Discover Central Thailand

Cultural hinterland & rice bowl of Thailand

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    Central Thailand

    Central Thailand is the country’s central plains region and is the cultural hinterland and rice bowl of Thailand, filled with a colourful history. The flowing Chao Phraya River and its fertile central plains once irrigated ancient kingdoms, and supported frontiers throughout World War II. Its rice crops still feed the nation and the central plains give rise to the natural beauty of several sites established in the national park system. There are a huge variety of day trips you can take from Bangkok. You will never be short of things to do.

    Tourist attractions in Bangkok are focused on temples, shopping and markets, street food and nightlife. Bangkok’s street life is lively with something always happening somewhere. One night in Bangkok is not enough to take in the exotic anthropology of this oriental city.

    central thailand | central  plains  region of Thailand

    What to do in central Thailand beyond Bangkok? For an authentic Thai shopping experience, visit the famous weekend Amphawa Floating Market. About 50 km from Bangkok, this vibrant trade market operates on the Mae Khlong River canal network. Have fun bartering with local vendors directly from their long-tail wooden boats for handicrafts, fresh seafood, vegetables, and lots more.  

    Visitors will be amazed by the rich ancient history to be discovered in the 13th century Ayutthaya world heritage site and 11th century Lopburi with its Khmer influences, which can be easily reached from Bangkok.

    Moving forward to the 20th century, travellers can retrace the steps of POWs in the infamous labour camps of WWII in Kanchanaburi with the “Bridge over the River Kwai” Death bridge, World War II museums and cemeteries.   

    The national park system has several parks with cascading waterfalls and abundant native flora and fauna. Make time to visit Sai Yok and Erawan National Parks along with Khao Laem Lake.

    Nakhon Pathom is considered to be the oldest city in Thailand with the nation’s largest pagoda and stupa that were built in 1853 during the reign of King Rama IV. Nonthaburi is the second largest city of Thailand, on the outskirts of Bangkok and Petchaburi is another city best known for Khao Wang mountain and its access to national parks.

    If beaches are what you’re looking for, the coastal towns of laidback Hua Hin or the action-packed Pattaya with its crazy nightlife are your best options.

    There are also a few monuments and sites in this central region that you can see for free or at a very low cost.

    Central Thailand Attractions

    Bangkok

    Everyone begins their adventure in Bangkok, the country’s largest city, upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport! A sprawling metropolis with an exotic blend of traditional Thai life and ultra modernity. Famous for its temples, shopping and markets, street food and nightlife. The Grand Palace (the country’s royal palace for official functions) and nearby floating markets offer visitors their first exposure to a true “treasure house” of the country’s historical and cultural heritage. There is also Jim Thompson’s House, a rustic house turned museum containing an impressive collection of Asian art. It is the central point for travel into the other central Thailand provinces with train, bus, minivan and metered taxi options readily available. Note that it is best to take a taxi from an official taxi stand.

    Amphawa Floating Market

    For an authentic Thai shopping experience of foreign visitors, incorporate the famous weekend Amphawa Floating Market into one of your day trips, a lively floating market and a picture-perfect floating market. About 50 km from Bangkok, this vibrant trade market operates on the Mae Khlong River canal network near the Mae Khlong railway. Have fun bartering with local vendors directly from their long-tail wooden boats for handicrafts, fresh seafood, vegetables, and lots more. 

    Ayutthaya Historical Park

    A short train ride north (two hours), you can visit the world heritage listed ancient ruins of the ancient capital city of Siam from 1350-1767 known as Ayutthaya, in Ayutthaya province. Cycle around the UNESCO Historical Park to fully appreciate the temples and palaces and other structures spread that once belonged to the largest and most prosperous empires of its time. Ayutthaya province is also known as Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.

    Sai Yok National Park

    Visitors arrive at Sai Yok National Park in Kanchanaburi Province, famous for its hiking treks to its caves and waterfalls and to catch a glimpse of its rare wildlife. Its main highlights are the multi-tiered Sai Yok Noi Waterfall, a beautiful limestone waterfall on the Khwae Noi River, the tourist trail on just a small fragment of the Death Railway, Khang Khao Cave and Lawa Cave.

    Erawan National Park

    A popular day trip from Bangkok (only a 3-hour drive or bus ride) is the Erawan National Park also in Kanchanaburi Province for its famous attraction the beautiful seven-tiered Erawan Falls. It is a steep jungle trek but all 7 tiers of Erawan Falls are accessible by trails and footbridges with emerald green ponds along the trails that many visitors can swim in. The Park also houses tigers, wild elephants, cobras, gibbons and a wide variety of native birds.

    Death Railway and River Kwai

    For most visitors interested in war history this region has much to offer such as the Death Railway and its nearby museum that tell the story of the construction of the Burma Railway Bridge by Allied prisoners of war (POWs) by the Japanese soldiers, with historical remains of World War II like the slow and rustic train of the Burma Railway and bomb casings. There is also the Kanchanaburi War cemetery, Jeath War Museum and Hellfire Pass Memorial and Museum. There are guided trek tours of the Hellfire Pass. These sights and interesting museums can be taken in a long ride of many day trips. Along the way, you will enjoy the natural scenery of the River Kwai Valleys. You can get to Kanchanaburi by a sleeper train, which some locals prefer as they can enjoy the natural scenery along the way.

