Friday, May 11, 2007


Bangkok, known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or Krung Thep for short, is the capital of and largest city in Thailand

Bangkok or Krung Thep which means the City of Angels was constructed in 1782 or 224 years ago. Presently, Bangkok has approximately 10 million population and it is considered one of the biggestcity in the world.Over the last few decades, Thailand's capital city, Bangkok, has changed into a modern, exciting and sophisticated city. It offers to visitors not only the cosmopolitan amenities they would expect from other big cities, but also a unique treasure trove of cultural attractions. Thailand, in the heart of Southeast Asia, was never colonised and thus kept its unique culture and heritage intact. Bangkok offers visitors the opportunity to experience fascinating glimpse of Thailand's gentle culture amidst the bustle of a great and dynamic metropolis. This great city has had astounding success in combining the ancient and modern world.

Attractions Cultural Heritage, the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Temple of the Dawn, Chao Phraya River and Canals (once Venice of the East), Shopping Paradise, Excellent Seafood and Local Dishes, Superb Seaside Resorts and Good Accommodation, ExtensiveTours all over the country, Thai Boxing, Thai Classical Dances, Golfing, and Other Entertainments.

Khon Masked Dance at Sala Chalermkrung Theatre,Khon is Thailand's classical masked dance that is regarded as one of the most refined of performing arts. It was originally limited to the royal court. Performances are extremely expensive to produce, requiring lavish costumes, elaborate masks and headgear, and stage accessories that require highly skilled craftsmen to create. The scenes performed in the traditional Khon are taken from the Ramakien, a series of significant episodes in Thai literature based on the Indian epic of classical mythology the Ramayana that greatly influenced the literature of almost all nations in Southeast Asia.Khon at Sala Chalermkrung is performed every Friday and Saturday at 8.30 pm. Tickets cost 1,000 baht and 1,200 baht. Call Sala Chalermkrung at Tel: 0 2224 4499 or visit or Thaiticketmaster at Tel: 0 2262 3456

Khao San Road ,Khao San Road is a favourite crossroads for the young travellers on a budget. It has evolved over the last two decades from just one small hostel providing low-budget accommodation become one of the worlds most well-known destinations. It has been featured in many movies and television documentaries.

During the day, Khao San Road is the scene for back-packers looking for a cheap room while others are arranging transport to their next destination in Thailand or overseas. Some will be just chatting with friends over a cup of coffee or a bowl of noodles.At night, it turns into a lively thoroughfare lined with street stalls selling cheap clothes, handicrafts, souvenirs and thousands of other items. The lights are on at the many bars where the travellers tell tales of the days adventures and discoveries and the plans for tomorrow. Khao San Road is not just for foreign travellers, many young Thai people like to hang out there, including members of the TV and film production industries.

The location is very convenient for visiting the many tourist attractions on Rattanakosin Island. It is just a 10-minute walk to Sanam Luang and The Grand Palace.

During April when Thais celebrate the Songkran Festival, Khao San Road becomes a fun-filled battleground as everyone, Thais and foreigners indulge in splashing each other with water.

King Rama I the Great Memorial, Built in commemoration of Bangkoks 150th anniversary celebrations in 1932, the monument is situated at the foot of Pathom Boromrachanuson or Rama I the Great Memorial Bridge on the Bangkok side. King Rama I was the first king in the Royal House of Chakri and founder of Bangkok as the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, as Thailand was formerly known. He was born in Ayutthaya, one of Thailand's former capitals, on 20 March, 1736, accessed to the throne on 6 April, 1782, and passed away 27 years later.

King Rama III Memorial, The monument was built by the Fine Arts Department in 1990 near the Royal Reception Pavilion in front of Wat Ratchanatdaram on Ratchadamnoen Road. The bronze statue, half larger than life size, is seated on a throne. The surrounding area is decorated with beautiful plants, with the Royal Reception Pavilion and three minor pavilions known as Sala Rai nearby.

Sanam Luang or Thung Phra Men, A vast open ground situated near the northern wall of the Grand Palace and the eastern wall of the former Viceroy Palace or Wang Na. At the time when Bangkok was first established, the ground was a rice field and was sometimes used as a location for a royal crematorium, Phra Men in Thai. The ground was, thus, otherwise called as Thung Phra Men which means the crematorium ground. In considering that the name was inauspicious, King Rama IV had the ground renamed as Thong Sanam Luang, or the Royal Ground, and the rice farming there cancelled. Later, King Rama V had the Wang Nas eastern wall demolished and the area of Sanam Luang enlarged to cover a total of 78 rai as it does nowadays. The place has been used as the crematorium ground for kings, members of the royal family and nobility, in addition, to being a royal sporting ground. The king also had 365 tamarind trees planted around it.

Maenam Chao Phraya, The Chao Phraya River is the most important waterway in Thailand. Boats of all sizes ply this river ranging from huge container ships that berth at Klong Toey Port to small dugouts. Its most recognized water transporters are the rice barges and the long-tail boats. Then there are cross river ferries and the river express boats serving as water-born buses bringing commuters to the city from as far up-river as Nonthaburi.
A cruise on the Chao Phraya River gives you a new perspective on Bangkok as you pass by the imposing Prangs of Wat Arun, the majestic Grand Palace and the Temple of The Emerald Buddha.

