Discover rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and authentic local experiences beyond Bangkok in this Central Thailand guide!

It’s no secret that Bangkok is a popular travel destination for shopping, eating and cafe-hopping. But did you know that beyond the bustling capital city, there are plenty of other interesting and unique places in Central Thailand to discover too? We’re talking alpaca farms, immersive museums and seven-tiered natural waterfalls!

Map of Central Thailand_Central Guide to Thailand

Here’s our suggested route to cover the best of what Central Thailand has to offer, starting with Bangkok as a base: Bangkok — Ratchaburi — Kanchanaburi — Nakhon Pathom.

Of course, if you’re short on time, you can also opt to do day trips instead! All these areas are under a 3.5-hour drive away from Bangkok.

So then… what can you do there?

Ratchaburi: Where History and Nature Intertwine

Travel time from Bangkok: ~1.5hrs via car

Khao Ngu Stone Park in Ratchaburi - Central Thailand Guide

Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Ratchaburi’s landscape is giving major Southern Air Temple from Aang, the Legend of The Last Airbender vibes. Surrounded by pristine waters, this serene corner of Central Thailand is home to archaeological wonders, lush national parks, and sunflower fields.

1) Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan National Park

Pong Krating Hot Spring_Central Guide to Thailand

Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Many tourists and locals visit Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan National Park to take a breather from city life! It has plenty of wildlife, outdoor trails for hiking and biking, and camping sites.

If you prefer something more laid-back, soak in the natural hot springs at Pong Kathing Hot Springs (located within the National Park). There’s an entrance fee of ฿100 but it has various amenities such as a public foot bath (free), communal bath (฿20), as well as a private bath (฿50 for 40mins).

There are even many well-maintained toilets for you to wash up in, so that’s one less thing to worry about when you’re out in the park!

Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: 24hrs
Address: Ban Bueng, Ban Kha District, Ratchaburi 70180, Thailand (Google Maps)

2) Khao Cha-ngum Royal Study Centre

Khao Cha Ngum_Central Guide to Thailand

Photo credit: Ministry Of Tourism & Sports Thailand

Previously a barren ranch and field crop farm, Khao Cha-ngum Royal Study Centre has now transformed into an educational centre for the public to learn about soil conservation. Farmers can also pick up new knowledge and skills for their crops here. No wonder it earned the Thailand Gold Award in the Department of Tourist Attractions for Learning (Learning & Doing) category!

The area is also famous for its Instagrammable flower fields (especially the sunflower field) 🌻 You can take free tram tours within the park, look out for animal farms and even try horseriding.

Besides these activities, there are community booths selling fresh coffee, local products, herbs and more. Prices range from ฿5 (~S$0.20) per grilled pork on a stick to ฿100 (~S$3.70) for 1kg of longans.

Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: 8AM – 6PM
Address: PM6W+R2, Tambon Kao Cha Ngum, Amphoe Photharam, Chang Wat Ratchaburi 70120, Thailand (Google Maps)

3) Oh Poi Market

Oh Poi Market in Ratchaburi - Central Thailand Guide

Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Oh Poi Market features the local Thai food of the Karen Tribe, an ethnic group living mainly in the mountainous regions of northern Thailand. This includes sticky rice with grilled pork and Kanom Jeen Nam Ya (rice noodles with fish curry).


Aside from food, you can check out the craft and souvenir shops selling things like hand-woven clips, alpaca dolls, and many more. The market is also environmentally friendly — waste is managed by the locals themselves and the packaging is plastic-free. From bamboo-wrapped food items to Thai sauces in glass bottles, the commitment to sustainability here adds to another dimension of Thailand’s culture we can experience and take home.

While there, also participate in the tradition of giving alms to monks on a raft. The alm-giving sets can be purchased at the market and the monks arrive at around 7:45AM along the Phachi stream daily.

Opening hours: 7AM – 2PM (Sat – Sun)
Address: 222 Ta Nao Si, Suan Phueng District, Ratchaburi 70180, Thailand (Google Map)

4) Alpaca Hill

Alpacas frolicking in Alpaca Hill_Central Guide to Thailand

Photo credit: @AlpacaHillThailand via Facebook

Snap pictures, feed, and interact with these furry gentle giants at the first and only alpaca breeding farm in Thailand. With over 250 rai of land (0.4 km2), there’s plenty of space for the animals to roam.

It even has an open zoo that houses 25 animal stations: the snowy owl, hamster, guinea pig, cavy hairless, peacock, bambi, ostrich, cockatoo, prairie dog, marmoset, rabbit, sugar glider stations, and many more.

As for the cherry on top — the onsite cafe serves melon-flavoured soft serve and carbonara with onsen egg toppings for visitors to enjoy after a long day of Alpaca petting!

