Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, is also the most important travel hub for
whole of the South East Asia. Visitors
would appreciate its modern skyscrapers, luxurious
hotels and shopping malls, along with the
traditional Thai culture that still has its own
charm. There are plenty of things to see and do in
Bangkok, as the city boasts impressive temples,
museums, colorful markets, as well as plenty of
bars, nightclubs and cinemas. Bangkok offers its
visitors a fine choice of accommodation options,
ranging from luxury hotels, business hotels, to
budget hotels. Bangkok hotels offer
world-class facilities and services with a fine
touch of traditional Thai hospitality.
Stretching north of Bangkok are the
Central Plains, an immensely fertile area typified by patchworks of emerald green rice
Ayutthaya is one of Thailand's historical highlights. Many travellers
take the day tour from Bangkok, which allows about 3 hours at the sites,
but for folks with an interest in archaeological ruins, Ayutthaya
justifies an overnight or more.
From its establishment in 1350 by King U-Thong (Ramathibodi I) until
its fall to the Burmese in 1767, Ayutthaya was Thailand's capital and
home to 33 kings and numerous dynasties. At its zenith and until the
mid-18th century, Ayutthaya was a majestic city with three palaces and
400 splendid temples on an island threaded by canals and was a sight
that mightily impressed European visitors.
Then, in 1767, after a 15-month siege, the town was destroyed by the
Burmese and today there are but groups of crumbling ruins and rows of
headless Buddhas where once an empire thrived. The temple compounds are
still awe-inspiring even in disrepair and a visit here is memorable and
a good beginning for those drawn to the relics of history. (Fun note:
don't miss the Buddha head lodged in the tree trunk at Wat Mahatat,
The architecture of Ayutthaya is a fascinating mix of Khmer, or
ancient Cambodian style, and early Sukhothai style. Cactus-shaped
obelisks, called prangs, denote Khmer influence and look
something like the famous towers of Angkor Wat. The more pointed stupas
are ascribed to Sukhothai. If you've just arrived and have confined your
stay to Bangkok, you might note similarities with the riverside Wat
Arun, an 18th-century structure that was built in the so-called
Ayutthaya style, a melding of Sukhothai Buddhist influences and
Hindu-inspired Khmer motifs.
Magnificent ruins of temples, palaces and crumbling fortresses
provide eloquent testimony of the former capital's splendor. Wat Panan
Choeng, Wat Si San Phet, Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana, Phu Khao Thong
and the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum should not be missed.
An excursion to Ayutthaya can be made via the Chao Phraya aboard a luxury rive
cruiser. This gives a splendid view of reverie life, and also includes a visit to the
former Royal summer retreat of Bang Pa-In, a fairytale scene of architectural wonders.
There is a larger if somewhat more
commercial floating market on Khlong Damnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi Province, 104 km
south-west of Bangkok, between Nakhon Pathom and Samut Songkhram. You can get there
by bus from the Southern Bus Terminal on Charan Sanitwong Rd in Thonburi or Damoen Saduak
starting at 5 am.Get there as early in the morning as possible to escape the hordes. Bang
Khu Wiang Floating Market At Khlong Bang Khu Wang in Thonburi a small floating market
operates between 4 and 7 am. Boats to the Khu Wiang Market leave from the Tha Chang pier
near Wat Phra Kaew every morning between 6.15 and 8 am; take the earliest one to catch the
market before it's over, or arrange for charter a long-tail boat at an earlier hour.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is the most the popular of all the
floating markets and can be visited on the way to Kanchanaburi Province
where you can walk with the tigers at the Tiger Temple or as a prelude
to the weird and wonderful eccentricity of the Human Bakery in
Taling Chan Floating Market in Bangkok Noi
Taling Chan Floating Market traditionally only operates on the weekend
and can be seen on your boat tour on the Chao Phraya River as part of
your trip to the Grand Palace.
