For directions and prices see the "Travel in Thailand" links in the side bar >>> If you're staying in Bangkok, these are the things to do.

Bang Saen - Seafood, Thai-style Beach Life, Markets and Hell Garden

Just an hour from Bangkok Bang Saen is THE place to go for fresh seafood and to observe local Thai tourists on their day out at the beach.

No beautiful white beaches here, and the sea is not very clean, but it's a very long stretch of seaside with lots of palm trees, beach chairs under umbrellas, plenty of shells and all kinds of entertainment for the kids like floating tubes, kites, and banana boats. Adults usually cover up and just eat their seafood under the umbrellas. When the tide is low you may see people collecting crabs or looking for coins with metal detectors.

Besides fresh seafood everywhere, there are lots of markets, like the local Nong Mon fresh market (day), Bang Saen Walking Street and the local version of Chatuchak market (both at the weekends in the evening).

I also found a small Hell garden in the Wat Wang Saen Suk showing the gruelling punishments in afterlife in (Buddhist) hell (with lots of English explanations), peaceful life in heaven, Thai proverbs and a whole set of Chinese gods.

Most activities only take place at the weekends. More photos

Suphanburi - Temple of Hell

If you want to have a look at how Buddhists in the old days convinced their children and themselves to follow the rules of Buddhism, Wat Phai Rong Wua in Suphanburi is the place to go. Every bad deed leads to a punishment that is made very visual in this temple, so visual that one of my Thai friends still looks back in horror to her visit as a child. The offending body parts are enlarged and the punishment is usually directed right there. Besides the images of hell,  the temple also sports the world's highest metal cast Buddha, with a height of 26 meters, a whole series of Indian-style buildings and statues, and an impressive cemetery with hundreds or even thousands of Buddha statues dressed in orange. Wat Phai Rong Wua

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Ayuthaya - Old Temples

Ayuthaya was the capital of Thailand until the end of the 18th century and has a lot of old temples, Buddha statues and palace ruins. Ayuthaya Historical Park is protected by UNESCO as a world heritage site and definitely worth seeing if you want to see some history. Temples in different state of maintenance are scattered around town. Ayuthaya is also the place nearest to Bangkok to ride an elephant.

Ratchaburi - Floating Market and Bat Cave

Damnoen Saduak is the most famous floating market in Thailand. Only if you come early enough in the morning, you can still see a glimpse of the old market. Vendors sell food, kitchen utensils, noodle soup, old-style coffee etc. from their little wooden boats in the canal. Their customers are buying from the shore or go around in their own little boats. A bit later, and the souvenir boats take over. Long-tail boats filled with tourists make a lot of noise in the small canals. In one of these canals you can even have your picture taken with a huge python.

Closer to the city is the Wat Khao Chong Pran, were one can observe a very spectacular sight every day near sunset, when millions of bats living in the nearby caves swarm out to get themselves some food. The sound, the smell!

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Kanchanaburi - WW II Memorials, Temples, Tigers and Waterfalls

Kanchanaburi is famous for its death railway, still in use for regular and special tourist trains, river Kway bridge and war memorials of W.W.II.  For such a small city the nightlife is quite good and there are plenty of places to choose from.

Less known is that it is a good area to explore by motorcycle. Temples like Wat Tham Seua are built on hills and overlook the whole valley.

Caves, the Erawan national park and Erawan Falls are further from town close to the Burmese border. The falls are 7 levels high, spread over about 2 kilometres and spectacular in the rainy season. It is possible continue to the Three Pagodas Pass and cross the border for the day (if the political situation of the day allows), but you won't be allowed to travel further into Burma.

On the way to the falls is the Tiger Temple, Wat Pa Luangta Mahabua, where monks raise orphaned tigers and let them roam more or less freely in a small valley. After donating 50 baht, you can touch the tigers and have your picture taken with them and the monks. There are many other wild animals around too. The tigers don't touch them, as they have never eaten raw meat in their lives. (Jun 2016: the Tiger Temple is being closed down; see Tiger temple scandal exposes the shadowy billion-dollar Asian trade )

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Khao Yai National Park - Nature

They say it is one of the best in the world and it has a lot of wild animals. The park has many hiking trails, you can camp in the park and enjoy nature. If you go there in the rainy season be prepared to put up with the leeches that are plentiful at that time of year.

