What To See And Do In Central Thailand
Often bypassed by tourists rushing to the mountains in the north or the beaches in the south, central Thailand is the country’s cultural heartland. Fed by the Chao Phraya River, the fertile plain north of Bangkok births much of the nation’s rice crop while towns such as Ayuthaya and Sukhothai were formerly capitals of once-mighty Thai kingdoms. Steeped in colorful history, the majestic ruins at both towns reward exploration by bike or by foot. Other highlights include the beach town of Hua Hin.
99 Tambon Bang Muang Mai, Amphoe Mueang Samut Prakan, Chang Wat Samut Prakan 10270, Thailand
Staircase inside of the second floor of the Erawan Museum in Bangkok, Thailand. The Erawan Museum is located in Samut Prakan Province (on the outskirts of Bangkok) and was built by Lek Viriyaphant, an eccentric Thai millionaire who was also responsible for the construction of The Ancient City (also in Samut Prakan) and the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya. The building is a syncretic blend of traditional Thai and European architecture and design elements and is incredibly psychedelic--it’s like a church dedicated to the worship of one man’s subconscious. The museum’s three separate floors symbolize the universe and are designed in accordance with the three-tiered cosmology of the Hindu-Thai Buddhist concept of Tribhumi. The structure is topped by a massive 20-meter high statue of a three-headed elephant outside and many Thais come to worship on the grounds of the museum as they view the building as one of the most revered objects in the province. Not to be missed.
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Thailand
While you’re in Thailand, be sure to escape the colorful chaos of Bangkok and head toward the historic capital of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The best option to get there would be by train and they run frequently from Bangkok’s central station and take just over two hours. Upon arrival you’ll have tuk tuk drivers and bike rental salesmen fighting for your services and either way are a great way to get around and explore on your own time. If you’re short on time, I’d suggest the tuk tuk, but a day biking among the ruins of this ancient city is hard to beat. Ayutthaya is a ghostly city of beautiful ruins and entangled or slanted wats. Brightly colored offerings are gorgeous contrasts to the aging stones and brick. King Ramathibodi founded Ayutthaya in 1350 and city was the capitol of the Siamese kingdom until its destruction by the Burmese army in 1767. Leave Bangkok behind and go and make this exceptional place, yours for the day. Be sure to grab a map and some bottled water before you start navigating the treasures.