*Pro-tip: Make your reservation on Alpaca Hill’s website before visiting as there is limited access of 200 visitors daily due to its popularity.

Entrance fee: ฿290/pax
Opening hours: 9:30AM – 5PM (Mon – Thur), 9AM – 6PM (Fri – Sun)
Address: 357 Moo8, Phapok-Tako Land Rd, Suanphung Ratchaburi 70180, Thailand (Google Maps)

Kanchanaburi: Echoes of War and Natural Splendor

Travel time from Ratchaburi: ~1.5hrs via car

Wat Tham Sua in Kanchanaburi - Central Thailand Guide

Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand

In Kanchanaburi, World War II relics and natural waterfalls (of up to seven tiers) take centre stage!

5) Death Railway Museum

Kanchanaburi Death Railway Museum and Research Centre Entrance - Day trip from Bangkok

The Death Railway Museum is an iconic landmark in Kanchanaburi. It honours Prisoners of War (POW) who lost their lives while being forced to build the Thailand-Burma Railway during World War II. Learning the city’s harrowing past here adds significance to your trip in Central Thailand as you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the country’s history.

Entrance fee: ฿160/pax
Opening hours: 9AM – 4PM
Address: 9X43+526, Unnamed Road, Tha Sao, Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi 71150, Thailand (Google Maps)

6) Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre

Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre - Central Thailand Guide

Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Similar to the Death Railway Museum, the Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre holds exhibits and artifacts like photographs and testimonies to give a deeper insight into the tragic events that happened during the construction of the Death Railway.

As part of the experience, you can actually walk along the memorial trail and through the Hellfire Pass — a part of the Death Railway itself where POWs cut through a mountain to build the tracks! While it’s no longer in use, it’s still an immersive encounter of what happened in the past.

Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: 9AM – 4PM
Address: 207 Tha Sao, Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi 71150, Thailand (Google Maps)

7) Erawan National Park and Khuean Srinagarindra National Park

Erawan National Park and Khuean Srinagarindra National Park Central Guide to Thailand

Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand

The Erawan National Park is a national treasure of Thailand’s tourism industry, having received the Thailand Silver Award in the Natural Tourist Attraction category. Home to an impressive seven-tiered waterfall spread over a 2km hiking trail, the turquoise-coloured water makes for a beautiful natural swimming pool and stunning backdrop for your next Instagram update.

*Pro-tip: You can rent bicycles at the visitor centre area for ฿20/day to access the first two lower tiers.

Huai Mae Kha Min Waterfall in Khuean Srinagarindra National Park - Central Thailand Guide

Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand

If you want to escape the crowds in Erawan National Park, visit the lesser-known Khuean Srinagarindra National Park instead — it’s just a 1-hour drive away!

Hike through dense evergreen forests to discover cascading waterfalls and tranquil streams, and keep your eyes peeled for resident wildlife like gibbons, eagles, and monitor lizards.

Located within the park is also one of Thailand’s best-kept secrets, the Huay Mae Khamin waterfall! It’s especially mesmerising during Autumn when the leaves surrounding the waterfall change colour to yellow or crimson red 🍁

Central Guide to Thailand Sai Yok Yai Waterfall

Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Alternatively, you can also head to Sai Yok Noi Waterfall, which is located in Kanchanaburi’s lush Sai Yok National Park. It takes 1.5 hours via car from Erawan National Park but you’ll be greeted with beautiful cascades tumbling down limestone cliffs. Each level offers incredible views complete with misty sprays and sparkling pools. Just be sure to navigate carefully around as the rocks can get slippery.

Erawan National Park
Entrance fee:
Opening hours: 8AM – 4:30PM
Address: 94GV+5HW, Tha Kradan, Si Sawat District, Kanchanaburi 71250, Thailand (Google Maps)

Khuean Srinagarindra National Park
Entrance fee:
Opening hours: 8AM – 4:30PM
Address: JXRP+253, Mae Kra Bung, Si Sawat District, Kanchanaburi 71250, Thailand (Google Maps)

Sai Yok Noi Waterfall
Entrance fee: ฿300/pax
Opening hours: 8:30AM – 4:30PM
Address: 63Q5+F8M, Tha Sao, Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi 71150, Thailand (Google Maps)

Nakhon Pathom: Where Tradition Meets Modernity

Travel time from Kanchanaburi: 1hr via car

Nakhon Pathom: Where Tradition Meets Modernity - Things to do in Nakhon Pathom

Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Nakhon Pathom is a city where ancient Buddhist heritage buildings exist alongside contemporary buildings. From soaring temple spires to trendy cafes, this underrated city offers a taste of authentic Thai culture in the middle of Thailand’s developing cityscape.

