couple of nice options.

Sanctuary Paknam

This cafe and restaurant is a short walk outside the town center, but I loved the atmosphere inside. It’s got a botanical theme, and the restaurant is surrounded by a nice, lush garden.

Coffee By The Cop

There wasn’t anything particularly amazing about this place, but I just found it amusing that this little cafe was actually next to the town’s police station. They made a nice iced latte and it’s closer to the town center than Sanctuary.

9. Racha Market
ตลาดราชา

This night market was the perfect place for dinner. With a few dozen vendors, you can find anything you might want. I just went for a simple bowl of noodles with pork, but I also tried a few meat skewers and a crepe for dessert.

10. GIVE ME SOME ALE

Last but definitely not least on the list is a tiny craft beer shop located near the Royal Thai Navy Academy BTS stop. It was a bit pricey so I only got one draft beer here, but the ambiance was amazing. I didn’t really see any bars in town, so if you’re craving a beer, this is the place to go!

Where I Stayed

I ended up staying at the Suwatchai Garden, a simple hotel near Sanctuary Paknam. I booked it on Airbnb, and was pleasantly surprised to find that they had a nice outdoor pool.

Small-town Thailand: Is it Worth a Visit?

The short answer: absolutely! You don’t have to take an exhausting bus ride to the most remote corners of this beautiful country to get a sense of what life is like outside of the major cities. Since Samut Prakan is accessible by BTS, it’s the perfect place to get a glimpse of ‘life in the suburbs.’

Have you been to Pak Nam before? What about some other locations in Samut Prakan Province? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

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This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Oh wow! I never heard of this place and would love to chck it out. Those white temples look amazing and I can see myself wandering around being amazed by the facade. They look so colourful as well.

  2. Wow! I have wanted to visit Thailand so badly and this made me want to even more! The temples look spectacular, I cant believe those are even real. And the food looks to die for!

  3. Wow, you certainly discovered a gem. Those temples are stunning (especially the white one outside the town). and the food looks absolutely mounth-watering and probably very cheap!

  4. Those Thai temples are quite amazing! I would love to visit the Pak Nam markets, it’s always a good experience to see real life when travelling…

  5. Like you, we love smaller towns and discovering places where tourists are not in abundance. Looks like you scored on this visit. I love the photos from the market … love love markets anywhere in the world. Real markets, not ones done up for tourists. And the temples look stunning, especially the white one.

  6. I also love visiting places that are off-the-beaten path – they are definitely more authentic! I still haven’t been to Thailand, but this seems like an interesting place worth visiting when I do get there. I absolutely love markets!!

  7. I enjoy visiting areas that are just outside the city as well. You get to avoid the crowds and it’s way less touristy which is where you end up finding some of the best hidden gems. The The Erawan Museum looks so intersting and I like how you can actually go inside the elephant statue!

  8. Wow, it is nice to see you explore offbeat places in Thailand. I am intrigued by the interior of the Erawan Museum – it is surely a beautiful place to visit. Also, the beautiful temples are worth a visit. I live in Phitsanulok, which is 6 h away from Bangkok. Next time on a long weekend, I will visit Samut Prakan for sure.

  9. Thailand is one of those countries I visited which I promise to go back to. The main reason was that I’ve only been to the capital city for a few days and felt that my travel then lacked depth as I was always in a hurry. Like you, I also like visiting small non-touristy towns. I will surely check out Pak Nam on my next visit to Thailand.

  10. I’ve been to Bangkok twice and never considered exploring the towns and neighborhoods on the outskirts. But now I see how wrong I was, because this looks and sounds incredible! Smaller towns in Southeast Asia tend to offer a refreshing break from all the tourists and a more authentic experience of the local culture. I would love to visit that market and view the temples without waiting in line like you do for the big famous temples in Bangkok. And that street food is mouthwatering 😉

  11. Totally sold on small town Thailand and this looks absolutely delightful!! The temples are just beautiful and I like being off the beaten path. Pak Nam has to be on my list for visiting Thailand.

  12. I loved that you went out of the box and explored a small town in Thailand. I would have had a hard time without English signs but that just makes it more authentic. Those temples are amazing – and even better that it is mostly locals there. Like you, I like to try street food as well. I wonder what is that taco looking thing in your second photo. It all looks delicious (well, except for the market but as you said, it is the real deal!).

  13. When you traveled quite a lot already, especially to those popular places, you would really want to visit the off the beaten paths. I love being a small town girl! 😊

  14. I love the intracacy of the Thai temples. You really captured them so well and I enjoyed the way you came to the decision to travel to this unique destination. The food at the night market looked especially delicious. Was it more so than major towns?

  15. I also love visiting small cities. I prefer to explore a place where I can see what everyday life of local people looks like rather than walk around the must-see attractions in some tourist spot. I would love to visit Pak Nam Fresh Market and try some local delicacies. I love such places. The temples also look amazing.

  16. OMG, the food, the Erawan Museum, Wat Asokaram and the other temples, so many amazing things to see. You have really captured a week’s worth of cool sites. I haven’t been to this part of the world yet, but I would want to do all of the things you recommended. Amazing photos!

  17. I really want to have authentic and quintessential Thai experience, so I would definitely visit Samut Prakan. Temples would be the first thing I would look out here. Wat Phichai Songkhram temple really looks splendid and it would be first on my tour list. I loved the interiors of The Erawan Museum, especially the interiors of ceiling.

  18. I’m like you, I love exploring small towns and villages! Samut Prakan looks really lovely and the market would definitely be one of the first things I’d check out! The Erawan Museum sounds very interesting, too.

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