Beyond Bangkok

Journey a few hours north of Thailand’s capital for adventure sports, wine trails, wildlife and more.

If you’ve had your fill of Bangkok, head a few hours north to a world of wildlife, adventure sports, golf, agro tourism and wine trails. Here’s our guide to help you plan your weekend getaway from Thailand’s bustling capital city.

Tee off at the Royal Hills Golf Resort If you’re a golfer, what could be better than walking out of your room straight onto the golf course? The scenic Royal Hills Golf Resort boasts a 7,034-yard course spread over a mountain valley that blends into mist-laden hills in the distance. The 4,432ft-high Khao Rom (Umbrella Mountain) dominates the horizon. Royal Hills Golf Resort, 100/3 Moo2 Sarika-Nangrong Rd., T.Sarika, A.Mueng, Nakhon Nayok 26000, Thailand (+66 3738 5210;www.royalhillsresort.com)

Enjoy ATV rides and white-water rafting at Nakhon Nayok The Nakhon Nayok province is fast emerging as a hub for soft adventure sports. Go rappelling down a rock face or zip line with Khao Lon Adventure. Rev through streams and forested hills on ATVs with Sarika Adventure, or try kayaking and white-water rafting on Nakhon Nayok River, one of the 12 rafting sites in northern Thailand. Starting from Tha Dan Bridge, tackle the winding Nang Rong Canal with the Samchan Rapids and the Three Rock Rapids before ending the two-hour trip at Ban Wang Yao.

Go on a night safari at Khao Yai National Park The country’s first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Khao Yai spans four provinces. Covering an area of 2,168sq km, the park is dotted with scenic viewpoints, gurgling streams and many nam toks (waterfalls) like Sarika, Nang Rong and Heo Narok. Besides trekking and game drives, the open-jeep night safari is an exciting way to spot elephants, hedgehogs, civet cats, deer and the occasional leopard. Khao Yai National Park, Mu Si, Pak Chong, Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand

Indulge in wine tours at GranMonte Vineyard and PB Valley If you thought Thailand was all about Singha and Chang beer, think again. Nakhon Ratchasima—Thailand’s emerging winemaking region—produces amazing New Latitude wines. Sprawled across 2000 acres in the shadow of the Payayen mountain range, PB Valley is Thailand’s largest vineyard with great farm trips and wine-tasting tours. At GranMonte Asoke Valley Winery nearby, know your syrah from your rosé with Nikki Visootha Lohitnavy, Thailand’s only female oenologist and viticulturist while dining at the brookside restaurant VinCotto. (GranMonte: +66 36 227 334 www.granmonte.com; PB Valley: +66 36 226 415 www.khaoyaiwinery.com)

Learn about agro tourism at Farm Chokchai For a hands-on ‘knowledge tour’ of Farm Chokchai, hop on a bus with Thai girls in plaid shirts and cowboy hats acting as guides on Asia’s largest agro tour. The 8000-acre dairy farm with 5,000 heads of cattle has the charm of an eastern ranch with a western attitude. Some of the attractions include rodeo shows, pony rides, a petting zoo, a Wild West town, sheep dogs performing drills and quirky animal tricks. Sample dairy fresh ice cream, milk the cows, watch them being lassoed and if you’re up to it, bite into juicy beef at the Steak House (+66 44 328 386; http://www.farmchokchai.com/en)

Marvel at the largest Ganesha statue in Thailand In a largely Buddhist country, it’s surprising to see Thais line up to pay tribute to the elephant-headed Hindu god. Worshipped as Phra Phikanet, Ganesha is considered the lord of wisdom and good luck. At Ganesha Park, see Thailand’s largest Ganesha statues—one sitting cross-legged and the other reclining against a giant bolster. Locals offer incense, circumambulate and whisper prayers in the ears of his divine vehicle, the mouse. A small enclosure in the complex displays Lord Ganesha in 108 postures.

Dine at the Smoke House or enjoy a Thai meal at a highway shack Just past Piazza Palio, an Italian-style outdoor shopping plaza, is what looks like a medieval grey building but is actually the most popular eatery in Khao Yai. With alfresco dining in a garden and live performances in the evening, Smoke House serves excellent pork chops or ribs with mustard sauce, fresh salads and wood oven pizzas. For a more authentic Thai experience, relish a rustic highway meal of khai jiao (layered omelette), crisp-fried sea bass, Thai curry and stir-fry chicken with cashew nuts at any of the shacks. The Smoke House, Khao Yai, 88/88 Moo 10, Thanarat Rd., Pak Chong, Thailand

Pamper your senses at Muthi Maya Resort Part of the award-winning Kirimaya chain of hotels, Muthi Maya Forest Pool Villa Resort is ranked among the top ten most romantic resorts in the world by Reuters. Nestled at the base of the Khao Yai hills, each lavish villa comes with a private outdoor pool and a wooden deck. Get a rejuvenating massage, play golf at the Jack Nicklaus designed course, try Japanese-Italian fusion cuisine at the open-air Myth restaurant or opt for a private barbecue with the resort’s personal butler service. Muthi Maya Resort, , Khao Yai, 1/3 Moo 6 Thanarat Road, Moo-Si, Pakchong, Nakorn Ratchasima 30130, Thailand (+66 44 426 000; www.muthimaya.com) Doubles from Rs 37,943

Reverse bungee at Life Park Try bungee jumping with a twist. Strapped to a seat, the X-MAX catapults you 197ft into the sky before you slowly bounce back to the ground like a crazy yo-yo. At Life Park adventure zone, live life to the fullest with crazy slides, swings, speedways and other high adrenaline adventures like Nano racing and zorbing. Life Park, 188/1 Thanarat Rd., Moo See, Pakchong, Nakornratchasima 30130, Thailand (+66 02 661 299; www.mylifepark.com)

Explore the ancient capital of Ayutthaya From its inception in 1350 to its destruction by Burmese forces in 1767, Ayutthaya or the Invincible City of King Rama served as the old Thai capital. The reclining Buddha statue at Wat Yai Chai Mongkol and the weatherworn Buddha head entwined by tree roots at Wat Mahathat are stunning highlights. Instead of the tedious 85km road trip from Bangkok, take a leisurely longboat cruise on the Chao Phraya, the River of Kings and arrive in fitting tribute.

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