Located just 80km outside of Bangkok, Ratchaburi Province has become a hotbed of tourism, the area is very popular with tourists who visit Bangkok and want to visit somewhere different. It is also very popular with people living in Bangkok who like to escape the hustle and bustle of the city at the weekends.
Ratchaburi town is located right by the Mae Klong River and parts of the province border with Myanmar, there are a lot of historical and natural sights to be seen in this province as well as the world famous Domnoen Saduak Floating Market. It is not just the sightseeing that draws in the crowds, the people here are some of the friendliest you can meet and the lifestyle relaxed.
Without further hesitation let’s take a look at some of the most popular things to do in Ratchaburi.
1. Learn About The City At Ratchaburi National Museum
When in the main town a visit to Ratchaburi National Museum is well worth a visit, there are a good selection of artifacts that go into detail about the history of the city, this is from the Stone Age right through to today. The exhibits are all labelled in English meaning most people visiting are able to leave with a full understanding of the history here, a lot of places across Thailand still use ‘dragon jars’ for cooking and the selection of these is quite compelling. There is also a small shop on site that has a selection of books for sale as well some locally produced goods.
2. Visit The Ancient Prang At Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat
This ancient Wat is very pleasant and worth the time taken to visit, it is believed that the prang dates back to the 10th or 11th century but has received various modifications since. Over recent years more renovations have taken place and some great archaeological finds have been made, these are also displayed within the grounds of the prang.
3. See An Old Kings Palace At Khao Wang
In 1877 King Rama V ordered the construction of Khao Wang to welcome a group of Portuguese envoys, the king himself even stayed here on occasion. When King Rama VII was in power between 1925 and 1935 the palace was converted into a monastery. Today the monastery is home to about 30 monks who live and work here, they live a very strict Buddhist life and are not allowed to come into contact with money. If you are a keen Buddhist or interested in learning more you can also apply to stay at the temple complex during your retreat.
4. Explore The Caves At Khao Ngu
Khao Ngu means Snake Mountain in Thai and here you will find various limestone mountains that have a series of caves cut into the side of them. The area has long been a popular tourist attraction and has hundreds of monkeys living there. Inside the caves are some Buddhist artwork which dates back to the 17th Century as well as some Sanskrit. If you make your way back down the road you used to approach the caves you will see a statue of a cobra, next to the statue are 446 steps that you can climb to get a stunning view of the city.
5. Watch Football At The Local Stadium
Thai’s love their football and whenever you go to a sports bar on a Saturday night you will see them crowded in front of a TV watching the English Premier League, but they also love their own football and Ratchaburi Province is home to Ratchaburi Mitr Phol Football Club. A team that is in the Thai Premier League and has the nickname ‘The Dragons’. When you arrive as a complete mutual you cannot help but be swept up in chanting and excitement of the 10,000 strong crowd who come to support their team. A different and pleasurable way to spend a midweek evening or Saturday afternoon.
6. Dine Out At Krua Mon Khai Restaurant
On Several occasions Krua Mon Khai has been voted the best restaurant in the Ratchaburi province. Located in Suan Phueng this restaurant is very famous and often crowded because of its excellent service and food. The portions at this restaurant are quite large so unlike many other places in the area you can actually order less dishes and eat more. When you have finished eating and drinking the delicious offerings you can visit the little shop that is attached and purchase many varieties of local produce to take back home with you.
7. Have Lunch At One Of The Floating Restaurants
There are many floating restaurants along the rivers in Ratchaburi and some unfortunately are expensive and aimed purely as a money trap for tourists. However there are a lot to choose from so it is worth wandering around until you locate the ones that are filled with locals. Just like any other restaurant you take your seat and order you meal but with a floating restaurant you get to hear the calming tones of the water lapping against the wooden base and see a selection of boat vendors pull up to your table selling their various products.
8. Explore Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Probably the most famous of all floating markets in Thailand is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, this market has been in existence for over 100 years and is full to the brim of vendors and purchasers on a daily basis. There are endless long boats here that are selling their products, whilst an old lady at each end of the boat collects your money and passes you the goods you have bought. You can hire your own boat to explore the many canals or pay for a boat and a driver, the choice is yours but everybody that gets back from the market always has a fascinating story to tell.
