One doesn't have to stray too far from Bangkok to enjoy the special deals available to vacationers. B. Magazine lists some favourite nearby destinations
With the government's Rao Tiew Duay Gan scheme launched to boost domestic tourism as well as the recently-announced Songkran holidays which were moved from April to the end of this month, vacationers are drafting some itineraries to satisfy their wanderlust as many leading hotel chains and tourist attractions are offering several options of specially crafted holiday packages with extra benefits.
For those who don't have much time or still feel uncomfortable to take a flight to the North or South, B.Magazine has curated a list of 10 destinations for one- or two-day trips in short-driving distance, in which people of all ages can enjoy fun leisure activities in different styles.
Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram
At a glance: Established in 1782 by King Rama I, this temple complex has been recognised for its magnificent traditional Thai-style architecture, influenced by Wat Phra Si Sanphet from the Ayutthaya period.
Located in the outer royal court, it features a chapel, home to the highly revered Emerald Buddha statue showcasing top-notch traditional northern-style craftsmanship. The statue is believed to have been created in the 15th century and wears three seasonal costumes -- the summer and rainy collections were crafted during the reign of King Rama I and the winter design is made from gold and jewellery from the reign of King Rama III.
As foreigners have been banned from entry, this is the best time for local visitors to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and admire a series of astonishing murals around the 2km-long cloister of the temple compound. Running clockwise from the north gate, all 178 dramatic scenes were first painted in the reign of King Rama III, depicting the Ramakien epic on the walls.
Preventive measures: Visitors are required to wear face masks, scan the QR code on the Thai Chana platform, have temperature taken, and observe social distancing.
Visit it: 8.30am to 3.30pm.
Find it: Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Nakhon (Rattanakosin), Bangkok. Admission is free for Thais and 500 baht for foreigners. Visitors are required to book online tickets at least 24 hours prior to a visit.
Browse it: royalgrandpalace.th.
The National Museum Bangkok is showcasing more than 30,000 artefacts dating back to different periods of Siam.
National Museum Bangkok
At a glance: The National Museum Bangkok has revitalised 12 halls, boasting more than 30,000 artefacts, new lighting and video presentations to give visitors more fun experiences. Once a part of the Front Palace, built in 1782, the Uttra Bhimuk Hall seems like a vintage fashion hall, home to a wide collection of the clothes and costumes of the Siamese court like pha yok (elaborate brocade robes), pha krong thong (gold woven clothes used to decorate pha sabai) and block-printed cotton.
The Thaksina Bhimuk Hall draws visitors with a rare selection of Thai musical instruments and art pieces related to the royal performing arts. Standing alongside is the two-storey Wasantaphiman Hall whose upstairs is designed to resemble the royal residence, adorned with vintage furniture, household items and handicrafts.
The ground floor is a gallery of musical instruments used in royal serenades such as the Thai xylophone with glass bars. There's also instruments that King Manivong of Cambodia gave to King Rama VII during his visit to Cambodia in 1930.
The Prissadangkhabhimuk Hall is lined with a collection of sapkhap, the carriage placed on an elephant's back for travelling and for battle. One of the highlights includes the sapkhap khen adorned with gold leaf on black lacquer and coloured mirror glass.
Preventive measures: Visitors are required to wear face masks, pass the temperature checkpoint and scan the QR code on the Thai Chana platform. The number of visitors is limited to 100 per building.
Visit it: It's open from Wednesday to Sunday, 9am to 4pm.
Find it: Na Phra That alley, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Bangkok.
Call it: 02-224-1333.
Browse it: facebook.com/nationalmuseumbangkok. Admission is 30 baht for Thais and 200 baht for foreigners.
Rama IX Museum is the largest learning centre about environment and ecological systems in Thailand.
Rama IX Museum
At a glance: Opened late last year, the Science and Technology Ministry has poured 1.6 billion baht into the Rama IX Museum and promoted it as the largest learning centre about Thailand's environment and ecological systems.
Occupying 27,000m², this brand-new museum is divided into three zones in a tribute to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great's contributions to technology and science.
Featuring multimedia presentations, the first zone is designed under a theme of Our Home to travel back in time to when the universe and planet originated. Visitors can learn about the solar system, the evolution of living organisms and the physical development of human beings from standing on two feet to precision grip to creating their own cultures.
The Our Life gallery exhibits how human activities have affected the ecosystems and environment in several biome areas. For example, ice melting in the Arctic is an impact of global warming, while deforestation in Thailand leads to water shortages, floods in different areas and soil problems.
The tour ends at the zone of Our King. The exhibition demonstrates how King Bhumibol had integrated local wisdom, science and modern management principles for sustainable living.
Preventive measures: Visitors are required to wear face masks, pass the temperature checkpoint, scan the QR code on the Thai Chana platform and take their own water bottles. The number of visitors is limited to 1,000 per day.
