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Beyond Bangkok

 Although Bangkok is one of the most interesting and unique places to visit in the world, holidaymakers tend to forget that there is much more to Thailand than this one city. In fact, there are a great many fascinating out-of-the-way places that regular visitors know and love, which you might like to consider adding to your itinerary when youíre planning your next trip to Thailand.

About 260 km outside Bangkok, the ancient city of Nakhon Ratchasima, also known by its historical name of Khorat, is famous for its several heritage sites that reveal the roots of traditional Thai culture. Once the gateway to the countryís northeast, the city was a major centre of the vast and influential Khmer kingdom, which stretched across much of Southeast Asia, between the 9th and 15th centuries. Life moves at a relaxed pace here, compared to the main tourist centres. Just south of Nakhon Ratchasima, in a lush river valley, is the delightful market village of Dan Kwain, well known for the fine quality of its ceramics and distinguished by the individuality of its products.

Near Nakhon Ratchasima, there are dense forests, mountains, and rivers with spectacular waterfalls. Khao Yai National Park, listed as a World Heritage site in 2005, undulates over magnificent mountain ranges blanketed by thick forests, and plunges down deep valleys with wild river courses. Wildlife is abundant and accessible and you can see elephants, tigers, monkeys, black bears, deer, butterflies, insects, and birds. This is an ideal place to spot a Hornbill, which is common in the park from August to September. You can even join tiger-spotting trips accompanied by park rangers.

The quiet riverside town of Kanchanaburi, about 130 km west of Bangkok, is another place where you can explore more of Thailandís natural and historic treasures. Kanchanaburi lies next to the Kwai River, where the famous World War II bridge still stands (the subject of an Oscar-winning movie, The Bridge Over the River Kwai). Itís a poignant reminder of the hardship endured by those who were forced to work on the infamous Thai-Burma Railway. Natural attractions here include numerous lovely waterfalls and caves. The trek through the steamy undergrowth, to the stunning seven-tiered Erewan Waterfalls, is well worth the effort.

Happily, due to the proximity of Bangkok, with its international reputation and accessibility, prices are relatively low. Getting to Bangkok is cheaper than ever, DialAFlight is a good source of flights to a host of Thai destinations and currently lists its cheapest flight to Bangkok at £311 including all taxes. Visit their website for further details of Thailand flights.

 

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