Chanthaburi (จันทบุรี), 245 km from Bangkok, is the capital of the eponymous province in Eastern Thailand. It is a useful transport hub for accessing the islands Ko Chang and Ko Kut and also several of the border crossings with Cambodia.
Chantaburi is notable for tropical fruits, particularly durian, and gems. The surrounding hills are rich with verdant forests and scenic waterfalls. Nearby are quiet fishing villages and peaceful beaches.
There are three bridges over the river in central Chanthaburi: one to the north, this is the one you will cross if coming from the north; about 500 m south of this is a footbridge facing the cathedral; then about 400 m south west of this, around a bend in the river, is a second road bridge. The both banks of the river between the two road bridges have a small collection of bars and restaurants.
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History of Chanthaburi
Chanthaburi has long been inhabited, with neolithic artefacts having been discovered in the region.
Chong was the first Mon-Khmer hunter-gatherer community to have settled in the eastern forests in what are now Chanthaburi, Trat and Rayong Provinces in ca. 13th century CE. The first settlement in Chanthaburi was near Khao Sa Bap. The forest area, especially on the boundary between Chanthaburi and Trat, was abundant in herbs and forest products such as gamboge, lac, wax, cardamom, eaglewood, rattan, cinnamon, etc. Deforestation for cultivation as well as habitation by Thai and Chinese people has shrunk the forest. Hunting and gathering has been made illegal, so the hunter-gatherers were forced to change their lifestyle and become urban labourers or farmers. Most of the “Chong” now live at Ban Khlong Phlu in Amphoe Khao Khitchakut.
A new city was established in 1657 CE at Ban Lum on the west bank of the Chanthaburi River. At the fall of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya in 1767, King Taksin the Great, then Phraya Wachiraprakan, led a troop of some 500 soldiers to break through and head eastward to occupy Chanthaburi. He took 5 months to store foodstuffs and recruit a troop of 5,000 Thai and Chinese soldiers to regain the independence of the kingdom. Monuments and memorials built to commemorate the historic event well reflect the pride of the people of Chanthaburi.
The city was relocated to the highlands at Ban Noen Wong in the reign of King Rama III to prevent a Vietnamese invasion, but due to its distance from water sources was moved back to Ban Lum in the reign of King Rama V. Chanthaburi was occupied by France for 11 years in a Thai–French dispute. Thailand had to surrender its territory on the left bank of the Mekong River to France in return for Chanthaburi, which was later established as a province in 1933.
Chantaburi is about 4 hours by bus from Bangkok.
The nearest border crossing with Cambodia is at Ban Pakard, which faces Phsar Prum in Cambodia. It is 1–2 hours from Chanthaburi by minibus (~100 Thai Baht) or songthaew (~40 Thai Baht). Pailin is a further 18 km (USD4 by motorbike taxi) from the border. If direct connections to Ban Pakard are hard to find, take any northbound bus on Hwy 317 (i.e., to Nakhon Ratchasima, Buriram, or Aranyaprathet). Ask to get off at Pong Nam Rong (โป่งน้ำร้อน, write it in Thai so you can show it to the bus driver). In Pong Nam Rong, songthaews connect with the border crossing. Northbound buses will call at Aranyaprathet, the busiest Thai-Khmer crossing. For coastal Cambodia, head to Trat in Thailand and continue to the Koh Kong border from there.
The province is accessible by 5 routes:
- Hwy 3, start from Bang Na, Bangkok, via Chon Buri – Bang Saen – Si Racha – Pattaya – Sattahip – Ban Chang – Rayong – Chanthaburi, a total distance of 330 km.
- Hwy 36, start from km140 on Sukhumvit Road in Bang Lamung, Chonburi, turn left at Krathing Lai T-junction via Pira Circuit to end at Choeng Noen, Rayong Province, a distance of 60 km, then turn onto Hwy 3 for 108 km to Chanthaburi, a total distance of 308 km.
- Hwy 344, the Ban Bueng – Klaeng route, saving a distance of up to 70 km, start from km98 on Sukhumvit Road in Chonburi, via Ban Bueng in Chonburi Province, Wang Chan and Klaeng in Rayong Province, a distance of 110 km. Continue on Hwy 3 for 58 km to Chanthaburi, a total distance of 266 km.
- Linking the northeast and the east, start from km200 on Hwy 33 from Kabinburi of Prachin Buri Province, turn right at km230 in Sa Kaeo Province onto Hwy 317, continue for 189 km via Wang Nam Yen, Soi Dao, Pong Nam Ron, Makham to Chanthaburi, a total distance of 219 km from Kabinburi.
