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Saraburi is a province located in the upper central region of Thailand. It is most famous for both its natural beauty, as well as temples and historical sites. Only about a two hour drive from Bangkok, it makes a fantastic day trip or a pit stop on your way up north to check out places such as Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai.
The Pasak River flows through Muak Lek and is an important aspect of life for many Thais who live in this district. The vast majority of the population is Buddhist, and this is evident in the large number of temples in this district. However, there is a small Muslim population, as well as a small Christian population.
Cement production is one of the main industries of Saraburi, which is a tough aspect for the inhabitants because the industrial nature of cement production makes the air quality poor. Another main industry in Saraburi is sunflowers, and all the products associated with sunflowers. From November to January, anyone who drives along the 3224 Highway can see fields of sunflowers being harvested. This is a great time of year to visit, as the weather is cool, dry, and beautiful sunflower scenery can be gazed upon. In addition, going around November to January ensures that waterfalls are flowing heavily, without the disruption of actual rain, although it does still rain on occasion during these months.
There is some archeological evidence that Saraburi has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Evidence such as utensils and table pottery have been found by the archaeology department of Silapakorn University. Only a few items have been found here, which leads scientists to believe that the people who lived here in prehistoric times were nomads, and were only in Saraburi district for a short time before they decided to move on. There has also been ochre (a natural earth pigment in earthen brown-orange-yellow colors) wall paintings found characteristic of prehistoric times in some of the caves at Pra Phuttachai.
Saraburi has much historical significance, dating back to the 1500s during the times of Ayutthaya. It is rumored that during the reign of King Maha Chakkraphat, he wanted to combine Lop Buri and Nakhon Nayok in order to mobilize troops during the war with the Burmese.
The Pasak Cholasith Dam began construction in 1991 and was finished in 1999 and has been applauded for improving the lives of citizens.
One of the oldest cities in Thailand, Lop Buri has much history related to the Ayutthaya period of history. It is known in modern times as a place that is famous for its monkey culture, as the town is arguably over run with them. There are monkey shows where city officials feed them on a daily basis, and are also known for being quite mischievous and snatching food off of dinner tables as well as valuables from people’s purses.
One of the most important political and economic centers of central Thailand, Nakhon Ratchasima is lovingly called by locals as “korat.” This is the origin of the Korat breed of cat, one of the oldest and most stable breed of cats. They are known to be good luck, and until recently, were only given as gifts and never sold. They are known in Britain as “Blue Siamese” cats.
A scenic area of Thailand, Nakhon Nayok is renowned for waterfalls, forests, and fresh air, and is home to Khao Yai National Park. This park houses an abundant number of wild animals including deer, elephants, and monkeys. It is a popular weekend holiday destination for those in Bangkok looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
A province that lies just north of metropolitan Bangkok, Pathum Thani is filed with canals (khlongs) which provide water to the rice paddy fields that are a common sight here. Pathum Thani is also home to many higher learning educational facilities, especially those that specialize in technology and science. Bangkok University and Rangsit (Thammasat) University both have branches there, as well as several research institutions such as Thailand Science Park and National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
A modern hotel at lower end prices, Kyo-Un hotel is a pleasant place to call home as you explore the rich historical sites of Saraburi. Beautifully decorated and equipped with amenities such as 24 hour reception, breakfast, an elevator, free WiFi, plenty of parking, and a restaurant that offers delicious, home cooked Thai style and Western meals, there are few additional things to desire while staying here. There is also a meeting area for larger conferences or family gatherings.
A boutique resort set in the mountains overlooking rice paddies, Mela Garden is a relaxing place to rest your tired feet after a long day of temple exploration. The hotel offers services such as airport transfer, breakfast, a gorgeous outdoor pool to enjoy sunsets and relaxation in, as well as a delicious restaurant and a concierge who is able to arrange transportation and tours for you. The staff here is known to be friendly and always ready to answer questions or provide advice on how to best enjoy your trip to Saraburi.
Thai style architecture combines with modern, chic luxury at Ndol Streamside. Located in a mellow part of Muak Lek, these villas offers a restaurant, conference room, a terrace to enjoy the sprawling views at sunset, as well as a state of the art fitness center, an outdoor pool, meeting facilities as well as a spa and massage services without ever having to leave the hotel. Aptly named as it’s right on a stream, you’ll be fully relaxed as you dine and hear the steady sound of nature right under your feet.
A resort located on one of Thailand’s top golf courses, the views and amenities here are not to be outdone. The course is 18 holes, designed by both foreign and local architects. There’s actually a resort as well as a hotel which offer amenities such as a free form swimming pool, jacuzzi, fitness center, as well as a spa with traditional Thai massages. There’s also multiple tennis courts, a running track, and a driving range to practice your swing off the golf course.
A little slice of heaven is what Baan Souchada actually offers in Saraburi. There’s a small golf course to practice your swing on, a splendidly designed outdoor pool, a spa to work out all the tension from your body, a game room, orchid farm, and even a small animal farm for the kids. The restaurant offers a wide range of cuisines, and there’s even a brand new fitness center to work off those extra calories. You’ll want for nothing as you stay at this gorgeous resort and spa.
