The central part of Thailand is primarily agricultural, producing the majority of the country’s rice and fruit. There are also cultural and historical treasures here, as the centre has always been the country’s heartland – dating back to the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya periods. The area still predominates, as it is home to Bangkok – the current Thai capital – and has the highest concentration of the country’s population.
Read on for a selection of interesting places to visit during your stay in the central region of the country which haven’t already been covered on main sections and pages of this site. You’ll note that we’ve provided provincial locations, but recommend that you consult a good tourist map for navigational purposes. We’ve listed the places closest to Bangkok first.
Koh Kret (Nonthaburi)
This is a small island that is located in the middle of the Chao Phraya River, across from the Pak Kret district office. It can be reached by boat from the pier at Wat Sanam Nua. The residents are descendants of the Mon ethnic minority, and are known as potters who finish their pieces with ancient, intricate designs and a red-black glaze.
Phra Pathom Chedi (Nakhon Pathom)
This is the holiest of Thailand’s Buddhist structures and is one of the world’s largest pagodas. The original stupa on the site was constructed in the shape of an upside-down bowl, over 2,000 years ago.
King Rama IV ordered the construction of a new pagoda in 1853 to enclose the original pagoda, and reaching a height of nearly 400ft. There’s a museum nearby featuring displays of priceless relics and carvings found in various parts of the province.
Ancient City (Samut Prakan)
This reconstruction of Thailand’s most important historical attractions is well worth a visit. Located in Samut Prakan province on Highway 3 (marker: Sukhumwit road – km 33), it is a fascinating place where a visitor has the opportunity to experience Thailand’s many architectural wonders all at once.
Replicas of current and past structures have been built either to actual or slightly-scaled down size, and are organized in geographic groupings. It’s feasible to walk though the area but, as it’s likely to be quite hot, it’s also possible to drive around and stop at attractions of interest. Open: daily 08:00 to 17:00.
Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan (Chachoengsao)
Set on the Bang Pakong River’s western bank, this temple is just over a mile from Chachoengsao City Hall. One of Thailand’s most revered images of the Buddha is housed here. Phra Phutthasothon is over five feet wide and six feet high, and is covered with gold leaf that has been applied by worshippers. Fairs are held annually during the 5th and 12th lunar months, which typically fall in the months of April and November.
Wat Chaiyo Worawihan (Ang Thong)
Located around 15kms outside of Ang Thong city, this monastery houses a Buddha image known as Phra Maha Phim. Construction of the wat occurred during the reign of Thailand’s King Rama IV. The devoutly-worshipped Buddha image is represented in small amulets that are highly-prized as they are difficult to obtain. The amulet is referred to as ‘Somdet Wat Chaiyo’.
Wat Phra Phutthabat (Saraburi)
Located on Highway 1 around 25kms north of the city of Saraburi, the setting for this wat is one of the most striking in the country. A temple housing a Buddha footprint, that was found on a stone panel, is situated near Suwan Banpot hill.
The footprint was discovered centuries ago during King Songtham of Ayutthaya’s reign, and a cone-shaped protective structure, known as a mondop, was erected over it. An interesting museum in the temple features exhibits of many centuries-old objects, such as clothing worn by King Songtham, bronze ware, ceramics and weapons. In honour of the footprint, fairs are held twice annually in February and March.
Phra Nakhon Khiri Park
Comprising a summer palace built for King Rama V in 1860, along with a number of temples, the historical park is situated on a hilltop overlooking the provincial town of Petchburi. The structures exhibit a blend of architectural styles including Chinese, Thai and Western neo-classical. The hilltop museum features displays from the clothing of Kings Rama IV and V, as well as decorative arts collections from Europe, China and Japan. The top of the hill can be reached by foot or cable car. Open daily 09:00 to 16:00. Khao Wang (off Phetkasem Rd.), Phetchaburi, tel: (032) 401 006.
Chao Phraya Damhai (Chai Nat)
The first dam to be constructed in Thailand for use in irrigation was built in Chai Nat province in 1956. Its location is approximately 12kms east of the provincial town on Road 311. The dam’s length is more than 780ft and it has a height of around 45ft. The reservoir here is home to large numbers of waterfowl, usually arriving during the month of February.
Nam Tok Sarika (Nakhon Nayok)
This waterfall is Nakhon Nayok’s most well-known attraction. It is located around 16kms to the east of the provincial capital on Road 3050. You’ll see nine cascades and an impressive volume of water, particularly during the rainy season. The lowest of the falls is quite large and makes for an impressive first view.
Cha-am Beach (Petchburi)
This is a lovely stretch of beach situated approximately 12 miles to the north of the better-known resort of Hua Hin. Originally, Cha-am was a small coastal fishing village but today it has grown in size, due to its popularity among Thais who enjoy comfortable family accommodation and reasonably priced and tasty seafood.
Aranyaprathet (Sa Kaeo)
This is situated on the Thailand-Cambodian border, just over 50kms to the east of Sa Kaeo. The nearby Ban Khiong Luk border market is a popular spot that’s always crowded with shoppers and vendors from both sides. Products that you’ll find here include ceramics, wickerware, consumer goods and second-hand merchandise of all sorts.