Geographically, the Central Region extends from rugged western
mountains bordering Burma to the northeast plateau to the
east; extends northwards to Nakhon Sawan where the Ping,
Wang, Nan and Yom rivers unite to form the Chao Phraya River
(River of Kings) which flows southwards to dissect Bangkok
before entering the Gulf of Thailand; and southwards to Prachuap
Khiri Khan where Thailand compressed to its narrowest point,
some 60 kilometers wide between western mountains and the
The Chao Phraya River largely irrigates the
Central Plain, one of the world's major rice and fruit-growing
areas, and sustains an intricate network of canals that irrigate
bountiful or chards and market gardens; host vibrant floating
markets; and support a unique, waterborne way of life.
The Central Region is extremely rich in historical
sites. These include Nakhon Pathom, Kanchanaburi, Bang Pa-In,
Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Lop Buri and, most important of all, Bangkok,
Thailand's capital and major point-of-entry.
Briefly, Bangkok's major tourism attractions
include the fabulous Wat Phra Kaeo (Emerald Buddha Chapel)
and Grand Palace complex; Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn); Wat
Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha); Wat Saket (Golden Mount);
Wat Benchamabophit (Marble Temple); Vimanmek Palace, favourite
residence of King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910) and the world's
largest golden teak building; the fabulous royal barges;
the Pasteur Institute's Snake Farm where poisonous snakes
are fed daily and venom is "milked" from cobras
and kraits to make invaluable serum; Jim Thompson's House
Museum which contains a superb collection of Asian objets
d'art; Suan Pakkad Palace's lacquer pavilion which is decorated
with medieval gold leaf murals; the world's largest Crocodile
Farm; a 200-acre open air museum called the Ancient City;
entertainment and recreational complexes such as Siam Water
Park, Safari World, King Rama IX Park and Dusit Zoo; unrivalled
shopping opportunities for some of the world's most admired
handicrafts; exceptionally fine dining in gourmet restaurants
featuring the world's favourite cuisines; and a liberated,
almost legendary nightlife.
The Rose Garden, a riverside tropical park/country
club one hour west of Bangkok, boasts an 18-hole championship
golf course, fine accommodation and a Thai Village where daily
shows feature traditional activities such as folk dancing,
the Thai wedding ceremony, a Buddhist ordination and elephants
30 minutes further west (60 kilometers from Bangkok), hosts
the world's tallest Buddhist monument, the 380 foot high Phra
Pathom Chedi, which marks the spot where Buddhism was introduced,
some 2,300 years ago, to the Thailand-to-be.
40 minutes south of Nakhon Pathom, is Thailand's most vibrant
floating market where farmers congregate on canals each morning
in produce-laden boats.
some 130 kilometers west of Bangkok, is famous for the "Bridge
Over The River Kwai", an Allied war cemetery, and surrounding
countryside characterized by waterfalls, broad fertile valleys
and caves once inhabited by Neolithic man. The Saiyok Noi,
Saiyok Yai, Erawan and Huai Khamin Waterfalls and 12th-century
Khmer Prasat Muang Sing are especially worth visiting.
some 70 kilometers upstream from Bangkok, was the Siamese capital
from 1350 to 1767. Magnificent ruins of temples, palaces and
crumbling fortresses provide eloquent testimony of the former
capitalus splendour. Wat Panan Choeng, Wat Si San Phet, Wat
Mahathat, Wat Rachaburana, Phu Khao Thong and the Chao Sam
Phraya National Museum should not be missed.
Bang Pa-In palace,
just south of Ayutthaya, was the summer residence of early
Chakri kings. The local Wat Niwet Thamaprawat is one of Thailand's
most unusual Buddhist temples, the chapel resembling an English
Phra Buddha Bat,
Shrine of the Buddha's Footprint, is just north of Saraburi,
some 110 kilometers north of Bangkok. The Buddha's Footprint
was discovered accidentally some 350 years ago when a deer
hunter found that a pool of water in the shape of an enlarged
human foot had curative power.
an ancient city dating from the 9th century, and some 150 kilometers
north of Bangkok, contains Hindu and Khmer ruins and the imposing
Ramratchaniwet Palace built by Ayutthaya's King Narai during
the 1600s as a summer retreat. Major ruins include the Khmer
Phra Prang Sam Yot, the Hindu San Phra Kan, and Wat Phra Si
120 kilometers southwest of Bangkok, is well known for exotic
sweets, the Buddha-filled Khao Luang Caves, the hilltop Phra
Nakhon Khri palace, the lovely Wat Suwanaram with its Ayutthaya
meeting hall, murals and scriptural repository, and the mountainous,
scenically arresting Kaeng Krachan, Thailand's largest national
173 kilometers southwest of Bangkok, has a popular beachside
resort hotel and public beach.
198 kilometres from Bangkok, is Thailand's oldest beach resort
and has been the Thai royal family's summer residence since
the 1920s. A genteel Edwardian ambience characterizes a resort
with a fine beach, excellent accommodation and opportunities
for swimming, sailing, riding, windsurfing, water-skiing, parasailing,
snorkeling, fishing, playing tennis and golf.
Sam Roi Yot National
Park, one hour south of Hua Hin, occupies some 60
square kilometres of coastal land.
Prachuap Khiri Khan,
some 280 kilometres from Bangkok, is a fishing town with a
scenic bay and the beachside Khao Chong Krachok (Mirror Mountain)
which supports a small pagoda and a resident monkey tribe.