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Don Hoi Lot
HAVE FUN CATCHING RAZOR CLAMS AT THE MOUTH OF THE MAEKLONG
Breaking the Boundaries
Samut Songkhram to Don Hoi Lot
HAVE FUN CATCHING RAZOR CLAMS AT THE MOUTH OF THE MAEKLONG
Sensory Overload Warning Please Discern if General Advice is Right for You. This Means Can you handle Tantalizing Food presented in abundance. Stimulating Experiences such as Exploring the Mangrove Waterways. Learning the tricks to luring the Razor Clams from their holes in the mud flats. Recommended Weekend Activity How To Get to Samut Songkhram & Go Clamming at Don Hoi Lod Travel by Train and Ferry from Bangkok to Samut Songkhram passing through the Umbrella Fold Down Market.
Arrival at Maeklong from Bangkok
Walk from Maeklong Train Station to Maeklong Bus Station -Depart Maeklong Bus Station for Don Hoi Lod -Depart Songthaew at Don Hoi Lod Eminence -Hoi Lod in Batter (razor clams) -Heading out to Catch the Clams -Travelling by Boat into the Mangroves -Watch Skilled Sheller
What is at Don Hoi Lot?
The focus of attention is a slightly elevated square of formed prominence called “The Eminence,” that juts out into the waters of the mouth of the Maeklong. It is paved beneath shady trees and the shrine of Prince Chumphon Khet Udomsak (revered creator of the Thai Navy), sits just beyond where a small market operates at weekends. Crowds of Thais gather here to picnic and try their luck at gathering the Razor Clams that hide in the sand and silty mudbanks. These banks become exposed at low tide and many longtail boats ferry the eager clammers out the short distance to engage in this delightful— and challenging pursuit. For those who are unsuccessful despite tutoring from skilled gatherers, there is plenty of scrumptious freshly roasting seafood– obviously including these morsels to purchase and eat your fill of while enjoying the novelty of the picnic atmosphere. Afterward you can hire a boat and take an expedition through the waterways into the tangle of mangroves.
Travelling to Don Hoi Lod by Songthaew
Friendly Helpful Locals
The first time I chose to travel by public transport to the mouth of the Maeklong and visit Don Hoi Lot (Lod) I expected it could be a challenge. Why, even the name is alternatively spelt Don Hoi Lot —or Lod. From my departure point in Samut Songkhram, there are a number of bus stations and the dilemma was which one? As I proceeded along the street there was a shout from a drink stall alongside the road. A couple of guys waved to me to come over. They poured a coke and offered it to me. There were many other stalls and a young lady was joking with these guys while barbecuing sausages nearby. ‘Where you come from?’ they asked as I sculled the iced drink. They chatted for a while and refused payment as they poured another plastic cupful that fully restored my vigor. The sausages smelled so tempting so I couldn’t resist buying a couple laced with chilly. Then walking out to the centre of the road, they pointed me in the correct direction. I headed off down the street with the lingering taste of Thai hospitality mixed with chilly spice.
Confronted by a choice of left or right at the next T-junction and not having fully understood the following instruction in the Thai/English mix I was given, I asked clarification from the motorcycle taxi guys parked at the kerb. They had no English at all and one darted into a hairdressers shop and emerged with a smartly dressed lady in harem pants.
After learning my aim to find these Razor Clams at Don Hoi Lod she knew exactly how to sort me out. Off we went along the footpath not far, until we turned in through a produce market with wet floors and fish and crabs smelling like fish and crabs, and fruit piled high and spilling across the tables, until finally through the maze we emerged where a collection a trucks with seating lined an area. Immediately she shuttled me up into one that she quickly identified and with a wave from her, the Songthaew was off to Don Hoi Lod. I hoped.
Watching Google maps on my phone for a moment at an odd intersection I thought I was off to who-knows-where as for a short distance we were travelling away from the mouth of the river, but no, we turned back on course and soon I was being pushed off by some wizened mature ladies that had inquired of my destination.
I had at last arrived at The Razor Clam Bank—translation: Don Hoi Lot.
How to find the Correct Van Station in Samut Songkhram
On the map it is indicated by: Mae Klong Van Station.
Or possibly its other name: Thetsaban Mueang, Samut Songkhram Bus Station.
Remember that bus stations may sometimes change locations and with that, destinations, departures and arrivals can alter. I hope you are fortunate in gaining assistance if required. Patience is necessary.
I Had Arrived at Don Hoi Lod- But it was High Tide!
It’s an impressive stretch of water but not what I needed. No clam hunting unless I planned on hanging around till low water. I had to be back in Bangkok by next day— so just accept and make the best of the time here.
