Nakhon Pathom is in a small province 56 km from Bangkok. The province features an ancient religious structure called Phra Pathom Chedi, the first religious landmark that signified the influx of Buddhism into Thailand. Nakhon Pathom is also renowned for its abundant fruit varieties and famous dishes.
Formerly situated by the sea, the city prospered during the Dvaravati civilisation. According to archaeological findings, Nakhon Pathom was the first city to possess influences of Buddhism and Indian civilisations. From the Phra Pathom Chedi and other remains discovered in the city area, it is believed that the city was a centre of civilisation in that era. People of different races settled in Nakhon Pathom. However, a change in the course of the river caused a drought that forced the people to migrate and settle on the banks of the river, and these communities developed into towns. The new town was called Nakhon Chaisi or Sirichai, leaving Nakhon Pathom deserted for hundreds of years until the reign of King Rama IV. While His Majesty was in monkhood, he travelled to Nakhon Pathom and found the Phra Pathom Chedi that he regarded to be the largest pagoda of all.
When King Rama IV ascended to the throne, he commanded that a bell shaped Chedi be built to cover the former Chedi. The surrounding area was also renovated and improved. He also commanded that a water canal be dug to facilitate commuting, which was called Chedi Bucha canal. During the reign of King Rama V, the construction of railways to the south began, at that time Nakhon Pathom was still a heavily forested area. King Rama V also commanded that the town be relocated from Tambon Thana, Amphoe Nakhon Chaisi, to the Phra Pathom Chedi area as it used to be. Nakhon Pathom has been there ever since.
During the reign of King Rama VI, a palace was built at Tambon Sanam Chan as a temporary residence on his travels and many roads were constructed. A large bridge was also built over the Chedi Bucha canal, which His Majesty named "Saphan Charoensattha". Later, he commanded that the name of Nakhon Chaisi be changed to Nakhon Pathom, but the name of the prefecture was still called "Nakhon Chaisi" until the reign of King Rama VII when the calling of the prefecture was ended. Nakhon Chaisi is now one of the districts in Nakhon Pathom.
The surrounding area, Nakhon Pathom Province, covers an area of 2,168 square kilometres or 542,081.6 acres. It is divided into 7 administrative districts (called Amphoe in Thailand), and they are: Amphoe Muang Nakhon Pathom, Amphoe Buddhamonthon, Amphoe Sam Phran, Amphoe Nakhon Chaisi, Amphoe Bang Len, Amphoe Kamphaeng Saen, and Amphoe Don Toom. Most of the areas are plains with no mountainous land, plateaus are found in the west east of Amphoe Muang and Amphoe Kamphaeng Saen. The plains along the Tha Cheen River (Nakhon Chaisi River) are the location of Amphoe Nakhon Chaisi, Amphoe Sam Phran, and Amphoe Bang Len. These fertile lands provide agricultural area for people, thus most of the residents earn their living from agriculture; plantations, farming, growing food crops, and fruit orchards. Especially for pomelo. Nakhon Pathom is well known for pomelo, some call Nakhon Pathom the sweet pomelo town.
BKS public buses (lines 83 and 997) leave from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal. The trip costs 40 baht in first class and takes about an hour in good traffic. Buses go every 10 minutes from 4:10AM until 9:30PM.
Update: As of August 2015 line 83 takes another route and starts from a bus stop just west of Bang Wa BTS Station (fare 45 baht). The route is even more prone for traffic jams due to MRT construction ongoing. No change for line 997.
There are also 2nd class buses to Kanchanaburi every 15-30 minutes.
In addition there is a non-stop minibus service between Bangkok's Victory Monument and the centre of the city where all the buses stop, about 100 metres from the railway station. The Victory Monument is far more convenient than the Southern Bus Terminal, and is on the skytrain light rail system. But the departure point from Victory Monument is hard to find, being located under the expressway, about 100 metres north of the roundabout, on Phahon Yothin Road towards Phaya Thai station, and on the left. Cost is currently 65 baht each way. (this info correct as at April 2015).
From Bangkok, driving on the old route of Petchakasem Road (Highway No.4) passing Aom Noi, Aom Yai, Sam Phran to Nakhon Pathom or driving on a new route from Bangkok, passing Buddhamonthon, Nakhon Chaisi to Nakhon Pathom. The new route is Highway No. 338 and originates on Pinklao Road. The elevated part from Pin Klao Bridge to Buddhamonthon 2 Road is toll free and cuts down travel time considerably.