You'll see a different side of commerce as huge lines of rice barges are towed by a small tugboat and other barges carrying cargo as diverse as sand and gravel, even soft drinks and beer.

There are a number of ways you can experience life on the river. You can take a voyage on a luxuriously converted rice barge leaving from Bangkok on a leisurely journey all the way up to the ancient capital at Ayutthaya. There are also purpose-built luxury cruisers making the same trip. Or you can see the river life the same way the locals do by catching a river express boat.

There are converted rice barges and Chinese junks that offer lunch and dinner cruises. The evening dinner cruise can be particularly romantic, sipping fine wine at a candle-lit table.

For those who want a more budget-priced journey, there are small river boats that are available for hire by the hour
The City Pillar Shrine, According to an old Thai tradition, a city pillar had to be built upon the establishment of a new city. King Rama I had the Bangkok city pillar erected near the Temple of the Emerald Buddha on Sunday, 21 April, 1782, with the citys horoscope inside. The original pillar was made of cassia wood known as Chaiyaphruek, measuring 75 cm. in diameter and 27 cm. high. In the reign of King Rama IV, the old dilapidated pillar was replaced by a new one made of the same kind of wood, measuring 270 cm. high and standing on a base of 175 cm. wide, sheltered by a Prang-shaped shrine as it appears today. The shrine also houses images of protective deities including Thepharak, Chaopho Ho Klong, Phra Suea Mueang, Phra Song Mueang, Chaopho Chetakhup and Phra Kan Chai Si.
The Grand Palace, Every visitor to Bangkok should see the magnificent buildings within the Grand Palace compound to get a feeling of the grandeur architectural style.
Since the founding of Bangkok as the Nations capital by King Rama I, The Grand Palace has been the major architectural symbol of The Thai Royal Family. In the present time, The Royal Family resides at Chitralada Palace while The Grand Palace is used for ceremonial purposes.
The main buildings within the Grand Palace compound were built for King Rama V, who was the first Thai King to travel to Europe.
Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat, built in 1877 by King Rama V as his Royal Residence, is the most highly recognized architectural landmark of the Nation. The central Throne Hall, which was formerly used for the reception of foreign envoys, is flanked by reception areas decorated with galleries of portraiture. The central room on the second floor is used as a shrine for the reliquary ashes of Kings Rama IV, Rama V, Rama VI, Rama VII and Rama VIII.
Borom Phiman Mansion was also constructed during the reign of King Rama V. When his son, King Rama VI ascended to the throne, he had it improved for use as his residence. The three succeeding Kings also resided here at one time or another.
The Siwalai Gardens, where the office of The Royal Household Bureau is located, were used for receptions as well as a recreation area for the royal women and children.
Maha Monthien Prasat houses The Audience Hall of Amarin Winitchai where ceremonies of the Court usually take place in front of the throne surmounted by its canopy of nine tiers of white cloth.
How to go there:The most enjoyable route is to take the BTS Skytrain to Taksin Station. From here take a Chao Phraya River Express boat to Tha Chang Wang Luang Pier. It is a short walk from the pier to the entrance to The Grand Palace public entrance.
Opening Hours: Open to the public everyday, except during special Royal Ceremonies, from 8.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.
Admission Fee: Baht 250. This also includes admission to Wat Phra Kaeo, The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion in the same compound and to Vimanmek Mansion Museum on Ratchawithi Road. Baht 100. for rental personal audio guide in English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese or Mandarin.
Dress Code: Visitors are required to dress appropriately. Thus the following dress - code (applicable to both ladies and gentlemen) is requested:1. Shorts, mini-skirts, short skirts, tight fitting trousers, as well as tights can not be worn as outer garments.2. See-through shirts and blouses, as well as culottes or quarter length trousers can not be worn.3. Sleeveless shirts or vests can not be worn as outer garments.4. Sandals (without ankle or heel straps) can not be worn.5. All shirt sleeves, whether long or short, can not be rolled up.6. Sweat shirts and sweat pants, wind-cheaters, pajamas and fisherman trousers can not be worn.
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) , This famous Chao Phraya riverbank landmark diagonally opposite the Grand Palace, is best known for a porcelain encrusted 79 metre central pagoda which sparkles in the sun. The temple can be reached either by Arun Amarin Road or by boat from Tha Tian Pier near Wat Pho.
Chatuchak Weekend Market, This is paradise for bargain hunters. Every Saturday and Sunday, 9,000 individual booths are open selling an infinite variety of goods.
It is just about impossible to go to Chatuchak Weekend Market and not buy anything. There is just about everything that bargain hunters, home makers, pet lovers or just browsers can imagine.
Handicrafts are every where including pottery, hand-made glass models of the Royal Barges, fluffy toys, colourful tropical fish, singing birds puppies of many breeds, furniture and lots of new and second hand clothing, shoes, handbags, belts. There is so much on offer that even international home decor wholesales come here to shop.
Music lovers can find unique traditional Thai musical instruments being sold direct by the artisans who have crafted them to make the pleasing sounds.
One rule for all shoppers to observe is bargain, bargain, bargain. This is part of the fun and also gets you the best prices.
Chatuchak Weekend Market has interesting products from all over Thailand as well as things from far off lands.
You should allow the best part of a whole day to explore the many stalls. You never know what you will find. But this is work that will make you thirsty and puckish, so take a break here and there to cool off with a fresh fruit juice or feast on delicious Thai dishes such as Pad Thai, barbecue chicken, noodles and sweets.
