Suphanburi - Temple of Hell and 100-year old market

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. website

Further away in the same direction is the 100-year old Sam Chuk market | สามชุก ตลาด 100 ปี with lots of food and great stuff, a big, local market in original wooden houses selling clothes, local food and snacks, vintage and classic toys and household items, etc.. I was esp…

Introduction and Map

For directions and prices see the 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 …

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! website


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 pict…

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…

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. website

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. website


Nakhon Pathom - Chedi, Royal Palace, Floating Market, Auto Museum, Old market

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). Update 2018: the palaces are NOT open to the public anymore; the …

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 Th…