This city is fairly large. You can walk around the centre, the markets, and to the Chedi easily enough. There is transport in the shape of motorcycle taxis, where you ask the fare first. Also about three tuktuks were noticed, and two of these were at the Chedi.
Wat Srisathong . The famous temple for พระราหู, or "Phra Rahu", the god of darkness. Worshippers often offer Rahu eight black offerings: black chicken, black jelly, black liquor, black rice and black pudding. In 1997, Khunying Phankrua Yongchaiyudh, Prime Minister Chavalit's wife, sought help from Phra Rahu to keep her husband's coalition government together. Seeking the blessing from Phra Rahu to repel bad luck is a common practice. Wat Srisathong is most popular with Rahu followers as it has a giant statue of Phra Rahu, said to be the largest in Thailand. Wat Srisathong is actually at the nearby village of Sisa Thong and not at Nakhon Pathom proper. The bus from/to Bangkok passes through Sisa Thong bus stop, which is about 10 minutes walk from Wat Srisathong, so best to visit before/after going to Nakhon Pathom. Make sure to let them know you are getting off Sisa Thong when buying the ticket, as the price is different (cheaper) and they'll only stop if there are people getting off/on at that stop.
Phra Pathom Chedi. Towering over the low-rises of central Nakhom Pathom, at 120 metres this massive brick stupa is the largest in the world. It also makes a respectable claim to being Thailand's oldest Buddhist temple, dating back to the 6th century AD, although the present structure is mostly the handiwork of King Mongkut (1853) and his successors. There is no entry into the stupa itself, which is said to house a relic of the Buddha, but you can circumambulate the stupa in the inner courtyard and admire the giant golden Buddha on the southern side (always packed with worshippers). Also take some time to look around the many smaller temple halls around the chedi. Entrance is theoretically 20 baht, although this is loosely enforced at best.
Sanam Chan Palace. Previously summer residence for King Rama VI. Right in front of the palace is a monument of Yah Leh, his beloved dog. Also wander around the beautiful Silpakorn University campus attached. Every Wednesday there is a student market selling T-shirts, and the cafeteria near the lake provides excellent Thai food every day at rock-bottom prices.
The Night Market in the area of Pagoda or Chedi (aka ONG-PRA) is located on the west side of the pagoda. There are many food hawkers or food stalls where you can enjoy a variety of food. It's a cheap and clean open air food court, open 6PM-11PM. Don't forget to drop in at Flying Ice Cream - you'll be fascinated by how ice cream flies. You can also sample what is reputadly the best Khao Lam (ข้าวหลาม) (sticky rice and coconut milk cooked in bamboo) in all of Thailand. Another dish you might want to try is sweet pomelo (ส้มโอหวาน), which has been much talked about. It is a major product from Nakhon Chai Si district (east of Nakhon Pathom town). Also the fragrant coconut juice (มะพร้าวน้ำหอม) is worth its fame.
There is a restaurant with no English sign on Thanon Ratchadamnoen, a few minutes walk towards Sanam Chan from the Chedi. Transliterated the name is roughly Ratchaphreuk. If heading towards Sanam Chan it is on the left, and is recognisable by it's plastic table and chairs in a comfortable beer garden. Sometimes the place has karaoke. The food is good traditional Thai, but you will be tested on your knowledge of Thai cuisine as there is no English menu.
Any Order (Raan A-haan Taam Sung), Rajdamnern Rd (towards Sanamchan Palace from Chedi, at the far corner of the first block on the right, opposite side of 7-11, if you face towards Sanamchan). Clean and cheap. They provide English Menu with their signature dishes. Open daily until midnight to 1AM.
Yuer Mai, Rajdamnern Rd (around 5 mins on the left hand side, opposite side of Catholic Church). Nice and simple Thai dishes, air-conditioning.