Vimanmek Palace,An outstanding example of 19th century architecture. While admiring the craftsmanship of the carpenters, you will travel back through time to gain a rare insight into the lifestyle of royalty.Vimanmek Mansion, the principal building in the palace compound, was built for King Rama V on land he named The Dusit Garden located between Padung Krungkasem and Samsen canals. The completion was celebrated on March 27, 1901 and King RamaV took up residence until 1906. The mansion was originally his Summer Palace, the Munthaturaltanaroj Residence, on Sri Chang Island. It was dismantled and re-built at the present location under the supervision of HRH Prince Narissaranuwaddhiwongse.
The three-storey Vimanmek Mansion is the largest golden teak building in the world, built in an architectural style that reflects European influences. There are two right-angled wings, each 60 metres long and 20 metres high. The section where The King resided is octagonal and has four storeys. The mansion has 81 rooms, halls and ante-chambers.
Following King Rama V moving to Amporn Satarn Mansion in 1906, Vimanmek Mansion was un-occupied until 1925 when King Rama VI gave permission for his wife, HRH Indharasaksaji to take up residence there. She stayed there until his death. For the next 50 years it was used as just a storage area for the Bureau of the Royal Household until 1982 when HRH Queen Sirikit initiated its restoration as a museum to commemorate King Rama V.
Today, there are 31 exhibition rooms. Exhibits include a silverware room, ceramic display room, glassware and ivory display. Some of the rooms have been preserved to retain the atmosphere of the earlier era, particularly the bedrooms, bathrooms and the Audience Chamber. Other buildings in the compound also house displays of various artifacts and precious art objects.
Wat Benchamabophit,To stand at the main gateway and look upon the Monastery of Five Kings is a sight to behold. The perfect symmetry and proportions must inspire admiration of this architectural masterpiece. Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram is known to foreigners as The Marble Temple as its exterior is clad in Carrara marble. Very talented The Prince Naris, a son of King Rama IV , designed the main building which was completed during the reign of King Rama V.
The interior crossbeams are decorated with lacquer and gold. The walls of the spacious inner courtyard are lined with a large collection of bronze Buddha images. The canal in front and to the left hand side has ornate bridges. It is advisable to come in the early morning to see local people offering alms to the monks as they do not go outside as monks at other temple do. Stand at the main entrance to the compound and watch the pigeons take flight. If you cant be there at this time, go at sunset when the main doors are illuminated. This is another sight well worth witnessing.
Suan Lum Night Bazaar A fun place to shop and dine,The Suan Lum Night Bazaar is a great place for an inexpensive night out that offers fabulous shopping, restaurant or food court dining, live entertainment and a superb choice of beers.
The shopping area is well laid out with neat streets lined on both sides with shops selling clothes, handicrafts, souvenirs, and a myriad of other items. There are alleyways between the main streets, which are crammed with smaller stalls offering great bargains. You'll be pleasantly surprised at what you might find here.Spread throughout the complex, are many restaurants and bars. The range of cuisine is quite extensive including Thai and Chinese seafood, Indian, Japanese and German.
As you wander along the main street, you'll see The Joe Louis Puppet Theatre. This is truly unique. This is a puppet theatre presenting performances of the Ramakien. With three puppeteers manipulating each puppet. They are in full view of the audience and even come off the stage.
The main attraction at Suan Lum Night Bazaar is the huge beer garden and food court covering an area about the size of two football fields. On three sides there are stall selling a delicious variety of food cooked before your eyes. There are also beer stalls on the right hand side offering all the local beers, many imported brands and some local brews from micro breweries in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The center piece is a large stage where the latest local and foreign hit songs are performed by a variety of singers with their back up dancers. Great entertainment for free. All the food and drink stalls operate on a coupon system so it is easy to keep track of your spending.
Wat Suthat and The Giant Swing ,Located on Bamrung Muang Road, this temple is noted for its superb 19th century murals in the main chapel. The distinctive Giant Swing outside the temple was once used in Brahmanic ceremonies long since discontinued. Nearby shops stock a very comprehensive range of Buddhist religious supplies.
Victory Monument, The monument is situated on Phahonyothin Road. It was constructed in 1941 under the premiership of Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsongkhram in order to praise the heroic deeds of soldiers, policemen and civilians who sacrificed their lives in a dispute between Thailand and France on the demarcation between Thailand and other Indochinese nations. The dispute ended with a compromise being agreed by the two parties, and 59 casualties. Victory Monument was, therefore, established as a memorial to their bravery.
China Town ,The largest outside of ChinaChinatown is a bustling, crowded area where you can buy just about anything day or night.
The main thoroughfare through Chinatown is Yaowarat Road, which is approximately 1.5 kilometres in length. It was built during the reign of King Rama V. On each side of the road, there is a network of streets and alleys lined with shops selling all sorts of things. In many of these streets, you'll find shops side by side selling the same items.
There is an old fresh food market called Trok Isarnuphap where leading chefs from all over Bangkok shop for the finest and freshest ingredients for their restaurant menus.The largest outside of ChinaChinatown is a bustling, crowded area where you can buy just about anything day or night.
The main thoroughfare through Chinatown is Yaowarat Road, which is approximately 1.5 kilometres in length. It was built during the reign of King Rama V. On each side of the road, there is a network of streets and alleys lined with shops selling all sorts of things. In many of these streets youll find shops side by side selling the same items.
There is an old fresh food market called Trok Isarnuphap where leading chefs from all over Bangkok shop for the finest and freshest ingredients for their restaurant menus.A visit at night will take you to a food street where you sit on stools watching your meal being prepared, then enjoying the delicious cuisine washed down by tea or a cold beer.

