Nakhon Nayok is a tourist destination not far from Bangkok. The city and surrounding province come alive during the holidays with tourists. Nakhon Nayok is renowned for its refreshing waterfalls and abundant varieties of fruit.
Historically, it is believed that the area of Ban Dong Lakhon, to the south of Nakhon Nayok town, was a Dvaravati settlement, dating back for more than a thousand years. As for the name of "Nakhon Nayok", records going back to the Ayutthaya's period indicated that it was an eastern frontier town during the reign of King U-Thong. In 1894, under the royal command of King Rama V, Nakhon Nayok was designated as a part of Prachin Buri Province. Eventually, it became a separate province.
In the past, Nakhon Nayok was called "Ban Na" (village of the rice field). From hearsay, during Ayutthaya period, Nakhon Nayok was just forested highland, on which farming or planting was fruitful. Jungle fever was everywhere, thus the townspeople migrated elsewhere, leaving the place deserted. News of the plight of people reached the king. Subsequently, the king commanded that paddy field taxes be lifted to encourage the people to stay on, which worked, and also enticed the people around the area to migrate to the town. After that, it became a large community and the town was renowned as "Mueang Nayok" (the town where the paddy tax was lifted).
The city is a less than a two hours drive from Bangkok. It can be reached in two ways:
- Drive Hwy 305, along Rangsit canal passing Ongkharak. This route is about 107 km.
- Take Hwy 1, take a right turn at Hin Gong, and then drive along Suwannason Road (Hwy 33). This route is about 137 km.
The Transport Co., Ltd. ("baw kaw saw") operates daily non-air conditioned and air conditioned buses from the Northern Bus Terminal on Kamphaengphet 2 Rd.
There are two routes: Bangkok-Hin Kong-Nakhon Nayok and Bangkok-Rangsit-Ongkharak-Nakhon Nayok. For more information, contact tel: +66 2 5378055 or +66 2 9362841. Additionally, there are specially-run second-class air conditioned buses from Bangkok-Ongkharak-Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy (by-passing Nakhon Nayok town) available.
There are tuk-tuks available for chartering around Nakhon Nayok town. They can mostly be found at the town bus terminal. For more information, contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Nakhon Nayok office, in city hall.
San Lak Mueang (City Pillar Shrine) (ศาลหลักเมือง) at one time it was a shrine housing a one metre wooden column topped with a carving in the form of a lotus bud, near the old city wall. Later the shrine was rebuilt into an elegant four-cornered pavilion. Today, City Pillar Shrine is the most revered shrine of the townspeople.
Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy (โรงเรียนนายร้อยพระจุลจอมเกล้า) A training centre for Thai military cadets.
Attractions in the Chulachomkloa Royal Military Academy include:
- King Rama V Monument (พระบรมราชานุเสาวรีย์พระบาทสมเด็จพระจุลจอมเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว) It was built in honour of and reverence to King Chulachomkloa (King Rama V) who was the founder of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy.
- Circular Pavilion (ศาลาวงกลม), historically, under the command of Field Marshal Crown Prince Pitsanulok Prachanat, the circular pavilion was built as a recreation area for cadets. It enshrines a statue of King Rama V.
- 100 Year Royal Military Academy Museum (อาคารพิพิธภัณฑ์โรงเรียนนายร้อย จปร. 100 ปี) exhibits biographies of the graduates who performed public services and also displays history of wars, weapons that were used in wars in the past, various uniforms of soldiers of all forces as well as a wax sculpture of King Rama V.
- Shrine of Chao Pho Khun Dan (ศาลเจ้าพ่อขุนด่าน) is a revered shrine of the Thais. Historically, Khun Dan was a commander in Nakhon Nayok during the Ayutthaya period. His heroic deed was the expulsion of the Khmer rebels in the year 1587, during the reign of King Naresuan Maharat.
- Phra Phutthachai or Wat Phra Chai (พระพุทธฉายหรือวัดพระฉาย) was formerly named "Wat Khao Cha-ngok". In 1942, the army's map department built a marble quarry at the foot of the hill and restored and enhanced the Buddha images. Phra Phutthachai is sacred to the townspeople.