9. Relax At Bo Khlueng Hot Stream
Sitting up near the Burmese border is Bo Khlueng Hot Stream, The water in the stream comes up through the earth’s crust and passes through several small rocks at the base of the Ta Nao Sri Mountain. The water is said to have many healing properties and consists of carbon, salt and other minerals. The temperatures of the stream usually flow at between 40 and 50 degrees centigrade and always give a relaxing experience when visited.
10. Have Fun At Khao Ngu Adventure Park
The site of the adventure park was originally a quarry and crushing plant before the local government decided to turn it into the adventure park it is today. The park is full of things to do that will give you a welcome break from the normal sightseeing activities. In one part of the park is a cable that stretches from one mountain to another, riders are propelled between the two mountains by holding onto a pulley, the more you weigh the faster you go! There is an activity that resemble mountain climbing where you use a steel cable and some iron rungs, another where you have to climb a rope bridge tens of metres in the air which if your balance is not perfect will lead to you falling. A whole day’s entertainment with friends can be had at the Khao Ngu Adventure Park.
11. Pay Homage At Chakri Monument Park
Chakri Monument Park is a public park that is visited regularly by the locals as a place to relax. Most visitors come to the very top of the hill to see the panoramic views of the park and surrounding areas below, there is also a Buddha image which is very popular and attracts many Buddhists who come to pay their respects. In the foothill area of the park is a monument that has been built to pay homage to King Rama I, it is said that anyone who comes to pay homage will be get a chance to be the best in government as well as having a warm family.
12. Go For A Hike At Queen Sirikit Forest Garden
This forest garden is spread over 601,000 rai of land and sits at the foot of the Tanaoisi mountain range, the gardens are full of a whole array of flowers and wildlife and real peace and relaxation can be had here. Queen Sirikit gardens were built to commemorate the 60th birthday of HM Queen Regent Sirikit, The gardens are incredibly popular for people who love walking and hiking as there are a variety of trails that can be followed from easy to quite difficult.
13. Have Fun At The Zoo
Khao Prathap Chang Forest Research Station and Open Zoo lies at the foothills of Khao Prathap Chang. There is a large zoo here that has many varieties of animal including deer, ostrich, chamois and tigers. All of the animals that you see in the zoo have been donated in the hope that they will have a better life, either that or they were captured following a raid on illegal animal trafficking. At the research station there is an active breeding program for tigers, this is run in the hope of increasing numbers for future generations. Admission is free but donations are welcome to help with the works that are carried out.
14. Cuddle A Bear At Suntree Land Of Dolls
Suntree Land of Dolls is a rather unusual place, it is a fairy tale land that is full of many large teddy bears, and each teddy bear is dressed in a different style of clothes and comes complete with accessories. Children will love this place as they get to have their photograph taken with a range of teddies and then they can stop of for lunch in the onsite café.
15. Meet Tigers At Damnoen Saduak Tiger Zoo
Many places in Thailand offer opportunities to have your photograph taken with a tiger but at the Damnoen Saduak Tiger Zoo you can mingle with the tigers, get photographs taken and feed the tigers as well. The tigers here are well looked after and very used to having people in the cages with them. There will always be a professional in the cage with you as well as a photographer snapping away should you wish to purchase any pictures. There is a lot to do here and is very close to the floating market so a trip to both can be combined.
16. See The Orchids At The Blooms Orchid Park
The Blooms Orchid Park is a must stop for any flower enthusiasts as the collection of orchids on display here are second to none. The park is open to visitors all year round and has many rare and interesting varieties to see. At the park there are an incredible thirty acres of land dedicated to cut orchids that then get exported abroad, you can have a look through those as well as attend seminars teaching you about orchids and the care that they require. Also on site is a mini sheep farm, vegetable field and a coffee shop.