Friday, April 6, 2007


Chonburi is on Thailand’s eastern coast and as it is the nearest beach destination to Bangkok one of the main weekend ‘getaways’ for city dwellers. The province features excellent beaches and is also home to Pattaya – probably Thailand’s most famous beach destinations. Pattaya is a significant draw for foreign tourists keen to sample its nightlife, golf courses, water sports and diving around Jomtien and Naklua beaches. The area also boasts numerous restaurants, cabaret, shows, zoos – everything in fact you could possibly wish for on a holiday. A little over two hours from Bangkok, Chonburi/Pattaya can be approached as a daytrip or an extended stay.
Alcazar Cabaret,Although a visit here is very much dependent on whether this is your cup of tea or not, places like Alcazar Cabaret have become tourist attractions in their own right. At Alcazar it’s a straight forward theme – men dressed as women, or as they are known in the trade, ‘female impersonation artists’. Impersonate them well they do – only careful attention to fine details such as Adam’s Apples expose these artists as being male. Known in Thai as ‘Katoeys’, the performers are almost invariably transsexuals who have had ‘gender reassignment’. The entertainment provided includes full cabaret performances featuring countless performers wearing some of the most extravagant evening wear you are ever likely to see. And this is no low-key event either. The hall housing Alcazar Cabaret Show seats 1,200 people and employs state-of-the-art light and sound technology. In addition, there are a number of restaurants and cafes to enjoy before and after the shows. To push the envelope further, Alcazar Theatre proudly presents an annual "Greatest Lady-man Pageant in the World" – a full fledged beauty contest for transsexuals.Whatever your thoughts on this type of entertainment, a visit to Alcazar will be an unforgettable experience!
Jomtien Beach,Featuring a long straight coastline and long white sand beach, Jomtien Beach is located around 2 kilometers from its less salubrious neighbour – Pattaya Beach. Whereas Pattaya Beach is more geared for the party animal, Jomtien Beach has carved a niche as a more ‘family-friendly’ environment. Like its neighbour, Jomtien Beach is popular for water sports such as jet skiing, but with water that is considerably less murky, it is also a much more attractive location for swimming. Given its natural wind conditions and calm sea, Jomtien Beach is also a destination of choice for wind surfers, and a number of instructors work from the area. Jomtien features every conceivable type of accommodation available to those who want to stay in the area. Like Pattaya Beach, Jomtien hosts an expatriate community but doesn’t have the edge Pattaya Beach does. It does though have just as many great restaurants offering cuisine from every corner of the globe. It also has as many hawkers, plying anything from peanuts and fruit to pictures of the king and massages. They can prove annoying when you are trying to relax, but again, on Jomtien even this is not as hardcore as Pattaya Beach.
Naklua Beach,There are three main areas in Pattaya. Pattaya Beach is the central stretch of coastline that supports some of ‘raunchier’ aspects of local tourism; bars, restaurants, go-go – pretty much a hedonist’s paradise! Jomtien Beach is much more laid back, offering family friendly establishments and excellent windsurfing. Naklua Beach is the most northerly of the bays and by far the quietest. Naklua is much smaller than its neighbours and it does not suffer from the mass development Pattaya Beach has experienced. Like Jomtien it is more family friendly. The Pattaya municipality spent 1.8 million Baht on cleaning up the waters around Pattaya, and in Nakula it is now possible to see fish in the water. This makes bathing in the sea a genuine pleasure. Nakula is also a centre for windsurfers and windsurfing equipment can be hired from the beach.
Pattaya,Pattaya Beach is at the centre of the half moon crescent that makes up the Pattaya coastline with Nakula Beach to the north and Jomtien Beach to the south. This part of Pattaya is famous (infamous?) for its nightlife. Very much a hedonist’s paradise, Pattaya Beach is littered with go-go bars and swamped with people employed in the sex industry; both genders (and some of nondescript gender!) and a variety of nationalities including Russians and others from former Eastern Bloc countries. Although this is the part of Pattaya that has most accommodation available, the nature of the nightlife can put families off. In the last few years though there has been a drive to make Pattaya more appealing to families by restricting some of the less salubrious activities. This has been successful to an extent but the area still maintains its go-go, discos and nightclubs. By day the area is somewhat different – the water is packed with jet-skiers, water skiers, powerboats and the sky is full of parasails! It is also a centre for scuba divers. Although as a dive site it might not meet the excellence of other places in Thailand, Pattaya is convenient for Bangkok and those with limited time who want to experience diving might well benefit from taking a course at one of Pattaya’s numerous and inexpensive dive shops. Ko Lan, Ko Sak, Ko Krok, Ko Man Wichai, and Ko Rin are all in easy reach of Pattaya as is a major shipwreck where more advanced divers visit. Pattaya Beach itself has its appeal, but the numerous hawkers walking up and down the beach make it a difficult place to just sit and relax – you are offered everything from food to high technology with annoying regularity. There’s no doubt Pattaya Beach is a fun destination, but one that needs some consideration before a visit. Pattaya has its appeal, but perhaps it might not appeal to you or your situation.
Tiffany's Show,The ‘Tiffany's Show’ is Southeast Asia’s first truly transvestite cabaret show. In operation for nearly 30 years, Tiffany's Show has become a tourist attraction in its own right. The format is cabaret performed by men who bear indistinguishable resemblances to women. Many people say these men are more beautiful than real women, probably true. But what gives them away is the fact that they are femininity incarnate – no woman is THAT feminine!!! Big numbers (Barbara Strisand, Donna Summer), big dresses, big hair! The 1,000-seat capacity theatre hosts the most modern light and sound stage equipment to support over 100 professional performers. This is a huge show, very well done, and well worth a vist.
Ko Lan,Ko Lan lies 7.7 km from Pattaya and is one of the largest islands in the eastern part of the Gulf of Thailand. It is the largest of a group of three islands, the others being Ko Sak and Ko Khrok. Ferries leave from South Pattaya and take about 40 minutes to reach the island. The fare is about 100 baht. Longtail speedboats can make the trip in about 15 minutes, but cost a lot more. Ko Lan is the only island near Pattaya with accomodations for tourists. A resort on the southern part of the island, near Nuan beach, is the most comfortable lodging, but there are bungalows on the western part near Ta Pan beach. One of the most pristine beaches is Laem Thian to the southwest. Most of the many boats transporting day trippers dock in the bay of Ta Waen beach in the northern part of the island.
Small glass bottom boats are an easy way to view the plentiful coral formations, and equipment is available on the island for those who prefer snorkeling, para-sailing, water skiing or scampering about on jet skis. Deep sea fishing expeditions can also be arranged from several sources on the island. From Ko Lan another 40 minute trip by boat will take you to the secluded beaches on Ko Phai (Bamboo Island) which are open for day trips only.
Ko Si Chang,Si Chang island is a perfect getaway for travelers addicted to history and having fun. This tiny island has a population of only 500 people, mostly fishermen who practice the old way of life.

