The museum & shop of the Royal Arts & Crafts Center.
This project of Her Majesty the Queen is designed to keep the traditional Thai crafts alive. Started around 1990, the center now consists of extensive parks and workshops on the Chaophraya river about 30 Km North of Bangkok. On weekends, the place can be quite crowded with Thais enjoying the many attractions and shopping opportunities, but on weekdays the park can be deserted.
The best place to start is the "Museum Shop" housed in a modern rendition of a traditional Thai style pavilion and situated near the river dock. The ground floor of the shop contains many handicrafts produced by the center, all for sale. The second and third floors house more crafts displayed in a museum-like setting. There are galleries for painting, sculpture, ceramics and other arts. Prices are competitive with other tourist shops in Bangkok, although you will find things here that are still difficult to see in the big city.
By exiting through the "back door" of the shop, heading away from the river, you will be closest to the workshops. You can browse through any shop that gets your interest. Some of the workshops include drawing, mask-making and rattan furniture.
Behind the workshops, even further away from the river, are an aquarium and two aviaries. The aviaries and a small menagerie around them are worth a visit. You can easily spend a whole day here exploring the gardens and other attractions, but the craft areas are the main sights.
Some of the traditionally styled homes in the Thai Village.
North of the museum and workshops is a small village of traditionally styled wooden houses, designed to represent the local architecture of the various regions of Thailand. The houses are arranged around a small lake, and most house some kind of shop selling products from the regions that the houses are modeled on.
In the village shops, you'll find silk and cotton fabrics from the north, pottery from the north-east, foods of the central plains, and many other local products. All of the houses are raised above the ground, as are most Thai houses. The shops are usually on the ground, while the house itself is usually decorated to represent the typical home of each region.
Bang Sai is a regular stop by coach tours and river cruises to Ayutthaya province. The Bang Pa In summer palace as well as a tour of the ancient capital are also included. The Royal Arts and Crafts Center is located some distance away from any population center, so it is not easily reached by train or inter-city bus.
Admission to the Royal Arts and Crafts Center grounds is 100 Baht (2.60 USD) for adults, 50 Baht for children. Some of the animal attractions carry a small additional fee, collected at the entrance.