The Ancient City or Muang Boran is one of the largest open-air museums in the world featuring replicas of Thailand’s most historic buildings from different kingdoms such as Ayutthaya, Lanna, and current Rattanakosin. While most of the buildings have been scaled down to about one-third of the originals, some structures are life-size replicas. There are also pure fantasy buildings that have never existed in the real world but are an important part of Thai mythology and religion.
The Ancient City was created by multi-millionaire Lek Viriyaphant (passed away in 2000), who also created the nearby Erawan Museum and the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya. Founded in 1963, it’s quite remarkable how unknown this park is — at least I didn’t know about this place until recently when I saw some cool pictures on Instagram.
The park is huge, and you can easily spend a full day here. Depending on how many hours you want to spend here, renting a golf cart is a good idea. If you don’t want to rent a golf cart, bicycles are included in the entrance fee of 700 baht (350 baht for Thai people).
The first place we went to see was the Sumeru Mountain some distance from the starting point as I planned to take some drone shots here. A staff member walked up to me pretty quickly asking me to take down the drone, but luckily, I managed to take a few shots.
Another drone shot I snapped on the way down for landing. The giant Anondha fish guarding the temple is pretty awesome-looking!
A closer look at the temple of Sumeru Mountain, which, according to Thai cosmology, is considered the pillar of the world as well as the center of the universe.
The next place I planned to take some drone shots of was the beautiful Pavilion of the Enlightened that symbolizes the story of 500 monks who all became enlightened and reached Nirvana. But since I was just told not to fly a drone, I had to settle for some none-aerial shots.
Just like Sumeru Mountain, The Pavilion of the Enlightened has never existed in the real world more than in this park.
Visiting the two first temples was our main goal, and after that, we cruised around and photographed lots of interesting buildings like this authentic-looking ruin known as the Sikhoraphum Stone Sanctuary which is constructed according to Hindu beliefs and dates back to the 12th century. The temple, which is a symbol of the province of Surin, became a sacred place for Thai Buddhists during the 16th century.
The garden around Sanphet Prasat Palace in Ayutthaya, which was burnt down to the ground in 1767 when the Burmese destroyed the city, is absolutely gorgeous! The palace has been rebuilt here with the help of archaeological and historical evidence left by Thai and foreign historians.
The Dusit Maha Prasat Palace within the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok is situated in the same garden as mentioned above. The palace was built as a royal public hall in 1789 by King Rama I during the early Rattanakosin era.
Nice to stroll around jet-lagged in the tropical heat. We always put our Bangkok adventures first when we travel to Thailand, and since it is early in the vacation, you are always a little more stoked taking lots of pictures.
After a bit of strolling, we continued to cruise around in our golf cart with wifey behind the wheel and here we stopped at some dragon fountain called Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Kuan-Yin) performing a miracle to fend off evil forces.
One of the latest additions to the park is the beautiful Great Hall of Vajra Dhamma which takes visitors back to the golden days of the Ayutthaya era. It’s said that more than 80 million baht was spent on this building with 38 Buddha statues from past, present, and future based on the Buddhist canon.
As I was standing taking pictures, some electric trams suddenly passed by with Thai school children who thought I looked more interesting than the surrounding buildings.
The Ancient City is a very interesting place worth visiting if you are in Bangkok for a few days. There are over 120 buildings and monuments, and since we had limited time, we didn’t see them all. I’m not sure if that’s even possible in one day?
How to get there
We took a Skytrain in Bangkok to Samrong BTS station via Bearing BTS station to finish with a few minutes taxi ride to the park. Total time around one hour.
Golf cart for rent
- Two seats 150 baht/hour
- Four seats 300 baht/hour
- Six seats 450 baht/hour
For more information, visit muangboranmuseum.com. Click on the map below to enlarge.
The buildings that have not existed in the real world are called “creative design” and are blue on the map. The red ones are replicas of real buildings such as palaces and temples while the green ones are genuine original buildings that have been moved from their place of origin and rebuilt here at The Ancient City.
If you know what Thailand looks like on the Atlas map, you will see that the park is shaped somewhat similarly. Northern Thailand’s attractions are therefore located in the northern part of the park and the beautiful buildings in Bangkok and Ayutthaya can be found in the middle of the park.