Travelling to Ko Si Chang

There are boats departing to Ko Si Chang daily, on an hourly basis from the Pier in Si Racha. The first boat leaves at 6.00 a.m. and the last departs at 7 p.m. The fare is 30 bahts/person. (one-way). If you dont plan to stay overnight on the island, try catching the last boat which leaves at 6.00 p.m. from the island back to Si Racha.
Ang Sila,A seaside-fishing village situated approximately 5 kilometers from town, Ang Sila is well known for its granite products. The fishermen are not only skilful in catching fish, but also in making implements from granite and have passed on their craftsmanship from generation to generation. Their most renown products are the mortar and pestle which are widely used in Thai households, and decorative items such as figurines of animals i.e. lions, elephants and horses.
Bang Saen,This ever popular seaside town is situated approximately 14 kilometers from the city. To get to Bang Saen from Sukhumvit Road, take a right turn at Km. 104 and proceed for another 3 kilometers. Bang Saen is especially popular amongst Thai visitors who enjoy strolling along the long white sandy beach and tasting the delicious seafood available from vendors along the pavement. Unlike weekdays, weekends are always particularly crowded. A wide range of hotels and bungalows are located by the sea and recreational gear and bicycles for rent are available in shops nearby. For budget travelers, several buses depart daily from Ekkamai Bus Terminal throughout the day. In addition, there are local ''Song taew'' or local transport services connecting Chon Buri town-Nong Mon Market-Bang Saen.
Khao Sam Muk,A low hillock situated between Ang Sila and Bang Saen on the road that runs along the seashore is Khao Sam Muk a place known by most Thais for its tragic love story. According to the legend, two lovers jumped off of the cliff to declare their eternal love after facing parental objection to their marriage. A panoramic view of Bang Saen beach can be seen from the hilltop. Good quality Thai and Chinese seafood restaurants are located at the foot of the hills providing reasonably priced sumptuous dishes.
Nong Mon Market,This market is located on Sukhumvit Road along the way to Bang Saen and has gained popularity over the years. Nong Mon Market offers a vast variety of locally produced seafood products such as fish, squid, and shrimp, both fresh and preserved. In addition, sweets and other local sweetmeats are also popular with the most popular item being Khao Larm a traditional thai-style dessert cooked and served in a bamboo tube.
Chong Samae San,This village offers good fishing opportunities and is located approximately 17 kilometers further from the Sattahip deep-water port. Bungalows are available for serious fishing visitors and boats can be chartered to go fishing in the nearby islands. All these small islands are under the jurisdiction of the Royal Thai navy.
Wihan Sian,A Chinese-style structure called Wihan Sian which was built by Thais of Chinese descendants. Within the beautiful structure Chinese antiquities and an exhibition of Chinese religious beliefs are housed. The place is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission fee is 50 baht.
The Khao Khiao Open Zoo,Covering a vast tract of forest land, the zoo is located approximately 20 kilometers south of Chon Buri from Sukhumvit Road. To get there, take a left turn at Bang Phra, and follow the clearly posted signs. Operated by the Zoological Garden Organization, the zoo has more than 200 species of domestic and imported wildlife living in their natural habitat. Open daily from 8.00 a.m. until 6.00 p.m., the zoo also puts on shows of well-trained animals and birds. A new feature is the Night Safari Tour by auto-trams.
The Si Racha Tiger Farm,The farm, which is situated at Km. 20 marker on highway No. 36, raises a large number of Bengal tigers, as well as large crocodiles. Visitors will be amazed to witness tigers, pigs and dogs living together in the same quarters. The farm opens daily from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Mini Siam,Located at Km. 143 on Highway No. 3 is a wonderland of miniature replicas of such outstanding architectural works as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Democracy Monument, the Bridge over the River Kwai, Prasat Hin Phimai, etc. Replicas of places of world significance are also displayed in the miniworld area. These include the Tower Bridge, Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and Trevi Fountain. It is open daily from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Paintball,Paintball ground is located on Thep Prasit Road, about 20 minutes drive from Pattaya city. Paintball is a game played in a model battlefield in an enclosed spacious area to create the atmosphere of a real fight. All players are provided with safety dresses and masks for protection from any bodily harm. Air guns filled with plastic shots driven by the pressure of carbon dioxide inside are used as weapons. A shot will burst into color water when hitting a victim. The players are divided into two teams, each trying to seize the flag of the other team and bringing it back safely to their base first. The game never fails to offer excitement.

