There is so much to see and do in Bangkok; after 8 1/2 years here, I still have so much to experience, but we were able to check one more thing off the list last weekend. Some of Worchihan’s sweet, sweet former English students took us to Ancient City (known as Muang Boran or เมืองโบราณ in Thai) to experience as much of Thailand as you’ll ever be able to experience in one day.
With 300 acres, Ancient City bills itself as the world’s largest private outdoor museum. It reminded us a lot of the fantastic (and free) St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff, Wales, which is the UK’s first national open air museum. Ancient City is actually shaped like Thailand and is divided into Thailand’s 4 regions: north, northeast, central and south. The map lists 121 landmarks, using different colors to differentiate between the landmarks’ 3 categories: those that were brought from somewhere else and reconstructed, those that were duplicated/created based on historical evidence and those that were designed by the owner. In May 2018, it was reported that 80 million baht (at $1 = 31 baht, that’s almost $2.6 million dollars) had been spent in the building of Ancient City.
Though we spent 6 hours at Ancient City, we missed a lot. At the first several attractions, we walked around and took our time, but later in the day, we just hopped off our bikes to take a few pictures. Six hours is probably enough for tourists, but because we live here, we know a little bit more about the history and the culture and we (me?) want to see everything.
The map recommends 10 attractions, so if you wanted to hit only those, you could, or you could ride north from the entrance (the south) and then go from west to east and back down to the south.
Here’s what you need to know to plan your visit to Ancient City.
How to get there: Ancient City is actually in Samut Prakan, a province south of Bangkok, but it’s close enough that you can take the BTS Sukhumvit line to Kheha station, then take a taxi (5-10 minutes); on Saturdays and Sundays, a free shuttle between Kheha station and Ancient City is provided
Hours: 9 AM – 7 PM
Tickets (all include tram ride, bicycle rental and audio guide)
- Foreign adult: 700 baht
- Foreign child (6-14): 350 baht
- Foreigner with work permit: 400 baht (ticket is good for one day only)
- Thai adult: 400 baht
- Thai child (6-14): 200 baht
- Thai adult with Rabbit card: 200 baht (ticket is good for one day only)
How to get around
- Bicycle (what I recommend)
- Tram with tour guide; tours are 2 hours
- Golf cart: a 4-seater is 350 baht for the first hour and 200 baht for each additional hour; a 6-seater is 500 baht for the first hour and 300 baht for each additional hour (this is incredibly expensive, especially on top of the ticket price)
- Personal car: 400 baht
Here’s what we saw, followed by my review.
What I liked about Ancient City
- It’s huge, so there’s lots to see
- It’s well-maintained
- There’s enough shade to make riding a bike a good idea
- There are lots of places to eat and prices are reasonable
- There are plenty of bathrooms
What I didn’t like about Ancient City
- It’s expensive for both foreigners and Thais, even with the discount for foreigners with a work permit and the reduced price for Thais (you will find that foreigners almost always pay more in Thailand; at the Grand Palace, foreigners–with or without work permits–pay 500 baht while Thais pay only 50 baht)
- Though there’s almost always a bike lane, sharing the one-lane road around the park with the tram, golf carts, private cars, vans and buses (what in the heck were buses doing in there?!) felt unsafe; where there was no bike lane, there were no arrows telling people which side of the road to stay on so bikes and vehicles were everywhere
- The bicycles, as all rental bicycles in Thailand seem to be, are really old
- The floating market, which might be the main attraction, is closed for 6 months for renovation
With that said, we really enjoyed it, so much so that we would definitely go back. I especially want to see the floating market when it’s finished, Wat Chong Kham-Lampang and the northern Thai village. I might get the audio guide to learn a little bit more about the buildings (I do love buildings!).
The best part of Ancient City for us was going with our friends. They told us about some of the things we saw, which made it more interesting and more meaningful to us. Thanks to San, Parn, Poon and Aom for taking us!
Do you have any tips for exploring Ancient City? Have you ever been to an outdoor museum like Ancient City? Let me know in the comments.