Where to Go, What to See and What to Do
To travel is to discover that everyone
is wrong about other countries
Aldous Huxley 1894 - 1963
Central Thailand is probably best associated with the ancient ruins of
Ayutthaya, which nestles on an inland island surrounded by the three rivers of the Chao Phraya, the Lop Buri and the Pasak. Four centuries ago and thirty three
kings later, the ruins are colossal and eternally impressive.
palaces and temples were constructed, so too were a fine network of
canals and streets. The entire island was then enclosed with a fortified
wall twelve kilometers (seven miles) in length.
population of one million lived within the complex, which was also home
to over 400 temples. Many of the temples were decorated with gold
obtained from trade relations with the Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch,
French and British thus allowing the city to prosper remarkable by the
Ayutthaya is situated some 85 kilometres (55 miles) North of Bangkok, which one can reach either by road or with ease, journey up the Mae Nam Chao Phraya river on one of the deluxe boats. A combination of both can be achieved by taking any number of tours available.
Just like the interiors of many countries, the central plains of Thailand are often overlooked as tourists tend to explore elsewhere either in the north or south of the country instead. Those who discover these regions are pleasantly surprised as the foundations of Thai society and culture are best uncovered here.
Wat Phra Manathat
Central Thailand - Wat Phra Manathat
Wat Phra Manathat is considered one of the most significant
temple complexes in Ayutthaya. Not only is it the largest but it is also
the oldest dating as far back as the late 14th century. These ruins are
situated towards the northeast end of the island.
The splendor of this
particular site has to be its huge Prang which originally stood some
46 metres or 150 feet tall. It later collapsed, but was then rebuilt to a
height of 50 metres or 163 feet. (see photo at top of page) Not far off
from the temple complex, you will find a replica of what it may have
looked like in its glory days. The grounds here are open daily from 8:00 am
until 6:00 pm.
Central Thailand - Wat Ratchaburana
Wat Ratchaburana is a temple complex in Ayutthaya, situated across the road
to the north of Wat Mahathat. It was built between 1424 and 1448 by King
Borommaracha II in remembrance of his two elder brothers who fought for
supreme power over the kingdom, yet somehow they managed to kill each other. It's one of the finest architectural wonders of the
Renovations to the site were carried out in 1958 which
resulted in the findings of a crypt that contained valuable Buddha
images, traces of mural paintings, and golden jewellery, all of which
can now be viewed at the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum. The grounds
are open daily from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm.
Sukhothai Heritage Site
Central Thailand - Sukhothai Heritage Park
Sukhothai Historical Park
is an impressive historical site in Central Thailand, which can be seen
from inside the walls of the ancient kingdom of Sukhothai. Fortunately, much of this ancient site still remains today. Within the walls of these
ruins are some 20 temples and monuments. Sukhothai lies at the northern
edge of the central plains 425 kilometres (255 miles) north of Bangkok
and 350 kilometres (210 miles) south of Chiang Mai. The site is open from 8:30 am
until 4:30 pm.
Sukhothai Heritage Site
Central Thailand - Kanchanaburi
The profound ambiance surrounding the beauty of
Kanchanaburi with its rolling limestone hills and enchanting expansive countryside
can be truly breathtaking at times. Then again, it can also feel
hauntingly eerie on occasions, especially when you ponder the horrors that took place here decades ago.
I still get shivers running down my
spine every time I visit this place. Writing about it as I am now, only
brings back heartfelt memories of being on such an infamous site.
Walking across the bridge over the River Kwai, taking a train ride on part of the winding track, strolling around the town's cemetery or visiting the death museum that is dedicated to all those young lives lost, you cannot help but feel the pain.
Though Kanchanaburi has a dark side, it's certainly well worth the unexpected. The town's footings are at a junction of the two rivers Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai, which later join to form the Mae Klong.
Wooden Bridge at Sangkhlaburi
Central Thailand - Sangkhlaburi
The town of
is situated close to Burmese territory on the central western plains of
Thailand. It's nestled around a large lake and surrounded by high mountain peaks. If you travel from Kanchanaburi on highway 323, you'll bare witness to some of Thailand's most wondrous natural and
Ancient burial sites, a classic 13th century
Khmer city, the notorious Hellfire Pass, mineral rich hot springs and
spectacular waterfalls are just some of the many surprises along the
The outlying area of Sangkhlaburi is also host to a few hill tribe villages and home to the Karen and Mon hill tribes. Thailand's longest wooden bridge, wildlife sanctuaries, caves full of bats and the Three Pagodas Pass are even more places to visit here.
Khao Yai National Park - Saraburi
Central Thailand - Saraburi
The province of
is situated on the east side of the Chao Phraya river valley in central
Thailand. The surrounding area is mainly made up of high plains and
plateaus to the east and low flat plains to the west. The Buddha
footprint seen in the small temple of Wat Phra PuddhaBat is one of the
Phra Prang Sam Yot - Lopburi
Central Thailand - Lopburi
Further north of Ayutthaya in Central Thailand lies the town of
which was once the former ancient town of the Khmer's from the 10th to
13th century. This town lies 155 kilometres (96 miles) north of Bangkok
and is home to hundreds of monkeys who seem to have the freedom of the
city. Places of interest here are the King Narai's Palace and Wat Phra Si
Maeklong Railway Market
Central Thailand - Maeklong Railway Market
While you are in this beautiful part of the world, do yourself a big favour - go and visit the
Maeklong Railway Market where you can do a bit of trainspotting of a different kind. This magnificent market is located southwest of Bangkok in Samut Songkhram on your way to the
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
What is so fascinating about this particular place is its lively food
market and the fact that local trains pass directly through the market
as many as eight times a day between both the towns of Samut Songkhram
and Samut Sakhon.
Riverfront at Bridge over the River Kwai
Political History of Ayutthaya
Thailand's Political History from the author B.J. Terwiel covers
the fall of Ayutthaya to recent times. The book takes a fresh
insight into Thailand's history over the past 250 years, from the fall
of the old capital Ayutthaya in 1767 in the opening scene to present
times with the country's massive economic expansion.
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