- Motorway – Hwy 7, start from Si Nakharin Road in Bangkok and end in Pattaya, Chonburi, a distance of 90 km. Then continue on Hwy 36 for 50 km and Hwy 3 for another 108 km, a total distance of 248 km.
Take a bus to Chanthaburi
- Bangkok Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) on Sukhumwit Road
- Air conditioned Bus Transport Co., Ltd., there are buses leaving daily, for more details, Tel. +66 2 3912504; Chanthaburi office, Tel. +66 39 322197.
- Cherdchai Tour Tel. +66 2 3912237; Chanthaburi office, Tel. +66 39 350357.
- Pornnipa Tour Tel. +66 2 3915179; Chanthaburi office, Tel. +66 39 311476, +66 39 311278.
- Suparat Tour Tel. +66 2 3912331; Chanthaburi office, Tel. +66 39 350223.
Non-air conditioned bus. There are non-scheduled buses leaving the Eastern Bus Terminal, for more details: Tel. +66 2 3912504.
From Mo Chit 2 or Northern Bus Terminal (Chatuchak) on Kamphaeng Phet Road
- Transport Co., Ltd., there are buses leaving daily, Tel. +66 2 9362852
- Cherdchai Tour Tel. +66 2 9360199
- Pornnipa Tour Tel. +66 29 362256-7
- Suparat Tour Tel. +66 2 9363888, +66 2 9363939
Buses are also available from Chanthaburi to other provinces including Aranyaprathet, Nakhon Ratchasima, Trat, Rayong, Sa Kaeo, Saraburi, Buriram, Prachinburi, and Tak. For more information, contact the Chanthaburi Bus Terminal at Tel. +66 39 322197.
Victory Monument (Anusawaree Chai) in Bangkok has minivans to many nearby cities, including Chantaburi. The van to Chantaburi takes anywhere from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours depending on the driver and traffic. It makes one stop about an 75 km outside Bangkok. The van stops in Chantaburi just outside town at the Tesco Lotus. The vans also leave from the Tesco going to Victory Monument.
The vans usually run from 06:00-20:00. They leave every hour, but make sure you arrive 20–30 minutes before the time you want to leave, because when the van is full (13 people) it will leave and another van may not be available for another hour. The cost is 200 Thai Baht each way (May 2020).
- The City Pillar & the Taksin Maharat Shrine (On Tha Luang Road in front of the Taksin Military Barracks). Opposite stands an old building (former town hall) which was erected during the reign of King Rama VI.
- Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Chanthanimit Road on the river bank). This Catholic cathedral is the largest in Thailand. Built in 1909, it is of neo-Gothic architecture architectural style. The original spires were taken down during World War II to make it less conspicuous as a target; they have since been replaced.
- Hat Khung Wiman, Hat Khung Kraben, Hat Laem Sadet, and Hat Chao Lao (About 30 km from town. At km310 of Hwy 3 is a right turn to Hwy 3399 which leads to the area. Or one can proceed from Tha Mai district on the route passing through Wang Tanot Dam). Peaceful beaches in Tha Mai District. There are accommodations for tourists, particularly at Hat Chao Lao where there are several hotels and bungalows. About one kilometre off shore from Hat Chao Lao are ranges of shallow water coral reefs covering an area of 14 square kilometres. Glass-bottomed boats are available. Over at Ao Khung Kraben are nature trails to study mangrove forests.
- Khai Noen Wong (at Tambon Bang Kacha). Established in 1834 during the reign of King Rama III. The town was moved from Ban Lum to this new location because of its high ground (which was more suitable for defending against the invading Vietnamese). The laterite walls and bricks from the old town were also dismantled and moved to the new site. A severe drought during the reign of King Rama V forced its return to the original site at Ban Lum.
- Khao Laem Sing. A small hill 172 m above the sea, to the east of the mouth of the Chanthaburi River. It has a cape jutting into the sea which looks like a sprawling lion. There is an old fortification called Pom Phairi Phinat built during the reign of King Rama III.
- Khao Laem Sing Forest Park (The Tha Mai-Bang Kachai road, 25 km from Tha Mai, passes through Wat Khao Laem Sing right up to the park HQ on a hill. Alternatively, visitors can charter a boat from Laem Sing Beach to Ao Krathing Beach, just 400 m away, and walk up to the park). Camping is allowed on application. Hat Ao Yang is a small beach some 2 km before the park. Cool and shady, it offers accommodations for visitors
- National Maritime Museum & Underwater Archaeological Office (in Khai Noen Wong). exhibits on Thailand’s merchant marine and items discovered from underwater archaeological explorations from all over the country. There are also exhibits of ancient sailing routes and products. An exhibition chamber deals with the history and culture of Chanthaburi.
