The Path Less Traveled In Thailand: Unveiling Ratchaburi

Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai have always been the top choices for travelers visiting Thailand. However, I will be introducing an off-the-beaten province, Ratchaburi.

Ratchaburi is located 80 kilometres west of Bangkok, and overlooks its neighbour, Myanmar (Burma). When visiting this area it is going back to nature with stunning mountain ranges, magnificent caves, hot springs, waterfalls and the best floating markets in the country. It has long been a perfect weekend getaway spot for locals living in the capital.

If you are traveling to Thailand and craving for some authentic interactions and a path less traveled, then visiting Ratchaburi is one of the great things to do in Thailand. Here are some unique places to visit when you are in Ratchaburi.

  1. What to see in Ratchaburi

1.1 Visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Floating market Thailand
Colourful floating markets are definitely one of the images that pop into travelers’ mind and one of the great things to do in Thailand while you are there. Daily commerces were and are still being conducted through the water network, which explains the excessive businesses sprouting along rivers and canals. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is unique and famous for its historical existence of more than 100 years. It is one of the most stunning floating markets in Thailand. The products sold here vary from fruits and vegetables to clothes and crafted art works. For early risers, this is a great place to start your day. The market is open from 6am until noon. If you want to avoid the crowd, it’s best to arrive there as early as 7am and enjoy a traditional Thai breakfast by the water. Starting from 9am, heavy boat traffic is very likely to spoil your holiday mood! Alternatively, you could hire a cheap row boat and ride along the Khlongs decorated with stilted houses.

Tip 1: Most souvenirs sold here are overpriced. Yet, if a vibrant floating market experience is all you after, Damnoen Saduak is the place to go.

1.2 Make a pilgrimage to Wat Maha That Worawihan at Phetchaburi

Wat Maha temple
Photo credit: Kaysha

Pehtchaburi is one of the neighbouring provinces of Ratchaburi. Upon arrival you will be greeted by a white temple surrounded by five tall white-pinnacle stupas. The temple was built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII of Cambodia in the 18th Buddhist century. Wat Mahathat Worawihan is decorated with magnificent murals and Buddhist relics on the inside. You will hardly miss the main attraction, which is “Phra Mongkol Buri”, a gigantic Buddha statue that’s a palm span wide. Interestingly, the body and the head are made in different art styles, explaining its bizarrely proportional torso and knees. While this statute is facing the east, there is also another statute, which the Buddha is facing the west. People believe that this means the Buddha is protecting the city in all directions. The complexity and inquisition of the whole architecture are an awe for every traveler. You may also find some inner peace or inspiration while strolling around the temple.

Buddha Wat Mahathat Worawihan
Photo credit: Kaysha

To get to Phetchaburi, you can take the train from Ratchaburi train station. The journey takes roughly an hour.

1.3 Bathe in Bo Khlueng Hot Stream

Fancy for a warm dip?! Head towards the direction of Suan Phueng until you almost reach the Burmese border. From there you will see a sign leading you to Bo Khlueng Hot Stream (roughly 10km distance). The water flowing through the earth’s crust and small rocks at the Ta Nao Sri Mountain is said to be rich in minerals that serve as great remedies for skin problems. Bo Khlueng Hot Stream has a year round temperature between 50-68 degrees Celsius that would surely help you relax and revitalise strength from your previous long travel. For me it was one of the most relaxing things to do in Thailand.

The opening hours are from 8am to 5pm. The entrance fee varies depends on your preferred activity:

– 5 Baht Free to soak your feet and legs.
– 30 Baht Entry to natural rock pool
– 50 Baht Entry to ceramic pool

On your way to the hot stream, you will pass by the Khao Chon Waterfall, which consists of 9 levels of cascades. For natural lovers, a two-hour hike will reward you with a fantastic view from the top of the ninth level!

1.4 Do a Cave Trekking

  • Snake Mountain: Tham Ruesi Khao Ngu Cave

Khao Ngu Cave is renowned for collections of Buddha sculptures that are more than 700 years old. It is also regarded as the oldest archaeological site in the whole Ratchaburi province. The main figure is 2.5 meter high. Along with your trekking, you would be accompanied by the monkeys as they have been long resided in the area. A grand panoramic view of the whole city can be captured after an enduring 466-steps hike up to a pavilion. No pain no gain, right! From atop, you can see the hills decorated by farmhouses and temples. If you would like to participate in the annual festival held at the temple, late September or October would be the best time to visit.