17. Learn Some History At Wat Khanon
There is an interesting history to be learned on a trip to Wat Khanon, many years ago it was an old customs post that provided constant communication between Bangkok and Ratchaburi town. At the time that this was happening a theatrical art called Nang Yai was becoming very popular among the people and they started to create the figures at this temple. Today Wat Khanon is the only temple with its own Nang Yai troupe left, whilst at the temple you can learn all about this, it has recently received an award from UNESCO for its role in safeguarding this tradition.
18. Take A Trip Up Alpaca Hill
In 2010 Major Bhanubandh was on a trip to Peru when he came across some alpacas, he instantly fell in love with these creatures and wanted to bring some to Thailand for people to enjoy. A couple of years later the first lot of 36 alpacas were shipped over to Thailand and placed on his land. Here is the only breeding farm in Thailand that you can see these amazing creatures and get up close with them as well. The resort also has other animals you can pet such as wallabies, Flemish Giants and Rabbits.
19. Watch A Million Bats In Action At Wat Khao Chong Pran
Every night at this temple as the sun sets, something extraordinary happens. The caves that are in the surrounding areas suddenly come alive and millions of bats wake up and fill the air. They are like a giant black river in the sky, for forty five minutes they fly overhead, the noise is deafening and the sight is breath-taking. The bats can be seen for miles around, if you not able to get close enough as you have left it to late in the day they will appear to be a giant plume of smoke as if someone has set the hills on fire.
20. Experience The Splendor Of Khao Bin Cave
Khao Bin is a spectacular cave in Ratchaburi Province, before entering you should give your camera time to adapt to the conditions because of the high humidity inside. Once inside the cave there are some spectacular stalagmites and stalactites to see. There is a rock formation which is known as the ‘flying dove’ with a little bit of imagination you can see where the name originated. The cave really is a great place to stop and witness the beauty that nature creates.
21. Follow In Royal Footsteps At Chompon Cave
There are many caves to visit is the Ratchaburi Province but not that many of them have had a visit from the king. In 1895 King Kama IV was on a royal visit with his wife, Queen Si Pratcharin. They were so taken in by the beauty of the caves and the fact that shape of the stalactites looked like the epaulet of a field marshal that they renamed them with the name you see today. Whilst you are at the caves you can also stop to see the image of a reclining Buddha that is housed within.
22. Go Bird Watching At Huay Suan Plu Waterfall
Situated in the Pa Chi River Wildlife Sanctuary is this beautiful waterfall. Of all the waterfalls in the park this is the easiest one to travel to and perhaps the most beautiful as well. There is a lot of interesting wildlife to be seen whilst you are here, you will also come across some good spots for bird watching, parrots and oriental hornbills are all common in the park and you will be very likely to see them. Apart from the waterfall and the birds several biking trails have been implemented giving you an opportunity to watch nature in its own surroundings whilst going for a ride.
23. Visit The Many Levels Of The Kaew Chan Waterfall
The Kaew Chan Waterfall, otherwise known as the Nine-Level Waterfall sits about one kilometer in distance from the Bo Khlung hot stream. Princess Sirindhorn named the waterfall because there are nines level that the water flows through to get to the bottom. If you pay a visit during rainy season the waterfalls will be very full at the top allowing for a more spectacular cascade. If you choose to walk up to the top of the waterfall a hike takes about two hours.
24. The Start Of Death Railway – Ban Pong
During the fighting of World War Two Ban Pong was the town that the Japanese Soldiers used as their camp, this is also the place where the infamous Death Railway starts. The railway was built to connect Ban Pong with Thanbyuzayat in Burma. There is an interesting history to be seen here for any keen history buffs. Today Ban Pong is commonly known as ‘Thai Detroit’ as it is the hub to one of the largest bus operations in Thailand.
25. Float down the river in the kings footsteps.
Whilst in power King Rama V always had the welfare of his people at the forefront of his mind. One day he decided he wanted to take a trip down the river to learn more about the way the people lived and so he took a boat trip alone down the river to see. You can now take a tour to follow his route, starting at Damnoen Saduak Canal you will travel past the vineyards and various plantations, before seeing traditional Thai houses, various temples and Jek Huat’s house. The people in this area have a huge liking for this great king and are always happy to tell you about him.