Just over 56 kilometers outside of Bangkok , Nakhon Pathom is often referred to as the country’s oldest city. When the city was settled in the 6th century (some believe it was settled as early as the 3rd century B.C., when travelers from the Indian subcontinent first visited to bring Buddhism to the region) it was the center of the Daravati Kingdom.
Today, little remains of Nakhon Pathom’s glorious past and the province is largely a suburb of Bangkok.
Surrounded by porticoes and rising high into the air, the city’s imposing Phra Pathom Chedi (corner of Naphra Rd. and Ratchawiti Rd.), at more than 100 meters, claims to be the largest Buddhist chedi (pagoda) in the world. The current brick structure, covered over in orange stucco, was built during King Rama IV’s reign, but inside (although you won’t be able to see it) are the remains of a pagoda built in the 6th century.
The original pagoda was built during the Daravati period and destroyed by Burmese invaders in the 11th century. Forgotten and left to be claimed by the jungle, the site was not rediscovered until the 19th century, when Rama IV had Phra Pathom built. Phra Pathom Chedi is also home to the remains of King Rama VI.
If you are visiting the Phra Pathom Chedi in the late afternoon or early evening, there is an excellent market right on the edge of the chedi’s grounds. It’s slightly less casual than a typical market: Each of the vendors here has large tables for sitting and you can find just about anything to eat, including hoi thot (fried oysters), oyster omelet, and roti. This dinner market attracts lots of families.
You can take public bus 83 from the Southern Bus Terminal in Pinklao on the other side of the river. Buses run frequently, starting at 5 a.m. and ending at 9:30 p.m., and the trip should take about an hour and cost 40 baht.