Luang Pho Sian Nakhon (หลวงพ่อเศียรนคร) the revered Buddha image of the townspeople is enshrined at Bunnak Rakkitaram temple (Wat Tam). It is assumed that this sacred Buddha image dates back to Phra Ruang Era of the Sukhothai period.
Buddha's Footprint Replica at Khao Nang Buat (รอยพระพุทธบาทจำลองเขานางบวช), housed in a square structure with four arches and a pyramidal roof (mondop) on top of Nang Buat hill. The festivity to worship the Buddha's Footprint Replica at Khao Nang Buat is held annually in the middle of the fifth month of the lunar calendar.
Ban Dong Lakhon Archeological Site (แหล่งโบราณคดีบ้านดงละคร) It is the site of the old town during the Khmer period. Artefacts discovered here include; an elaborate gold head of a Buddha image about the size of a fingertip, crab and elephant ring-stamps, bronze ring, glass beads, rock beads, and bronze ear-rings.
37th Quartermaster Infantry of Japanese Military Memorial (อนุสรณ์สถานกองพลทหารญี่ปุ่นที่37) The Friends of Asian Alliance War Association built the memorial in 1992 to honour the 7,920 Thai soldiers who were recruited into the Japanese 37th Quartermaster Infantry and died in the war.
Namtok Sarika (น้ำตกสาริกา) is the most famous waterfall of Nakhon Nayok. The waterfall cascades down 9 levels, of which the top level is 200 metres up. Each level (of 9 levels) of the falls has a large basin, which could hold a large amount of water in the rainy season, but is dry in dry season. Nearby, there is "Sarika Cave" where the revered monk "Luang Pu Man" resided on his religious missions from 1917-1920.
Lan Rak Falls or Tat Hin Kong Falls (น้ำตกลานรักหรือน้ำตกตาดหินกอง) The waterfall originates from a small stream passing through a large rocky formation at the end, then flowing strongly through the large rocky formation at the foot of a small hill.
Wang Takhrai (วังตะไคร้) is filled with huge, shady trees and has a small stream running through. There are also a variety of beautiful species of ornamental flowers and plants.
Nang Rong Falls or Namtok Nang Rong (น้ำตกนางรอง) The waterfall originates from a source on a high mountain in Khao Yai National Park. It cascades down several levels onto rock formations, flowing through verdant forests
Huai Prue Reservoir (อ่างเก็บน้ำห้วยปรือ) This is a small reservoir by volume but has a large surface area. The reservoir is filled all year round and surrounded by an unpaved road.
Sai Thong Reservoir (อ่างเก็บน้ำทรายทอง) This small reservoir offers a natural mountainous landscape. The small waterfall runs all throughout the year.
OUT-OF CITY ATTRACTIONS Ban Na District
Namtok Ka-ang (น้ำตกกะอาง) The water cascades through gaps between large rocks. Nearby, there is an transplanting station of the Forestry Department. In the vicinity is a small hill that enshrines the Buddha image in an attitude of subduing Mara.
Namtok Wang Muang (น้ำตกวังม่วง) The waterfall cascades through lines upon lines of big boulders before falling to a basin.
Thudongkhasathan Thawon Nimit (ธุดงคสถานถาวรนิมิตร) is a meditation centre for monks, novices, nuns, and the general public. There are hundreds of shelters for monks, nuns, and general public to worship.
Namtok Heo Narok (น้ำตกเหวนรก) This is a 3-tiered large waterfall with its first tier at 60 metres high. During the rainy season, there is such a lot of water that the flow is frightening and will drop straight down at 90 degrees to a lower chasm.
Chao Pho Ongkharak Shrine (ศาลเจ้าพ่อองครักษ์) In front of the shrine in the middle of the Nakhon Nayok River, there is a sacred whirlpool, of which the water taken is used in royal ceremonies. When the present king, King Bhumibol Adulyadej ascended to the throne, water from this whirlpool was used during the ceremony.
Ornamental Plants and Floral Centre (ศูนย์ไม้ดอกไม้ประดับ) Various plant nurseries that grow a large variety of ornamental plants and flora which are sold to every corner of the country.