  • Bat Cave: Wat Khao Chong Pran

Bat cave Thailand
We’ve all seen the movie: The Dark Knight Rises from the Batman series. Here at Ratchaburi, the knights that rise are actually real bats! Wat Khao Chong Pran, also known by the name Bat Cave is well-known for an authentic experience: The descent of darkness. Imagine the sky suddenly covered by a swarm of bats! Every evening during sun sets, millions of bats wake up from the cave and fill the sky with complete darkness. On your visit into the cave, be sure to wear a mask and a cap to avoid the strong smell and occasional “luck” from above. For the best view of both the sunset and the stunning black parade, you could take a 400 step hike up to the top of the bat mountain. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

  • Khao Bin Cave

Khao Bin cavePhoto credit Lin voyage

Khao Bin Cave has been considered the most beautiful cave in Ratchaburi. Khao Bin means ‘’Flying Dove” in Thai. It perfectly depicts the particular feature of the stones formed in this cave. The 300 meter high cave is filled with 8 different chambers of splendid stalactites and stalagmites. What’s more fascinating is that coloured lightings are installed in each chamber that gives off a more sensational or rather magical atmosphere. It’s quite humid in the cave, so you might want to bring a towel or dress light. There’s even an emergency vehicle outside the cave if you are having trouble breathing. Unlike other caves in Ratchaburi, there is an entrance fee of 20 Baht required. Nevertheless, it’s completely worth the value for if you are looking for distinctive adventures.

1.5 Be Creative at Tao Hong Tai Ceramics

Tao Hong Tai Ceramics
Photo credit: Chakard Chalayut

Apart from the natural side of Ratchaburi, explore your inner artistic soul by paying a visit to the oldest ceramics factory in Ratchaburi, Tao Hong Tai Ceramics. A great mixture of art and nature, the garden is filled with colourful ceramic designs. The factory also offers you a tour to learn about the production of ceramics and its history. What make Tao Hong Tai so well known is their custom-made ceramics ranging from furniture to tiles. This is also a great place to pick up some souvenirs for your friends and family.

1.6 Enter the Colourful World of Candles in Suan Phueng

One of the most wonderful things to do in Thailand is visiting Suan Phueng, a district in Ratchaburi province. Public transportation is available to get here. It is a great place for both solo travelers and group travels as the district has so much to offer.

Baan Hom Tian is both a candle factory and a local restaurant that attracts many visitors during their time at Suan Phueng. They are most famous for their handmade scented candles. It first started as a community project, which allows local artists to produce and display their candles. There is a small entrance fee to pay but it can later be exchanged into some souvenir candles. Upon entering the shop, you might not know where to look at first because the whole shop is simply mesmerised by these coloured candles. What’s more welcoming is a pint of vintage laidback vibe that you instantly fall in love with. Though the shop is quite small, it’s quite likely you will end up spend more time than you expected exploring all the hidden corners. The factory also organizes workshops if you want to design your own candles. The fee is around 200 Baht. It is surely an educational and recreational experience for a first timer in Ratchaburi!

2. Best places to eat and drink in Ratchaburi

2.1 Restaurant opposite the candle shop

If you are visiting the above mentioned candle factory then also have a bite at the restaurant opposite their shop. It has a very cosy ambiance and the food is delicious! The restaurant is surrounded by lush green tropical plants. Try one of their drinks served in fresh bamboo. Afterwards you can take home your bamboo cup, which is a very nice gesture and a great memory.

2.2 Inlaya Bar and Grill: The most beautiful restaurant in Ratchaburi

Inlaya bar and grill
Photo credit Inlaya

This is wonderful restaurant situated right by the lake within a 20-minute drive from Ratchaburi town centre. The restaurant is constantly praised for their freshly served, yummy and authentic seafood dishes transported directly from the port in Samut Songkram, close to Mae Klong River.