Visit it: It's open from 9.30am to 5pm, Saturdays and Sundays only.
Find it: Rangsit Klong 5, Klong Luang district, Pathum Thani. Call it: (02) 577 9999.
Browse it: nsm.or.th Admission is 200 baht for adults. Advanced booking is required.
The Ancient City is home to breathtaking imitations of historical palaces, temples and ancient markets.
At a glance: Designed in a shape of Thailand, the Ancient City is the largest outdoor museum in the country, showcasing breathtaking recreations of historical palaces, temples and ancient markets to transport visitors to different periods of Siam.
It's divided into six zones, in which visitors can ride bicycles or the tram for a sightseeing tour. Standing in the middle of the Central Region zone, Sanphet Throne Hall with its spectacular architecture is a reminiscence of the glorious days of the Ayutthaya Kingdom.
In 1972, King Bhumibol turned it into a reception hall to welcome Queen Elizabeth II and her consort, Prince Philip. Apart from beautiful murals of the Hindu god Narayana, it boasts a private collection of old porcelain and silver and gold nielloware.
In the Northeast Region zone, a replica of Prasart Phra Wihan in Si Sa Ket province sits on the summit of a 54m artificial hill to take visitors back to the reign of King Suriyavarman I.
The North Region zone draws visitors with Wat Chong Kham and a showcase of refined Tai Yai-style craftsmanship. Featuring monk quarters and a main hall for daily rituals, this 100-year-old wooden complex was relocated from Lampang to represent the unique culture of the Tai Yai ethnic group.
The Old Market Town is designed to be a living museum, home to a barber, old-fashioned boutiques, theatres for Nang Yai shadow play and Chinese opera as well as a traditional casino.
Preventive measures: Visitors are required to wear face masks, observe social distancing and scan the QR code for the Thai Chana platform.
Visit it: It's open Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 7pm.
Find it: Sukhumvit Road, Bangpoomai, Samut Prakan. There is a free shuttle bus service from the Kheha BTS station.
Browse it: muangboranmuseum.com. Tickets are 700 baht for foreigners, 400 baht for Thais and 200 baht for kids.
Bang Namphueng Floating Market offers a variety of local products, food and desserts.
Bang Namphueng Floating Market
At a glance: Settled in tambon Bang Krachao, Samut Prakan, the Bang Namphueng Floating Market sits in the heart of a Thai-Mon community, in which visitors can sample the way of rural life and enjoy fun activities like cruising along a canal and riding a bike to explore the Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park and Botanical Garden.
Set up in 2004, it is home to hundreds of local vendors selling tempting street food and home-made sweets like giant pork and chicken balls, boat noodles, hoi thot (fried mussel pancake), chicken satay, deep-fried bananas and kanom tuay (Thai coconut custard) at reasonable prices. All stalls and dining tables are equipped with plastic partitions to reduce virus infections.
There's also a wide range of agricultural products from farms like coconut, mango, banana, rose apple and vegetables on offer. Those looking for keepsakes can check out the latest edition of Otop products such as artificial flowers made from fish scales, herbal incense, grain compress balls, wooden furniture and home decorative items.
Preventive measures: Visitors are required to wear face masks, pass through the temperature checkpoint and scan the QR code for the Thai Chana platform.
Visit it: It's open Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 8am to 4pm.
Find it: Phra Pradaeng district, Samut Prakan.
Call it: 02-461-3254.
Browse it: facebook/bangnam phuengmarket (in Thai). Admission is free.
Hua Takhe Market is a hub for art lovers.
Hua Takhe Market
At a glance: Located in Lat Krabang district, villagers in the old waterfront community of Hua Takhe have turned their homes into gift shops, cafes, guesthouses, eateries and art galleries to attract tourists and art buffs.
From now until Aug 4, the community joins hands with Rakdok, the floral inspiration edutainment website, to host the Save The Date I Rakdok Floral Week (s) Festival, aiming to soothe the soul and mind after getting through the Covid-19 crisis.
Fresh and colourful, the community is adorned with beautiful flower installations from Thailand's famous flower organiser Rainforest, while a group of university students showcase their artworks at the Rongrahat-aframe.
Visitors can enjoy boat noodles, tempting Thai sweets and good coffee, while observing the way of local life. During the weekend, skilful local artisans offer a range of creative workshops on how to craft model boats, leaf kites and paper garlands.
Next to the community, Chang Silp College (the College of Fine Arts) has an outdoor exhibition of 20 sculptures created by Prof Silpa Bhirasri, an Italian-born sculptor who founded Silpakorn University, and his pupils.
Preventive measures: Visitors are required to wear face masks and scan the QR code on the Thai Chana platform.
Visit it: It's open daily from 10am to 6pm.
Find it: It's on Lat Krabang 17, Lat Krabang district, Bangkok.
Browse it: facebook.com/LoveHuatakhe. No entry fee.
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum presents an exhibition of golden nielloware found in the crypts of Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Maha That.
