Samut Songkhram

It's usually a settlement you drive quickly through on your way from Bangkok to Hua Hin, but believe it or not foreigners do actually teach there. But could it be Thailand's most boring province?

The Lonely Planet guidebook says......?

It is the smallest province in Thailand, in fact some Thais don't even know that this province exists.

Part of Ratchaburi province, Samut Songkhram comprises three small districts and is home to the famous Amphawan Floating Market and Firefly Sanctuary. The place is said to be the birthplace of King Rama II and also the legendary Siamese twins. But beware - most of the Thai people here speak little or no English.

William - Everyone knows of Amphawa. It's the most famous floating market in Thailand. They get tens of thousands of tourists visiting every year. So, no, you're not going to be the only foreigner they've seen, and yes many do speak some english. Same as anywhere outside of Bangkok. I live here and have no problem getting by in English and very basic Thai.

In general, what are the pickings like for an EFL teacher?

There are plenty of schools in the province but only a few have foreign English teachers and most of those are Filipinos.

As far as I know, only one school employs English native speakers and that is Tawaranukul School. English Plus is a famous language center of the province and there are a number of nameless language centers. Most of those language centers are owned by Thai teachers from different schools in the region. Some students even have extra classes in language centers in Bangkok. Most of the schools provide free accommodation to the foreign teachers if required.

Jennifer says yes, plenty of schools here. I teach at Tawaranukul, there is also Sarasas, Ban Tawan Chak,Ban Klong, Wat Prok to name a few

How far from Bangkok or civilization?

It's about 70 kilometers from Bangkok and you can take anything from an hour to an hour and a half during rush hours. You can reach Samut Songkhram by van going to Maeklong or bus going to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. You can start either from Victory Monument or Southern Bus Terminal. There are probably even more departure points now.

What's the place like for nightlife, eating out etc?

Most of the market stalls and shops close before ten o'clock. It can feel quite dangerous when you walk along the street at night. At nine o'clock people generally scurry back to their houses and apartments.

Jennifer - Nightlife is non-existent here but there are lots of good restaurants, including at least four places I go to for my western food fix.

William - So many good places to go out for drinks and dinner if you don't mind mingling with the locals. If not, best to stick around the many hotels and hostels to hope to run into other travellers.

How much to rent a house or basic apartment?

It's not expensive. Apartments range from 3,000 baht to 6,000 baht, it depends on the type of apartment you want. You can pick up fully-furnished apartments which are actually quite cosy. Compared to other provinces, the rent here is cheaper.

Shopping malls, department stores?

There is a Tesco Lotus and a Big C and plenty of small convenience stores like Seven-Eleven and Twikit. Samut is very near to Bangkok so if you want to go 'malling' you can do it in Bangkok during weekends. The nearest mall is "Central Rama II".

How is mobile / internet coverage?

Good enough.

Will you be stared at? and what's the likelihood of a good beating?

If you are white, everybody will be staring at you saying, "farang! farang!". I had one British and one Canadian colleague before and almost everybody couldn't keep their eyes off them

Jennifer - I live in the Maeklong area, which is a fishing village, and yes there are about 12 foreign teachers here. But have never ever seen one!

William - The floating market gets hundreds or thousands of tourists every weekend. They have seen more than one or two white people in their lives.

Taxis, buses....or horse and cart?

If you want to travel from one district to another, you can ride songtaews, tuk-tuks and motorcycles. All of these can be seen around the Muang District or even Amphawan and Bangkontee Districts.

Jennifer - I walk everywhere because everything is so central. There are the usual transport modes. Horse and cart you can find more on the Amphawa side.

Main advantages of living there?

If you want to save your money, Samutsongkhram is a great place because there's nothing to spend money on. There are no malls or beer-bars or any of those other things that seem to suck up salaries if you're not careful.

And what are the downsides?

It's boring. Believe me.

Jennifer - You have to keep yourself amused because there is no entertainment here.

William - I love it here. I have more to do than I have time for. And I actually needed to cut down on the nights out, I love discovering the many coffeehouses, and riverside cafe's here. You need a motorcycle or car of course as there isn't public transport. There are always fun and interesting places to find if you're willing to explore. Don't sit in the house and feel sorry for yourself.

Any local attractions?

King Rama II Memorial Park, Amphawan Floating Market and Firefly Sanctuary, Siamese Twin Memorial Park and historical temples. There is an annual Lychee Fair and Pratu (a kind of fish) Festival. Don Hoi Lot is also a famous local attraction because it's the only place in the world where you can see the unique worm shells (apparently).

Jennifer - There are loads of salt farms. Maeklong market with the train running down the centre line is amazing to see! No other unseen destinations that I know of.

Where's the best place to meet other farangs or are they best avoided?

It's unusual to see Farangs working in the province. There are no places to hang-out at night or even during the day.

Jennifer - Best to avoid all farangs anywhere and everywhere in Thailand. They all have their own agendas.

William - Many are around the floating market, I also often run into some at Nara hotel further down the road. If you think "There are no places to hang-out at night or even during the day." That is likely why you don't see them. Because you aren't there.

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