Ratchaburi Province

Ratchaburi, a glorious town during the Dvaravati period, is located on the bank of the Mae Klong River. The provincial area abounds in natural attractions and historical sites. It is located 80 kilometres west of Bangkok and borders on Myanmar to the west having the Tanaosi Range as a borderline.a

Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat
This ancient temple, locally called Wat Na Phra That, is located on the west bank of the Mae Klong River in the town. Its elegant prang or pagoda remains in good condition and was probably copied from Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. The prang made of bricks and stones stands on a rectangular base with pathways around the cloisters. The outer stucco designs were made in the reign of King Borommakot of Ayutthaya. Buddha images of Dvaravati, Lop Buri and Ayutthaya periods are placed around the pagoda.

2 kilometres west of Wat Na Phra That on the route to Khao Ngu is Wat Aranyik with a prang identical to that of Wat Na Phra That but smaller in size.

Ratchaburi National Museum
This is located on Woradet Road near the river. The edifice was formerly the town hall, built in 1922. Established as a museum in 1988, it displays art and ancient items of different periods found in the local area, and exhibits the history of Ratchaburi, as well as its folk art and geology. The museum is open daily from 9.00 a.m.- 4.00 p.m. exept Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission fee is 30 baht.

Wat Khongkharam
This 100 year old ethnic Mon temple is at Tambon Khlong Ta Khot, Amphoe Photharam, some 22 kilometres from Ratchaburi. The fine mural paintings about Lord Buddha’s life in the main shrine hall are full of detail making them seem real. Completed in the early Bangkok period, they are very rare and worth studying. The temple also houses a Thai style building entirely made of teak with intricate carving designs.

Wat Khanon
More than 300 Nang Yai puppets are well preserved at this temple, some 10 kilometres from Amphoe Photharam. Nang Yai is an old form of entertainment which gathers many kinds of arts; for example, Thai sculpture and classical performances. The intricate carved puppets are portrayed on the screen by skilled male performers, and it can dance according to the music. The performance is usually demonstrated on Saturday from 10.00-11.00 a.m.

Khao Chong Phran
This hill is located in Tambon Tao Pun, Amphoe Photharam, 17 kilometres north of Ratchaburi along the Khao Ngu-Boek Phrai route (Route No. 3089). The roadside hill has 2 interesting caves; Tham Phra Non housing more than 100 Buddha images and Tham Khangkhao or Bat Cave, which is home to some three million bats. As the sun sets over the horizon, they all disperse on their search for food and the mountain looks like a volcano disgorging thick black smoke.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
In the past, daily commerce in Thailand was conducted mostly along rivers and canals (or khlongs in Thai). Bangkok’s water network was busy and served as the principal means of communication causing Bangkok to be called as the “Venice of the East” by early European visitors.

Today Bangkok’s floating markets may not be quite so vibrant. The best known floating market is at Damnoen Saduak, some 109 kilometres southwest of Bangkok or approximately two hours drive. It is a ‘must-see’ destination and probably visited by nine out of every ten tourists who visit Thailand. Every morning, hundreds of boats crowd the market area. Most of them are paddled by women with picturesque straw hats. Visitors can find everything from vegetables and fruits to freshly-cooked noodle and souvenirs at this lively market.

The best way of appreciating the floating market is to join it, to take a boat ride through the vendors to savour the smells and sounds as well as the sights. A little effort spent in getting away from the popular haunt and exploring along back canals is rewarded by other scenes of a traditional way of life that has scarcely changed over the years. A boat can be hired at 300 baht per hour (the fare should be settled before beginning the trip).

To visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market can be combined with a tour of the great chedi in Nakhon Pathom, the Rose Garden’s Thai Village or the Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo, which are on return to Bangkok. The trip can be arranged through a travel agency or a tour service counter in most of the hotels in Bangkok.

How to Get There
Drive from Bangkok along Highway No. 4 (Phetkasem Road), then turn left at Km. 80 and continue for another 25 kilometres along the Bang Phae-Damnoen Saduak Road.

Public buses depart from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal to Damnoen Saduak every 40 minutes from 05.50 hrs. onwards. The fare is 80 baht for air-conditioned bus (Tel. 0 2435 5031). Get off at the last stop and then take a local bus to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. The most suitable time to visit the market is from 08.00 – 12.30 hrs.

Tham Ruesi Khao Ngu
This famous attraction of Ratchaburi is 8 kilometres from the town along the road to Amphoe Chom Bueng (Route No. 3078). The cave houses a bas-relief Buddha image, considered the oldest archaeological evidence of the Dvaravati period found in Ratchaburi. The figure is 2.5 metres high in the attitude of giving the first sermon.

Tham Khao Bin
This is the most beautiful cave in Ratchaburi. It is located 20 kilometres from the town along the route to Amphoe Chom Bueng and 2 kilometres along an access road. The cave extends 300 metres from the mouth and offers truly amazing scenes of plentiful stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Tham Chomphon
This cave is 30 kilometres west of the town in the vicinity of Amphoe Chom Bueng. It was originally called Tham Mutchalin. In 1895, King Rama IV and Queen Si Phatcharin made a royal visit and were fond of its beauty, thus giving it a new name according to the shape of the stalactites which look like the epaulette of a field marshal. The cave also houses a medium-sized reclining Buddha. A nearby arboretum provides shady areas suitable for relaxation.

Pong Yup
5 kilometres before arriving at Amphoe Suan Phueng, there is a 5-km. branch road on the left leading to Pong Yup at Tambon Tha Khoei. This attracts visitors with plenty of strange looking earthen pillars and cliffs naturally created by soil erosion.

Phawothai Local Museum
This is located 2 kilometres from Suan Phueng district. Two Thai style houses in a pleasant garden displays a collection of ancient artifacts. The museum is open only on Saturdays , Sundays and Public Holidays. Admission is 20 baht.  Accommodataion is also available for any visitors to stay overnight . Call 0 3221 1189  for more information.

Bo Khlueng Hot Spring
Located 5 kilometres beyond Amphoe Suan Phueng and another 10 kilometres along an access road, the stream is full of mineral water and is believed that it can be used for skin treatment. The water flows all year round from the Tanaosi Range. Its temperature ranges between 50-68 degrees Celsius.

On the route to the hot stream, a 3 km. branch road leads to Namtok (waterfall) Kao Chon, which consists of 9 cascades. The falls are plentiful during the late rainy season.

Wat Muang
This is a Mon temple situated in Tambon Ban Muang, west of Amphoe Ban Pong along Route No. 3089 and a left turn after crossing the Mae Klong River. Besides a Mon style pagoda, a well-managed folk museum has been established as a research centre of history, way of life, and culture of this Mon community.

Car
a) From Bangkok, take Highway No. 4 (Phahonyothin Road) to Ratchaburi via Bang Khae, Om Noi, Om Yai, Nakhon Chai Si, Nakhon Pathom.

b) From Bangkok, take Highway No. 338 to Nakhon Chai Si via Buddhamonthon and turn into Highway No. 4, then proceed to Ratchaburi.

Bus
Both air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal daily. It takes 2 hour for the trip. Contact Transport Co. Ltd. Tel: 0 2435 1199-200

Train
Regular trains depart from both Hua Lamphong Railway Station and Bangkok Noi Railway Station daily. Travelling time is 2 hours. Call 1690 for more information.