Inlaya
Photo credit Inlaya

The price is reasonable and the service is beyond satisfying. Another highlight of this restaurant bar is their in-house live music performance. You can also sit outside on the veranda, enjoy the sunset with a cold beer in hand. How relaxing!

Inlaya Ratchaburi
Photo credit Inlaya

Read what visitors think about Inlaya Bar and Grill here

2.3 Riverside Night Market, The Walking Street, and Koyky Old Market

Riverside night market
Photo credit: Worapong Katesuwan

If you’re a big fan of street food and looking to immerse yourself in the local ambience, you can hit the river side of Mae Klong. There are lines of stalls selling local Thai street food as you stroll along. While satisfying your taste buds, visit Koyky Old Market and The Walking Street that are both next to the river, too. Unlike most tourist-populated markets, Koyky Old Market gives away a more rustic and down-to-earth atmosphere. Simple or shabby as you might think, the market is actually one of the places that might enrich you with the most hospitality and authenticity from your travel.

The market and the street are open during weekend evenings. You can browse all type of local handicrafts, toys, and silk-screened t-shirts. You may notice a huge community of Chinese and yellow-painted houses along the roads. Unlike the markets in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, Koyky Old Market welcomes you with simplicity and local charm.

3. Some unique places to sleep in Ratchaburi

3.1 Villa Moreeda

Villa moreeda 2
Photo credit Villa Moreeda

It is difficult to define Villa Moreeda to hotel or B&B. It’s between both. All rooms are tastefully decorated with stunning views. Villa Moreeda is surrounded by the Suan Phueng mountains and situated next to the Lum Pa Chee river. It offers peace, serenity and an unforgettable experience.

BBD dinner villa moreeda
Photo credit Villa Moreeda

River Villa moreeda
Photo credit Villa Moreeda

3.2 Ashcarya Resort

Ashcarya resort
Photo credit Ashcarya

Ashcarya is a quiet and tranquil getaway. It is situated in the middle of nature that brings peace of mind while enjoying fantastic views. The rooms are equipped with necessary amenities with outdoor shower and free wifi.

Pool Ashcarya resort
Photo credit Ashcarya

3.3 La Toscana Resort

La Toscana resort
Photo credit La Toscana

If you wouldn’t know you were in Thailand you would think you were overlooking the Tuscan hills of Italy. Each house at La Toscana resort is differently designed and made of handmade bricks and roof tiles that they made themselves. The decorations and most of the furniture are made by the talented local villagers of PhaPok village. You can enjoy beautiful scenery while sipping a refreshing drink or cool off in their lovely pool.

View la toscana
Photo credit La Toscana

4. How to get to Ratchaburi

Below is some information about getting to Ratchaburi using public transportation.

By Bus: Both air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buses leave from the Southern Bus Terminal to Ratchaburi every day. The journey lasts approximately 2 hours and a one-way ticket costs around 80-90 baht. The first trip from Bangkok leaves 6am and the last trip leaves 11pm. The first trip from Ratchaburi leaves 4am and the last trip leaves 9pm. The main operating company is Transport Co. Ltd. Unfortunately, there is no official website with thorough information regarding bookings. Alternatively, you could call them on 0 2435 1199-200

By Train (Recommended by locals): The train leaves from Bangkok Railway Station Hua Lamphong and Thonburi Railway Station every day. The trip lasts for about 2 hours. A third class one-way ticket departing from Bangkok costs 25 baht (0.70 USD). The following link allows you to search for tickets only on your departure date. http://www.railway.co.th/checktime/checktime.asp?lenguage=Eng However, if you prefer to travel with a more organised schedule, Virail is a very useful website to book your tickets in advance. The price is more or less the same when booked with State Railway of Thailand.

Ratchaburi is a rather tranquil and modest city compared to the hectic life in Bangkok. It is a city with friendly locals, historic importance, and splendid nature. A weekend trip may turn into a week long trip, you never know! If you do plan to spend more days in Ratchaburi, check out: Top 25 Things to do in Ratchaburi by The Crazy Tourist.

If you decide to discover more off-the-beaten spots, renting a campervan sounds like a good idea. Check out how Alana Morgan traveled through central Thailand with a campervan here: Campervanning Through Central Thailand.

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