Chanthaburi is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. Easily the most underrated of the eastern seaside provinces in terms of tourism, it offers visitors a host of leisure activities - bush walks, verdant forests and adrenaline-pumping jet skiing.
Ko Thepho in Uthai Thani is well known for dishes made from the giant gourami fish, but the real treasures of this northern province are its nature and the simple way of life of people along the Sakaekrung River. It reminded me of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia.
Temple sanctuary for fish and birds
Pathum Thani, 46 kilometre north of Bangkok, is the home of Mon people as well as a sanctuary for the Asian openbill stork, (Nok Pakhang). Chedi Hoy, a pagoda made of hundreds of thousands oyster shells is another attraction of the province.
Saraburi - Khok Samrong
If you're planning a short trip for the upcoming holidays, this is one route for you to consider.
Let's waste no time and get going. Starting from Saraburi town, take Highway 1 (Phaholyothin) northward. As you pass the junction where Highway 21 splits off Highway 1 (see map), look left. The main gate of Phu Khae Botanical Garden is just a few hundred metres from that point.
Apart from the fertile soil, fresh seafood and numerous canals, the tiny coastal province of Samut Songkhram oozes with culture and history that are reflected through its numerous temples around which revolve around the lives of local people.
Na Jomthien - Samae San
What will you find if you venture along Sattahip coastline between the famous beaches of Pattaya and those of Rayong Province? More beaches! And these hidden sandy stretches, most of them under the care of the Royal Thai Navy, are just examples of the interesting sites you'll discover.
Tha Mai - Chanthaburi
Although not widely known, the eastern province of Chanthaburi had played vital roles in the country's history. Today's drive is a journey through time that will help you gain a better understanding of the difficult past and a realisation that we shouldn't take the land we have today for granted.
Spared for now
Ban Krut, the last virgin beach strip in Prachuab Khiri Khan, it seems has been spared a life line after the government shelved its controversial plan to build a coal-fired power plant there.
For those looking for some place less visited, where nature is still unspoiled and it is close enough from Bangkok to get away on weekends, Suan Phueng in Ratchaburi Province can be a good alternative.
Lam Klong Ngu - Three Pagodas Pass
In this column last Thursday I made a promise. I told you, as we were going left at a small Y-junction in a Kanchanaburi forest, that we would come back to that point and try the other road, the one on the right. (For those who missed last week's column, the road fork we're talking about is near the Dong Yai checkpoint, 20 kilometres northwest of the famous Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall.)
Pa Mok - Wiset Chai Chan
Despite the fact that Ang Thong is just a hundred kilometres or so north of Bangkok, the province is often overlooked by holidaymakers. Some might say that most of Ang Thong's attractions are nothing but wats. Well, that's kind of true. But guess what...the temples here are so different from one another. And each of them, I must say, is very interesting.
Klong Suan - Bang Khla
There is more than one way you can get to our first stop, the century-old market of Klong Suan. The easiest way is to drive on the Motorway, get off at the Lat Krabang exit and drive eastward along the Lat Krabang-Theppharat Road for 15 kilometres. There are big signs along the way so you will have no problem finding the market.
Easier done than told
For a short trip out of Bangkok, Phra Pradaeng, a district in Samut Prakan by the Chao Phraya River seems ideal, but some how it has failed to attract tourists, at least not as many as it would have wanted. Even Bangkokians feel it is far. The district is the last stretch of the River of Kings before it empties into the Gulf of Thailand.
Thawee Watthana - Nakhon Chaisi
The areas we'll explore today are the west side of Bangkok and a part of Nakhon Pathom Province. Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go!
We'll start from the Phetkasem end of Phutthamonthon Sai Song Road. Our Point A, the Lord Buddha Images Museum is about five kilometres or so up this road.
Chainat and Uthai Thani in two days
Lying at the junction of Sakae Krang and Chao Phraya rivers, Uthai Thani and Chainat give visitors an insight into age-old traditions reflected in the agarian lifestyle of rural people and their religious faith, as well as Thai architecture.
Foods galore at floating market
Every weekend the Lam Phraya floating market in Nakhon Pathom is crowded with families and children. They are there not only to pay their respects to a revered 1.7-metre-high statue of Luang Pho Mongkolmalanimit, but also for an array of inexpensive food, fresh vegetables, fruits and hand-made products that are on sale.
You don't need to travel all the way north to enjoy rafting or ride elephants. You could as well do it in Sangkhla Buri, the northernmost district of Kanchanaburi on the border with Burma. And you can do it in less than a day.
River cruise back in time
A small district by the Mae Klong River, Amphawa of Samut Songkhram Province comes to a halt at the end of the day. Shops close and people confine themselves to their houses. Recently, efforts to enliven their lives has resulted in the opening of a floating evening market.