- Khao Yai-Nakhon Nayok Jungle Treks (ท่องไพรเขาใหญ่-นครนายก) is usually held during December to June. The trekking aims to promote the study of nature and ecology, as well as creating good understanding in natural resources and environmental conservation.
- Khao Yai National Park, the first national park of Thailand was declared a national park on September 18, 1962. It covers areas of four provinces: Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Ratchasima, Prachin Buri, and Saraburi. The park occupies an area of 2,168 square kilometers and consists of virgin forest, tropical forest, streams, waterfalls, wildlife, and a variety of plants. The most suitable visiting time is during the Thai winter, from October to February when it is cold at night until the next morning. The highest point is Khao Rom Peak, which is 1,351 metres above sea level.
- Tak Bat Thewo Rohana Fair (งานประเพณีตักบาตรเทโวโรหนะ), a festivity where offerings are made to monks. The festivity is held annually on the 1st day of the waning moon of the 11th month of the lunar calendar or the end of the Buddhist lent. During the festivity, 109 monks descend from Wat Khao Nang Buat to accept offerings from the townspeople.
- Sweet Plum Mango and Nakhon Nayok Products Fair (งานวันมะปรางหวานและของดีนครนายก) takes place annually during February–April in front of the City Hall. It is held to promote Ma-prang (sweet plum mangoes), and other agricultural products and handicrafts
- Thai Merit Making (Sat Thai) and Long boat Racing Festival (งานประเพณีสารทไทยและแข่งเรือยาวประเพณี) is annually held in October along Khlong 29 at Wat Thawiphon Rangsan, Amphoe Ongkharak. The fair showcases a variety of long boats racing, a krayasat-making contest (krayasat is a sticky paste made from rice, bean, sesame, and sugar, usually eaten during Sat Thai Festival), merit making on Sat Thai day, and local entertainment at night.
- Ongkharak Ornamental Plants and Flowers Fair (งานมหกรรมไม้ดอกไม้ประดับองครักษ์) is annually held in April at Khlong 15, Tambon Bang Pla Kot, Amphoe Ongkharak. The contests of ornamental plants and flowers, mini-garden arrangement contests, and an academic exhibition regarding plants and flowers are also held.
Sweet Plum Mango (Ma-prang, มะปราง) is the most well known fruit of Nakhon Nayok (it is a sweet fruit and is similar to "ma-yong-chit", a sour fruit). The ma-prang harvest season February to March. They are grown in a number of orchards on the Nakhon Nayok-Namtok Sarika road.
Dala (ดอกดาหลา) is a flower of Etlingera or Jack Jr. Rosemary. Along Highway 3049 as well as the route to Wang Ri Resort, a number of Dala orchards can be found. The dala's blooming season is November to May.
Marble Products (ผลิตภัณฑ์หินอ่อน): A marble quarry is located near Nakhon Nayok hospital, Amphoe Mueang, and at the intersection to Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy.
Bamboo Products (ผลิตภัณฑ์จากไม้ไผ่) Bamboo products are produced in Tambon Sarika, Amphoe Mueang. Products include a miniature sail boat, a peacock, and human faces.
Brooms (ไม้กวาด) Manufactured in Tambon Sarika, Amphoe Mueang, Tambon Na Hin Lat, Tambon Khok Kruat, Tambon Nong Saeng, Amphoe Pak Phli. The brooms are made with indigenous grass and the broomstick is made from a piece of wood from a tree of the Apocynaceae family or made of bamboo.
Doormats made from scrap cloth (พรมทอจากเศษผ้า) are produced in Tambon Khao Phoem, Amphoe Ban Na. The scrap cloth, also made into bed covers, are sold in various sizes at furniture stalls of Ban Na market and Amphoe Mueang.
Sugared Banana Chips (Kluai Chap) (กล้วยฉาบ) and sugared sweet potato and sugared taro chips are produced in Tambon Sarika, Mueang District.
Preserved Fruits (ผลไม้แช่อิ่ม) such as star apples, tamarinds, mangos, santol, and lime. They are sold at the Ban Yai intersection, Mueang District or Dong Chok Di Housewife Association at Ban Dong, Tambon Sarika, Mueang District. The supply of fruits comes from fruit orchards of the members; some of the cultivated fruits are sold fresh while others are converted into various products.