- Old Town at Khai Noen Wong. Square-shaped with extensive laterite walls mounted with large cannons. Each side had its own ramparts and defensive moats. It was regarded as a powerful military camp of the time. The town’s principal temple was Wat Yothanimit.
- Taksin Maharat Memorial (Liap Noen Road (near park)). The equestrian statue is guarded by statues of his four royal guards. The expression on the king’s face clearly shows the resoluteness and determination to restore the national independence. The pond is stocked with a large variety of fish.
- Wat Phai Lom (Across the Chanthaburi River (from Si Chan Road) and left 1 km from the bridge, around 800 m off the main road). The Rama III-era Ubosot features wall murals on all four sides portraying the story of Lord Buddha with Chinese floral designs as well as illustrations of foreigners. There is also a ubosot of Western architectural influence attesting to Chanthaburi’s artistic and cultural contact with the Western world.
- Wat Phlup (At Bang Kacha, southwest of town, on the Chanthaburi-Tha Mai-Khung Wiman Road). The site of an old community during the late Ayutthaya period. Special features are two ancient pagodas of different styles and an old Thai wooden pavilion.
- Wat Thong Thua (4 km from town, Sukhumwit Hwy). The site of an ancient bot which was built in a Khmer-style temple. It has a large collection of ancient Khmer sculptures such as lintels, sandstone door columns carved in various designs, and an inscription stone. Nearby is the Muang Phaniat archaeological site with laterite base of Khmer religious sanctuary and moats marking the town limit to the south. The ancient town is believed to have dated from the 12th-16th century (Buddhist Era).
What to do
- Khao Wong. Limestone hills standing in a circular cluster with cliffs. It contains stalagmites & stalactites. There are passages connecting some of the chambers. The walking trails outside offer views of varied plant life. There is no natural light inside the cave. The best time for cave exploring is between Feb-Apr. In other months they tend to be flooded (rainy season).
- Tham Khao Wang, Ban Khao Wongkot, Kaeng Hang Maeo District (About 40 km before Chanthaburi (Hwy 3 at km286:Ban Kong Din) left turn into the park, 11 km or turn into km288 (Talat Na Yai Arm)). Part of the Khao Chamao-Khao Wong National Park.
Chanthaburi-Krathing Wrathing Waterfall Route
- Chamsom Crocodile Farm and Zoo (Sukhumvit Hwy to km324 (Khao Rai Ya intersection), then turn left, around 4 km further). Daily, 08:00-18:00. The facility is surrounded by fruit orchards. There is an elephant show Saturdays and Sundays at 12:00 and 15:00.
- Oasis Sea World, 48/2 Moo 5 Paknam Laemsing (From Chanthaburi, take taxi/songthaew, about 300 Thai Baht for a group) , fax: . Swim with dolphins. Some tour operators offer one day trips there (from Bangkok/Pattaya) for 1,600-6,000 Thai Baht. 180 Thai Baht for park, 400 Thai Baht to swim with dolphins.
- Gems Market (At Si Chan Road & Trok Krachang (centre of town)). The commercial centre of the gem business. Even though actual gem-mining in the province is not extensive, Chanthaburi remains a major centre for gem dealings with stones from abroad being bought and sold. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings, it attracts a large crowd of gem dealers and visitors.
- Reed Mats (Ban Bang Sa Kaeo & Ban Samet Ngam). Mats woven from kok reed. Among the products are handbags and coasters.
Local seafood products worth trying include The Kuai Tieo Mu Lieng (pork noddle soup with local herbs) and Mu Chamuang (pork sweet-sour curry).
Fruit: the best durian, rambutan, and mangosteens in Thailand. Durian snacks such as durian kwuan and crispy fried durian thot krop are nice.
- Chatrium Golf Resort Soi Dao Chanthaburi (โรงแรมชาเทรียมกอล์ฟรีสอร์สอยดาวจันทบุรี), 224 Moo 2 Tambol Tabsai Amphoe Pong Nam Ron (Pong Nam Ron District at km 42 On Chanthaburi – Sa Kaew road) , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 1400 hours, check-out: 1200 hours or noon. A 47-room hotel with a year-round outdoor pool, 18-hole golf course, and a terrace. Guests can also enjoy a fine dining experience at the resort’s restaurant. Free WiFi throughout the property. Bike rental is available. 2,100 Thai Baht.