Underwater World Pattaya,A new tourist attraction in town is the largest and most modern ocean aquarium in Asia, boasting a 100-meter-long, 6.4-centimeter-thick acrylic pedestrian tunnel through an underwater environment filled with dozens of marine species.

Located just 200 meters south of Tesco Lotus in South Pattaya, the new theme park covers a total area of 12-rai and is housed in a structure similar to a large circus tent.

The aquarium itself houses more than 4,000 marine animals, comprising more than 200 different species from the region as well as some rare creatures from overseas. Top in the Visitors must-see list is the rare shovelnose ray, a hybrid between a shark and a stingray.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Thai Wedding Customs

On the evening of the day before the wedding day, a Buddhist ceremony (วันสุกดิบ) happens. During this ceremony, the newly weds pay homage to the bride ancestors. The newly weds wear ordinary clothes.During this wedding ceremony nine monks are invited.

Doors ceremony

A procession leaded by the groom and with the relatives bring the gifts and the food to the bride's home. Music is played during the whole procession ceremony. The procession song is called "RAM VONG KLONG YAO" (รำวงกลองยาว)).
During this ceremony (พิธีแห่ขันหมาก), the groom leads the guests. If the groom's house is too far from the bride's house, a place like a bus stop can symbolise the groom's house. The groom walks followed by his parents, family and friends. The groom has to cross symbolic doors before entering into the bride's house.
In traditional Thai weddings, the groom shall cross two gates called "silver gate" and "gold gate". The gates are on the way from the groom's home to the bride's home. To open the gate, the groom must give a gift, i.e. some money to the children. Of course the amount is bigger to open the gold gate than the silver gate.

Doors are symbolised by girls holding a chain. Often those girls are the bride's sisters. At each door the groom is asked if he is rich enough to take care about his wife and his family. He has to give an envelope to each girl in order that they remove the chain to let him pass. The envelope contains money. Each time a door is symbolically opened, people are shouting.
Wash feet ceremony
When the groom has opened symbolically all the doors, the bride is waiting for him at the house entry. Here can happen the wash feet ceremony. It does not happen in all weddings. The husband stands on a small stool and his wife washes his feet and makes a Thai greeting towards them ("WAI" - ไหว้). It is a symbol of respect, allegiance to husband and also a way to thank the groom for all he has done for the wedding (most expenses are paid by the groom family). Now as Thailand has entered a new era of equality between men and women, this tradition is not always respected.

