The Ancient City in Samut Prakan
"If man has no knowledge of the past, he is nothing but a vessel without a rudder on the high seas", claims the Ancient City's sage-like founder, Lek ViriyaphantLek Viriyaphant, who also conceived two equally monumental projects, Erawan Museum and The Sanctuary of Truth (in Pattaya). The Ancient City is his attempt to give mankind a rudder, his slightly eccentric remedy for what he sees as "the moral deterioration of human society". Set in 320 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens on the outskirts of Bangkok, its success or failure in this lofty ambition is not clear. What is, however, is that it succeeds at preserving Thailand's singular heritage, its wonderful art, customs and culture for future generations.
Grounds mimic the precise shape of Thailand, featuring replicas of the country's most historically significant structures, albeit usually down-scaled in size. Each of the over 116 monuments is in their proper geographic position, and include chedis, palaces, bell towers, pavilions, temples, halls, floating markets, Buddha images and shrines. Many buildings are reconstructions of sites that no longer exist, others originals rescued for their historical significance.
Highlights are hard to pick out. However, a garden of stupas reveals how deep rooted Buddhism is in Thai culture, with all the different styles they've appeared in since ancient times. A recreation of an ancient Ayutthaya-era theatre pavilion showcases the artistic grandeur of the time, with elaborately carved and gilded motifs.
The serene Garden of the Gods presents a lively three-dimensional tableau of Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva cast in bronze - a great place for physical refreshment and spiritual nourishment. These and many more embodiments of Thai culture, customs and architecture, make it a great place to see Thailand in a day.
The Ancient City
- Opening Hours: 08:00 - 17:00
- Location: Samut Prakan, Bangpoo (less than one hour from downtown Bangkok)
- How to get there: Taxi is probably the best way to go. Tell the driver "Muang Boran, Samut Prakarn". Or take the BTS Skytrain to On-Nut Station, then continue on taxi for about 30 minutes.