Ampawan Floating Market in Samut Songkram
Ampawan Floating Market takes place in the afternoon and early evening
according to the phases of the moon. It can be included before you take
the boat trip on the Mae Klong River to see the famed Fireflies in
Ampawa , which blink in unison lighting the river banks like Christmas
Floating4Market in Pattaya
'Floating 4 Market' is Pattaya's newest theme park which will feature
the best of each of the four regions of Thailand - North, Northeast,
Central and Southern. This welcome addition to the Central Region's
floating market venues is expected to open in November 2008 and can be
experienced in conjunction with a visit to the remarkable Sanctuary of
Truth, or alternatively the tropical botanic paradise at Nong Nooch
A riverside tropical
park/ country club one hour west of Bangkok,
fine accommodation and a Thai Village where daily shows feature traditional activities
such as folk dancing, the Thai wedding ceremony, a Buddhist ordination and elephants
30 minutes further
west (60 kilometres from Bangkok), hosts the world's tallest Buddhist monument, the
380-foot high Phra Pathom Chedi, which marks the spot where Buddhism was introduced,
some 2,300 years ago, to the Thailand to-be.
To River Kwai, famous for the Death
Railway and the prison camps that populated the area during World War II. (Malaria is
endemic in this area, so take plenty of insect repellent and use it liberally.) Numerous
sightseeing possibilities include a museum dedicated to the Allied prisoners of war and
Asian laborers who died there, as well as a train ride on the Death Railway. There are
also restaurants on floating rafts and places to shop. The recent discovery of Neolithic
burial sites has increased the historical importance of this area. Contact the tourist
office to find out which local tour companies arrange trips to the burial grounds.
The area is 80 mi/130 km from Bangkok via Highway 323; less than two hours by car or bus
and less than three hours by train. Buses leave from the Southern Air-Conditioned Bus
Terminal in Thonburi, the bus station on the west end of the city, across the river from
the Grand Palace (Charansantiwong Road, phone 435-1199). There are early morning
departures at 6 and 7 am -- the best times to leave to avoid traffic and to allow for a
full day in Kanchanaburi. Going by train is difficult in one day and not recommended,
although the rail journey is lovely for those who want to stay overnight.
You'll see one- and two-day bus
tours to Kanchanaburi sold at travel agencies all over Bangkok. They usually include
lunch, a visit to an Allied cemetery and a ride on an old train along a short, very scenic
stretch of renovated Japanese track. Admission fees to the several museums might be
Some 130 kilometres
west of Bangkok, is famous for the 'Bridge Over The River Kwai', an Allied war
cemetery, and surrounding countryside characterized by waterfalls, broad fertile
valleys and caves once inhabited by Neolithic man. The Saiyok Noi, Saiyok Yai, Erawan and
Huai Khamin Waterfalls and 12th-century Khmer Prasat Muang Sing are especially worth
Just south of
Ayutthaya, was the summer residence of early Chakri kings. The local Wat Niwet Thamaprawat
is one of Thailand's most unusual Buddhist temples, the chapel resembling an English
Shrine of the
Buddha's Footprint, is just north of Saraburi, some 110 kilometres north of Bangkok. The
Buddha's Footprint was discovered accidentally some 350 years ago when a deer hunter
found that a pool of water in the shape of an enlarged human foot had curative powers.
An ancient city
dating from the 9th century, and some 150 kilometres north of Bangkok, contains Hindu and
Khmer ruins and the imposing Ramratchaniwet Palace built by Ayutthaya's King Narai during
the Laos as a summer retreat. Major ruins include the Khmer Phra Prang Sam Yot, the
Hindu San Phra Kan, and Wat Phra Si Mahathat.
south-west of Bangkok, is well known for exotic sweets, the Buddha-filled Khao Luang
Caves, the hilltop Phra Nakhom Khiri palace, the lovely Wat Suwanaram with its
Ayutthayan meeting hall, murals and scriptural repository, and the mountainous, scenically
arresting Kaeng Krachan, Thailand's largest national park.
southwest of Bangkok, has a popular beach-side resort hotel and public beach.
198 kilometres from
Bangkok, is Thailand's oldest beach resort and has been the Thai royal family's
summer residence since the 1920s. A genteel Edwardian ambience characterizes a resort with
a fine beach, excellent accommodation and opportunities for swimming, sailing, riding,
windsurfing, water-skiing, parasailing, snorkelling, fishing, playing tennis and golf.
Sam Roi Yot
One hour south of
Hua Hin, occupies some 60 square kilometres of coastal land.
Prachuap Khiri Khan, some 280 kilometres from Bangkok, is a fishing town with
a scenic bay and the beach-side Khao Chong Krachok (Mirror Mountain) which supports a
small pagoda and a resident monkey tribe.