During the marriage ceremony, money is shown to the guests. Most of the time the money is only shown in order to save the face of the bride's family but after the marriage ceremony the money is given back to the couple. For foreigners the amount is often more than 100,000 Baht in cash and some gold jewels. Often a gold chain is offered. In Thailand gold is measured in "Baht", the Thai gold measure. Thai people like gold more than banknotes. Thai people think that if sudden problems happen, gold can be sold to get cash. The wedding day is not a random day. An astrologer has set the best day according to the stars.
White thread ceremony
In a room, the newly weds sit close to each other. An old and wise man said auspicious sentences in order to bless the wedding and give hints to the bride. Then white threads are linked to the wrists of the newly weds. Threads are soaked with holy water.
In Thai language the Thread ceremony is called "PHITI BAI SRI SU KWAN" (พิธีบ่ายศรีสู่ขวัญ).The "BAI SRI" tree is often prepared by friends and neighbours. It is made of banana leaves. It is in the center of the "BAI SRI" ceremony.Newly weds have a white thread joining their heads. Some symbolic food is given to the newly weds. The guests attach a white string around the couple wrists and bless the couple
Shell ceremony
Outside the house, the newly weds kneel on a pedestal with their hands clasped together. A quite old man said auspicious sentences and anointed them on the forehead. The newly weds wear beautiful garlands around the neck.
Every guest pours a shell filled with holy water ("NAM SANG" - น้ำสังข์) on the hands of the bride and groom. They say holy sentences and blessings to the newly weds.
Wedding Party
The location of the wedding party can vary. An easy but expensive way is to book a hall in a restaurant. An another possibility is "TO CHIN" (โต๊ะจีน). It is a table for 12 guests with all food (7 dishes and one dessert). Everything is included in the price. Some workers are coming, dress the table, cook the food and clean everything when the party is over. It could be arranged in different ways i.e. Cocktail style, Buffet Thai food, Chinese food, or sit down dinner. Whatever the style, the wedding party usually follows the same steps:
  • The dinner party starts around 6 pm; the bride and the bridegroom with their parents will stand in front of the function room greeting and welcoming the guests.
  • Guests arrive.
  • Guests go to register the name at reception area. Guest will sign the guest-book wishing good luck for the couple. Guests will present the gift at the registration area. It could be gift or gift cheque.
  • Guests take photograps with the bride and the bridegroom.
  • Around 7 pm, the dinner starts.
  • Around 7.45 pm, the Master of Ceremonies (MC) starts the formal ceremony. Typically, the MC is one of the close friends of either the bride or bridegroom.
  • The MC invites both the bride and the bridegroom to the floor. A wedding Flower is pThe MC calls for the guest of honour. Usually, the guest of honour is the person who is well respected by the community. The person could be the immediate supervisor of either the bride or the bridegroom, or could be one of the relatives. Generally, only one person is enough. Sometimes there could be 2 guests of honour, one from each side. Usually, the guest of honour is aware of their role before the event.
  • resented to them by the parent of the bridegroom.
  • The guest of honour will give the speech. A speech should only take 2 to 3 minutes. Do not talk for over 5 minutes, it will annoy other guests.
  • After the speech, the guest of honour will asked all the guests to stand up and toast the bride and bride groom. All the guests will end the toast by saying CHAI-YO (Cheers) 3 times.
  • The guest of honour will step down from the floor. The MC might make a playful speech and interview the bride and bridegroom on how they met, how they fell in love, and tell some other fun stories about their love.This part is optional. It's depends on how good the MC is in his job.
  • Next, the bride and bridegroom will cut the wedding cake and serve some guests. Usually, they will serve the parents, senior relatives and the guest of honour.
  • After that, the bride and bride groom will walk around for pictures or movies with all the guests. Typically, the friends of the bridegroom will use this opportunity to individual salute the bridegroom by offering a toast.
  • The party finishes around 10-11 pm.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Phra That Doi Suthep

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai (เชียงใหม่), also sometimes written as "Chiengmai", is the largest and most culturally significant city in Northern Thailand, and the capital of Chiang Mai Province. It is located at 18°47′20″N, 98°59′00″ECoordinates: 18°47′20″N, 98°59′00″E, some 700 km north of Bangkok, among some of the highest mountains in the country. The city stands on the Ping river, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya river.

Chiang Mai literally means new city and has retained the name despite having celebrated its 700th anniversary in 1996. King Meng Rai founded the city as the capital of the Lanna (A Million Rice Fields) Kingdom on Thursday, 12th April 1296 during the same period of time as the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom. King Meng Rai the Great conferred with his friends, King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao before choosing the site where the capital of the Lanna Kingdom was to be founded.

From then, Chiang Mai not only became the capital and cultural core of the Lanna Kingdom, it was also the centre of Buddhism in northern Thailand. King Meng Rai himself was very religious and founded many of the city's temples, which are still important today.Chiang Mai is a city built on the roots of a traditional heritage that dig deep into the soil of time. It's a city with a beautiful cultural personality of its own. In addition, it's been blessed with much majestic beauty in nature.

The people themselves are an unforgettable part of Chiang Mai. Handicrafts of silk, silver and wood are timeless souvenirs for visitors from all over the globe. Along with all this, a wide variety of accommodations, restaurants, and entertainment all help to make Chiang Mai one of Thailand's prime tourist attractions.


King Naresuan Stupa,Located at Mueang Ngai Village. The locals built the stupa to mark the stay of King Naresuan the Great before he led his troop to invade Angwa in Myanmar in 1604.

Doi Ang Khang National Park,Famous for its cool climate all year round, visitors can explore the Royal Angkhang Station Project and visit hill tribe villages to learn more about their daily life. To get there, take Highway No. 107 (Chiang Mai-Fang), turn left at an intersection around Km. 137 (Mae Kha Market) and proceed for another 25 kilometers to Doi Ang Khang. As the route is filled with steep s-curves, an experienced driver and vehicles in good condition is required. The local truck (song taew) from Mae Kha Market offers chartered service to the mountain.

Chiang Mai Night Safari was established as evening and night tourist attraction. It is the first night safari in Thailand. Chiang Mai Night Safari is committed to be a world class destination and is constantly upgrading to international tourism standard. Exhibition zone is divided in three main areas: Savanna Safari, Predator Prowl and Jaguar Trail. Chiang Mai Night Safari is located in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park area of Mae Hea and Nong-Kwaii district in Hang-Dong and Suthep district in Muang, Chiang Mai province. The total area in 131 hectares. It takes only 10 km. driving from the town central to Chiang Mai Night safari.

