Thailand City Guide

Central Thailand

The Land of Smiles
“Visitors are greeted at the airport with a sign saying ‘Welcome to the Land of Smiles’ – and it’s not just because of the friendly locals. From the azure blue of the sea and dazzling white of the sandy beaches to the verdant green of the jungle and gleaming gold of the temples, the colours of Thailand are dazzling.”
Carli Allan
Editor, International
Central Thailand
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Central Thailand

It’s easy to sing the praises of the Central region. This is the cultural and historic heartland of Thailand, where you can explore the ruined ancient cities that gave birth to the nation. It is known as one of the great rice bowls of Asia with fertile flat plains that are rich in paddy and sugar-cane fields and orchards. And, as well as being the most populated region in Thailand, Central is home to the capital city of Bangkok – a totally tropical metropolis.

With an estimated population of 11 million, Bangkok is a mix of chaos and smiles, tranquil golden temples and hectic markets, traditional dancing and neon-lit clubs and bars, and handicrafts and counterfeit handbags. As you’d expect from a capital city there are numerous sights to enjoy here including cultural attractions, local markets, canals, skyscrapers and street food.

The region is dotted with the breathtaking remains of ancient cities, including Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. Reminders of the past live on in the Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once the majestic Siamese capital, and the Khmer-era temples within the former capital of Lopburi, which is known as the city of monkeys for very good reason. The country’s rich wartime history is never forgotten in Kanchanaburi, where sites include the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai and the Death Railway.


There’s an abundance of nature in its national parks, including the Thong Pha Phum National Park, which are swamped with birdlife and wildlife living amongst waterfalls, limestone mountains and caves. South of Bangkok, and you’ll find the floating markets of Damnoen Saduak, a labyrinth of narrow canals packed with traders selling fruit and vegetables. Venture further afield and you can feel the sand between your toes in the popular beach destinations along the coast of Phetchaburi and Hua Hin.

The Central region is popular with expats, many of whom make a beeline for Downtown Bangkok, which is close to the Bangkok Sky Train (BTS) as well as international schools, hospitals, museums and nightlife. Away from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle, there are quiet suburbs and cities such as Saraburi and Nonthaburi with exclusive private housing estates and popular international schools – everything an expat family is looking for if moving to Thailand.

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