- Muang Chan Hotel, 257-259 Sri Chan Road (Exiting the main bus terminal, turn left onto Saritdidet, and proceed up the hill. After about ten min walking, turn right onto Benchamarachuthis, at the T in the road, in front of the Kasemsarn Hotel. After five min, just past Khwang Road, see the hotel on the right side of the street. From the Northern Terminal, the one with the turquoise-coloured fibreglass arch over the driveway, turn left onto Thaluang Road and proceed up the hill, crossing the street to the right side when convenient. After ten min, turn right onto Benchamarachuthis in front of the police station. After ten min, just past Khwang Road, the hotel is on the right side of the street.) , fax: . Showing its age a little, but excellent value in the heart of Old Town. Room has en suite bath with cold shower. Free Wi-Fi officially only available in the lobby, but signal can be picked up in the rooms as well. Staff speak very limited English, but are friendly. Fan rooms: 250-400 Thai Baht. Air-con rooms: 350-600 Thai Baht.
- The River Guest House, 3/5-8 Srichant Road (Next to the more southerly road bridge in the town centre, on the west side or the river (technically it’s on the north bank given a small bend in the river)). Check-out: Midday. Riverfront location, free Wi-Fi, free English newspapers, rooms include both windowless boxes and those with river-facing balconies, air-con, TV and en suite bath. 150-500 Thai Baht.
Where to go next after Chanthaburi
- Koh Kong – southern border town and seaside resort
- Pailin – gem town and former Khmer Rouge stronghold in Cambodia
- Siem Reap – via the Aranyaprathet-Poipet border to the north
Hua Hin Cha-am : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report
Hua Hin Travel Guide
Hua Hin is a district in the Prachuap Khiri Khan Province of Thailand, 295 kilometers from Bangkok and 90 km from the provincial capital. It is the oldest and most traditional of Thailand’s beach resorts combining the attractions of a modern holiday destination with the charm and fascination of a still active fishing port. Beaches are located in the east of the province, including a 5km stretch of white sand and clear water. Although it has developed to cater for tourists from all over the world, the resort which began its development over 70 years ago, remains popular with Thais too, a good sign for those looking for an authentic experience.
The resort was originally founded in 1830s, when farmers, moving south to escape the results of a severe drought in the agricultural area of Phetchaburi, found a small village beside white sands and rows of rock, and settled in. The tranquil fishing village was turned into a ‘Royal resort’ becoming popular among Siam’s nobility and smart-set.
Accessibility was greatly enhanced by the construction of the railway from Bangkok, which brought visitors from wider social groups, and kick-started the industry which would bring tourists from other countries. The first hotel – The Railway Hotel – was built in 1921 and it still stands today continuing to serve tourists as the Sofitel Central.
Hua Hin was made famous in the early 1920s by King Rama VII, who decided it was an ideal getaway from the steamy metropolis of Bangkok. He built a summer palace and this was echoed when King Rama VII ordered the construction of the Palace of Klaikangwon (“far from worries”). The latter is still much used by the Thai Royal Family today.
The resort continued to develop slowly, protected to some extent by its Royal reputation. Its fishing port grew alongside golf courses and all the big hotel chains are now represented. Many of Bangkok’s rich and famous and a growing number of expats have built their own summer homes along the bay, making the resort more cosmopolitan every year.
Development has taken over much of the prime government land, so the coast road suffers from obstructed views of the sea these days, but Hua Hin is trying hard to retain its beach-side atmosphere. Compared to Pattaya, the resort remains relatively serene and attracts families and older travelers. The beach has a gradual slope, into clear warm water which so far has escaped pollution of any kind.
Further afield, the Prachuap Khiri Khan Province is a charming region, where limestone cliffs and islands, bays and beaches, are home to a national park, and several temples, and travelling through this area will be a welcome experience for those hoping to avoid the tourist traps found further South. Driving from Bangkok through Prachuap Khiri Khan takes around three hours, a journey punctuated by summer palaces, huge temples, beautifully kept gardens and salt flats.
Visitors head to Hua Hin all year round. The area has one of the lowest rainfalls in the country, and there’s usually a gentle sea breeze to punctuate the heat, particularly welcome in the summer season between March and September.
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Flights to Hua Hin
Things to see and do in Hua Hin
As you would expect with a resort boasting a 5km clean white beach, sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling are popular pastimes. Swimming is safe, and with one of the driest climates across Thailand, there’s plenty of opportunity to dry off in the sun afterwards.
Possibly due to its noble history and elegant clientele, Hua Hin has the highest density of world class golf courses anywhere in Thailand, although it has yet to be discovered by the international golf tournament circuit. Green-fees and other costs are surprisingly low, given that course maintenance and services are superb. The Royal Hua Hin course is one of many, but considered to be the best.
