Tour operators are faced with a challenge that is as old as tourism itself, which is to find new attractions for people to visit and enjoy. If you have been to Bangkok once or twice, seen the Grand Palace, taken your pictures at Wat Arun, shuffled through Chinatown and are now planning your third stop in the “City of Angels” and thinking to yourself “been there done that”, what is next for you?

Fear not, interested traveler – we have some ideas for you.

The entrance to the market

Why not visit the old market at Bangplee, a small community right outside the gates of Bangkok. This market, unlike some other and more famous places, was never conceived as a tourist attraction. It has been used by the locals over 150 years and therefore maintains an original charm that can hardly be found at other superficial similar places. Of course, some vendors have changed their offers slightly since the tourists have arrived but I guess you cannot have it both ways.

From this market, it is not far to one of the undiscovered jewels, a small island in the Gulf of Thailand. The name is Koh Si Chang and it is a very popular weekend retreat for Bangkokians. On the way there, you shouldn’t miss a visit at the temple of Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang. It is home to a giant reclining Buddha (a total 7 meters longer than the one in the popular temple of Wat Pho in Bangkok), which can be accessed on the inside. The 4- storey high statue especially has a display of a replica of “Buddha’s heart”, quite realistic and complete with veins and muscles…

From the bizarre, continue to the beautiful. On the charming small island of Koh Si Chang, there is actually a lot more to see than what you would expect. Getting around is easy in a motor-trycicle called “skylab”. You can rent them, along with a driver.

The best way to get around on Koh Si Chang

There are some sights here you shouldn’t miss. One is the Chinese temple “San Jao Phaw Khao Yai”, which offers a nice view of the island and the coastline. Another is the former summer palace of King Chulalonkorn (King Rama V) with the garden surrounding it. The inhabitants of the island are quite proud of their “royal” past.

There are a number of other interesting temples and some caves as well. Some are occupied by hermits, so be careful not to disturb them. This trip offers a good variety of culture and nature, coupled with a nice seaside atmosphere. It is surely a good alternative for the usual stuff that you have seen or done so far.