    Khao Laem Lake

    Khao Laem Lake near western Thailand and north of Bangkok is located close to the Myanmar border and sports a vast area of swamps, mangroves and forest habitats along its banks. Visitors can enjoy its boat tours, canoeing and fishing within its serene atmosphere and even opt to stay overnight in a floating lake guesthouse.

    Hua Hin

    Hua Hin is a smaller historical town that has evolved from a fishing village into an interesting village-now-res0rt, made famous for being the former Royal family seaside getaway hosting the royal summer palace, offering a laid back sea change from bustling Bangkok. The charming old quarter would be a fascinating day tour. Only a few hours drive south, it’s a nice half-day visit for the perfect getaway for couples and families with wide-open beaches, quaint seaside beach resorts, night markets and a water park. The town also has two floating markets, both on the same street!

    A mere 75km ride away is Thailand’s biggest, the Kaeng Krachan National Park. Around 60km west is the amazing spectacle of the fifteen-tiered Pala-U Waterfalls.

    Pattaya

    A few hours drive from Bangkok is the action-packed coastal city of Pattaya. Its interesting attractions are the lively nightlife that draws in many singles looking to party at go-go bars and clubs. It has several stunning beaches and the area is well developed with lots of accommodation to suit all budgets with many attractions in and around the town.

    Bo Khlueng Hot Stream & Springs

    Sourced from the Tanao Si Mountains, Bo Khlueng hot stream and spring is popular with people wanting mineral skin treatments and relaxation. Located in Ratchaburi, the water flows all year round at between 50-68 degrees Celsius. En route to the hot stream is the magnificent Kao Chon Waterfalls with nine stunning cascades.

    Lopburi

    Declared the 2nd capital of the ancient Ayutthaya kingdom, this historic city is home to 11th century Khmer architecture, King Narai’s Lopburi Palace, the royal palace built by the king, Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat historic temple and the Monkey Festival, the prime sights of Lopburi. The royal palace was abandoned after King Narai’s death but its remains were reconstructed and now houses the Lopburi Museum.

    Koh Kret in Nonthaburi

    Located in Nonthaburi, about 30 kms from central Bangkok, Koh Kret is a small man-made island on the Chao Phraya River. Koh Kret makes a convenient day trip out of the city for a taste of traditional Thai life. A former settlement of the Mon people famed for their terracotta now on display in the Kwan Aman Museum, Ko Kret is referred to as “Pottery Island.” The traditional earthenware is still produced in many pottery shops that have been in operation for over a century. You can also try your hand on a kiln and make your own pottery. There are also some ancient temples to visit such as Wat Salakun, Wat Phat Lorn with unique clay and glasswork featured and the Wat Poramai Yikawat that features a reclining Buddha and a leaning stupa.

    Nakhon Pathom

    A city in northern Thailand and capital of the same name province. It boasts the world’s tallest stupa of Buddha, the Pra Pathom Chedi, built in the 19th century, as well as the Bhikkhuni temple Wat Song Thammakanlayani that is open also to foreign women!


    Frequently Asked Questions

    How many provinces are there in the central region of Thailand?

    The central region is divided into 22 provinces, which includes Greater Bangkok: Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram North Central Thailand region: Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan, Phetchabun, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Uthai Thani South Central Thailand region: Ang Thong, Ayutthaya, Chainat, Lopburi, Nakhon Nayok, Saraburi, Sing Buri; Suphanburi It is easy to take day trips around the central region and take in the major sites. Public transport includes frequent trains, buses and minivans.

    How many regions are in Thailand?

    Thailand has two ways of dividing its regions. The six-region system is used for geographical studies: Northern Thailand, North-eastern, Central, Western, Eastern and Southern Thailand. The four-region system is used as an administrative system developed by the Ministry of Interior. The four regions are Northern Thailand, North-eastern Thailand, Central Thailand and Southern Thailand. 

    Is Thailand divided into states?

    Thailand is divided into 77 provinces rather than states.

    What is the capital of Thailand?

    The Thailand capital Bangkok is located in central Thailand.

    What are the four regions of Thailand?

    Northern Thailand, North-eastern Thailand, Central Thailand and Southern Thailand.

    What are the main geographical features of Thailand?

    Thailand’s main features are high mountains, a central plain, and an upland plateau.

    Which region is Bangkok in Thailand?

    Bangkok is located in central Thailand.

    Is it easy to get around Central Thailand?

    Thailand has an extensive and efficient rail network connecting most parts of the country as well as an extensive bus network which is cheap and runs frequently. In rural areas, the bus network is often supplemented by songthaews which are open-ended vans with two rows of parallel benches. Routes between towns are easily travelled by minivans which don’t tend to operate on set timetables but rather leave for their destination once the van is full of passengers.

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    Things To Do

    Plan for an unforgettable holiday escapade and uncover the fascinating assortment of things to do and see in Thailand's most popular destinations as well as those lesser known travel spots and routes.