Kites set to soar in Cha-am
Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISDA) is inviting the public to the International Kite Festival scheduled March 11-12 at the Marukathayawan Palace in Cha-am, Phetchaburi, to celebrate 60 years of His Majesty the King's accession to the throne.
When dusk falls, Ayutthaya historical landmarks by the Chao Phraya and other rivers glitter in artificial light rendering visitors another fascinating side of the former Thai capital.
New biking trail opens in Chet Khot park
Let's start with some good news from Chet Khot-Pong Kon Sao Nature Study and Eco-tourism Centre in Saraburi Province. Yes, that "Chet Khot Forest Park" as most people call it.
Evening in Amphawa
Only early birds catch the real hustle and bustle of most floating markets, but late risers need not miss out on the experience, with Amphawa's floating market in Samut Songkram province starting much later in the day - towards the early evening.
Ban Na - Tha Dan
Nakhon Nayok is just an hour's drive from Bangkok. So you might probably be well familiar with most of its attractions. But did you know about the province's back roads that make visiting those attractions even more fun? Well, follow me.
Suphan Buri - Phu Toey
Whatever your interest - be it religion, history, anthropology, nature or offroad adventure - this week's route has them all. And it's not somewhere far away but in Suphan Buri Province!
Sunflowers in bloom in the central plains
At the beginning of the cool season, farmers in Saraburi and Lop Buri know that tourists will soon be coming their way. In recent years, these two provinces have become known for sunflower cultivation.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand in association with Kanchanaburi's provincial administration is showcasing the tragic events that occurred during the construction of Death Railway or the bridge over River Kwai to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of Second World War.
Picking up the pieces of days long gone at the century-old Baan Mai and Klong Suan Roi Pee riverside markets in Chachoengsao.
Lalu and whims of nature
Lalu, a canyonlike landscape, in Ta Phraya District of Sa Kaeo, is a natural wonder. Covering an area of 2,000 rai, the whole expanse is naturally carved by rain and wind into eerie shapes.
Used goods lure bargain hunters
Talat Rong Kluea is a border market which stocks a diversse range of commodities, particularly used brandname accessories, and is located in Aranyaprathet, Sa Kaeo Province. Bargain hunters from everywhere find the market a must-stop when they travel to the province.
Ratchaburi - Suan Phung
Actually, I've prepared to show you a couple of exciting routes in the upper north this week and next week so you can plan your own trips for the upcoming cool season. But heavy rains never seem to stop bombarding that part of the country so let's spare them for some time later.
Sunday at Ko Kret
Island excursions usually conjure memories of exotic resorts with palm-fringed beaches, blue skies and sparkling seas. But the island of Ko Kret in Nonthaburi Province is different. It's not exactly a far away paradise from Bangkok where you can build castles in the sand or run your imagination wild.
Suvarnabhumi - Bang Poo
Today's a big day for folks involved in the construction of the Suvarnabhumi Airport . Unless there's a sudden change of plan, a couple of VIPs-loaded aircrafts will do test landings on Suvarnabhumi's runways late this morning.
Looking forward, Sam Chuk riverside market in Suphan Buri chooses to stick to its roots.
Repackaging Nakhon Nayok
Nakhon Nayok is full of gardens and refreshingly lush landscape. Just over an hour's drive from Bangkok, the province is a popular destination among nature lovers, particularly during the rainy season when the countryside is shrouded in greenery and its streams overflowing.
Trekking in the drizzling rain
A hike through a Chanthaburi national park unveils its hidden attractions.
Test of endurance
Trekking and rafting in Umphang on the Burmese border is fit for adventure buffs who relish a challenge or two.
A treasure trove of ancient relics and rare paintings
Most tourists visiting Ayutthaya usually go there to admire the ancient ruins of this former Thai capital, but these days the province has a new attraction to offer visitors: a museum that has the largest collection of paintings and sculptures in the nation.
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Aranyaprathet - Pang Sida
Located only 230 something kilometres east of Bangkok , the province of Sa Kaeo is blessed with many attractions. Our travel route today doesn't cover all those places. But, trust me, it will take you to the better ones.
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Beaches and fairways
The twin seaside destinations of Hua Hin and Cha-am, keen to preserve their identity, try to strike a balance between rising tourist traffic and the fallout therefrom.
Great designs on 2006
Blessed with breathtaking natural scenery, rivers and waterfalls, Kanchanaburi, bordering Burma and laced heavily with World War II history, has designated 2006 "Visit Kanchanaburi Year" to resurrect its tourism industry.
Disco rafts not conducive for tourism
Over the years the tourism industry in Kanchanaburi has had its share of boom and bust, but all through it one tourist activity has prospered unchecked _ rafting the Kwai Noi River to the blare of disco music.
Mountain-biking in Saraburi
Located in Kaeng Khoi district of Saraburi province, this forest park is only 120 kilometres or so from Bangkok, very close. And it's easy to get to, too. You can either drive there via Saraburi or via Ban Na of Nakhon Nayok.
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