Koh Samet - Beach and Snorkelling

This island has a lot of pretty and quiet white beaches. Although quite popular with locals and foreign tourists, you will usually be able to find a not too busy spot to relax and maybe snorkel. You can stay in one of the many wooden huts not too far from the sea (most of the cheaper ones are not actually on the beach). Many bars and restaurants provide for the local nightlife.

The island is part of a National Park so you have to pay an entrance fee. Also, in the last few years accommodation prices have gone up fast.

Koh Si Chang - Hilly and Scenic

The scenic little island of Koh Si Chang was used as a retreat for the royal family at the end of the 19th century, but they had to leave the island because of the war with France (1893).

The former grounds of Phra Chudadhuj palace have remained, with 2 small beaches, little boats, a pier, beautiful ponds, renovated buildings, a chedi, a viewpoint and lots of flowers and plants. A stone near Koh Si Chang school inscribed by King Rama V, is treasured by the local population.

All over the hilly island there are great viewpoints, with the Chinese Chan Chao Khao Yai shrine, 150 steps up the hill, offering the most spectacular view of the village and the many boats scattered between the island and the coast. The village is small and quiet, with old wooden houses and traditional shops, while the pier is a colourful happening of fishing boats and ferries. The island's favourite place for a sunset meal is Ao Atsadang beach, but when the wind blows the wrong way, it fills up with garbage dumped from the ships anchored nearby. Tham Khao Phang beach is said to be the most beautiful.

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Lopburi - Old Temples, Monkeys and Sunflowers

Like Ayuthaya, Lopburi has a lot of old temples and palace ruins, located in the old fortified town. Everyone will dress up for the annual King Narai Festival where you can see traditional life of old Siam.


Monkeys are the second big attraction. In some parts of town hundreds of them hang around and make people's life difficult with their bold behaviour. During the annual monkey festival in November locals will feed the monkeys as they believe it will bring them good fortune.

Another famous festival in the Lopburi region is the Sunflower Festival during the cool season, with special trains leaving from Bangkok at weekends.

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Nakhon Pathom - Famous Chedi, Royal Palace and Auto Museum

Nakhon Pathom sports Thailand's highest chedi, the Phra Pathom Chedi, which stands 120 meters tall and is bell-shaped. It was constructed in 1853 at the command of King Rama IV. The chedi is visible from most places in Nakhon Pathom.

The city is also famous for its nightly food market at the foot of the chedi, with the flying ice-cream as it's strangest attraction, and there's a huge indoor market just north of the chedi. To make it a fun day out, take the train from Thonburi train station.


Sanam Chandra Palace was built by crown prince Vajiravudh (later King Rama VI) as retreat and residence during pilgrimages to the chedi. The palace consists of 4 separate residences in different style: a European castle (Chaleemongkolasana Residence), 2 traditional Thai wooden houses (Mareerajaratabulung and Thub Kwan Residence) and a brick-and-concrete house in Western style with Thai wood carvings (Thub Kwan Residence). More photos of Nakhon Pathom

On the way from Bangkok, close to Nakhon Pathom in Nakhon Chaisi, you can find the Jesada Technik Museum which is well worth a visit with its thousands of vintage cars, motorcycles, bicycles, helicopters, planes, toy cars and more on show and for sale. And the best part is, you can touch them all and taking photos is allowed. More photos of Jesada Technik MuseumVideo

Once there, you can make a quick stop at the Thana fresh market. It's touristy but for local tourists, with shops selling antiques and old-style coffee shops in wooden houses that are over a hundred years old. The mildly interesting Owl Art Museum is just across the bridge, and if you're lucky may be able to catch the annual Tattoo FestivalMore photos of Nakhon Chaisi

Pattaya - Nightlife, Sex Tourism and Beach

Most famous for its sex tourism and huge red light district, but the "normal" nightlife is good too.

