The central region of Thailand is the area which contains and surrounds the national capitol of Bangkok. The area contains many places of historical interest and natural beauty. Everything from the old capital of Ayutthaya, to the world war II "death railway" to beach resorts can be found within a two hour drive from Bangkok. Traditionally the central region has extended all the way east to the Cambodian border, but due to recent development of places such as Pattaya, the East coast is now considered a whole region on its own.
We've highlighted the major tourist places on this page, along with articles from Chieng Fa and other resources. Although most of these places are easily reached within a few hours from Bangkok they also make great stopping places for leisurely travel further up country.
Here's what you'll find when you venture outside of Bangkok, arranged by province.
- Bang Sai Folk Arts & Crafts Center
- Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya river, the Bang Sai center was founded by her majesty the queen to preserve traditional arts and crafts. A large store cum museum was opened in 1998 to sell the products of the craftsmen, as well as display paintings, ceramics and other arts. You can wander through workshops to see the students in action. There's also a large park, aquarium and walk-through aviaries. Open every day. Admission is 50 Baht for adults.
- Bang Pa In Summer Palace
- A relatively modern royal retreat on an island in the Chao Phraya river. A rather tour-de-force in styles ranging from Thai houseboat to art nouveau to Chinese pagoda.
- Ayutthaya Town
- The capitol of Siam from the mid-fifteenth century until it was sacked by the Burmese in the late eighteenth century. The center of the old capitol was on a large island and this is where most of the main palaces as well as the national museum are located. However, take the time to see the many old temples spread along both banks of the river. The capitol was also where emissaries of France, England and other European powers first made contact with the court of Siam.
- The Buddha's Footprint
- The Phra Buddha Bat Woramahavihan Temple houses one of the most sacred places for Thai Buddhists, a depression in a rock shelf believed to the the Buddha's footprint.
- Lopburi Town
- Occupied since at least the sixth century, Lopburi has been an important city since the Khmer empire in the tenth century. Later it was used as a second capitol of the Ayutthaya kingdom by King Narai. The remains of his palace is one of the main sights. Also of interest is the Bahn Wichayen, used as a residence by Narai's Greek-born chief minister. Also of interest, sort of, is the Kala shrine, a temple located in a traffic circle near the railroad tracks. The temple itself isn't very interesting, but is quite popular with Thais. It used to be over-run with monkeys who have grown fat and even rather aggressive on tourist handouts, but they've since be forced to relocate to the nearby Khmer ruins. Don't say we didn't warn you!
- Khao Yai National Park
- One of Thailand's oldest national parks, Khao Yai is in serious danger of over-development. After all, how many national parks have golf courses?
- Phra Pathom Chedi
- The largest Chedi in the world, this temple is the site of a huge temple fair in late October. Its also extremely old, having been originally built in the sixth century, although added to and "improved" many times since then, which is how it reached it current girth.
- Floating Market
- Although now rather touristy, the market on Klong Damnoen Saduak still offers a few photo opportunities. Be warned that a trip here involves rising at a very early hour, as the market is practically deserted by 8:00 in the morning.
- Death Railway
- This is the real life location on which the film "The Bridge on the River Kwai" was based. Thousands of Thai slave laborer and allied prisoners died constructing the railway from Bangkok to Burma in world war II. Among the places to see are the (in)famous bridge (don't listen to what anyone says. Its not THE bridge.) There are also war cemeteries and Wat Chaichumphon has a war museum.
- Kanchanburi province contains some of Thailand's most scenic falls. Among them are the Erawan falls, a sort of watery wedding cake.
- Raft Trips and Houseboats
- The area is also home to many outfits offering day trips floating down the river on bamboo rafts, and even hotels consisting of houseboats.
- Three Pagodas Pass
- Marking the border between Thailand and Burma, the pass may or may not be reachable, depending on recent events between the two countries.
About 80 miles south of Bangkok, this beach town has a lot to recommend it. Its almost the complete opposite of Pattaya, which is about the same distance in the opposite direction from Bangkok.
- Phra Nakorn Khiri
- Hilltop retreat build by King Mongkut. The palace is beautiful, as are the views of the countryside.
- Khao Luang Caves
- The large main cavern is filled with Buddha images. Sunlight pouring in from opening in the roof make this place a favorite with photographers.
- Cha Am
- Up-and-coming resort town 12 miles further south of Petchaburi. Accommodations are generally high-end, at least from a Thai perspective.
Prachuap Khiri Khan
- Hua Hin
- Site of another royal palace and summer retreat, like Cha Am. The railroad hotel, now run by Sofitel, is a beautiful colonial style building. The resort is popular with an older, higher-class crowd. Good golfing opportunities abound.
- Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park
- A huge park, who's name translates to "300 peaks." Thought by many to be the most beautiful of Thailand's national parks.