For directions and prices see the "Travel in Thailand" links in the side bar >>> If you're staying in Bangkok, these are the things to do.

Samut Prakan (Paknam) - Museums, Fort and Crocodiles

Samut Prakan and Bangkok are neighbouring provinces, but they are so close that it is difficult to see where one ends and the other starts.

Samut Prakan sports a quite a few sights that are definitely worth seeing. First of all there's the ancient city (Muang Boran), an open air museum with models of traditional buildings from all over Thailand. There are also the Erawan Elephant Museum, its huge three-headed elephant on top, with the solar system painted inside the elephant and the Naval Museum showing arms, uniforms, ship models etc. Among experts the Chulachomklao Fort, built in 1893, is famous for its disappearing guns. Finally, a bit tacky but fun, there is the crocodile farm, with crocodile farming, crocodile and elephant shows, dinosaurs and more.

The beautiful 150-year old white pagoda, Phra Samut Chedi, was originally built on an island in the Chao Praya river that has now merged with the west bank. One of the first things Anna Leonowens, the English governess at the Thai court, saw was this chedi and she wrote very lyrical about it. The temple has a mural showing the history of the province, but is even more famous for the 9-day temple fair that is held every year (timing depends on the moon, October/November).

This crocodile farm is set up to prevent crocodiles from extinction, but also to produce shoes and bags and for the meat. 40,000 crocodiles of different species are bred here. In the crocodile show macho guys put their heads or arms in a crocodile's mouth. Upon payment you will be allowed to take your picture with a crocodile. Crocodile Yai is with his 6 meters the largest crocodile in captivity in the world. Besides crocodiles there are many other animals like elephants, birds, hippo's and deer. You can have your picture taken with a real tiger, little crocodiles or a dressed-up monkey. The nice thing is that you are allowed to feed the animals. Everywhere you can buy fruit for the elephants and dead chicken for the crocodiles, which they attack with snapping jaws. A dinosaur museum and a shooting range are also available. Please note that the entrance fee for foreigners is considerably higher than for Thai visitors. Crocodile Farm

Located at the mouth of the Chao Praya river, the Chulachomklao Fort was built and first used in 1893, when French ships sailed up the river to threaten Bangkok. A museum gives details about the conflict with the French. Also on display is an old warship, HTMS Maeklong, that served the Thai Navy for 60 years. A elevated footpath through the mangrove lets you enjoy flora and fauna, with the sound of snapping shrimps as the strangest attraction.

The seven brick towers still hold the Armstrong guns that were used against the French. They are so-called disappearing guns, hauled up by hydraulic power and disappearing after a shot is fired. According to the experts, these are the only disappearing guns in the world still working. However, the guns couldn't stop the French. VideoChulachomklao Fort
The Naval Museum shows the history of the Thai Navy with all kinds of weapons, ship models, including models of the Royal Barges and HTMS Phra Ruang, photos, the first submarine, a plane, tank and much more. Most displays are in Thai only, but a friendly English-speaking (naval) guide walks around. Naval Museum

Opened in 1972, the Ancient City (Muang Boran) is an open-air museum showing originals and models of Thai-style houses and temples from all over Thailand. The 200-acres grounds have the shape of Thailand, and regions are filled with buildings in styles common for that area. With this museum, founder khun Lek wants to preserve the "history, arts, cultures, religious, thoughts as well as the beliefs of Thai talents." Ideal for people who don't have time to go everywhere. Bicycles are for rent. Ancient City

The Erawan Elephant Museum sports the huge three-headed elephant Airavata that overwhelms the area. Inside, the museum holds the collection of founder khun Lek (see Ancient City), consisting of art and antiques that are regarded sacred objects in ancient cultures. More exciting are the leaded glass world map on the ceiling of the second floor and the solar system painted inside the elephant. Yes you can go all the way up. Pretty garden outside. For local people the shrine is also used as a place of worship. The people selling flower garlands and other gifts for the shrine are very pushy. Erawan Elephant Museum

More photos of Samut Prakan

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