Pattaya beach is too dirty to swim, even though lots of people still do it. People spend the day hanging in beach chairs, sipping drinks, having a massage and (henna) tattoos done. Modern and often noisy equipment such as speedboats, banana boats (you have to see it), parasailing and water scooters are available here. The beach further up north (Jomtien) is more acceptable for swimming.

If it's all too noisy for you, take the ferry to the nearby island of Koh Lan, where everything is still nice and quiet. The first resort just opened recently (2008).

Samut Prakan (Paknam) - Museums, Fort and Crocodiles

Samut Prakan and Bangkok are neighbouring provinces, but they are so close that it is difficult to see where one ends and the other starts.

Samut Prakan sports a quite a few sights that are definitely worth seeing. First of all there's the ancient city (Muang Boran), an open air museum with models of traditional buildings from all over Thailand. There are also the Erawan Elephant Museum, its huge three-headed elephant on top, with the solar system painted inside the elephant and the Naval Museum showing arms, uniforms, ship models etc. Among experts the Chulachomklao Fort, built in 1893, is famous for its disappearing guns. Finally, a bit tacky but fun, there is the crocodile farm, with crocodile farming, crocodile and elephant shows, dinosaurs and more.

The beautiful 150-year old white pagoda, Phra Samut Chedi, was originally built on an island in the Chao Praya river that has now merged with the west bank. One of the first things Anna Leonowens, the English governess at the Thai court, saw was this chedi and she wrote very lyrical about it. The temple has a mural showing the history of the province, but is even more famous for the 9-day temple fair that is held every year (timing depends on the moon, October/November).

This Crocodile Farm is set up to prevent crocodiles from extinction, but also to produce shoes and bags and for the meat. 40,000 crocodiles of different species are bred here. In the crocodile show macho guys put their heads or arms in a crocodile's mouth. Upon payment you will be allowed to take your picture with a crocodile. Crocodile Yai is with his 6 meters the largest crocodile in captivity in the world. Besides crocodiles there are many other animals like elephants, birds, hippo's and deer. You can have your picture taken with a real tiger, little crocodiles or a dressed-up monkey. The nice thing is that you are allowed to feed the animals. Everywhere you can buy fruit for the elephants and dead chicken for the crocodiles, which they attack with snapping jaws. A dinosaur museum and a shooting range are also available. Please note that the entrance fee for foreigners is considerably higher than for Thai visitors. 

Located at the mouth of the Chao Praya river, the Chulachomklao Fort was built and first used in 1893, when French ships sailed up the river to threaten Bangkok. A museum gives details about the conflict with the French. Also on display is an old warship, HTMS Maeklong, that served the Thai Navy for 60 years. A elevated footpath through the mangrove lets you enjoy flora and fauna, with the sound of snapping shrimps as the strangest attraction.

The seven brick towers still hold the Armstrong guns that were used against the French. They are so-called disappearing guns, hauled up by hydraulic power and disappearing after a shot is fired. According to the experts, these are the only disappearing guns in the world still working. However, the guns couldn't stop the French. Video 
The Naval Museum shows the history of the Thai Navy with all kinds of weapons, ship models, including models of the Royal Barges and HTMS Phra Ruang, photos, the first submarine, a plane, tank and much more. Most displays are in Thai only, but a friendly English-speaking (naval) guide walks around. Naval Museum

Opened in 1972, the Ancient City (Muang Boran) is an open-air museum showing originals and models of Thai-style houses and temples from all over Thailand. The 200-acres grounds have the shape of Thailand, and regions are filled with buildings in styles common for that area. With this museum, founder khun Lek wants to preserve the "history, arts, cultures, religious, thoughts as well as the beliefs of Thai talents." Ideal for people who don't have time to go everywhere. Bicycles are for rent. Ancient City

The Erawan Elephant Museum sports the huge three-headed elephant Airavata that overwhelms the area. Inside, the museum holds the collection of founder khun Lek (see Ancient City), consisting of art and antiques that are regarded sacred objects in ancient cultures. More exciting are the leaded glass world map on the ceiling of the second floor and the solar system painted inside the elephant. Yes you can go all the way up. Pretty garden outside. For local people the shrine is also used as a place of worship. The people selling flower garlands and other gifts for the shrine are very pushy. Erawan Elephant Museum

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