8) Wat Samphran

Wat Sam Phran in Nakhon Pathom - Central Thailand Guide

Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Wat Samphran is unlike the usual temples you see in Thailand. For one, a huge dragon is wrapped around the massive 17-storey, pink Buddhist temple. And after climbing the stairs to the top, you’re treated to sweeping views of its ornate architecture and peaceful grounds.

Throughout the complex, also look out for other attractions like a giant turtle statue and a life-sized elephant statue!

Entrance fee: ฿402/pax
Opening hours: 7AM – 6PM
Address: 92 8, Sam Phran, Sam Phran District, Nakhon Pathom 73110, Thailand (Google Maps)

9) Sireepark

Sireepark_Central Guide to Thailand

Photo credit: Sireepark

Sireepark is a Nature Learning Park in Mahidol University, with a 55-acre medicinal plant garden that’s home to more than 800 medicinal plant species.

Learn how Thailand’s medicinal students, lecturers and researchers integrate traditional Thai medicinal knowledge with modern medicines and other remedies from this Thailand Gold Award attraction in the Thailand Tourism Awards!

Entrance fee: ฿100/pax
Opening hours: 6AM – 6PM (Wed – Sun)
Address: 999 Phutthamonthon Sai 4 Rd, Salaya, Phutthamonthon District, Nakhon Pathom 73170, Thailand (Google Maps)

10) Red Lotus Floating Market

Red Lotus Floating Market - Things to do in Nakhon Pathom

Photo credit: Klook

The Red Lotus Floating Market lives up to its name — there are PLENTY of lotuses here. Book a tour and dress up in a traditional Thai costume to snap beautiful photos on the Lotus Lake.

At the “market”, be sure to try authentic Thai dishes like khao soi (Thai coconut curry noodle soup) and khao niaow ma muang (mango sticky rice). You can find vendors selling fresh produce, local snacks, and handicrafts from their rickety wooden boats!

Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: 8AM – 5PM
Address: 10/2 Kan Prapa Nakhon Luang Rd, Bang Len, Bang Len District, Nakhon Pathom 73130, Thailand (Google Maps)

11) O2 Kaffee & Bistro

O2 Kaffee & Bistro_Central Guide to Thailand

Photo credit: @O2Kaffe&Bistro via Facebook

At O2 Kaffee & Bistro, you can dine among giant lily pads in the middle of a moat or try riding its ‘coconut’ boats!

As for food, enjoy coconut speciality items such as Young Coconut Cocoa or Coconut Milk Tea alongside classic Thai dishes like Butterfly pea fried rice with pork steak and dipping sauce. Prices are also reasonable, starting at only ฿50–180 — a guilt-free indulgence.

Opening hours: 10AM – 7PM (Weekdays), 9AM – 7PM (Weekends), closed on Tue
Address: บ้านไร่16 Rai Khing, Sam Phran District, Nakhon Pathom 73210, Thailand (Google Maps)

Pre-trip Essentials

Driving from Pai to Mae Hong Son - Thailand Road Trip from Chiang Mai

Before you start exploring Central Thailand, here are some pre-trip essentials to consider:

Strong Connectivity: Get the 10-day 50GB eSIM (~S$9.30) and activate it once you’ve landed in Thailand.

Travel Insurance: In case of accidents or inconveniences on the trip, protect yourself with comprehensive Travel Insurance!

Car Rental: Driving is the easiest and fastest way to get around Central Thailand. Book a car rental for convenience, there are several pick-up locations around Bangkok so select the one closest to your accommodation or from the airport. It’s also pretty affordable — a four-seater Toyota Yaris starts from ~S$22/day. Just be sure to bring your passport (digital copies aren’t allowed) and International Driving Permit!

Exploring Central Thailand Beyond Bangkok

Kanchanaburi Train at Tham Krasae Railway Bridge Death Railway Thailand - Bangkok Itinerary

Rather than the usual routine of shopping and eating in Bangkok, venture out to other provinces in Central Thailand for a more unique and authentic experience!

Just an hour west lies Ratchaburi, home to the scenic Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan National Park. Farther along is Kanchanaburi, where you can immerse yourself in the town’s history at the Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre. On the way back to Bangkok, drop by Nakhon Pathom and explore the interesting temples and cafes there!

We hope this Central Thailand guide will encourage you to discover new places and for more inspiration, check out our other articles:
8D Thailand Itinerary — Road Trip from Bangkok to Hua Hin Under S$900
The Ultimate Thailand Road Trip Guide — Bangkok, Hua Hin, Kanchanaburi
8D7N Northern Thailand Itinerary Starting in Chiang Mai — Sky Adventures, Mountain Road Trips, and Trendy Cafes
Thailand Road Trip Guide: 5 Epic Ideas Under 3hrs from Bangkok
Day Trips from Chiang Mai — 19 Best Things to Do in Northern Thailand

Which day trip in our Central Thailand guide are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below! 😊

This post was brought to you by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

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