Street Eats, Rotfai Road, 100 metres from the railway station. On this road, close to the intersection with Yeesibha Makara Road are street eats in both the morning and evening. For breakfast you can get rice soup with pork or chicken for B50, as well as other choices. For dinner you can get fish or pork soup with plenty of veggies for B30, as well as other choices. edit
Fairytale cafe, Thanon Rot Fi (exit train station and walk straight, Fairytale is on the right hand side.), ☎ 08191380033. A lovely family run cafe, with a selection of cakes, crepes, ice cream and hot snacks along with a large selection of drinks (hot and cold). Fairytale is open from 10:00am to 20:00pm monday to saturday and 10:00am to 18:00pm on sunday. Situated close to the train station, Fairytale is ideal to relax and refresh before making an onward journey.edit
People can make a day-trip from Bangkok to Nakhon Pathom, so you don't really need to sleep there. But if you want a slow trip there, all the hotels in Nakhon Pathom are like hotels in most other provincial capitals - designed for Thais, and straight out of the 1970s. At the Nakhon Inn, for example, they haven't changed their brochure since the early 1980s, and the photos of the rooms still match exactly to the rooms you'll stay in. That said, they are comfortable and prices are very reasonable.
The Royal Gems Golf Resort, ☎ +66 2 429-8066, . The Royal Gems Golf & Sports Club, known as "The Crown Jewel" of Thailand's golf course, is one of the best course in South East Asia. The whole estate consists of 250 plots of real estate with some of the most beautiful house in Bangkok, 55 units of super luxurious condo 214 units of deluxe condo and hotel. The Prestige Sports club provides recreation and relaxation for your total well being. Complimenting the sports facilities are business center and banquet hall for 200 people.Best rates on official website start at THB 2,000.00. edit
Mitsampant Hotel, 2/11 Rachadamnern Road, Nakhon Pathom, 73000 (above the Mitsampant electric appliance store, right next to the chedi on the West side and across Shell petrol station); tel. +66-34252010. Nice and clean, very friendly owners who speak fluent English. Rooms from 200 baht a night. A handout of local map in English is available for free for all tourists.
Mitrpaisal Hotel, near the corner of Rotfai Road and Yeesibha Makara Road, Nakhon Pathom, 73000. tel. +66-34242422. Six-storey hotel located close to the buses to Bangkok and other places, as well as the market, less than a quarter mile from the chedi. The railway station is about 200 metres to the rear, and the street eats 50 metres to the left as you walk out the front. The room and bathroom are very clean. It has a lift, and the aircon rooms have hot water, TV, and are roomy. The hotel appears to be trapped in the 1950's, and is very dated. Will cost B450 for aircon.
Nakhon Inn, 55 Rajivithi Road, Nakhon Pathom, 73000. tel. +66 (0) 34 251 152. Large hotel in a small cul-de-sac off the road which the Bangkok Buses travel down. Very close to the Chedi, and a 15 minute walk to Sanam Chan. An internet cafe is located in a shop outside. Opt for a room which overlooks the Chedi, as the rooms on the other side sits directly above a school - you'll be woken at the crack of dawn by the screaming chorus of Thai children being dropped off by their parents. Rooms have clean bathrooms and beds, a fridge, there is a hotel restaurant and the building has a lift. The reception staff have limited English. Rooms from 300 baht a night.
Whale Hotel, Rajivithi Road, Nakhon Pathom, 73000. This large hotel also has an attached restaurant and nightclub. It is the best situated hotel to visit Silpakorn University and Sanam Chan Palace grounds, however it is a bit far from the Chedi. It is also the priciest hotel in town.
Damnoen Saduak — the best-known floating market in Thailand. From Nakhon Pathom, taking bus No 78. from the Bus Stop in front of Police Station (Kwaa-Pra Road). It would take about 1 hour to get there. Buses come every 30 mins. The first bus comes approximately 6:30AM. The best time to catch the bus is around 7:30AM- 8:00AM, otherwise the tour buses from Bangkok will get there first and it will be too touristy. The market really starts around 8 AM and closes around 11:30AM.
Samut Songkhram Can get a minibus or a non aircon bus to here. The bus goes from out front of the Mitrphaisal Hotel. The minibus is rather more difficult as you need to walk a block to the right from here, then turn left, and then right again across the waterway. Minibuses here take you a couple of kilometres to where the minibus goes to Samut Songkhram,for B20. This second minibus goes to Samut Songkhram via road 325. Cost ?