The scenic provincial town of Ratchaburi is located approx 80 km west of Bangkok and great for those on the Thailand tour packages interested in the rich cultural and natural attractions. One of the most interesting sights is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. This market is lively from first thing in the morning with a variety of wooden boats selling ready-to-eat snacks, fruits and vegetables. Even though this region has become quite touristy (compared to Tha Kha and Amphawa) it is still well worth a visit for those travelling to Thailand for the first-time.
Beyond exploring the Mae Klong River for the market, this region has plenty of other must-see attractions in the local area for sightseeing and exploration, such as the natural hot springs, waterfalls, mountain ranges and bat caves. For a relaxing place to stay for one or two days, the sleepy border town of Suan Pheung is certain to appeal with its charming mountainscape.
The climate in Ratchaburi is tropical with an average temperature in the region of 28.4° C. In the winter, there is a lot less rainfall than is experienced through the summer. The preferred time to visit this part of Thailand on the Indochina tour packages is December to May when the temperature is cool and pleasant which makes it more comfortable for the sightseeing trips.
How to get there
There are plenty of transport options to reach Ratchaburi. This city is on the major north-south line with trains stopping at regular intervals. The town has the main Ratchaburi train station as well as a very small station further along the river. But, both of these stations are within a relatively short distance from town. A train journey from Bangkok to Ratchaburi costs in the region of $1-$2 – although the rate can change with the train and class of seat – and travel time is about 2.5 hours.
A regular bus route runs to Ratchaburi from Bangkok, which arrives at the station located to the southwest of town. The bus departs from the Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal every 20 minutes and costs about $2.50
Alternative options include hiring a car and travelling along Highway No. 35 and turning right at Highway No.4.
Where to stay
Ratchaburi doesn’t have the best options when it comes to places to stay for the night. Many of the guest houses and hotels are slightly dilapidated and old, so there shouldn’t be an expectation of the high-end or luxury accommodation.
The Numsin Hotel is an acceptable old-style hotel that costs $10-$15 per night and is located in the centre of town close to the ticket office for Bangkok buses. Most of the rooms are quite spacious with air-con in place, although the attached bathrooms aren’t in the best condition. Plus, this hotel helps to organize Thailand private tours to the bat cave and other local attractions.
One of the cheapest hotels in the local area is Hong Fa with its relatively small rooms and limited furniture. The bathrooms have squat toilets and mostly cold water. It is practical for the backpacker and costs about $10 per night. But, it is well placed for a few of the better Thai restaurants near the river.
Eat and drink
The preferred places to visit for something to eat or drink are along Khatha Ton Road or around the night market (close to the river).
A great place for breakfast is the Sap Siri that serves up a great selection of Thai breakfasts and curries, while the eateries on Kon Thong and Ammarin roads are perfect for the traveller interested in a post-breakfast munch such as deep-fried spring rolls. Elsewhere in Kraipetch there a plenty of hole-in-the wall rice and noodle places that are great for breakfast or lunch.
The D-Kunst Gallery and Cafe is well located opposite the National Museum and a great choice for a relaxing cup of coffee while taking a break from exploring the city.
The night market is a great place to visit on the Thailand tour holiday packages for the more authentic dinner (although it is also open at lunchtime) and located close to the river. It serves a varied range of Thai market fare such as baked salted fish, as well as coffee or other refreshments.
Eating at Mai Thai gives the tourist the fancier restaurant environment with a top-quality selection of Chinese, Thai and other traditional Asian dishes. The prices at this restaurant are still quite reasonable. It is open at lunch and dinner time, while also providing a very fast and reliable Wi-Fi connection.
Plus, for the most unique experience there are a few floating restaurants in town which are great to visit in the late afternoon or evening.
Similar to most of the provincial capitals in Thailand, this city has a great central market that gives both locals and tourists a great place to shop for necessary supplies like clothing, household goods and groceries. Plus, there are the village workshops and small stores throughout the town that make a great choice to buy locally produced handicrafts for gifts or souvenirs for friends or family.
Things to see and do
Ratchaburi is a very popular place to visit for those on the Thailand travel packages. It is easily reached from the capital city, Bangkok, and the local Ratchaburi area covers nearly 5000 sq km, so great for the day or multi-day trip.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is a great site for the first-time tourist and really makes it possible to find out how the traditional markets operate. The preferred time to visit is first thing in the morning (ideally before 7 am) because after this time it can get quite busy, and also it closes by 12 pm.
Plus, it is easy to see the floating market from the banks and witness the boats filled with goods for sale, including flowers, toys, clothes, curries, fruit and noodles. Many of the market boats are ready to serve food such as a bowl of noodles.
A visit to the Rattanakosin Pottery is certain to appeal to the tourist that has an interest in pottery. This pottery is filled with endless items of handmade pottery. With the wood-fired kilns located on the pottery grounds it is possible to watch as many of the fine items are being made. This pottery makes a wide range of crockery, ceramic and terracotta, as well as the more famous, beautiful and ornate Thai Benjarong pottery. Plus, there is the pottery shop that makes it possible to buy a gorgeous piece of pottery for a relatively inexpensive price.
Tham Khao Bin Cave
The Tham Khao Bin Cave is one of the most stunning in the local area and appreciated for its spectacular collection of stalagmites and stalactites. The cave system has an area to explore of nearly 300 m and is appreciated by the locals because the cave has a mineral spring. The rock formations are easily seen because of the amount of light in the cave. Plus, there is a great garden area close to the cave entrance which is well worth checking out. It is easily reached on a bicycle, motorbike, or car and within about 20 km of the centre of the city. Many of the stalagmites and stalactites are in quartz and lime to give a beautiful display. This cave system that stretches 300 m long, has been described as one of the most striking in Ratcharburi, so is well worth including on the Thailand family tour itinerary.
A visit to the Amphoe Suan Phung has a hot stream that flows year-round and has the ability to reach a temperature range of 50° to 68° C. The source of these stream flows from the Mountain Range at Tanaosi.
Chaloem Phra Chon Phansa Park
The Chaloem Phra Chon Phansa Park is nestled in the foothills of Chomphon Mountain and spans a total area of 39 acres. It is a perfect place to explore for the tourists wishing to fully relax after a period of sightseeing.
Wat Muang Folk Art Museum
For the visitors wishing to learn more about the local area, a day trip to the Wat Muang Folk Art Museum is certain to appeal. It is quite new and only opened in 1992 and in addition to the artefacts on display; there is also the Wat Muang temple that is a short distance away on the museum grounds.
The museum is also used by the Silpakorn University students to help with their studies in relation to folk art, anthropology and archaeology.
Ratchaburi National Museum
Based in Ratchahuri, the national museum is perfect for the travellers wishing to learn about the ancient people of this region with plenty of artefacts on display. Most of the ancient items, including the skeletons include relevant information.
The Kosinarai Pond sits on an area that has been revealed to date back to ancient times. Archaeological excavations have dug up a variety of items that are now housed in the National Museum, including a pair of Phra BodhiSatva's feet and arms.