Doi Inthanon National Park,This national park which covers an area of 1,005 square kilometers is located on Doi Inthanon, Thailand's highest mountain which is 2,565 meters above sea level. Located between Mae Chaem and Chom Thong, the park is comprised of the largest tract of upper mountain forest which ranges across Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and ends in Northern Thailand. The mountain ranges gave birth to the main tributaries of the Ping river and formed the beautiful waterfalls, namely Siriphum, Wachirathan, Mae Pan, Mae Klang and Mae Ya. The moist and dense evergreen forest is abundant with lichens and wild orchids. The park is also a paradise for bird lovers. Visiting Doi Inthanon is possible throughout the year however, the best period for viewing the waterfalls is May through November while the best period for viewing wild flowers is December through February and for ornithologists is November through March.

Ban Hmong Mae Sa Mai,This Hmong village has preserved their simple but splendid traditions and lifestyles. The village can be reached by taking a left turn at Km.12 and proceeding for 7 kilometers. Only four-wheel vehicles in good condition can make the trip. Along the route, you can visit resorts which are open to visitors

Mok Fa Waterfall,This one-level waterfall is located on the Mae Malai-Pai road. To get there, take a left turn at Km. 20 onto a dirt road and proceed for 2 kilometers. The waterfall, which is surrounded with lush green trees, is full of water all year round.

Doi Suthep-Doi Pui National Park,Covering an area of 262 sq. km., this luxuriant park is home to more than 300 bird species and nearly 2,000 species of ferns and flowering plants. Some hiking trails in the park pass Hmong villages while others lead to a few small waterfalls where local people come to picnicking on weekends. Accommodations are available near the park headquarters. To get there, take Highway No. 1004, its only 16 kilometers drive northwest of Chiang Mai town.

Doi Pui Tribal Village,This village is a Hmong village situated on an asphalt road approximately 3 kilometers from Phu Phing Palace and approximately one hour from Chiang Mai. The village presents the typical lifestyle of the Hmong as well as a scenic view of Doi Inthanon.

Phu Phing Palace (Royal Winter Palace)The palace is located further up the mountain and approximately 6 kilometers from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The royal winter palace was built in 1962. Its landscaped gardens are decorated with plenty of colorful, exotic flowers. It is open every day from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. except when the Royal family is in residence which is usually from mid December to early February.

Night Bazaar,The Night Bazaar is a shopping haven where one can find handmade products and souvenirs from many Chiang Mai villages and hill tribes. Local cloths and fabrics are reasonably priced for purchasing. The shopping street opens around 6:00 p.m.

Wat Phra Sing,Built in 1345, the temple is located on Sam Lan Road. It houses the North's most revered Buddha statue, Phra Phuttha Sihing which is enshrined in Vihan Lai Kham, a chapel that features exquisite woodcarvings and northern style murals. Every year on April 13, Songkran Day, the image is paraded through the streets of Chiang Mai for local people to sprinkle scented water on. This area was formerly Wat Li Chiang Market until 1345, when King Pa Yu, the fifth king of the Meng Rai Dynasty commanded the construction of this temple and a 24-feet chedi to contain his father's ashes.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep,Locals would say, You havent really gone to Chiang Mai unless youve been to Wat Phratat Doi Suthep. Truly, the place is the most important and famous Chiang Mai landmark. Built in 1383, this mountaintop temple has a chedi (pagoda) that houses holy Buddha relics. The gold-plated chedi lies in the middle of a square marble-tiled courtyard. The four corners of the chedi are adorned with parasols which represent royal regalia. The temples courtyard is lined by a cloister, which contains images and murals depicting Buddhas life. There are also two viharns situated in the middle of the east and west sides of the cloister. This temple is 15 kilometers from town and is 3,520 feet above sea level. It is the perfect place to get a birds eye view of the city. The temple can be reached via a steep Naga staircase comprised of 290 steps or railcars. The temple is open daily from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

San Kamphaeng,The village is located 13 kilometers the east of Chiang Mai town in a district that is famous for silk and a cotton weaving. The silk and cotton souvenirs produced in this village are high quality. Factories and souvenir shops selling woodcarving, silverware, earth ware, lacquer ware and cotton fabrics are located along the way from Chiang Mai to San Kamphaeng.

Located in San Kamphaeng is Bo Sang a village that produces handmade umbrellas. In addition to umbrellas, visitors will also be able to find various woodcarving and Thai silk products here.

Phra Borom That Saen Hai,This temple is situated in Wiang Haeng, San Pa Tong District, which can be dated back to the early Buddhist times, was renovated in 1914. The pagoda is a unique blend of Myanmar and Lanna Thai architecture. According to the legend, King Naresuan the Great rested his troops here and built a pool at the foot of the hill for his use and that of his elephants.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Phromthep cape

The Songkran Festival

Songkran is a Thai traditional New Year which starts on April 13 every year and lasts for 3 days. Songkran festival on April 13 is Maha Songkran Day or the day to mark the end of the old year, April 14 is Wan Nao which is the day after and April 15 is Wan Thaloeng Sok which the New Year begins.It is also known as the "Water Festival" as people believe that water will wash away bad luck.

The Songkran tradition is recognized as a valuable custom for the Thai community, society and religions. The value for family is to provide the opportunity for family members to gather in order to express their respects to the elders by pouring scented water onto the hands of their parents and grandparents and to present them gifts including making merits to dedicate the result to their ancestors. The elders in return wish the youngsters good luck and prosperity.