Shop till you drop
Chatchai Market is colourful and inexpensive and is one of Hua Hin’s major attractions. Vendors gather nightly in the centre of town, where they cook fresh gulf seafood for hordes of hungry Thais and provide a spectacle for visitors. As well as plentiful food shops, it offers much that will appeal to souvenir hunters too.
Klai Kangwon (which means ‘Far From Worries’ ) is the Royal Palace built by King Rama VII in 1928. It was designed by Prince Iddhidehsarn Kridakara, an architect and the Director of the Fine Arts Department at the time, and officially opened in 1929. Further structures have been added over time, including a mansion ordered by King Bhumibol (Rama IX) for Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and accommodation for the royal entourage, built in the style of the original buildings so as to preserve the harmony of the palace. Although Klai Kangwon is still in regular use by the Royal family, it is also open to the public.
Hop on a train
Or more importantly, visit the railway station. Built in the reign of Rama IV, the brightly painted wooden buildings somehow combine traditional Thai ideas with a Victorian feel, and in 2009 Hua Hin made it onto NewsWeek’s Best Stations list, in great company such as New York’s Grand Central, and London’s St Pancras.
Although one of the joys of Hua Hin is its serenity and calm, if you’re keen to take in more, its fairly easy to find trips which will take you to many of the other southern beach destinations such as Koh Nangyaun, Koh Toa, Koh Samui, Phuket, Krabi and Koa Sok. You may find however that some of these legendary destinations have suffered more at the hands of the global tourist industry than Hua Hin has.
Khao Takiab is referred as Monkey Mountain, but as well as the mischievous residents, it also boasts a hilltop temple with sensational views of Hua Hin, a pagoda-style shrine and a giant golden Buddha which faces the sunrise.
Walk in the Park
The region boasts several parks, and natural attractions, such as the Kangajan National Park, and the Koa Sam Roi Yod Marine Park. You’ll find miles of good walking, amongst lakes, caves and waterfalls, and you’ll be in the company of as elephants, tigers, wild dogs and leopards.
Eat, drink and sleep in Hua Hin
As more affluent ex-pats from all over the world gather to weather the winter, or snap up beachfront properties in Hua Hin, the restaurant scene becomes more cosmopolitan. French, Italian, German and Scandinavian restaurants are all here, in case anyone feels homesick. However, there are also rustic seafood restaurants, especially on the pier, and at several of these you can choose your own fish from the fish market right outside and waiters will bring you the finished result.
There are plenty of simpler local restaurants both inside and out on the streets where you can sample authentic Thai food too.
If you want to try to cook your own Thai food in Hua Hin, the very best place to buy your ingredients, not because it’s the cheapest, but because it is a fabulous experience, is the night market. Right in the centre of town, it opens at 18:00. It’s also a terrific place to buy handicrafts, souvenirs and clothing.
The Chatchai market is a great day market and the place to go for the best street food, as vendors grill, fry, boil and dress the fabulous local fish and shellfish, but don’t forget to leave room for a real local speciality. Roti Hua Hin is a delicious dough-based snack filled with strawberries, custard or raisins.
In a side street just off the market is the Hua Hin Thai Show, a pagoda-style restaurant which combines great food with a nightly musical performance, where you can sample folk with your fish or classical over your clams.
Unlike many Thai resorts, here you will also find more elegant dining, including Thai and Vietnamese food with a more upmarket touch for a real treat. Monsoon is the most romantic and expensive, but it’s worth it for the wine list and the elegant atmosphere. If your budget doesn’t run to dinner, you can enjoy afternoon tea on its teak-decked terrace.
Lopburi : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report
Lopburi (ลพบุรี), also Lop Buri or Lob Buri is a historic city 3 hours north of Bangkok in the Chao Phraya Basin region of Thailand. Lopburi has a mountain called Khao Chan Daeng. Understand Lopburi is very laid back, and its convenient location less than 3 hours (~180 km) from Bangkok makes it a good […]
Lopburi is very laid back, and its convenient location less than 3 hours (~180 km) from Bangkok makes it a good place to escape the stress and pollution of the capital.
History of Lopburi
Lopburi is one of the oldest cities in Thailand, a former capital and the second capital after Ayutthaya was established in 1350. It was abandoned after King Narai passed away in 1688, but parts were restored in 1856 by King Mongkut (King Rama IV) and in 1864 it was made the summer capital.
