If you feel like slowing down and taking time to observe and appreciate your surroundings, a train trip is a perfect choice.
A short journey on the rails offers an authentic Thai experience and the chance to meet and mingle with the locals while tucking into grilled chicken and sticky rice sold by mobile vendors on site.
It’s easy to enjoy a pleasant day out by taking the train to interesting destinations close to Bangkok.
Today, we are going to Chachoengso, some 100 km to the east of the capital.
Our 2-hour journey starts from Hua Lamphong Railway Station on train No. 283 departing at 6:55 a.m. and reaching Chachoengsao Station at 8:50 am.
Here are the places we will cover during the trip.
– Wat Sothonwararam.
– Ban Mai – the 100- year old market
– Wat Saman Rattanaram
– Tang Seng Jua Chinese pastry shop
Chachoengsao Station is part of the Eastern Line rail network, and serves as the main junction for other routes including Ban Plu Ta Luang and Aranyaprathet. Construction of a double track railway from the station to Si Racha and Kaeng Khoi is currently underway.
Chachoengsao is also the terminus of the steam train run by the State Railway of Thailand on special occasions.
The century-old steam locomotive Ten-Wheeler No.182, which was made in the UK and in service from 1919 before its decommissioning in 1967, stands proudly in front of the station and is now a de facto symbol of Chachoengsao Station.
Our means of transportation during this trip is a local Song Taeo truck, which comes in many colours depending on its route.
From the train station, we take the yellow one to Wat Sothonwararam. The fare is 8 Baht per person.
Wat Sothonwararam Worawihan houses Phra Phutthasothon or Luangpho Sothon, the province’s principal Buddha image, which according to legend, floated along the river before being enshrined at this temple.
Luangpho Sothon is widely revered by Buddhists from near and far. The temple is usually bustling with worshippers from all walks of life, especially those looking for divine intervention for their infertility problems. The offerings expected once the wishes materialise include boiled eggs, fruit, flower garland, and a traditional dance.
Thep Khunakhon Road, Tambon Na Mueang, Amphoe Chachoengsao, Chachoengsao
Open daily Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. / Saturday-Sunday and holidays from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
From the temple, take the yellow Song Taeo back to the train station and change to the white one with a yellow strip for a ride to the century-old Ban Mai riverside market. Located on the bank of the Bang Pakong River, this traditional Thai market with its old wooden structures has been around since the reign of King Rama V the Great.
Suppakit Road, Tambon Na Mueang, Amphoe Mueang, Chachoengsao
Open: Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
We are here for its great selection of delicious food. Some of our recommended places for savoury dishes are To Charm noodle shop, Chuk Di steamed rice skin dumpling, Pae Ia traditional Thai coffee, Sam Mae Khrua a-la-carte food shop and Sao Wan Baan Mai, a cafe with delicious Custard Toast. As for sweets, the number is too staggering to mention here.
Stroll around to soak in the laid-back atmosphere of the small market, which is part of a riverfront community, once an important hub of water transport and trade before the advent of the modern road network.
There are also a few “chic” cafes from which to enjoy views of the river.
The market is home to a traditional dance club founded by the local residents in 2014 to preserve their cultural heritage. The club has more than 200 members who are usually invited to perform at various events in the province. You can see or join in their performances on weekends and holidays.
After lunch, the next stop is Wat Saman Rattanaram, which is conveniently connected to the market by the river. A long-tail boat service is available for a 100 Baht return fare per person but high tides can interrupt its operation. If that is the case, you may return to the train station (taking the white with a yellow strip Song Taeo) and then change to the white/blue strip one to the temple. It costs 30 Baht and takes about 30 minutes.
Worshippers go to this riverside temple to pay respect to its reclining Lord Ganesha statue, which is the largest of its kind in Thailand.
Standing in front of the massive pink deity are statues of Mushika the mouse, his vehicle.
Gently whisper your wishes into an ear of the mouse, and it will have them delivered to Ganesha. The trick is to always close the mouse’s other ear well; otherwise, your wishes simply pass through it instead of being passed on to Lord Ganesha.
The temple grounds are also home to standing statues of Guan Yin Bodhisattva and many deities revered by the locals making it a very colourful and vibrant place to visit even just for taking photos.
Tambon Kon Kaeo, Amphoe Mueang, Chachoengsao
Open daily from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
A typical Thai trip isn’t complete without buying souvenirs for the family and friends, and your best bet is Tang Seng Jua, which is famous for Chinese sweets; such as, flaky pastry with various fillings.
The Chinese pastry shop has been in business for more than 88 years, and its branch near the train station helps kill time while waiting for the train back home.
Mahachakapat Road, Tambon Na Mueang, Amphoe Mueang, Chachoengsao
Open daily from 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Tel. 0 3854 1034, 0 3854 1134, 09 0291 4181
There are two scheduled trains back to Bangkok at 4:20 and 6:00 p.m. We are sure this trip is easily accessible to anybody without having to worry about transportation. You don’t have to go far, go fast or go broke to have a good time.