Just 80km from Bangkok, Ratchaburi offers more than just the world-famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market or the Rose Garden.
By Percy Roxas.
Ratchaburi is just about 80km from Bangkok. And yet few travelers know that there is more to this province than just the world-famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which has given us some of the most iconic impressions of the kingdom. Few if ever goes to Ratchaburi to enjoy its natural attractions but in fact, with mountains bordering Myanmar, natural hot springs, and caves, among others, it should be worth a daytrip from Bangkok. Ratchaburi is also rich in history, as testified by the number of historical sites dating to the Dvaravati era that still stands today.
Of course it is understandable how the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, located just east of the provincial capital, has overshadowed the other attractions of the province. For one the floating market, while unique in Thailand, has all the mystique and magic of an Oriental marketplace not common in many countries, which makes it a big attraction. It is a very photogenic place too, and the photo ops it offer just help create great memories of someone’s visit to a strange land. The very sight of the canals, full of small wooden boats– often paddled by old ladies wearing straw hats– each offering their colorful tropical fruits, vegetables, and snacks, are just engaging, to say the least.
For a few hundred baht visitors can hire their own boats and explore the canals while shopping for everything from vegetables and fruits to freshly cooked noodle and souvenirs. Visitors come in droves in a pre-dawn start that is required to visit the floating market because it generally closes by mid-morning.
The Rose Garden is an excellent place to experience Thai culture. One of the longest running Thai programs offered in the Bangkok tourist bucket list, it is a microcosm of Thailand and all aspects of Thai culture, including traditional Thai dancing, Thai food, and Muay Thai (Thai boxing), can be enjoyed here.
Ratchaburi has a variety of attractions, both natural and manmade, and there’s something to keep any one entertained during their Ratchaburi holiday.
The province is home to a number of natural caves with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites, including one of our favorites, the Tham Rusi Khao Ngu cave, which houses a large Buddha image dating to the Dvaravati era. This cave is probably the closest to the provincial capital. A bit farther away is the Tha Chomphon cave, where the stalactites are simply magnificent! This cave houses a Reclining Buddha image. Another great cave to visit is Tham Khoa Bin, on the western part of the province, where many say the most beautiful and impressive stalagmites and stalactites can be found.
If you are a history buff, you visit should include the historical site of Khu Bua, located just a few kilometers south of town along the Mae Klong River. This ancient city is a living reminder of that early period in the country’s history of galleons and trade with foreign nations. The Ratchaburi National Museum is a rich repository of artifacts culled from ancient excavations. Several temples and a pagoda – not to mention Buddha images — from the same era still stands in the area.
Being an ancient city, Ratchaburi is naturally home to a number of ancient temples. Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat in Ratchaburi town, noted for its Khmer-style prang, is believed to be around 10 centuries old. Wat Khongkharam about 20km north of Ratchaburi town is a two centuries old temple known for magnificent mural paintings depicting scenes from the Jataka, the tales about the previous lives of the Buddha.
Ratchaburi is also a top destination for rock climbing, and the Khao Ngu Rock Park, a former mining site, has been taken over by rock climbers for good reason.
If you are in Bangkok and looking for new daytrips not too far from the capital but offers a lot of opportunities for sightseeing, natural adventures, and close encounters with the real Thai culture, plan a visit soon!
Ratchaburi is located on the banks of the Mae Klong River, 80km west of Bangkok. Featuring a diverse topography, it has lowlands to the east and the Tanaosi Mountain Range to the west, which provides a natural border with Myanmar. The provincial area abounds in natural attractions and historical sites. Ratchaburi features outstanding natural beauty and a number of opportunities to learn about Thai culture.
How to get there
The State Railway of Thailand serves Ratchaburi town as well as the smaller towns of Ban Phong, Photharam, and Pak Tho. The train journey takes around two to two-and-half hours from Hualamphong Station, Bangkok. Air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal to Ratchaburi several times per hour. The trip takes around two hours, fares start at around THB 50 depending on the class of bus. You also take any taximeter in Bangkok or have your hotel book one for you if you want a more private trip.
Eat & Drink
A variety of cuisines, including Thai and international foods are available in most restaurants. Most guesthouses and resorts also have restaurants that serve both.
As is everywhere in Thailand, there are many accommodation options to choose from, including a hot springs resort. Many are located near golfing facilities.