Lopburi had been an important part of the Khmer Empire and later a part of the Ayutthaya kingdom. It was Ayutthaya’s second capital under the reign of King Narai the Great, who used to spend eight months a year in Lopburi. Later on King Mongkut of the Bangkok Chakri Dynasty used to reside here. Thus the remains of almost all periods of Thai history can be found.
There are two central areas in Lopburi: New Town and Old Town. Most of the important sites, plus the train station, are in the Old Town; buses arrive and depart from the New Town.
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Lopburi is famous for the hundreds of crab-eating macaques that overrun the Old Town, especially in the area around Phra Prang Sam Yot and Phra Kaan Shrine, and there’s even a monkey temple/amusement park where you can buy snacks to feed to them.
Keep an eye out for monkeys hanging from trees and wires and sitting on roofs and ledges, and be aware that they have some unpleasant bad habits including defecating on unsuspecting pedestrians from their overhead perches, jumping on people to snatch food and stealing bags that they suspect may contain something edible.
At night nothing much is going on in the Old Town, thus the street dogs consider everybody running around after midnight very suspicious. While most of them will just look at you, some might bark, run behind you and jump at you. While common at night, it is very rare during the day.
From Ayutthaya, local buses run every 20 minutes, take around 2 hours and cost 35 Thai Baht.
There is a minibus service from Mo Chit to Lopburi.
Travel by minivan in Lopburi
From Bangkok, air-con vans leave from Victory Monument, take about 2 hours and cost 110 Thai Baht. There are multiple van services in the area, so if the timing for one service does not work try another.
Air-con vans also leave from the main Mo Chit (northern) bus station for the same price. The last minibus normally departs around 18:00.
Trains from/to Bangkok main Hualamphong station take about 3 hours. Take the Northern Line from Hua Lamphong Railway Station everyday, many rounds per day.
Trains from/to Ayutthaya take about one hour and cost 13 Thai Baht for third class.
- From Bangkok, take Hwy 1 (Phahonyothin Road) passing Phra Phutthabat District, Saraburi, onto Lopburi. The total distance is 153 km.
- From Bangkok, take Hwy 32 which separates from Hwy 1, passing Ayutthaya. There are three routes as follows:
- Enter Bang Pahan District, passing Nakhon Luang District into Rte 3196. Then, pass Ban Phraek District onto Lopburi.
- Enter at the Ang Thong Interchange to Tha Ruea District and turn left onto Rte 3196, passing Ban Phraek District onto Lopburi.
- Pass Ang Thong, Singburi, and take Rte 311 (Singburi–Lopburi), passing Tha Wung District onto Lopburi.
The blue local bus (8 Thai Baht) circles constantly between the bus station about 2 km from the town centre, passing Phra Kahn Shrine, going south on Sorasak Road, and ending up in front of the TAT office on Phraya Kamuad Road.
- Ban Vichayen (Narai Maharat Road). Daily, 08:30-16:00. The remains of Constantine Phaulkon’s residence, built in the reign of King Narai the Great. Only the outer walls of the three main buildings remain, in a small grassy area. 30 Thai Baht.
- Phra Kahn Shrine (Narai Maharat Road). The site of a small shrine, the remains of a Khmer prang, a few stalls and lots of monkeys. The stalls sell offerings to be dedicated at the shrine, and food and drink. The monkeys eat the food, drink, offerings and anything else going. Good for a few photos. There are signs warning of purse-grabbing by the monkeys, but they appear docile if not provoked. 50 Thai Baht.
- Phra Narai Ratchanivet (King Narai’s Palace) (Entrance on Sorasak Road on the east wall). W-Su, 8:30-16:00, closed M-Tu and holidays. Built in 1677 by French, Italian, and Portuguese engineers, the palace was used by King Narai to host receptions for foreign envoys. Restored in 1856 by King Mongkut, it was converted into a museum in 1924. The palace grounds consists of the remains of various buildings in an enclosed park, with the central palace serving as the Somdet Phra Narai Museum, which houses prehistoric exhibits, along with Buddha images of Dvaravati, Lopburi and Khmer styles; and King Mongkut’s bedroom. Foreigners 150 Thai Baht, Thais 30 Thai Baht.
- Phra Prang Sam Yot. A Khmer-style temple known for its three linked towers. Entrance fee, foreigners 50 Thai Baht and Thais 10 Thai Baht.
- Wat Phra Phutthabat (17 km southeast of Lopburi. Take any Saraburi bus (Bus 104) which leaves the main bus station every 20 min and takes 30 min to get to the side road 1 km from the wat). 21 Thai Baht.
