Cover photo full
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Ancient City of Siam is the largest outdoor museum in the world. Founded by the Thai magnate, Lek Viriyaphant , who contributed greatly to Thailand's patrimony with the construction of numerous monuments, this 200-acre park was intended as an anthology of Thai history, replicating miniature structures of famous historical monuments throughout the country.
The park is shaped in the form of Thailand, and while it contains the most important edifices and temples of Ancient Siam scaled down to fit in, it has some original material of its own, as well as some real picturesque places ideal for relaxation, which can come as a well-deserved break from the 3-hours visit, as well as a getaway from the city itself.
Every one of the 116 monuments is placed in its original geographic position, and range from chedis to temples and even a floating market, and while some are smaller versions of their counterparts, others are full-scale replicas, while others are unique because the original building no longer exists.
History and ArchitectureThe idea of the park originated in Lek's initiative to build a golf course sprinkled with historical structures of Thailand. While researching the structures, he found out that many of them were derelict and instead, he opted for the museum that the Ancient City is today.
The replicas were built under the supervision of the National Museum experts, and the most notable structures include the old Grand Palace of Ayutthaya, which was brought down in the Burmese war of 1767, the Phimai Sanctuary, and the Wat Khao Phra Viharn near the border with Cambodia.
The complex is dominated by Thai architecture, whether in the form of temples or historical structures, or simply as traditional wooden household replicas, and all of them can be visited.
HighlightsThe Manohra Garden tells the story of Manohra, a young kinara (Thai mythic half-human half-bird creature) that fell in love with the prince, Phra Suthon. The architectural elements in the sculpture revoke and were inspired by the popular shamanistic music and dance of Nohra, which is very popular in the Phatthalung province, where the structure originates.
The Chom Thong Palace Hall is one of the palace halls that lies within the grounds of Wat Phra Sri Sanphet. It is not known exactly when it was first established, but evidence suggests it once functioned as a scripture repository. A veritable masterpiece of Ayutthaya architectural style, detailed depictions of the Mahabharata can be seen on its inner walls, making it a good source for initiation in Theravada Buddhism.
The splendid Garden of the Gods is a collection of bronze sculptures depicting the Hindu gods, placed in a lush décor of rivulets and exotic vegetation, ideal for physical and spiritual relaxation.
The Ramayana Pavilion is one of the five main sacred pavilions built within a pond, its zig-zag architecture making it a unique and serene place of worship and relaxation. It is dedicated to the Trimurti entity, an incarnation of the three main Buddhist deities: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
The Muang Boran Floating Market is an ideal rural backdrop to the daily life of the people living on the banks of the Chao Phraya river. This type of settlement eventually became a trading center, as well as a full-bodied residential area, being an example of Thai people’s social integration.
The Pavilion of the Enlightened, an impressive structure that stretches on several pavilions linked together by wooden bridges boasts intricate art work not only architecturally, its gleaming rooftops making it particularly imposing in the sunlight, but also in the form of the sculpted statues evoking the story of the 500 monks who regardless of their different cultural and religious backgrounds managed to attain Nirvana.
VisitingThe complex is open between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. every day. At the entrance you can borrow a bicycle for free or rent a boogie car ( ฿150 ($4.65) per hour) to move around between the objectives, which count 116. The visit takes almost an entire day, as it’s quite a lot to be seen.
How to Get ThereYou can either take the Skytrain all the way to Bearing (end of the Sukhumvit line). From there, you can either take a taxi – it will cost around ฿100 ($3.10) for a 19 kilometers' distance – or you can take the free shuttle to the Ancient City, but it only departs at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Alternatively, you can take bus 511 from Pinklao-Paknam to the end of the line, where you switch for mini-bus 36 which goes to the Ancient City.
Other AttractionsClose to the Ancient City is the Erawan Museum, and considering that both are quite far from the city center, you could visit them the same day. As Erawan takes less than one hour to visit, you could go here first. The shuttle from Bearing also stops here.
Do you see any omissions, errors or want to add information to this page? Sign up.
Author: aelumag. Last updated: Feb 17, 2015