Nakhon Pathom is a province in Central Thailand, some 50 kilometers North West of Bangkok. The province's capital city, also called Nakhon Pathom, is one of the oldest cities of Thailand. The city's name in ancient Pali language means “first city”.
The city flourished during the Dvaravati era, that existed between the 6th and 13th century. During this time, Nakhon Pathom was located on the sea and through ships from foreign nations it was culturally influenced by a number of countries including India.
When the local river changed its flow local population moved further East to the town of Nakhon Chai Si and Nakhon Pathom town was left deserted. Only after the Phra Pathom chedi was restored by King Mongkut (Rama IV), the city became inhabited once again.
Agriculture still plays an important role in this province. It is especially known for its many fruit orchards, of which pomelo is the most famous.
To do & see in Nakhon Pathom
The province’s main attraction and a very highly revered place for Buddhists is the Phra Pathom chedi, a massive 120 meters high chedi dating back some 2300 years. It is the largest Buddhist chedi in the world and probably the oldest Buddhist structure in the country. The Phra Pathom Chedi National Museum displays artifacts from the Dvaravati era dug out in the area, such as Buddha images, stuccos and stone carvings.
Just two kilometers from the chedi is the very elegant Sanam Chandra Palace. The Palace covering an area of more than 350 acres was built at the beginning of the 20th century by King Rama VI shows a mix of Thai and European architectural styles. The main building looks like an English or French castle, while a number of other buildings are built in typical Thai style.
Phutthamonthon Buddhist park
Phutthamonthon is a large park in the Eastern part of Nakhon Pathom province. The park was created in 1957 (Buddhist year 2500) to celebrate the birth of the Buddha 2500 years before.
The centre piece of the park is a huge bronze walking Buddha image, that measures almost 16 meters high. Around the image are four sites dedicated to four key events in the life of the Buddha, namely birth, first sermon, reaching enlightenment and passing into final Nirvana.
In the viharn you will find a huge number of marble stones (1418) inscribed with Buddhist scriptures. The walls of the viharn are decorated with beautiful detailed mural paintings. Although the murals are new, they were made based on the old Thai style murals found in many of the old temples around Thailand.
Several sight seeing trips on the khlongs (canals) of Nakhon Pathom can be made, where you can see and visit orchid farms and fruit orchards. Trips can be made at several locations including along the Nakhon Chai Si river and along Khlong Maha Sawat.
To learn something about Thai culture and history, visit the Thai Human Imagery Museum in the town of Nakhon Chai Si. The museum displays life size wax sculptures of people who played an important role in Thai history. Among others there are sections for Great Buddhist monks and all the former Kings of the currently ruling Chakri dynasty Rama I through Rama VIII. Other sections deal with aspects of Thai culture and traditions.
Getting to Nakhon Pathom
Due to its proximity to the capital, Nakhon Pathom is easily and quickly reached. The easiest and most comfortable way is to take a private taxi. Make sure the driver uses the meter. The Southern Line operated by the State Railway of Thailand has a stop at Nakhon Pathom town. It takes around one and a half hour from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station to get there.
Air conditioned buses leaving from Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal take around an hour to get to Nakhon Pathom town. The bus terminal is located on Borommaratchachonnani Road in Bangkok Noi, West of the Chao Phraya river. Easier to get to from central Bangkok is the Victory Monument, from where you can take a van to Nakhon Pathom.