- Wat Phra Sri Rattanamahathat. Built in the 13th Century, this is one of the town’s most important monasteries; visitors can view a bas relief illustrating the Buddha’s life on the central prang. No monkeys. Admission, foreigners 50 Thai Baht, Thais 10 Thai Baht.
- Wat Sao Thong Thong (On Rue De France). A viharn in the compound of a working wat, also has a small amulet market in the grounds. Previously used as a Christian chapel and a mosque, it has now been restored and features a large Buddha figure, with several smaller Lopburi-era Buddhas in wall niches. Free.
- Rock Climbing (จีนแล) (Near Suwannahong Temple (Jiin Lay 2), Baan Nong Kham). At Jiin Lay Mountain.
If you are going to be in Lopburi long-term, you will need the services of the two department stores. There is a Big C mall in town, with a KFC, along with a Tesco Lotus in the Monkey Mall further down. The latter has a very large outdoor market in the evenings.
The street vendors in the Old Town are very nice and have all kinds of tasty things. In the evenings, a lot of street food stalls are set up on a road in front of railway station.
- Bualuang, 46/1 Moo 3, Tasala (In the New Town, about 6 km from old city). Cash only.
- Louis Steakhouse (On Phahon Yothin east of the large roundabout around 1/2 km from Big C under the pedestrian overpass). A great restaurant owned by a Belgian. A great change if you are looking for something a little different from Thai food.
- New World Steak House (Just west of Sakal, the large town centre with the fountains, just to your left before you cross a bridge, at the lights (look for a rather large hotel next to it)). Good English cuisine. Run by Barry and Noi, an Englishman and his Thai wife. The prices are higher than typical Thai food, but the steaks are huge, the Shepherd’s pie is excellent, and sometimes has tacos.
- White House (Just behind (north of) the Tourism office (TAT)). Romantic Western architecture with a beautiful yard and second floor, offers good food. Crab meat fried rice and red curry is very good. The owner, Mr Piak, speaks English and will tell you everything you need to know, even if you don’t dine there.
You might find the nightlife in Lopburi fairly quiet for a town of its size but there are a selection of places to catch a drink in the evening. Old Town has a few curbside bars, which are excellent for those who are still new to Thailand, as there are usually some foreigners about. There is also a small club (look for the large “Ben More” sign) next to a local park near the train station in the Old Town, but it is a little pricier than average.
Pattaya : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report
The City of Pattaya on the East coast of the Gulf of Thailand is a self-governing region about 165km Southeast of Bangkok. For centuries, it was a small fishing village, but when American servicemen ventured down the coast from their base in Nakhon Ratchasima in 1959, in search of rest and relaxation during the Vietnam War, the package holiday industry took off with a bang, and Pattaya began to develop into the popular beach resort of today.
Now, the fishermens’ huts have long gone, as the region lures sun-worshippers and hedonists in their millions every year. A seemingly unlimited flow of dollars fuelled the local economy which for decades wasn’t as careful as it might have been about the rapid development and free-for-all glitz and glamour which drove the city’s progress, but more recently, it is striving to position itself as a more family-friendly destination.
Nowadays, the nearby temples of the Pratamnak Hill look down on a bustling metropolis, packed with hotels, stores, high-rise apartment blocks, bars and restaurants. Pleasure-seekers revel in the nightlife, with its pulsing beat, and head for the beaches of Naklua, Pattaya and Jomtien by day.
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Broadly speaking, the city is divided into several regions. Central Pattaya offers countless shops and restaurants, and plentiful nightlife, but is definitely not for those in search of a quiet night’s sleep. Likewise, South Pattaya, which encompasses the word-famous Walking Street, a tourist attraction in itself, which draws foreigners and Thai nationals alike, primarily for the after-dark entertainment. This is also the City’s red-light district, and go-go bars and brothels line the street which runs from the south end of Beach Road to the Bali Hai Pier. However, Walking Street also includes seafood restaurants, live music venues, beer bars, discos and sports bars and has an impressive collection of neon signs for those who want to be where the action is.
There’s no escaping the hurly burly in Pattaya, but if you’re looking for a slightly more peaceful experience, you’ll head to one of the beaches. Pattaya’s beaches are everything expected of Thailand’s famed beaches. Gorgeous, clean and well facilitated. Jomtien is popular with package tour operators and families, whilst if you head up to Naklua and North Pattaya you’ll find that although there are still plenty of bars and restaurants, the entertainment isn’t quite as relentless. If you seek out the more remote corners of Naklua you may even get a hint of the region’s traditional history as a fishing town. Few tourists bother, but for traditionalists, it’s worth a visit.