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
At a glance: Opened in 1961, the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum takes visitors back to the Ayutthaya Kingdom through a wide collection of artefacts. Sitting in the heart of the ancient capital Ayutthaya, this two-storey building features three galleries with "The Gold Of Ayutthaya, The Traditional Heritage" exhibition.
The main hall displays a huge bronze Buddha bust in the U-Thong style created in the first half of the 15th century. There's also a line of gilded Buddha statues that were found in 1956 hidden within the torso of a gold Phra Mongkol Bopit statue as well as a carved wooden gable depicting Vishnu mounted on his avian carrier, the Garuda.
Visitors can admire a rare edition of golden nielloware found in the crypts of Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Maha That. Highlights include a gilded stone container in the shape of a fish that held relics of the Buddha; a miniature royal elephant adorned with precious stones; and a lady's headdress woven from gold thread in floral motifs. This is only one-fifth of the treasure that was kept there; robbers made off with the rest in 1957.
Preventive measures: Visitors are required to wear face masks, scan the QR code for the Thai Chana platform and pass temperature checkpoints. The number of visitors is limited to 100 per building.
Visit it: It's daily open from 9am to 4pm (except Monday).
Find it: Rojana Road, Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya, Ayutthaya.
Call it: 035-241-587, 035-244-570.
Browse it: virtualmuseum.finearts.go.th/chaosamphraya. Tickets are 30 baht for Thais and 150 baht for foreigners.
Wat Niwet Thammaprawat was built in Gothic-style.
Wat Niwet Thammaprawat
At a glance: Standing opposite Bang Pa-in Palace in Ayutthaya, Wat Niwet Thammaprawat has been recognised for its astonishing Gothic-Revival architecture. In 1989, it was given the Architectural Conservation Award by the Association of Siamese Architects.
Built in 1876 by King Chulalongkorn, Italian architect Joachim Brassi was responsible for designing this temple complex to look like a Christian church, whose construction took two years to complete.
Perched on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, it is lined with a hall for keeping 119 scriptures and the monk's Western-style dwellings in pastel-shaded pink. Lofty and beautiful, the ordination hall comes in yellow and is decorated with multicoloured stained glass windows, while a statue of Phra Phutthanaruethanmopat is enshrined on the Gothic wood altar to showcase a perfect mixture of Thai and Western designs. The temple can only be accessed via a cable car.
Preventive measures: Visitors are required to wear face masks.
Visit it: It's daily open 9am to 4pm.
Find it: It's on the grounds of the Bang Pa-in Palace, Bang Pa-in district, Ayutthaya.
Call it: 035-261-044.
Browse it: watniwet.com. Admission is free.
Khao Kheow Open Zoo presents more than 8,000 animals and birds of over 300 species.
Khao Kheow Open Zoo
At a glance: Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chon Buri still remains a popular place for families to enjoy fun safari experiences. Surrounded with greenery landscapes and lush tropical jungle, the zoo is home to more than 8,000 animals and birds of over 300 breeds, with the largest collection of cat species in the country.
Families can explore the African savannah zone, in which giraffes, zebras, ostriches, rhinos, oryxes and impalas live together in harmony on the 5 rai land. The Eld's Deer Park offers an Auto Tram, which allows visitors to have an up-close encounter with, feed and take selfies with a flock of deers. In addition, visitors can say hello to Mae Mali, the oldest hippo in Thailand relocated from Bangkok's Dusit Zoo last year.
Currently, only a programme of bird shows is on view and visitors aren't allowed to drive through the park to ensure the animals' safety and reduce the risk of virus infections.
Preventive measures: Visitors are required to wear face masks, pass the temperature checkpoints and scan the QR code on the Thai Chana platform.
Visit it: It's daily open from 8am to 5pm.
Find it: It's at 235, Sri Racha district, Chon Buri.
Call it: 038-318-444.
Browse it: khaokheow.zoothailand.org. Admission is 30 baht for children, 150 baht for Thais and 250 baht for foreigners.
Dong Tan Bay boasts a white sand beach.
Ao Dong Tan
At a glance: Tucked away in Sattahip naval base in Chon Buri, the bay boasts a 400m white beach, which is lined with towering pine trees and fan palms, perfect to unwind amid a cool breeze.
Tranquil and shady, visitors can sit on a beach chair and enjoy fresh seafood, while sports lovers can rent a kayak and windsurfing board to ride the waves of the Gulf of Thailand. For families, specialists also offer some classes for painting and sailing a boat to offer more holiday experiences.
Preventive measures: Visitors are required to wear face masks, pass the temperature checkpoint and scan QR code of the Thai Chana platform. The number of tourists is limited to 300 to 500 persons a day.
Visit it: It's open from 6am to 6pm.
Find it: It's located in the Sattahip Naval Base, Chon Buri.
Call it: 038-438-474.
Browse it: facebook.com/thainavyland. No entry fee.