If time is short and you want to get a feel for Thailand’s culture, heritage, and architecture, the large open-air museum of Ancient Siam is a perfect day trip from Bangkok. Known in Thai as Mueang Boran and also sometimes referred to as the Ancient City, Ancient Siam is home to large replicas of many of Thailand’s most important sites. Some of the monumental buildings no longer exist today, and have been replicated to show how they once looked in their former glory. There are also reconstructed historical buildings that have been moved from other parts of the country.
Wander through stunning gardens, feast your eyes upon spectacular buildings, step inside to admire ornate and decorative interiors, and visit several mini museums within the main park for a fabulous overview of Thailand’s past. Unlike many model villages, Ancient Siam’s buildings are huge!
Getting to Ancient Siam
This wonderful museum can be found in the province of Samut Prakan to the south of Bangkok. It is around 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the city and the journey should take approximately one hour. Parking is available at the museum should you choose to drive yourself, and an abundance of taxis in the city centre will also take you there. Depending on your starting point, a one way taxi fare should cost no more than 500 THB (approximately 14 USD).
You could also take the BTS sky train to Bearing station and then continue by bus; there are several bus services to Ancient Siam throughout the day. Numerous tour operators can also arrange your transportation to and from the museum.
Getting around Ancient Siam
There are several ways to explore the large and beautiful park … but walking probably isn’t one of them! Covering around 240 acres, the size combined with the hot temperatures and often blazing sun encourage most visitors to use some form of transportation to get around the park. Bicycles are available for rent, and visitors who have their own car can pay an additional fee to take their vehicle inside and drive around the park. Hopping onto a golf buggy to explore independently is a popular option and tickets are also available for an open sightseeing bus that travels around the park with regular photo stops.
Buildings in Ancient Siam
Divided into five zones that roughly represent the different parts of Thailand, you can explore carefully and skillfully created replicas of most of Thailand’s most significant historical buildings.
Enjoy a journey through the North, Northeast, East, South, and Central parts of the country and see more than 100 different sites. Whilst you may have seen some of the fantastic places in real life, such as those of Bangkok’s elaborate and opulent Grand Palace and Chiang Mai’s impressive Chedi Jet Yod, there are plenty more that many people cannot get to, largely due to time, distance, and general accessibility. Pay a visit to the Cambodian border and enjoy gorgeous examples of intricate ancient Khmer designs at Buri Ram province’s Phranon Rung and Sa Kaeo’s Prasat Sadok Khok Thom. Corn-like pagodas, bas reliefs that tell numerous tales of folklore, legends, and historical events, and grand walls are just a few of the excellent details.
You can also visit a replica of the spectacular Preah Vihear, a magnificent Khmer era temple in Si Sa Ket province. The real Preah Vihear sits high in the lush Dongrek Mountains and is a stunning Hindu temple that predates Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat by some 100 years. The ruins are in a great state of preservation, with sweeping stone courtyards, towering walls, striking pavilions, and the main hall that today houses a Buddhist temple. Due to ongoing ownership disputes between Thailand and Cambodia, visits to Preah Vihear are strongly discouraged. So Ancient Siam offers the perfect chance to admire the glory of this large, mystical, and beautiful monument in a safe and easy-to-access environment.
Even more fabulous monuments in Ancient Siam
Temples from Surat Thani and Nakorn Si Thammarat are just a couple of the jewels that you will find from the south of Thailand, and whilst Phetchaburi’s striking Tiger King’s Palace, originally housed in Ayutthaya but later moved, is just a few hours away from Bangkok, you can enjoy a replica of the serene teaching hall without travelling so far away. Be in awe of replicas from the mighty Siamese kingdoms of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, see reconstructed buildings from the north that showcase the fine details of Lanna architecture, and explore an old fortress based on the Red Block Fort at Chanthaburi.
The Bang Rachan Heroes Monument shows a small band of fearless men who went to war against invading Burmese forces in the past (original monument in Sing Buri province) and you can feel the tranquil air of spirituality at a duplicated Buddha Footprint from Saraburi province. And, that is just a small selection of the many fantastic buildings that can be explored all around Ancient Siam!
Other attractions in Ancient Siam
Visitors can get a feel for the daily life and diverse cultures of the Thailand of times gone by with a stroll through the reconstructed village and by visiting traditional homes that were lovingly dismantled and rebuilt within Ancient Siam. Villages contain an array of objects that really make you feel like you have taken a journey back in time. With cooking equipment, agricultural tools, period furnishings, and life-size models of people dressed in historic clothing, it certainly feels like you have travelled to the Thailand of old.
Step into the medicine man’s shop to see a range of traditional herbal remedies, visit the old prostitute’s home, see how monks used to meditate deep in the countryside, and learn more about animist beliefs with a visit to the spirit house exhibition.
The floating market is a terrific spot to stop for lunch, with sellers offering a tempting assortment of traditional Thai food from their small wooden boats. The aromatic smells of meals being freshly cooked are sure to appeal to your taste buds as you take a seat alongside the water’s edge and admire the views. Dine on red, yellow, and green curries, the famous Pad Thai noodle-based dish, and a rich assortment of rice-based meals. Watch as vendors bash their ingredients with a pestle and mortar, as they prepare the northeastern favourite of Som Tam – spicy papaya salad. Or perhaps slurp on a bowl of the ever-loved spicy shrimp soup – Tom Yam Gung.
There are charming gardens, complete with babbling streams, small waterfalls, fountains, and intriguing statues – perfect for taking a break, relaxing for a moment, and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.
Shopping at Ancient Siam
The park also boasts its very own small Thai market. Vendors sell a variety of interesting souvenirs and gifts along the market street, some traditional and some modern. There are also plenty of delicious Thai snacks to be found at the stalls as well as other places throughout the park.
Extra information about Ancient Siam
A wonderful place to experience the history and culture of Thailand and learn more about the many different influences that helped to shape modern Thailand into what it is today, did you know that the park is arranged so as to closely resemble the shape of the country? Open daily between 8am and 5pm, the park seeks to preserve Thai heritage for future generations and visitors to enjoy. Don’t miss Ancient Siam when visiting Thailand’s vibrant city of Bangkok and treat yourself to a fascinating journey of discovery.