The tropical climate divides the year into three, from November to February the air is warm and dry, getting hotter and more humid through to May, and the rainy season runs from June to October.
Overall, Pattaya is not for the faint-hearted, or those in search of solitude or a cultural experience, but it will reward the laid-back traveller with just a hint of a spirit of adventure.
Things to see and do
Shop till you drop
Over the fifty or so years since the first GIs showed up in search of the sun, Pattaya has developed into a hive of activity, not least for those in search of retail therapy. The city is full of shops, including Asia’s largest beachfront shopping mall, the Central Festival Pattaya Beach Mall, attached to the Hilton Hotel.
Take to the water
If you’ve any energy left after the thrills of the night, all the beaches offer a wide range of watersports, which attract as many Thai visitors, heading to Pattaya for the weekend from Bankok. Jet-ski-ing and parasailing are the norm, and small boats are available for hire, or skippered trips.
One of the joys of a Thai beach holiday is the wealth of offshore islands, many of which can be reached by small boat or ferry in a matter of minutes. From Pattaya, head off to Ko Larn, Ko Sak or Ko Krok, known as the ‘near islands’ about 7k from Pattaya, or journey further towards the ‘far islands’ Ko Phai, Ko Man Wichai, Ko Hu Chang or Ko Klung Badan. Many of the islands have public beaches, less crowded than those on the mainland, and lots offer scuba diving and other water-based fun.
See the sights
If you’re in search of something a little more cultural, look out for the Wat Khao Phra Bat Temple, which overlooks Pattaya Bay and features a 18metre-high Buddha.
The Sanctuary of Truth is set on a rocky point of the coast just north of Pattaya, in the small town of Naklua. It’s a work in progress, started by an eccentric billionaire who began the ambitious construction 20 years ago. The Sanctuary is rather more adventure park than spiritual haven, but you can still take in this fascinating construction project, made entirely from wood, by a team of 250 woodcarvers.
Billed as a world-leading adventure park, the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden features impressive elephant and Thai cultural shows, in one of the biggest botanical gardens in Southeast Asia. Despite the cultural differences between east and west, it is still possible to appreciate the conservation projects at work here, while palms and orchids, education facilities and plenty of food and drink choices contribute to a rewarding family day out.
Back to the hustle and bustle of an activity-fuelled holiday and you might want to check out the private Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Mini Siam model village, the Pattaya Crocodile Farm, the Silverlake Winery, Aquarium, or any of the many amusement and waterparks dotted around the region.
Time your trip carefully, and you may find yourself caught up in one of the many festivals which take place throughout the year. Bikers will enjoy Burapa Pattaya Bike Week in February which brings together motorcyles and international music, whiles those who prefer their entertainment without engine noise will enjoy March’s Pattaya International Music festival, or the Songkran festival, which lasts for several days in April. Regattas, dance parties, beauty pageants, gay celebrations and traditional light festivals are here in abundance, there’s something going on here every day of the year, and if you hit Chinese New Year, there’ll be dragons, lion dances and fireworks too.
Eat, drink and sleep
The Thais are very casual when it comes to eating and drinking. This is a busy place with lots going on, nobody is going to notice if you eat with your hands, spit out your seeds, or put your elbows on the table. Eateries pop up in the most unlikely doorways so watch out for those special little places – particularly on Second Road and in Naklau. These are the most likely places for real Thai food and if you’re sensible you will follow the locals to the best places. Anywhere with a queue is bound to be good. Street food is one of the joys of South East Asian dining, don’t miss the opportunity to experiment.
However, as this is such a multinational tourist destination, you may find it difficult to find a truly authentic Thai culinary experience along the main drags. You’re as likely to find an American diner, Italian spaghetti house or Greek emporium so it’s worth seeking out the quieter corners and watching to see where the locals eat.
Most formal meals consist of a meat or a fish dish, fried or steamed vegetables, a curry, stir-fried dishes of meat and vegetables and a soup. If you decide to enjoy a traditional meal, expect to take time over it. You’ll experience flavours including lemon grass and coriander, plenty of chilli, and flavourings such as fish sauce and Java Root. Most Thai meals are centred on rice or noodles.
Drink flows freely in Thailand, and the traditional accompaniment to a Thai meal is local beer or rice whisky. However, this is Pattaya, and you can’t travel more than a few metres without finding yourself in a bar. The designs, interior décor, themes and even the drinks may not be traditional, but you’ll find plenty of company as you pile into the drink. It’s unlikely you’ll be trying to stay sober, but if you do, ask for a melon ice drink, or a citrus banana punch, two of Thailand’s favourite non-alcoholic tipples.
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