Thailand remains a popular holiday destination thanks to its proximity to Singapore and its varied offerings, ranging from beach resorts to bustling cities and mountain towns. Starting from Bangkok, you can explore its quaint neighbourhoods, or head further afield to neighbouring Nakhon Pathom or Sukhothai to explore a different side of Thailand.
Bangkok is everything that Sukhothai isn’t: loud, bustling and never-resting. Tourists come in large hoards to visit the city, but few truly understand what it means to live there. Walking the streets and being immersed into Bangkok’s frenetic urban scene allows you experience the true ‘Bangkok’.
Hivesters Walking Tours runs walking tours throughout 8 neighbourhoods in central Bangkok, the most interesting being the Talad Noi, Bang Lamphu and Nang Loeng neighbourhoods.
The Talad Noi Neighbourhood
The Talad Noi walking tour is run by a local community member who will guide you through all the secrets it has to offer. The tour includes street art, local Chinese delicacies, a peek into local homes, and more.
Bang Lamphu Neighbourhood
Know as one of Bangkok’s most artsy neighbourhoods, the tour through Bang Lamphu will have you doing everything from dressing in traditional Thai costumes to learning how to play traditional Thai musical instruments. In addition, the tour includes a sampling of local Thai specialties and desserts, and drops in on community monuments such as the Phra Sumen Fort and Bowonniwet temple.
Nang Loeng Neighbourhood
The Nang Loeng neighbourhood is known for its market in which numerous Thai delicacies can be found. The tour takes you through the market where you can taste a handful of these dishes. Beyond that, the tour also teaches you to make your own papaya salad from scratch, under the tutelage of a local expert.
Nang Loeng is also home to the traditional Thai performance “Lam Sud Chatree”, and you can learn the art from the last-surviving teacher in Thailand.
Thailand’s always been known for it’s mix of destinations, from bustling cities like Bangkok to quieter destinations like Chiang Mai. Over the last few years these once-hushed regions have started seeing a steady increase in arrivals, as repeat visitors began drifting away from mainstream destinations in search of Thailand’s hidden gems. Sukhothai is one of those places, with its peaceful, historic setting.
Sukhothai is located in the north of Thailand, 370kms from Bangkok. Established as the first capital of Thailand in the 13th century, the region is rich with traditional architecture and a smattering of recently built high-end hotels. Within the Sukhothai province, there are two main historical parks to visit – the Sukhothai Historical Park and Sri Satchanalai Historical Park.
Sukhothai also has a number of organic farms as well as cultural activities and museums, and travellers can explore a wider area via a number of local operators that run Sukhothai bicycle tours.
Sukhothai Historical Park
The Sukhothai Historical Park is 70 sq.km. in size and is divided into 5 different sections. While 2 – 3 days is sufficient to cover the whole of Sukhothai and its surroundings, the central section holds the majority of the temples in the park and would be the section for any traveller who has limited time.
The main temple is Wat Mahathat, boasting a sunset shot location which rivals that of Angkor Wat’s. For those wanting to explore the area further, the other 4 sections of the park also have some gems amongst them. The north section of the park is home to Wat Si Chum, Sukhothai’s largest sitting Buddha at a height of 15m and a width of 11m. In the east section, you can find Wat Chang Lom, which translates into “Temple Surrounded by Elephants”. As the name suggests, the temple has 32 stone-carved statues of elephants around its base.
The west and south sections of the park have a number of temples, although nothing as comparable as those found in the central section. Due to the large area the park covers, bicycles are available to rent although you can also take a private vehicle or tram.
Sri Satchanalai Historical Park
Sri Satchanalai is the remains of an ancient town dating from the Sukhothai Kingdom, though before being part of the kingdom, it was originally an outpost for the Khmer Empire. The Khmer influence led to a number of Khmer temples being mixed in with temples of the Sukhothai period.
The park itself is fairly quiet and is frequented by locals far more than tourists, with many people either riding their bicycles or jogging around the park. Sri Satchanalai, like Sukhothai Historical Park, offers bicycle rental so that visitors can explore the entire park with ease.
As Bangkok Airways own Sukhothai Airport they are the only airline to fly to the destination. From Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, there are 3 direct flights per day (Duration: 1h15m).
Located just an hour’s drive from Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom province is home to the ancient Phra Pathom Chedi, the first religious landmark that signified the influx of Buddhism into Thailand. Most of the province consists of plains with no mountainous land, with fertile lands that make this region an important agricultural area. The most famous produce here is the pomelo; Nakhon Pathom is sometimes dubbed the ‘sweet pomelo town’.
This province is known for its vast number of fruit orchards that provide fresh produce to a majority of the hotels and markets of Bangkok. In recent years, the region’s also established itself as a thriving organic food producer. The Sampran Riverside is a key factor in the continual growth of this market – it links together organic farmers and hotels in order to provide fair-trade and sustainable tourism not only for Nakhon Pathom but with the goal of spreading their model to the whole of Thailand.
Sampran Riverside is an eco-cultural destination, complete with several accommodation options, where you can learn about organic farming at all stages of the process. Within its 70 acres, 15 are designated purely to farming organic fruits and vegetables for their hotels.