There is no airport in Saraburi. The nearest one would be one of Bangkok’s two airports, either Suvarnabhumi or Don Muang. See the sections below on how to get to Saraburi from Bangkok.
Minivans leave from Victory Monument a few times daily. Minivans are usually under the service of leaving when the van is either full, or deemed full enough by the driver. The journey will take 2-3 hours, and sometimes people will hop off at random points throughout the journey. There may be one stop to refuel and go to the bathroom, and you can always request one if needed. The cost is about 100 THB.
Buses leave several times a day from Mo Chit Northern Bus Terminal. There are both first and second class buses, and most with air conditioning. Cost ranges from 200-300 THB and take between 1 and 2 hours. Buses are supposed to run on a schedule, but these may be delayed or modified without notice.
A taxi will cost between 600-1000 THB depending on your ability to negotiate. Uber is another option that may be more regulated, but beware that drivers do have the ability to not accept your ride due to the distance of the trip. Most taxis that you can hail on the street or at the airport may not accept using the meter, and will instead ask for a flat fare. Make sure you’ve negotiated this fare beforehand.
There’s a train station in Saraburi that can be accessed via Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station. Trains depart a few times daily, and there is a difference between first class, second class, and third class trains. First and some second class seats have air conditioning, while other second class seats and third class seats do not. The train is a rather slow way to travel, but offers a unique view of Thailand. The trip is expected to take 2-3 hours, but there may (and often are) delays. Tickets can be purchased up to 60 days in advance of the trip, although this is not necessary if you’re planning on taking second or third class. First class does often sell out, so these will need to be booked in advance.
There are thirteen districts within Saraburi, listed below.
A short drive from Bangkok as well as the center of Saraburi lies this national park with the famous Ban San Noi waterfalls. There are 7 levels to this waterfall, and is best visited during the wet season from May to November, specifically in October when water levels tend to be the highest. It does get crowded on the weekends and holidays from local traffic, so best to go on the weekdays when there won’t be as big of a crowd. There’s an area that you can have a picnic and some light trekking that can be done along the river.
Opening hours: 08:00 to 17:00, daily
Entrance fee: none
A 22 square kilometer nature reserve that contains an abundance of wildlife and plantlife, JedKod Environmental Center is composed of many different sorts of forests including evergreens, deciduous and savanna forest. Due to this diversity of forest floor, there are also many kinds of flora and fauna, as well as fungi. Depending on season and luck, you may see wild elephants, gaurs, bears, lorises, mousedeer and more! Over 158 different species have been spotted in this area. There’s a well trekked hike to Namtok Chet Khot Nuea that you can hire a guide for, although not necessary. You’ll reach a 4 tiered waterfall surrounded by a bamboo forest.
Opening hours: 08:30 to 16:30, daily
Entrance fee: none
Arguably the most important Buddhist temple in Saraburi, it was built in the 17th century and features the holy Buddha Footprint that is a significant and beautiful religious site in Thailand. The footprints were found during the reign of King Songtham of Ayutthaya. A fascinating piece of history for those interested in Buddhism. Clothes appropriate for temples is highly recommended, meaning shoulders and knees are covered, and removing one’s shoes when entering the temple.
Opening hours: sunrise to sunset, daily
Entrance fee: 30 THB
Phra Phutta Chai National Park is one of the famous national parks in Saraburi. Khao Sam Lan Forest in this park contains a few rivers and waterfalls. There’s also some cliff and rock climbing, as well as timber forest trekking. Waterfalls are best visited between May and November when the water levels are the highest. However, one factor to consider is that because it is the rainy season, trails may be muddy and more slippery than usual.
Opening hours: 08:30 to 16:30, daily
Entrance fee: none
There are a number of festivals throughout the year. One of the most popular is the Pa Sak Boat Racing Festival that happens at the end of September each year. There are a few different categories and people cheer from the sidelines and there’s music and of course many kinds of street food to enjoy. The atmosphere is fun and festive and it’s a glimpse into true Thai life. Thailand enjoys festivals and events throughout the year, and people, especially those out in the countryside, get really into it.
Things to have with you - extra clothes, sunblock and insect repellent are highly advisable when exploring the charms of Saraburi. Most of the attractions are outdoors and often in the sun, which may cause sunburn. During the hours of 16:00 to 19:00, there are insects that come out in droves and you may get bitten extensively if you’re not using some sort of insect repellent. Also, since many of the activities are temples and religious monuments, clothes that cover your shoulders and knees are considered appropriate and polite to wear.
ATMs and money - Thailand runs off of a cash economy, so always carry enough cash with you. Select restaurants and hotels will accept credit cards, but no vendors will, and there’s usually an additional charge for using a card.
Tipping - Tips are not a standard practice at restaurants or nightlife. However, it is acceptable to tip somewhere between 20-100 THB for exceptional service, or if you want additional attention paid to you by the staff. For services such as massages, haircuts, or other services, then a tip is highly appreciated, but again, not necessary or particularly expected.