Taste of Nonthaburi
Today we will give you a small Taste of Nonthaburi, a town and province adjacent to Bangkok and easily reached by the efficient and fun Chao Phraya Express boats.
We will center first around the area close to Nonthaburi City pier, which makes an easy but great little day trip out of Bangkok.
In another article we will reveal more about the province which has lots of wonderful little surprises for you.
Nonthaburi pier is the main terminal for passenger boats running along the Chao Phraya river to and from Bangkok.
The two main landmarks you’ll see when you arrive are the clock tower in front of the pier, and the Museum of Nonthaburi on the waterfront promenade.
The museum is housed in what used to be Nonthaburi Provincial Hall, one of the few remaining Golden Teak buildings in the country. It is also home to a school.
The museum, which is well worth a visit, documents the history of Nonthburi with some excellent displays, in both Thai and English.
There are often volunteer guides who will explain in a friendly fashion more details about the province, and answer your questions. One reason it is so interesting is because of the province’s close ties to Bangkok.
Coming out of the museum you have a choice of turning left or right. Let’s turn left (we will go the other way later on) and take a half hour stroll in the back alleys of Nonthaburi town.
Follow the road over a small bridge. It quickly becomes a footway which turns left away from the river and then right.
At this point you just keep walking straight ahead for about 1km. It’s narrow so watch out for cars and motorbikes.
The houses on the right are built on the riverbank, which you can catch glimpses of through the walls and fences. They are prone to flooding during the monsoon season when water levels build up in the river.
At the point where the road turns sharp left, keep walking straight ahead in to an alleyway. You’ll find lots of Instagram ops!
The alleyway ends at a road. You can either retrace your steps, or turn right along the road. A short way down you’ll come to the Piboonsongkram 3 Pier where you could take the boat to Bangkok, or back to Nonthaburi pier.
This walk is a really interesting look at an authentic Thai locale, and usually there are not many people around apart from a few locals.
Buy a bottle or two of water or some other drink at the shops near the pier before you go. There aren’t many places on this walk to get anything.
Durians, Prison, and Market
Ok, so this time we will turn right when we exit the museum. But first walk across the road and up onto the riverside promenade.
I bet you haven’t noticed the design of the lamps on the riverside. Take a closer look. Wow, how strange. They are in the shape of that most smelly of fruits, the Durian.
Now you’re wondering why. Well, Nonthaburi is famous for the taste and variety of the Durians grown in the province, which are in big demand during the growing season.
A big Durian fair used to be held every year on the promenade, but got so big it was rather boringly moved to a shopping mall’s convention center.
OK let’s head towards the Clock Tower and turn right and then first left. Watch out for the traffic here!
As you walk along this road (Nonthaburi Sai 1), you can’t miss the grim looking wall on the right side with it’s watch towers.
This is the infamous ‘Bangkok Hilton’ – Bang Kwang prison. The main entrance is a couple of hundred yards along the road.
Notorious for the harsh regime long term criminals are held under, Bang Kwang also houses Thailand’s main death row.
Chaovaret Jarubon, the last executioner to carry out the death sentence by gun fire, wrote a fascinating but somewhat macabre autobiography in 2006, called The Last Executioner. The book was also turned into a Thai language movie.
A number of foreign prisoners are among the 6000 inmates serving sentences for violent crimes, drug trafficking, and other serious crimes.
Opposite the prison look for this traditional house, which is the official residence of the Prison Governor.
Let’s lighten up a bit and head to the market. Retrace your steps back to the area near the Clock Tower.
Across the street from the start of Nonthaburi Sai 1 Road you should see a number of vendors selling their wares along the footpath. It doesn’t look much at first glance.
Head over there and take a stroll away from the Clock Tower. You’ll find any number of narrow alleys on your right.
Most lead into the huge depths of Nonthaburi Market, which sells almost everything you need for daily living, and is especially favoured by locals for the daily fresh meat, fruit and veggies.
The market is fascinating and worth exploring. It is at its busiest in the early morning and late afternoon.
Nonthaburi is one of the last places in the greater Bangkok region where you can still ride on a bicycle Samlor – Samlor literally means ‘Three Wheels’.
If you want to take a ride you have to agree on the fare before getting on board. It’s hard work for your chauffeur!
Best Street Food
As dusk approaches, tables and chairs appear outside the museum on the waterfront.
The smell of fresh food wafting from the many impromptu kitchens is enticing, and so it should be as this evening only eatery has some of the best food in town.
It gets very busy so you may need to grab some seats early on, especially if you plan to catch the last boat back to Bangkok as the service stops just after dark.
We hope you enjoyed your trip to Nonthaburi!
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