What to Do at Don Hoi Lod During a Quiet Weekday
You could book a few nights at the accommodation across the road from the Eminence and wait until the market opens on Saturday. Then the boats are in abundance for your trip to the sandbank and join the clam hunt–or explore the mangroves by boat.
Inquire around, you might be lucky with a trip into the mangroves during the weekday. For my return to Samut Songkhram, rather than wait for the songthaew, I found a lone motorcycle taxi guy who took me back there for fifty baht. It was only a fifteen minutes trip.
Return Again by Car to Don Hoi Lod
A few months had passed before I returned again to Don Hoi Lod. This time it was with family, and we arrived at around midday. We joined the picnic crowd on The Eminence after purchasing packs of delicious food at the market. Wherever you go in Thailand, be it gardens, displays, functions and events—food is close by and picnic mats are always available for hire or purchase new at little cost.
Shelling the Clams? Watch the Experts
Linger for a while and watch the experts remove the clams from their shells ready for cooking. Then wander over to the market and make a selection based on your choice of spice, batter or whatever surprises you. Hire your picnic rug and take your choice of the huge range of dishes with you and eat your fill. Plenty of drink are also available.
Exploring the Mangroves
Tour the Tangle of Mangroves.
We chose to leave the clam digging to the younger ones on this occasion and climbing aboard a longtail powered off up the estuary only a short distance before turning into a wide inlet that within a few hundred metres narrowed to a thirty metre wide creek.
The skipper of our boat cut the motor and silently we drifted to the creeks edge where in a few moments the skippers of the mud emerged from their holes.
It was fascinating to watch the tiny mudskippers battle for territory on the exposed patches of mud, posturing with gaping mouths and threatening any new contenders. Oblivious to the antics of the amphibious fish, the iridescent blue crabs were also engaged in their own pursuits, skittering sideways, back and forth across the muddy stretches.
Monkeys had assembled in the trees and were watching the passing boats with curiosity. We even saw a water monitor splash off startled into the stream as we disturbed its sunbaking siesta.
Not far into the trip we passed by a small community living on both sides, high above the water in stilt houses. Multi-coloured fishing nets were draped across the decking and frequently other small longtail boats churned past in both directions. We continued on past the village and around a bend, with the creek narrowing to ten or so metres between the muddy banks. With the motor again turned off, all was silent. The mangroves draping over us gave a sense of isolation from the busy world. Not so for the blue crabs as they emerged with sporadic bursts of energy, dutifully commanding the expanses of shimmering mud flat with claws raised.
Our time here was eventually up, and off we went back through the waterway, out into the estuary to finally bring to a close our day at the mouth of the Maeklong.
Recommended Weekend Activity
How to Catch the Razor Clams
The following video will give an understanding of the techniques to catching the Razor Clams.
Once the tide encroaches again on the sandbanks the clammers reluctantly escape to the boats. They have had their few hours window of opportunity.
What To Do At Don Hoi Lod?
Enjoy the tasty food from the weekend food market. Hire mat for a picnic under the trees or find a table if not so supple for squatting cross-legged to eat.
What do Razor Clams taste Like?
A bit chewy and need a skilled chef to give them pazang. Applying the correct spices play the most important part of presenting an appealing entree. The ones I ate were coated in batter and I suggest eating them while they are still hot and dipped in chilly paste.
Parking at Don Hoi Lod
As you arrive at Don Hoi Lod [Don Hoi Lot or Don Nai] and just before the road sweeps around to the left there is a parking area if you should be driving a vehicle This could be full to capacity, but there are many more places to park before this one and there will find room there for your car. We returned some months after my first visit in our own vehicle and as The Eminence parking was full, this was where we found plenty of spaces.
Established Restaurants at Don Hoi Lod (Don Nai)
Should you desire to be seated more elegantly walk around the bend past THE EMINENCE and on your right there is a grand pavilion on stilts over the water with a huge number of tables. You can choose one directly beside the ocean—Gulf of Thailand to be more precise— and gaze out at the clammers in the distance while you partake your food and drink.
There are many stalls with lots of seafood along the roadside here also.
My preference was the market with the unique picnic atmosphere surrounding us, more than this alternative. If you’re staying over, then in the evening you will certainly gravitate to the restaurants.
Baan Talay Seecream Resort —close to The Eminence.
A Backpackers Hostel is a short distance from the Eminence towards Samut Songkhram.
The Firecrackers at the Shrine
What’s happening? You’re enjoying the peaceful surrounding when suddenly it’s as if all hell breaks loose. Explosions rattle the air for five minutes.
Relax. It’s part of a regular celebratory feature of the location. Happens every hour or so it would seem. I have yet to discover the implicit reason so I would welcome an update on this.
How to Catch the Razor Clams
With thanks to Jensen Chua, the creator of this video.
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