Nakhon Si Thammarat, the second largest province of the South and the land of predominant Buddhism during the Srivijaya Period, is 780 kilometres from Bangkok. It occupies an area of 9,942 square kilometres consisting of high plateaus and mountains in the west, then sloping down towards the east and becoming a basin along the coastline of the Gulf of Thailand.

In addition to its great history, Nakhon Si Thammarat boasts pristine verdant jungles abundant with luxuriant vegetation and is also noted for picturesque beaches and beautiful waterfalls.

:: Attractions

In the past, every major town has a Wat Mahathat associated with it. The one here is considered to be one of Thailand 's most sacred temples and is believed to be at least 1,000 years old. The main chedi, dating to the 13 th century, is topped with a golden peak (weighing 600-1,000 kg) and houses Buddha relics believed to have been brought from Sri Lanka. Within the same compound is the Wiharn (hall) Phra Ma with an elaborately carved emerald-inlaid door from the Sukhothai period.

Religious art and artifacts from the earlier Dvaravati and Srivijayan periods to the more recent Rattanakosin era, are exhibited at the Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum. Buddha images have a distinctive Sing style characterized by stumpy features and animated faces. Highlights include a 9th-century, southern Indian style statue of Vishnu, and 2 rare bronze drums from northern Vietnam. Also on display are local folk art and handicrafts.

The Shadow Puppet Theater (nang talung) preserves a uniquely Southeast Asian form of entertainment that is in danger of dying out in Thailand. The puppets are cut from leather and available for sale. Impromptu shows can be performed upon request.

The Phra Buddha Sing is one of Thailand 's most sacred Buddha images. The replica of the original, cast in Sri Lanka in 157 AD, was brought to the town at the end of the 13th century, and is housed in the shrine of the same name. Local artisans refined the image with a half smile, a rounder face, and fuller chest, similar to the Buddha images in Wat Phra Sing in Chiang Mai and the National Museum in Bangkok.

The tradition of gold and silver shops along the Tha Chang Road dates from 1804, when only skilled gold and silversmiths migrants were allowed to settle in this area.

The sandy area of Khanom Beach is both tranquil and scenic, located 100 km north of the provincial capital.

Wat Sao Thong (Golden Pillar Temple) features a Southern-style Thai wooden house that was constructed in 1888 and finished in 1901. It actually consists of 3 houses joined together, and features elaborately carved wooden doors, panels, and windows. The Architect's Association of Thailand presented the structure with a conservation award in 1993.

For shopping, the Bovorn Bazaar is the right place to be. The city center bazaar is a peaceful courtyard with many cafes, bars and restaurants, a popular meeting place with the locals.

The Kiriwong Village, located at the foot of the 1,835 meters high Luang Mountain, is an ideal base station for those wanting to hike to the mountain's summit. The village is set among lush forests and cool streams. The village had once been totally devastated by floods and landslides in 1988.

Regarded as one of the most beautiful caves in Thailand, the locals have been highly active in preserving the original natural beauty of Khao Wang Thong Cave.

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