Chachoengsao is a town in eastern Thailand, due east of Bangkok, about 80 km distant.
Chachoengsao, Paet Rio, has a history dating back to the reign of King Borommatrailokkanat in the Ayutthaya period. Most people have settled by the Bang Pakong River and along canals. "Luangpho Phuttha Sothon" is a centre of faith of the people of Paet Rio. In the past, Chachoengsao was a fourth class city under the ministry of defence. During the reign of King Rama I, it was attached to the ministry of the interior. During the reign of King Rama V, who changed the administration system, Chachoengsao became a city in the Prachin Buri Circle. In 1916, its status was changed from a city to a province. "Chacheongsao" is a Khmer word which means "deep canal". The name "Paet Rio" comes from the story that the city once teemed with giant snakehead fish; up to eight cuts were required on the sides in the making of sun-dried fish.
From Bangkok, there are three routes:
- Take Hwy 304 (Bangkok – Min Buri – Chachoengsao), a distance of 75 km.
- Take Hwy 34 (Bang Na – Trat Road) and change to Hwy 314 (Bang Pakong – Chachoengsao), a distance of 90 km.
- Take Hwy 3 (past Samut Prakan and Bang Pakong) and change to Hwy 314, a distance of 100 km.
There is an air-conditioned bus service from the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) on Kamphaeng Phet II Road between the hours of 05:20–18:00. The bus leaves every 30 minutes. The journey takes about one hour and 20 minutes, using the motorway. For more information, contact the Chachoengsao Transport Company Limited (Kamphaeng Phet II Road) at Tel. +66 29 364041, 08 9748 1349, or the Northern Bus Terminal (Kamphaeng Phet II Road) at Tel. 0 2936 2852 – 66 ext. 311, 442.
Additionally, visitors can travel from the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai). There is a bus service from 05:00-21:30. For further details, contact the Chachoengsao Transport Company Limited (Ekamai) at Tel. 0 2712 1018, 08 9749 1336, the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) at Tel. 0 2391 2504, the Chachoengsao Transport Company Limited (Chachoengsao) at Tel. 08 9752 9200, or the Chachoengsao Bus Terminal at Tel. 0 3851 4482.
A 1st class bus service connects Chachoengsao directly with Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Train service runs from Bangkok's Hualamphong station to Chachoengsao. There are 11 trains a day. The first train departs at 05:55 and the last train leaves at 18:25. For more information call Tel. 1690, +66 2 2204334, or contact the Chachoengsao Railway Station at Tel. +66 38 511007.
There are not many buses around town (the occasional one around the two main roads). The main transport is songthaew and tuk-tuk.
These are covered pick-up trucks with two benches in the back, and indeed the name means "two benches" in Thai. Seen everywhere, to board one just put your arm out and look at the driver, who will stop. Ring the buzzer (located in the roof) to stop anywhere on the route. There is at least one section near the market that they can't stop, so be patient. The driver will pull over, let you out, and then you pay him from the passenger window. Price as of 2007 is five baht for students and seven baht for adults (any distance in one direction).
The different lines are colour-coded; most start/end or at least pass through the main city market area.
- Yellow - from/to the train and bus stations, down the main road of Sri Sothorn
- White - from the main city market towards Bang Kaew district
- Blue - from the road in front of Wat Sothorn to the city market (and beyond?)
- Red - from the market, across the river and to Don Thong school area in peak times, and beyond at other times
- Orange - from the market, across the river and down the highway
The guys are genuinely nice. There's no over-charging, no taking you to see any attraction, only genuine transport. Tuk-tuks hang out at the bus/train stations, the two main supermarkets in town and the city market area. They can also be hailed from anywhere along the streets. You need to know basic Thai directions (turn left/right) and/or have your destination written or spoken in Thai, but they are very friendly with foreigners attempting to communicate. Basic fare will at 30 baht and usually go no higher than 50 baht (unless the distance is extremely long or a stop-over or return trip).
- Chachoengsao City Fortress (ป้อมเมืองฉะเชิงเทรา). Constructed to ward off an enemy invasion. In the reign of King Rama V, it was a stronghold for an army to suppress the Ang Yi rebellion of illegal Chinese opium traders who instigated chaos and robbed the people.
- City Pillar Shrine (ศาลหลักเมือง). The building of Thai architecture has a four-porched roof with a prang finial. Inside, two city pillars are housed. The old one was built in 1834 during the reign of King Rama III. The other belongs to the present day. It was constructed in 1895 during the reign of King Rama V.
- Phraya Sisunthonwohan Monument. Phraya Sisunthonwohan (Noi Acharayangkun) was a native of Paet Rio. He was the author of many textbooks on Thai language for teaching purposes, such as Munlabot Banphakit, Wahanit Nikon, Akson Prayok, Sangyok Phithan, Waiphot Phichan, Phisan Karan. These were the most complete textbooks for Thai youth at that time.
- Suan Somdet Phra Srinagarindra Park (สวนสมเด็จพระศรีนครินทร์ฉะเชิงเทรา). The park is dedicated to the memory of the mother of the King of Thailand. It is in front of the provincial hall, near the town centre. There is a large lagoon at its centre surrounded by a walking path and shady trees. It is a popular recreation facility for local residents.
- Wat Sothon. Reputed to be the largest wat (temple) in the world. Thousands of Thai people flock to Chachoengsao every week to pay their respects. The bulk of the visitors arrive by special buses each weekend, and the market opposite the wat flourishes. Early in the mornings, the area is transformed into a huge market to support the throngs of visitors to the temple, trading in food, refreshments and souvenirs. By nightfall, it magically disappears, leaving no trace of having existed. In the following early morning hours it appears again as though magic, and throngs of vendors prepare once again for the onslaught of tourists.
The main city market runs every day with raw and cooked food, clothes and basic needs.
There is a Thursday afternoon/night market which is very popular with the locals. Taking the blue songthaew (out of town) from in front of Wat Sothorn, it's about 300-500m. You won't see much of the market from the road as it's down a side street (to the right). You may see an ornate wood lace carving shop on the right.
- Big C
- Big C 2
- Robinson's Lifestyle Centre
- Home Pro
- Eastern Complex Shopping Mall
- Dairy Queen. Both Big Cs have a Dairy Queen. Really cheap prices.
- KFC. You can eat at KFC at either Big C. Typically you can buy a meal for around 300 baht. 300 baht.
- Muu Gata (หมูกะทะ) (It's near Big C. Not the one with the movie theatre. The other one.). You ask motor taxi or tuk-tuk and you say, "Eck muu gata" and they will take you to a really good Thai BBQ buffet. Really excellent. The price should be around 200 baht for dinner, drinks extra.