Few tourist attractions are as ambitious as the Ancient City in Bangkok – a 200-acre park that boasts more than 100 scaled-down copies of some of the country’s most famous monuments.
Also known as Ancient Siam, or Muang Boran in Thai, this giant Thailand-shaped park is exactly as weird and wonderful as it sounds. Here are five reasons why I think every traveller should visit the Ancient City:
At Ancient Siam you can explore the length and breadth of Thailand, taking in many of its most important sights, without even having to travel outside of Bangkok.
We’re not talking about fun-sized miniature models; many of the park’s monuments are spectacularly large, intricate and authentic. Highlights include a giant reclining Buddha, the Sanphet Prasat Palace (normally of Ayutthaya in Northern Thailand), and a floating market.
2. It’s like time travel
The Ancient City is just 33km south-east of central Bangkok and yet it feels so far removed from the chaos of the central city that it feels a little bit like travelling back in time.
Exploring the park is quite an immersive experience and, I’ll tell you, it can be a blessed relief to get away from the crowds and traffic for a couple of hours.
During the 3-4 hours that it takes navigate the Ancient City you’ll see giant golden temples, statues of sea monsters (see below), people fighting on the backs of elephants, and bejewelled and ornate boats that look like something out of an Asian fairytale.
Suffice it to say, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Journeying through the Ancient City and glimpsing Thailand’s past isn’t just like travelling through time; it’s like visiting another world.
4. You can get on your bike and ride
I’ve toured Ancient Siam twice – once in a car with the air-conditioning turned right up and once on a bicycle. I think the latter was more fun.
This being Thailand, it’s always incredibly hot, so be warned. However, there is plenty of shade around and the Ancient City is all flat, except for a few monuments that you have to climb.
The Ancient City’s more-than 100 historical monuments haven’t merely been erected higgledy-piggledy; on the contrary, they were constructed with the assistance of experts from Thailand’s National Museum to ensure historical accuracy.
They’ve even re-constructed some ancient monuments for the park that are no longer standing. That’s why they call the Ancient City of Bangkok the world’s largest outdoor museum.
At 500 baht for a foreigner ($16 US or £10.40), I call the Ancient City one of the best things to do in Bangkok. You should check it out and the nearby Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo, where you can watch people wrestle crocodiles and you can even feed the toothy reptiles.
See, there’s more to do in Bangkok than hang around the Khaosan Road and drink Chang beer! Also check out the best places to visit in Thailand.